While I was buying expired film in 2019, I bought a few rolls of Kodak TMax 400 that expired in 1999. They were in 120 format, came in near pristine boxes and wrapped in lovely gold foil. However, at the time, I had also bought Fujifilm Pro 160 NPS and Kodak VR 1000. So the chances, opportunities, and general want to try this Kodak TMax 400 were very few and far between.
A trip around York
In May 2019 I took a trip up to York. I took my Lubitel 166B with me and went through a roll of the Kodak TMax 400, and developed it with Rodinal with a 2 hour stand development method. Here are a few of the shots that came out of it. None of these have been edited by myself, just scanned in to the computer. The following two photos were treated as ISO 100.
For a film that was 20 years expired at this point, and with no history of how it was stored, I found the grain to be quite acceptable. Obviously it’s not perfect, no expired film is, but I wouldn’t think twice about using this film stock for important photography.
“French Noir” style photographs of my “French” car
However, it got to January 2020 and I completely forgot about this film. I forgot that I had developed this initial roll, and I found another roll of it in a cupboard with my Lubitel 166B. So I took it and I went to take some photos of my Peugeot 107 for an article I wrote on my other website. Again, these photos haven’t been edited and were developed the same way. However, these photos were treated as ISO 400.
These photos were a bit darker, which is to be expected as these were taken in the winter. And winter sun isn’t all that strong at 3:30pm on an overcast day compared to May time sunshine at 2pm. I also think that the fixer I used was on it’s way out, so the slight milkiness of the above photos is probably down to that.
I used Kodak TMax 400 in a 35mm format, pushed to ISO 800, and I never got on with the film. I prefer Ilford film stock over Kodak’s as I find it easier to develop myself. Kodak film tends to curl up tight as soon as it leaves it’s canister, and because of that I tend to avoid it. Saying that, I don’t have this issue when developing the medium format version of Kodak TMax 400. I quite like grain in my films, and good contrast and the first roll of film provides that. The second roll of film, I think, suffered from being treated as an ISO 400 film in overcast conditions.
As well as this, I don’t think the fixer I used was particularly good either. That has since been replaced. In terms of grain, I think given that I used Rodinal to develop them using a stand method, the grain on these films is excellent. I would think though that if a more conventional development method was used the grain would increase. So I would be more likely to use a stand development method with this film with very soft, gentle agitation.
Recipe for stand development with Kodak TMax 400
This is the recipe I used for stand development when developing these two rolls of Kodak TMax 400. Obviously this recipe is a guide and your mileage may vary. So use this at your own risk!
Chemicals Used & Their Measurements
- Rodinal – (1+100) // For 500ml: 5ml of Rodinal for 495ml of water @ 18C
- Ilford Ilfostop – As instructed on the pack @ 20C
- Ilford Rapid Fixer – As instructed on the pack
- Ilford Ilfotol Wetting Agent – As instructed on the pack
Times & Method
- Load the film in to your development tank of choice.
- Mix and pour the Rodinal solution in to the development tank, and agitate gently for the first 60 seconds. Then agitate for a further 10 seconds after the first 60 minutes. You can agitate it twice, and if you wish to do this then you would agitate it for 10 seconds every 40 minutes instead.
- The development time for this first step will take 2 hours, or 120 minutes. Discard the developer.
- Pour the Ilford Ilfostop in to the tank, and agitate continuously for 1 minute. After 1 minute discard the stop bath.
- Pour the Ilford Rapid Fixer in to the tank, and agitate it continuously for 1 minute. Then agitate it for 10 seconds after every minute. This process will take about 5 minutes. Pour the Rapid Fixer out of the tank.
- Run the film under a cold tap for at least 5 minutes. I tend to wash it for 3 minutes while constantly moving the film in the water. After 5 minutes, (or 3 minutes if you’re brave like me), pour out the water and pour in a drop of Ilford Ilfotol Wetting Agent. Then fill the tank up with water so that it covers the film. Agitate the film in this solution.
- The film can now be removed and hung out to dry.
- Developer: 120 minutes
- Stop Bath: 1 minute
- Fixer: 5 minutes
- Final Wash: 5 minutes (or 3 minutes if you’re a rebel)
Notes on Development
It’s worth remembering that agitation can play a role in the amount of grain you have on your film. Being vigorous with the film like you’re whisking egg whites to make an omelet, or stirring milk in to your tea, it will increase the grain on your film. When I agitate my film, I do it gently. For the first minute I tend to just softly and slowly spin the film in the canister, wait a second, then spin it in the opposite direction. For 10 second agitations, I hold it and slowly spin the container around. I treat it as though there is an egg balancing on the top of the tank, and the game is to not drop the egg!