tri-x '74

tri-x '74 is the colloquial name i've given to a batch of three tins of kodak tri-x 400 which expired in 1974. 

It is a black and white negative film, but development many require more care than you think. the film is extremely heavily fogged due to age, so negatives appear rather dense and "flat", lacking contrast. 

according to the "add one stop per decade of expiry" rule of thumb, this 48-year-expired film should perform best when rated at iso (technically ei, exposure index) 12.

i shot a ten-exposure test roll, bracketing my shutter speed to rate the film at a different ei for every shot. starting at 800, i moved one stop at a time down to ei 1.5. the roll was developed for ei 400 (details below).

i was stunned by the results.

the film doesn't look "good" by any means, but it has no right to look and perform as well as it does. to the right you can see the first shot, rated at ei 800, with heavy post processing (curves, clarity, dehaze, sharpening, and aggressive settings for the black and white point).

honestly, i'm amazed that there is an image at all.


Roll #1: image quality 


honestly, giving the film more light doesn't change things too much. the negatives have slightly more contrast when rated at ei 25-400, but despite ei 12 being the theoretical "best" way to shoot the film, the shots taken at ei 12, ei 6, ei 3, and ei 1.5 are extremely flat by comparison, becoming progressively harder to extract an image from. i personally like a high-sharpness aesthetic for grainy film, but you may not.

here are the shots taken at ei 400, 50, and 6 (l to r) with no editing beyond inverting them to positives, for a quick comparison. both the ei 400 and ei 6 images show less contrast and less fine detail in the radox logo.

roll #1: development

for my initial test roll the development conditions were as follows:

developer: kodak hc-110 (chosen for its anti-fog agents)

dilution: 1+31 (dilution b)

temperature: 20 °C

time: 6:30

agitation method: continuous inversion for first minute followed by four inversions for the first ten seconds of each subsequent minute.

roll #2: Image quality


To save on film, I used the "scraps" of the first tin of film, about 5-6 frames, for my second test. I shot one scene at 800, 400, 200, and 100. The scene was not static and the shot rated at 800 ended up overexposed due to a break in the clouds so I've omitted it here. wow! it looks amazing. grainy? sure. but still!

Here are these shots, taken at ei 400, 200, and 100 (l to r) with direct inversion and then setting the black/white point.

that's where we are for now


HC-110 stand development worked wonders. anything from 400 is certainly usable, and i'd expect it to tolerate exposure reasonably well due to the nature of stand development.

planned development tests will include:

rodinal stand development

hc-110 stand developmeng with 3-4 drops of 1% w/w benzotriazole additive

check back here soon!

roll #2: development


based on suggestions from folks online, the roll was developed as follows:

developer: kodak hc-110 (again, used for its anti-fog agents)

dilution: 1+100 

temperature: 20 °C

time: 60:00

agitation method: continuous inversion for first minute followed 59 mins stand development with zero agitation.