Film Photography

Kodak T-Max 400 in Adox HR-DEV

Into the tree tunnel

I still have a lot of Adox HR-DEV to use up after buying a small bottle to develop a roll of its companion film, Adox HR-50. I’m developing other films in it to see how it performs. I liked Arista EDU 200 (aka Fomapan 200) in it not long ago, so this time I tried Kodak T-Max 400.

I also took this opportunity to test a second Olympus OM-2n body given to me by the same benefactor who gave me the first one, as well as the Olympus OM-4T I recently shot. This very generous fellow also gave me a whole bunch of lenses and other OM gear. He hadn’t shot his OMs in a long time and he was ready for them not to take up space in his home anymore.

I mounted a large, heavy 35-70mm f/4 S Zuiko Auto-Zoom lens. It’s probably this hefty because of its fixed f/4 aperture — if I recall correctly, variable-aperture zooms can be made much smaller and lighter. Despite the weight, I slung the OM-2n over my shoulder and took it on a long bike ride.

To the left

HR-DEV is supposed to enhance sensitivity, better differentiating light from shadow. I don’t know if I see that; this looks like normal T-Max 400 to me.

High-powered cornfield

But I very much appreciated how sharp these scans were off my flatbed. They still needed a little unsharp masking in Photoshop, but far less aggressively than normal after developing this film in any of my usual developers.

Farmhouse on the hill

I finished the roll on a few walks through the neighborhood. What I especially appreciated about these negatives was how little Photoshopping they required to look good. About half of them needed only that touch of unsharp masking.

In the vinyl village

I made these neighborhood shots on full-sun days, and I think I detect the light areas being lighter than I’m used to with this film under these conditions. Or I could be seeing things.

In the vinyl village

Just a side note: it’s crazy to me how much of the sides and backs of houses you can see on any walk through this neighborhood, and how often windows are placed haphazardly on them.

In the vinyl village

If you look at these images at full scan size, which you can do by clicking any of them to see them on Flickr, there’s detectable grain here. But at blog sizes they look smooth enough.

In the vinyl village

Bottom line, this combination works. Don’t be afraid to try it if you, like me, have some HR-DEV to use up.

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16 thoughts on “Kodak T-Max 400 in Adox HR-DEV

  1. P says:

    Nicely done, Jim. I especially like the “tree tunnel” and cornfield shots. I’m glad you’re making your way through the HR-DEV and finding it’s working well for you.

        • P says:

          By “very soft” do you mean the scans came out soft (i.e. lacking acutance), or that the negatives were lacking density, or both?

        • I mean that the scans come out lacking acutance. I’m sure that my negatives developed in Rodinal Have greater inherent acutance and thus need less unsharp masking then the negatives developed in L110.

        • P says:

          I see. I don’t remember what all film stocks you’ve developed to date with L110, but with the exception of perhaps Fomapan 200, which I think is far better suited to Rodinal (exposed at 125), I wouldn’t expect anything I recall you using to be even remotely soft as a result of using L110. That’s especially true if you used dilution H, which by default provides higher acutance than dilution B (the more dilute, the less solvent action, the greater the acutance). It may not provide quite the acutance of Rodinal, but it should definitely exceed that of stock D-76 or most other traditional solvent developers. At least that’s my own personal experience.

          So, all that said, I suspect the “softness” you’re perceiving is actually due entirely to the scanning process, and not inherent to the negatives themselves, especially if your negatives have good density (thin, underdeveloped negatives tend to produce soft scans/prints). I bet your negatives are far better than you actually realize. Again, with a loupe and a cheap light table/pad you can quickly figure out whether the culprit is your negatives, or if it’s your scanner. My money would be on the latter, as flatbeds, while very useful tools, still have a lot of limitations with film, especially “small” 35mm negatives. With medium or large format most people find them plenty adequate. However, regardless of film format, they struggle to resolve grain accurately and effectively, as well as to provide the desired resolution and sharpness (regardless of DPI). Of course, these things are all interrelated.

          Oftentimes, what people think is grain in their flatbed scans is actually digital noise and artifacts. This is especially true with fine grain film stocks, as flatbeds reach a point where they can’t really resolve the grain in any meaningful way at all, leading to what appears to be extreme image softness, despite the negatives likely not actually being soft at all. It’s worth noting that acutance is directly related to grain size: the larger the grain, the greater the acutance. It’s not solely a function of the development, scanning, and post-processing procedures. There are many variables involved.

          And then there is the discussion of acutance versus resolution (not pixel count), which complicates things further. For instance, perfectly-developed TMY negatives actually tend to appear much sharper than perfectly-developed TMX negatives given the same scanning (or printing) and post-processing routine, but TMX still has greater resolution. The larger grain of TMY provides greater perceived sharpness (acutance) to our brains, despite actually being lower resolution.

        • I’m becoming more and more convinced that my scanner is by far the weak link in my chain. I can play with films in developers all I want, but I’m probably never going to be satisfied until I solve the scanning problem.

        • P says:

          I think you’re probably right, Jim. I’ve seen a trend over the years. A lot of people tend to start their scanning adventures with flatbeds, but more often than not they eventually move up to a dedicated film scanner for 35mm if they’re able to afford it. Otherwise, they’re often unsatisfied with their scans. They do generally hang onto the flatbeds for medium/large format, though. I wish you the best of luck regardless of what you ultimately choose to do.

  2. Darts and Letters says:

    I like frames 2, 3 and 4 the best. I’ve always loved Victorian Gothic-style architecture. Is that place on a farm? But holy cow that’s some serious lawn mowing!

    • That house is on a farm! And the yard is that large. Judging by the stripes in the grass, they have a very large riding lawnmower which cuts most of the work out.

  3. That’s the first I’ve heard of a fixed-aperture zoom. It seems to have performed nicely for you. I’ve always appreciated TMAX for its wide latitude that yields some nice tones in skies even without the help of filters.
    Years ago when I first started using TMAX I mostly developed with TMAX developer. However, that was a bit expensive, so I switched to HC110 and felt it give me equally good results. I’ve recently done some TMAX in L110 and it seems like it is just as good at half the price of the Kodak product.

    • I’ve liked the results L110 has given me with T-Max 400. I’m currently experimenting with Ilford FP4+ in Rodinal but I can see L110/T-Max becoming a go-to combo.

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