Digital Tri-X

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by jim poteet, May 4, 2004.

  1. I love the look and “feel” of a print made using Kodak Tri-X film;
    using Adobe Photoshop I’ve been trying to get the same look and feel
    out of a digital photo. I’m sure I won’t be able to get an exact
    replication, but I would like to get as close as possible to the Tri-
    X look in a digital photo. Any ideas?

    P.S. If you could be specific on Photoshop values (for example noise
    amount @ 4%) that would be very helpful. I’m pretty good a messing
    with the values to get a decent print, but sometimes I have no idea
    where to start.

    Thanks everyone.
  2. I don't think more noise is the answer. It's a matter of the greyscale curve. But, if your digital camera doesn't have a 9 f-stop intensity range on capture, there will be limitations in getting the Tri-X look. Tri-X doesn't block up in the highlights, CCD's surely do.

    Inkjet printers have their own grain, you would need a huge print to capture and reproduce (or simulate) Tri-X grain. (I couldn't reproduce Kodak Recording 2475 Film's grain, sharply scanned, on an 8x10 inch inkjet print.)
  3. go to

    Track down the maker of the tri-x plugin. There's a trial version for free download. Maybe I'm not experienced enough in digital workflows and results, but I don't see what the difference is. BTW, I use Tri-X film and have begun to scan the negatives.
  4. Tri-X doesn't block up in the highlights, CCD's surely do.
    Maybe you should offer to moderate the B/W forum since you've found a way to process Tri-X that never blocks up highlights. I'm sure your Tri-X also has more dynamic range than print film as well.
  5. You can look at "Digital Film". It emulates different types of color and B&W film including Tri-X. Not sure if it would give you the effect you want since I have nothing to compare it with but the demo version is free.
  6. This company offers plug-ins for Photoshop that emulate black and white film characteristics. They have a variety of B&W films to emulate, including Tri-X, which is the one I purchased. It's nice because you can also simulate the R, Y, and G filters that you might have used in the original shot (if you were shooting black and white film). Also, it is just a few clicks on the screen to get results, and then I can tweak from that point forward. Best regards, and good luck.
  7. I appreciate that a plug-in solution offers convenience and consistency, but it also removes the flexible and precise control of doing your own colour conversion within Photoshop. Instead of dragging around a sack of filters, and accepting the tonal compromises of black and white capture, you can now construct the exact black and white image that you want.

    I've used Tri-X for twenty-five years, and am as appreciative of the stock as anyone, but just because it's good doesn't mean it's perfect. There's many a Tri-X negative in my files that would benefit from a little more separation between colours. Instead of emulating the past why not remove the shackles and enjoy the new and unique possibilities that digital affords?
  8. I'm with Scott on this--my 10D definitely lets me get Tri-X-like results in available light.

    Here are two shots each illustrating something different. One is "pushed Tri-x," and the other is "regular Tri-x." See what you think (though of course they're both approximations compared to the prints :)).

    The first shot I made in Hollywood recently on a late-night wander around Hollywood and Highland Hills. I was sick (literally) with a bad cold and these folks weren't expecting a camera, but the "pose" came out nonetheless. in this shot, I've purposely pushed the contrast on this *well* beyond normal--I wanted to flatten the shadows here quite a bit, and make the background highlights more like a spot--just before burning out ;)

    Of course, this is an sRGB approximation of the final, but I can say the final print is a ringer for push-processed Tri-X :) Something I used to for many years in the wet darkroom for precisely the same high-contrast purposes, and something I didn't think I could do with a digital cam (or with the Epson 2200, for that matter). I shot RAW at ISO 800, developed a very high-contrast color print in Capture 1.

    For a comparison, the second shot, taken at ISO 400, is smoother and has the excellent shadow detail of a regularly developed Tri-X print. The midrange gray, though easily manipulated, is pretty much visually accurate--the evening was closing in on a leaden day, and all of sudden the setting sun came through the clouds and hit the trees. The color print of this is pretty nice, too, actually :)
  9. James, The Color to B&W emulation Plugins are a WASTE OF MONEY (guess how I know...). Try experimenting with doing your B&W conversion using the Channel Mixer. Check the "Monochrome" Box. The balances will vary for different images. Watch what happens to skin tones as you change the balance between Red and Blue (it should add up to 100%). Stay away from Contrast adjustments as you will get nasty artifacts QUICKLY. One Plug-In collection I really like is from Pixel Genius. I don't use them for the Color to B&W though. They have excellent Grain emulation as well as Burning & Dodging and great Diffusion. The Process that gets run by Pixel Genius looks like it is fairly complicated. Each action creates several layers. The grain is added to each channel and there are also layers of diffusion used. I don't even beging to understand exactly what it is doing, but it does look really good. Also, don't go overboard with it. I am a 'traditional wet darkroom' guy. When I see fake Digital grain, I think it looks ridiculous. Also, is it really the Grainy look you are after? TriX isn't always grainy, so I thought I should ask. The other issue you will have to deal with is that TriX has LOTS of shades of Dark Gray. Inkjet tends to have a really hard time in that department....don't know what your final output is. Here is an (I think) OK Digital shot I converted with the channel Mixer and then using the Pixel Genius. I'm still working on it. jmp
  10. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    The Imaging Factory's Convert to B/W Pro is definitely not a waste of money. For one thing, it gives a variety of parameters in controls that will be familiar to anyone who has done much printing in a darkroom. Secondly, it gives far more control than the channel mixer or any other of the basic methods of conversion, and some of these controls are pre-packaged into film emulation modes. It takes a lot more work to get to a true Tri-X "look" in Photoshop.
    Also, as someone who always liked Tri-X in Rodinal, it gives a reasonably good emulation. I complete this using the "film grain" filter in Photoshop CS, which is remarkably good once you realize that it has to be applied to its own layer and managed there, rather than from the parameters in the filter itself.
    The Look, Copyright 2004 Jeff Spirer
  11. Admittedly, I'm still on the upswing on my Photoshop CS learning curve, and down the road I may yet buy one of the plug ins... but right now, it helps me learn all the ins and outs of Photoshop by doing it all myself. Here's a recent attempt.
  12. My "Waste of money" comment was mainly directed at Silver Oxide. All it does is open the
    Channel Mixer and do the settings for you....

  13. Thanks John, the Color Channel tip has been helpful. BTW, It is not the grain I'm looking for it is the Tri-X look (those dark grays) . . . I was using noise amount as an example of the type of detail I was looking for in Photoshop directions. I would also rather not have to purchase a plug-in. Any other thoughts on just using Photoshop?
  14. I'll second Jeff on the "Convert to B/W Pro" plug-in. It has emulations not only of Tri-X but also Agfapan, FP4, and several others, plus color filter effects. I used to love fiddling with the PS Color Channel mixer, but now use the Convert to B/W Pro plug-in almost exclusively.

    And Scott has a good point that you can achieve a start on "grain" by shooting digitally at ISO 1600.
  15. James. Give Jeff and David's recommendation a try. I've been playing with the '30-day demo' for about 2-weeks now and I would say it's one of the best I've tried. Plus it includes the TRI-X emulation, as mention above.

    theimagingfactory 'Color to B&W'
  16. James, Before you spend money on a plug-in (I've done it too!) try this technique from Russell Brown--an Adobe guy and PS developer (I think). This gives you the best control, and it's free--sorry I didn't meniton it before. You can add grain, if you like, with any of the other methods.
  17. I think I've tried every plugin and guide online for different methods to conver to b&w and this one has got to be the best. At the end of the article is a link to the free action which only sets up the layers for you to tweak to your individual image.

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