Reproducing TMAX 3200P

It's probably no secret I like my super-high speed 35mm film looks. I love the way pushed TRI-X looks, I especially loved the way Kodak TMAX3200P — aka TMZ looked when it was available. I'm down to my last couple rolls that are not aging well which is no surprise as high-speed film gets really foggy and slower and slower or the effect of getting slower to get over that base fog as time goes on.

A couple of people have emailed regarding some of my Lightroom post-processing, especially the super high speed film looks asking me a few questions about details etc. Instead of explaining them in any amount of detail how about a preset as a base-line look for TMAX 3200P? Cutting to the chase here's a baseline Lightroom preset all zipped up and ready to roll.

A Couple Of Notes

What does "baseline" mean?? Well black and white film, especially black and white film looks completely different depending on how you shoot it, develop it, and print it. Sure there are some broad characteristics it shares across shooting conditions, processing, and printing but they are extremely broad. So this is sort of an average of how I shot and developed that particular film at "3200" ISO as one would expect based on the label.

In reality it was probably morel like 800 or 1000 ISO in terms of shadow speed maybe a hair higher in certain developers like XTOL (which I had issues with for various reasons) So this is more like say ummm TMAX developer at 1:3 one-shot. It just happened to have low enough contrast that pushing the crap out of it didn't make it un-printable. So let's just call this a generic average of Kodak TMZ if you metered for the mid-tones at 3200 and used a fairly generic developer at fairly generic dilutions.

Presets & Preset Design

I have very specific thoughts on how presets should be laid out to actually be useful and how "add-on" things to a baseline should work so that you're not fighting against them. This has a lot to do with how a particular RAW processor works. Ever since Lightroom 4 I've completely changed my approach to how I setup my own baseline looks and make them work across many situations with minimal time spent messing around. Having said that here's a few things that really bother me about a lot of presets.

  • I don't build in things like bad blacks or printed down highlights. In reality film does not have any of that shit built in. Used properly you can get whatever black level you want. Specifically good blacks. Same goes for highlights. Hence I don't like built in in-camera, development, or printing goof-ups that happened the first time people every picked up a camera etc.
  • I don't like L/R grain as I've ranted about many times. It's tricky to dial in so that it looks anything like real film. More over the way it looks depends on what cropped resolution you happen to send in (an issue for pretty much all RAW processors with grain emulation). In other words it looks completely different if you send in 16mpix, 24mpix, or 36mpix. This baseline is designed around 16mpix. What are the specific adjustments to get it to look the same at any given display size for other stuff. If anyone is interested shoot me an email and I'll chuck up some guidelines.
  • Non-baseline things are pretty common and completely change the look/tone curve. Not really the overall shape of the tone curve for a given film more of what part is being used which effectively changes the tonal response one sees in a print etc. Things like over exposing negative film without changing development, or even changing development, etc are hard to build-in for any given film. None of those things are dealt with.

Have fun.

End Notes

I typically don't distruted presets for Lightroom as there are so many out there and it would take quite a bit of work to make the ones I use myself work in a more general context discounting my own work-flow habits. If anyone is interested in something a bit more comprehensive feel free to shoot me an email at