I’ll be the first to admit; I never was a fan of TMax Developer. It was, at least in my mind initially TMax developer was a one-trick pony. Suitable for only modern T-Grain films (TMax, Delta, Acros). But that quickly changed as I started to branch out and trying to see what the developer can do with both modern film grain and classic grain. I discovered that TMax developer is something a little more than a one-trick pony.
Name: TMax Developer
Primary Developer: Hydroquinone
Type: Reusable or One-Shot
Mix From: Liquid
TMax developer is a liquid, it runs clear and pours far easier than the old-school HC-110 syrup. Making it easy to handle and mix to a working solution. Now it does start clear; it can yellow over time. Even in a pale yellow state, it still functions properly with little degradation. The most common dilution that is used for TMax Developer in 1+4, this offers some reusability, but I will only run it through one development cycle. The second dilution, 1+9, is a one-shot dilution. The bottle seems to indicate that you can mix the entire 1-litre concentrate into a 1+4 working solution I don’t recommend that and mix up as you need it to help extend the life of the developer. Although if you are running through a large volume of processing, then, by all means, mix up a big batch and keep on reusing until it’s exhausted.
If you haven’t already guessed, TMax Developer is designed for the Kodak TMax line of films, that being 100, 400, and 3200. It will help take full advantage of the modern T-Grain emulsion and bring out the sharp yet fine-grain nature of the modern film stocks. And while it does an excellent job with the 100 and 400 variants, it shines with the ultra-fast P3200, even when you have the film pushed to 6400. But TMax developer also works well with Ilford Delta films, which is Ilford’s versions of the modern emulsion. And provides a similar experience. With these modern films don’t expect anything fancy or unique, but sometimes you just want it to work without any bells or whistles. However, TMax Developer has a trick up its sleeve. As a semi-compensating developer, it certainly helps with push-development and classic-grained films. I like how it renders FP4+ pushed to ASA-200, and it makes Kodak Tri-X Pan sing in the right light and helps when working with the zone-system.
TMax Developer is a good developer overall; as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is designed for t-grain films and other modern emulsions. At both standard dilutions, it produces images that are both fine-grained and sharp. The developer does little to affect the contrast of the film and usually will take more from the inherent contrast of the film. Meaning that on TMax 100 it will be more contrasty than TMax 400 at 1+4 and 1+9. However, at 1+9, there will be slightly less contrast. With classic grained films, you’ll see a similar effect, with your images being both sharp and fine-grained. Even if you’re pushing film. But the best results can be seen when running with TMax P3200, while you won’t get zero-grain like TMax 100, I find the images far less grainy than using another developer like D-76.
While not a regular addition to my chemistry kit, I tend to use TMax developer only when I’m working with T-Grained film and for when I don’t want the film or developer to add anything to an image. I tend to use it for lens reviews when I want more of the glass to come through than the film. Now, with that comes a bit of a price tag, a 1-litre bottle will cost about 30$ Canadian. So again, if you’re looking for the economy, this might not be your first choice. But if you’re doing a bunch of t-grain films, or push processing and have nothing else, this will be the developer that will help you out in a pinch.
Don’t just take my word on Kodak TMax Developer check out these other blogs on the subject!
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