Ilford Delta-100 Professional 4x5" Black & White Negative Film (ISO-100) equivelant to T-Max 100?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by eric_m|4, Oct 13, 2014.

  1. That's the question: Is Ilford's Delta-100 Professional 4x5" Black & White Negative Sheet Film (ISO-100) their version of Kodak's T-Max 100?
  2. Yes. both are of the type Kodak calls "T-grain" as opposed to traditional grain like HP-5 and Tri-X.
  3. While technically similar, I would argue their base and look are dramatically different to my eye.
  4. While I can't speak for sheet film, I've found the 120 and 35mm versions of Delta 100 to be more forgiving during processing than TMAX 100.
  5. Nope. I've used T-Max 100 and Delta 100 in 35mm and medium format. These films are very different. TMX has finer grain and a tonality I've occasionally described as "melodramatic". Delta 100 has grain that is fine but visible even in 8x10 prints from 35mm, with more conventional tonality. I doubt the sheet films behave much differently from their roll film counterparts.
    Recently I reviewed some 8x10 fiber prints I made over a decade ago, from 35mm Delta 100 and T-Max 100. Fortunately I took notes in pencil on the reverse. Reviewing those older prints confirmed my longstanding impression that the two films have very different characteristics, including where it really matters - in darkroom optical enlargements. Delta 100 left me flat - the look simply didn't excite or even engage me. I could get the same look with FP4+ exposed at EI 64-80 with commensurately less development. But T-Max 100 had that distinct combination of punch and virtually invisible grain that caught my eye the first time I used it.
    Ilford described their Delta films as epitaxial grain films, rather than using Kodak's T-grain nomenclature. However authors of some articles I've read indicate the grain structure may be essentially the same. I'm doubtful. And the emulsions are very different besides the grain structure. I see distinct differences between T-Max and Delta films in that nebulous quality sometimes called "tonality". I see distinct differences in grain between my T-Max 100 and Delta 100 negatives, and in prints from those negatives. I see somewhat more similarity in grain between T-Max 400 and Delta 400. And T-Max 3200 and Delta 3200 couldn't have been more dissimilar: TMZ had finer grain but less true speed, closer to 800-1000, with snappier contrast; Delta 3200 was faster, closer to a true 1200-1600, much, much grainier and lower in contrast.
    TMX generally is virtually grainless - it takes some effort to produce any grain that is visible under a loupe, in scans or in optical enlargements in the darkroom. (The only time I've seen significant grain with TMX was with Rodinal and Diafine. I know both combinations of film/developer have fans, but I don't see the point of forcing a virtually grainless film to show some grain. And TMX in Diafine is weird and murky.) Delta 100 has very fine grain, but it's not invisible. The differences are visible in a conventional developer such as ID-11 at 1+1 dilution.
    There are enough differences between the two that I wouldn't consider Delta 100 a satisfactory substitute for T-Max 100 for landscape, architecture or similar outdoor fine art type subjects. The tricky bit to T-Max 100 is that I find it a bit easier to work with exposed at EI 64-80 and souped in Microphen rather than at EI 100 in ID-11. There's just enough difference in contrast control to make TMX behave better when shot in contrasty light. And I prefer T-Max 400 for pushing over Delta 400 for low light handheld candid photography.
    At the same time, I do consider HP5+ an adequate substitute for Tri-X, particularly since Tri-X was changed significantly around 10 or so years ago and is no longer the same Tri-X I grew up with. The current Tri-X is closer to the old version of T-Max 400, right down to the finer grain and purplish residual tint in the film base, while old Tri-X finished with a more steely gray base and somewhat chunkier grain. HP5+ remains closer to a traditional emulsion. Same with FP4+, which has fine enough grain and beautiful tonality around EI 64-80 that I find little need for Delta 100.
  6. "Is Ilford's Delta-100 Professional 4x5" Black & White Negative Sheet Film (ISO-100) their version of Kodak's T-Max 100?"

    "While technically similar, I would argue their base and look are dramatically different to my eye."​
    No argument needed. I would agree, Michael, but that wasn't the question. Ilford's Delta tabular grain, thin emulsion films are their version of Kodak's T-grain emulsions. Period.
    The "look" of the results are variable depending developer and processing techniques of either film. The "comparison" of the two, under similar processing conditions, is an entirely different question that Lex was generous in elaborating.
  7. Well if you mean it's their version of a tab type film sure. But in my experience, especially using
    sheet film, they are entirely different looking films from the base, to the composition of the grain, and
    how it's developed. When I think of versions, I think of id-11 being ilfords version of d-76, where the formula was once identical.

    For example I would tend to use the T max for landscape photography with a bit more pop, but I
    would prefer in many cases the Delta film for use in architectural photography. The fine, even grain
    lends itself well to angles.

    Aside from both being b&w, and tabular grain, I wouldnt say they have much in common, but that is
    my opinion. I used to shoot a lot of Delta 100 when it came out in my view camera, xpan, and sw/cm
    for architectural work. The emulsions between each brands respective three film sizes are virtually
    identical aside from the thickness of the base.

    I still use a lot of Delta 100 and 400 in 120.

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