Kodak 400TX Single-Use Camera Review. Fun and Easy to Use!

My mom was always taking pictures of us as we grew up. It was standard procedure to grab a snapshot before we could scurry about and enjoy vacations. Eye rolls were aplenty, but I quickly picked up her fascination for photography. My mom didn’t trust an eight-year-old with her prized Vivitar. Instead, she stocked up on disposable cameras for me whenever they were on sale. The Kodak 400TX single-use camera bridges my childhood and the nostalgia of learning black and white photography in college.

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New to Film? 3 Great 35mm Film Emulsions for the Beginner

35mm film is wonderful! At its best, it delivers a look that can’t be had digitally without a lot of work while letting you be in the moment. So we recommend always combining it with the best film camera that you can get your hands on. But 35mm film can also bolster your digital photography if you just find an identity when working with it. Lucky for you, we’ve reviewed tons of film emulsions over the years. And we’re diving into some of our favorites for beginners here.

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The Classic Look! The Best Black and White Film Emulsions

Black and white film is such a beautiful, fun thing to work with.

There are lots of black and white film emulsions on the photography market. And quite honestly, it’s hard to find a bad one. Instead, you just have to understand them and expose each one according to what you want. But some brands have been making Black and White Film longer than others. And a few have a very iconic look to them. So how do you choose? Well, we dove into our Reviews Index to help pick out some of our favorites.

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Photographer Ryan Noltemeyer Reflects on Waiting for the Right Light

All images and text by Ryan Noltemeyer. Used with permission.

My name is Ryan Noltemeyer. The people around me got me into photography. In high school, my friends and I started making dumb little movies and photo projects on the weekends and during the summer. That mixed in with my dad was always taking pictures of myself and my brother growing up kept piquing my interest in making images. After high school, my dad gave me his old Nikon FE film camera when he saw I had an interest and I went crazy. I was photographing anything and everything. I invested in an entry-level DSLR and started shooting for my university’s magazine and eventually a few local lifestyle magazines. One thing led to another and I kept chasing the photography rabbit hole. The Phoblographer’s readers would want to see my work to see that photography is not all about grand vistas and moody portraits. Photography (for me) should be a reflection of self and if I can make you feel something through my images I did a good job. I’m pitching a small group of black and white images that have resonated the most with me and the direction I am moving with photography. I strive to capture simple beautiful moments during everyday life. Capturing emotion in an image and then transferring that emotion I feel to my audience is the goal.

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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.

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How This Photographer Made a Grid Portrait with Kodak Tri-X

Cameron Mosier painstakingly worked with Kodak Tri-X to create a beautiful portrait.

“I like the look of seeing the numbers from the film and the entire strip because it brings more depth to the image,” relates photographer Cameron Mosier about his unique portrait shot on film. “A fun thing about the image is the imperfections.” What Cameron tried isn’t new per se, but it’s always fun to see projects like this. They’re intensive and require the photographer to really think ahead to the production stage. The idea is similar to the Brenizer method, which applies this idea more to the digital world but also gets rid of the imperfections that make these photos really special.

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Special Report: The Leica M10 Monochrom Is Kodak Tri-X in Digital Form

The Leica M10 Monochrom is much more than just a black and white sensor.

“That’s a new one for you folks,” is what I said when being briefed on the new 40MP sensor at the heart of the Leica M10 Monochrom. Indeed, it’s not just the Leica M10’s sensor with the Bayer array removed, but something completely new. The 40MP sensor is optimized for detail and dynamic range. One could argue it’s mid-way between the Leica Q2 and the Leica M10, but the truth is that it leans more towards the Leica Q2 when it comes to resolution. If you’ve never held a Leica M10 or even know how to use a rangefinder, this camera is the one that will probably make you fall in love with using them. When they’re in your hand and you’re in-tune with how a rangefinder works, you’ll become a totally different photographer. The pictures you take become more about your passion and the moment than anything else.

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The Phoblographer’s Guide to Kodak Film for Professional Photographers

Kodak film is some of the best that you’re going to find on the market; and for good reason too!

The world of analog film photography is one currently experiencing a Renaissance; and at the forefront of it is Kodak film. Kodak is the last big company producing film that hasn’t cut emulsions but instead is bringing out new ones. Professional photographers used to use Kodak film for years and today the new breed of analog photographers does just that. There are a number of options for photographers to get into–with some of the tried and true emulsions being both Kodak Tri-X and Kodak Portra. Look around the web, and you’ll see tutorials and presets for digital photographers to get the look of these films. But no matter how hard they try, they just don’t recapture the magic of film.

We’ve reviewed every professional film emulsion that Kodak offers, and so we’re rounding up our reviews for you in one spot.

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Fábio Picarelli: Learning with an Olympus OM-1 and Kodak Tri-X

All images by Fábio Picarelli. Used with permission. 

What makes black and white photography so important to you?

Black and white is unique, when you take out the colors you focus on the basics of what you’re shooting, what’s happening, the people or the place that are in frame. The aesthetics of it is of photography itself, how it begins and how it can always be.

What inspires you to create photographs?

The chance to capture something unique, a moment frozen in time, a moment that will live for ever. It combines a bunch of discipline, art, sociology, politics, anthropology and more.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art world?

Black and white has a history on the world of photography and art. When you think of your favorites photos, most of them are black and white. They are photos that survived the test of time, that are truly art, universal that we can respond to it. Black and white, and film, as parts of our history has this historical context.

Tell us about your images and why you love Kodak Tri-X

Kodak Tri-X is the most famous film of all time, it has a look in it that is easily recognizable. Lots of great shots were shot on Tri-X. I learned to photograph with a Olympus OM-1 and Kodak Tri-X and although I use a lot of different films I always return to it for its quality and its look.

This shoots I shot on the last two years, with a Leica R3 and the Olympus OM-1, in the city that I live, São Paulo, Brazil and one trip to Cuba. All street photography.

Be sure to follow Fábio Picarelli on Instagram too: @picarellifabio

Davide Marcelli: Kodak Tri-X in the Pursuit of Art

All images by Davide Marcelli. Used with permission.

In continuing with our special feature of Kodak Tri-x, we are brought to photographer Davide Marcelli. Davide’s work is unique and uses the black and white format to create strong contrast in the images that he shoots. “I think b&w photography has the power to dramatize situations, create a parallel world that doesn’t exist but at the same time is real, is art.” he tells us. It makes sense, especially if you’re the type of photographer that thinks in black and white.

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The Practical Guide on How to Use Kodak Tri-X 400 for Street Photography

Lead photo by Leon Fishman

Kodak Tri-x 400 has for years been very popular with street photographers. In fact, some street photographers commit to only using black and white films like Tri-X although others have no problems with color images these days. Either way, know this: it’s all about aesthetics. If you personally do like the look of Kodak Tri-x 400, then I’ll be the first person to encourage you to go out there and shoot it. In fact, shoot lots of it. You’re bound to love it. Others on the other hand are okay with working with digital photos and applying some sort of Tri-X preset. However, you’re not going to get the same look or even the same experience as shooting with Tri-X film. So here’s what you need to know to shoot Kodak Tri-x for street photography.

If you’re interested in more of the historical and traditional parts of it, be sure to check out our other article here.

A Film for Photographing People and Urban Geometry

Kodak Tri-x has evolved over the years and in order to understand how Kodak Tri-x 400 is wonderful for street photography, we first need to understand Kodak Tri-X. The film was originally developed and invented for photojournalism. Seeing how people loved 35mm film and there was a need to use the film to tell stories such as the tragedies that happened in many of the wars, Kodak developed the film to be forgiving yet versatile. It brought with it its token grain, grit and feel. Depending on which developer you use, the film can take on a number of looks. Photographers these days tend to embrace the look of the film when being used with Rodinal due to the more high contrast and grainy look that they get.

This high contrast that the film is capable of delivering is valued by photographers who want to put an emphasis on specific parts of the images in the same way that digital photographers tend to use black levels. Deeper blacks in a scene make the photo appear sharper by tricking the brain into focusing on other parts and tones in the photo.

Image by Doctor Popular

Due to the ease of use of the film, photographers have mostly shot with it and tried to focus instead just on what they’re photographing–fully knowing that they’ll be able to fix it in the darkroom by pushing or pulling, burning or dodging, or even just using a high end scanner that is capable of scanning DNG files.

F8 and Be There (Designed for Photojournalism)

The idea of “F8 and be there” has been one that has stayed not only with photojournalism but also with street photography since a little after its inception. Kodak Tri-x lends itself well to this belief because of how versatile it is. This is a film really designed for the photographer that will commit to shooting with it and creating a print that yields them more details in the shadows when they’ve underexposed the scene they were really trying to capture. If you’re a photographer that wants to shoot Tri-X and then get your images back only to scan the photos, you’re not getting the most from the film.

But when shooting Kodak Tri-X, f8 at ISO 400 can mean that you get a lot of really great images. When you’re in bright sunlight, you may want to switch to f16 and 1/500th to ensure that you get all the details in the highlights. But as you walk about your everyday scenes otherwise, you’ll find that shooting at f8 during the day time and any myriad of shutter speeds will help you get great photos.

Image by Logan Campbell

What I was just describing above has to do with the Sunny 16 rule, which is easy enough to find in most places on the web but basically dictates that when shooting a scene with lots of bright sunlight and little to no shadows, you can expose at f16, your ISO and your shutter speed can be the reciprocal of that. So F16 with ISO 100 film will give you a shutter speed of 1/100th.

Combine this with zone focusing. At f8 and with 35mm film at least, you’re going to get quite a bit of a scene in focus. The further away you focus your lens, the more will be sharply and clearly visible in the final photo. But if you’re shooting street photography with something like a 35mm or 50mm lens, then it’s a good idea to focus anywhere from four feet to six feet away at f8 and just shoot.

To at least start experimenting, I recommend trying this with a digital camera set to high contrast black and white. But also keep in mind that you may not need to.

Aperture Priority is Your Friend

Expanding on what was said earlier on both the versatility of the film and using f8 when going around shooting scenes in life, I also recommend using Aperture priority to make it even easier to work with overall. Kodak Tri-x, again, is pretty damn versatile of a film. When you’re just using Aperture Priority mode on your camera, you can focus more on just finding and shooting better scenes. Combine that with both zone focusing and the F8 philosophy and you’re most likely bound to never miss a shot.

Seriously, it’s that simple. Of course, this idea caters best to shooting at ISO 400 and above.

35mm: Much Easier than 120

Kodak Tri-x 400 comes in both 35mm and 120 emulsion sizes. Generally speaking, 35mm is much easier to work with because it’s a small format. As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, that format was designed for capturing everyday life. There are cameras out there that will make using the film in 120 easier though: two of the best are the Lomography LCA 120 and the Fujifilm GW690 III rangefinder. Of course, there is also the Mamiya 7 II. But even so, because of the larger focusing area, it’s tougher to get a moving subject perfectly in focus. Indeed, when it comes to street photography 35mm is a great place to start no matter what your experience levels. When you’re comfortable with the film, you can try 120 and have a higher success rate.

How to Rate Kodak Tri-X for Street Photography

The last thing that we’re going to quickly cover is rating the film for everyday street photography use. In truth, that really depends on your camera. If your film camera doesn’t go beyond 1/1000th of a second’s shutter speed, then I recommend shooting at a lower ISO if possible. For example, the Hexar AF maxes out at 1/250th. So if you’re shooting with Kodak Tri-x at the beach or in a brightly lit area then you’ll surely be at ISO 400, 1/250th and F22 most of the time. That is of course unless you rate the film for ISO 100. Then you’ll be at f16, 1/100th and ISO 100. In general, I really commend that you be able to use your camera’s highest shutter speed and max out at f16. You can go to f22 if you wish, but why bother when using the the 35mm format?

Happy shooting!

Tutorial: Working with Kodak Tri-X in the Studio (Premium)

Lead photo by Reinis Traidas

With the influx of new film photographers that have come into the photo world, there is now even more experimentation with film emulsions like Kodak Tri-X 400. One of the things that you, yes you, are bound to do at one point or another is work with the film in a studio environment with artificial lighting. Don’t worry though, Kodak Tri-X 400 is one of the most forgiving films ever made. So there’s quite a bit that you can do to work with it and get fantastic results in a studio setting.

35mm or 120?

Let’s start with some of the most basic details that everyone is bound to ask: should you go with 120 or 35mm film? That’s a bit complicated to assess but let me start this out with this statement: light, is light, is light. F4 at ISO 400 and 1/125th will render the same scene in the same way every time pretty much. The only differences are depth of field for the most part when it comes to film emulsions. 35mm Kodak Tri-X 400 film will be grainier than 120 and have a deeper depth of field accordingly when working with it. But if you’re looking to have a different look to your photos, I strongly recommend using 120.

You see, part of this has to do with working with medium format. It’s like working with various digital photography formats. A four thirds sensor, for example will render f2 as the equivalent of f4 in full frame 35mm. With 120, it varies greatly on your formats. But if you’re working in a studio, it’s typically also a great idea to set your camera down on a tripod and work with it that way.

For what it’s worth too, 120 simply looks better because there is more emulsion on the surface layer. The more of it there is, the better the gradation and the tones will be.

Why Not Just Shoot Digital?

While you can probably make some very good arguments for not wanting to use color films vs digital, black and white is much different. Lots of photographers who shoot digital really enjoy taking their images into Lightroom and putting a VSCO or RNI films preset on it and enjoying the look. The problem is though that those images tend to be more of a look that you want vs what actual film does.

Photo by Jay DeFehr

The reason why you work with film in the first place has to do with the process. I’m not talking about only what happens in the darkroom, but also what happens in post-production. Digital post-production is far faster and easier than it is to work in a darkroom. But the processes won’t give you the same results. Digital photography has a very “fix it in post” sort of mentality vs film’s being more “get it right in the camera.”

When you shoot some film, scan it, and then try to push the files or pull them, you’re essentially just pushing or pulling a JPEG or TIFF digital image. That can often not be so great unless you’ve got a higher end scanner of some sort. Higher end scanners and processes tend to create an HDR style photo to allow you the most versatility when it comes to editing. The best either do fantastic TIFF photos or DNG files.

The process of shooting film truthfully makes you see light better and overall makes you a better photographer because you work so much harder on getting the photo technically and artistically better.

To be fair though, Tri-X was designed to be forgiving, and there’s more on that in a bit.

Metering for the Scene

Before I go on: have a creative vision. This should be obvious, but sometimes it isn’t. Know what you want in the scene and how you want the image to look.

When working in the studio with Kodak Tri-X 400, I strongly suggest working with manual lighting/strobes. The reason for this is because TTL flashes tend to simply read your aperture and shutter speed and meter based on what it thinks you want. Metering manually is otherwise telling the camera, film, and lights exactly what you want.

To begin, I really suggest working with and investing in a handheld light meter of some sort that has both ambient lighting readouts and flash exposure readouts. A handheld light meter lets you do spot meter readings in your scene. You typically want to manually spot meter individual areas of your scene and take careful notes on these. You’ll find out how dark the darkest areas are, bright the brightest areas are, and the mid tones. When you look at and take note of all these, you can figure out a number of things. First off:

  • ISO: controls the overall sensitivity of the film.
  • Aperture: controls the depth of field and the flash exposure
  • Flash output: always fires at a consistent setting if you manually set it
  • Shutter speed: controls how much ambient light is in the scene and affects it. The faster the shutter speed, the less ambient light is seen in the frame.

When you spot meter your entire scene, you can figure out what to do based on your particular creative vision. Want more light? Maybe slow the shutter speed down. Want the flash output to be the only real lighting in the scene? Well, that’s simple: just raise the shutter to the fastest shutter speed that allows flash sync.

Then there’s a matter of using your light meter’s flash reading abilities. Generally speaking, flash in this case will also be specifically tied to details in some ways. Want brighter flash? Then know that you’ll be blowing out details that can only really be recovered by burning and dodging if you’re making a print. Want more details? Then maybe underexpose your aperture as it pertains to the flash output by 1/3rd of a stop.

Yes, I know I said that Kodak Tri-X is a forgiving film, but it’s at its most forgiving when working with it in the darkroom vs scans to DNG files.

Contrast: Based On the Lighting Type, Light Modifiers and Backgrounds

Color film photographers often like shooting flat: meaning they try to get as much details in the scene as they can to deliver a low contrast look. That’s fine, but if you don’t want one, then I recommend that you start going to extremes: which basically means that the Aperture set just balanced to the flash and fastest shutter speed possible to kill the ambient light.

Bronica ETRS, 75mm f2.8, Kodak Tri-X 400. Flash placed off camera left.

When working in a studio, creating contrast in a scene has to do with a number of things. At this point, you may be asking me about using constant lights. And truthfully, I’d never recommend them because they’re always so incredibly weak and underpowered vs a flash for the money. They may give you a more cinematic look, but again, they tend to be expensive unless you want to push your film to ISO 1600 or so.

So when working with studio strobes, you should keep in mind the general rule of thumb: the closer and larger the light modifier is to your subject, the softer it will be in relation to the size. How does that relate to Tri-X? It can mean a more flattering shadow or a less flattering one. Then considering how high contrast the film already is, it could mean absolutely no details in the shadows or only some depending on how you develop it.

To create less contrast overall, work with brighter backgrounds. This could mean even adding multiple lights to give sort of fill in areas.

Pushed or Pulled: What’s the Potential

Now to get to the bigger part of all this: pushing and pulling the film. When working in a studio, it’s pretty simple to take your film into the darkroom and push or pull the film when creating a print. Of course, you can also simply just burn and dodge selective areas of the film but if you plan on doing that, then perhaps shoot more low contrast unless you want to overall embrace the grainy look that you get. Typically when you work with pushing or pulling film, you’re setting your camera and the overall exposure to a different ISO altogether: in the studio I’d typically recommend either exposing for 400 ISO or 100 ISO. In that case, you’d pull the entire image two stops in the development process. Then in the print making process, you’d dodge back in any sort of details in the shadows that you’d like.

As I’ve stated many times here, Tri-X does a great job with getting back details in the shadows. But you can also mostly avoid that by just letting more ambient light in, using a reflector and by taking very, very careful attention to lighting details when looking at a scene. It requires you to be aware of the obvious.

Khunya Pan: Freezing Moments in Time on Kodak Tri-X

All images and words by Khunya Pan. Used with permission.

These photos are the result of me taking my camera anywhere and everywhere for the past 7 years. Some are street photography, some are intimate moments with my wife; the one with the rifle was technically a shoot. However, I like to get as candid of photos as possible: the one of my father looking into his lightbox creation, the grackles, the horse, the women looking over the fence.

Tri-X has always been my go-to film and it is a classic for a reason. It’s extremely forgiving in exposure latitude and perfect for your everyday shooting. It pushes to 1600 ISO very well, and if you put an ND filter on your lens and you can get some great shallow depth of field photographs in bright daylight—but with that classic Tri-X grain structure.

What makes black and white photography so important to you?

The tonality and texture are what always brings me back. The look and feel that all the different emulsions have to offer, combined with developing techniques and the wealth of selection of film cameras & lenses means you’re always guaranteed to come up with something creative.

What inspires you to create photographs?

I run a weekly mailing list called “Khunya’s Photo a Week”, this keeps me motivated to continually practice and hone my skills. I have also started to amass a collection of photo books from famous (and non-famous) photographers to bring inspiration. I highly recommend purchasing a few photo books instead of gear. The camera will never make you a better photographer, but inspiration always will.

Why is black and white photography so important to our future in the art
world?

It is the purest and most intimate form of photography. When a photograph is captured on film, you are freezing a moment in time that would otherwise only live in your memory. The science behind it still gets me excited to this day and I could go on about it for weeks. Photography is the only way to truly capture the human condition and beyond—it is the most accurate form of real life expression and it is a beautiful thing.

You can view my website here, along with my Instagram and Flickr.

K1000 Tri-X Rifle

Woman in Window

Ka Wing Falkena: Street Photography with Kodak Tri-X

All images by Ka Wing Falkena. Used with permission.

Ka Wing Falkena is a Dutch photographer from Amsterdam who got into the art form by befriending a number of professional photographers who did a lot of street photography. “It was a bit scary in the beginning, but when that feeling was gone, I actually felt quite good.” he says in an email to the Phoblographer. “Walking on the street, only having to concentrate on light, composition and the subjects surrounding me, made me really relaxed. When I noticed that, I started doing it more and more.”

He’s been shooting for four years now, and tries to dedicate some time each day to the craft.

Like many of you, Ka Wing is a lover of Kodak Tri-X. But he tends to push his film quite a bit as he finds that it suits his creative vision.

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