I was one of many surprised when Kodak announced an improved version of T-Max 400 f ilm. I thought that T-Max 400 was a really good film and wondered how were they going to improve it—and why?
Kodak found in a 2007 survey that there was an ongoing commitment to black-and-white film. They decided to improve both the grain and sharpness of T-Max 400, and it took them 18 months to do it. Large-format photographers who used a UV light source to print platinum/palladium were bothered by the UV dye layer on the back of the old T-Max 100 sheet film (it protected the film against static electricity). The new T-Max 400-2 is free of UV dye in both 120 and sheet film, though 35mm T-Max 400-2 does have the UV dye layer.
Testing the film
As you can imagine, I was quite excited to test this new film, and did so with both 35mm and 4×5 sheet film. All testing was done by BTZS (Beyond the Zone System) film-testing methods. A number of years ago, Phil Davis (inventor of that system) tested nine f ilms and f ive developers for an article for our D-Max newsletter. The two developers that came out best in those tests were Kodak D-76 and Ilford DDX. I became a big fan of Ilford DDX,
which I used to test the new T-Max. First, I don’t like mixing chemistry from powders and prefer diluting liquid chemistry such as DDX. Also, DDX seemed to have a higher film speed for most f ilms than most other developers did.