Want a Kodak Black and White Film Guide? Check This Out!

Kodak black and white film is beautiful in the right situations; let our guide help you pick which film to shoot.

Some photographers have shot their entire portfolio with one film. It’s helped them get a very signature look. But others like to experiment. We’re sure many of you sometimes wonder which Kodak film to choose. The company has three black and white emulsions that are incredibly popular. T-Max 400, T-Max P3200, and Tri-X 400 are what’s available in America. That’s not to say that you can’t do one genre with only one film. But instead, this is a best practice guide. Not many people can shoot great portraits with T-Max P3200. Similarly, Tri-X 400 is the choice for many photojournalists for legitimate reasons. T-Max 400 is best for the photographer who wants the sharpest ISO 400 film photos.

In other countries, Kodak probably has a few other emulsions available on the market. But the most popular tend to be these three. You often hear more about Kodak black and white films than you do of Ilford. However, Ilford makes nothing else but black and white film. And they’re also gorgeous of their own right. Fujifilm returned to making Acros 100 in 120 and 35mm. Granted, it’s pretty pricey. But overall, film photography is expensive. If you develop and scan the film yourself at home, then you’re in a better boat. Lots of people love the look of film and try to emulate it digitally. But it’s never quite the same.

Kodak T-Max P3200

In our review, we state:

“Kodak TMax P3200 is a beautiful film when it comes to the actual image quality. The sharpness of it is really determined by the lenses you use. For that reason, I’d honestly recommend some of the newest and highest end glass that you can get your hands on. With actual Leica, Voigtlander, and Zeiss lenses, your images are going to sing with sharpness. When using 7Artisans lenses in Leica M mount though, you should consider stopping the lens down. If you’re one of those folks who likes putting new Sony glass on their Minolta SLR or Sigma art lenses on their Canon DSLR, then this is the film you’re going to want to use.”

Kodak T-Max 400

In our review, we state:

“These days, a very good argument can be made that the types of photographers that tend to use Kodak T-Max 400 are those who tend to create scenes vs capturing them–and those include portrait photographers and landscape photographers amongst others. However, it can surely be used for whatever you’d like. For example, shooting a wedding with Kodak T-Max 400 and using a flash to ensure that you absolutely maximize the sharpness potential is a great idea as long as film isn’t your primary option. Then when you want to shoot with more ambient light in the scene, switch to Tri-X 400 and feel free to push it. Of course, this isn’t always followed and sometimes photographers just like the Kodak T-Max 400 approach to tonality more than the Tri-X 400 approach to tonality.”

Kodak Tri-X 400

In our review, we state:

“With that said, you can also do a whole lot to the film and still get fantastic photos. In fact, it’s the only black and white film that I’ve consistently used and never lost details in a scene with that couldn’t easily be recovered. Granted, I tend to go for the high contrast style and look–but this film gives me that while also saving just enough details in the shadows and the highlights.”

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.