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Film Review Friday: Kodak T-Max 400

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

If you're searching for a 400-ISO black and white film, chances are you've probably come across some mentions of the Kodak T-Max 400. I got my first T-Max 400 film as a gift (thank you, gift giver!) and I didn't really do any prior research before shooting it so I didn't really know what I was expecting. But if you want to know what's in store for you then I'd say you're at the right place!


The 400 T-Max is arguably the world's sharpest 400-speed black and white film
The 400 T-Max is arguably the world's sharpest 400-speed black and white film

Kodak T-Max 400: Cold Hard Facts


Available for both 35mm and 120mm camera formats, the T-Max 400 is one of Kodak's two black and white 400-speed film rolls. The Tri-X 400 is arguably the more well-known one of the two, although I must say not necessarily the more superior one.


Also offered in the 100-speed, the T-Max, according to Kodak, is the world's sharpest and finest grained 400-speed black and white film. It features high efficiency multi-zone Kodak T-Grain Emulsion, which is supposed to allow for greater enlargement. Its 400 speed makes it an ideal film to capture fast actions or photos under low light conditions.


All Kodak's black and white films are a part of their professional film collection. This means a few things, but mainly, it means that they retail for a slightly higher price compared to their collection of consumer films. The T-Max 400 itself retails for around 11-12 EUR.


Kodak T-Max 400 in Action


I shot the T-Max 400 with my Ricoh 35 EFS rangefinder camera in the middle of summer in Malta, and considering the blazing sun on this tiny Mediterranean island, I'm quite shocked that the result was not more overexposed.



Tourists enjoying the view of Valletta, Malta from afar

Black and white image of a man on a beach

Double-exposed black and white film
Happy accident! Did not mean to shoot this as a double exposure, but ended up liking it.

In general, I really like the look that resulted from the T-Max 400. The resulting photos have a medium to high contrast, which I particularly am a fan of. Having shot a 400-speed during summer, I think it's also this level of contrast that saves the photos from looking flat or dullish.


400-speed films typically have larger grains than their lower-speed counterparts, but I have to say the T-Max is certainly quite fine-grained for its kind. The resulting photos are also crisp and sharp, but I wouldn't say it's so noticeable that I'd dub the T-Max the sharpest or finest-grained black and white 400-speed film. Although, I will not object to it either if the science checks out (😉).


Further speaking of grain, what I like about the T-Max is that although it has fine grain, the grain is still visible enough to give the photos that distinct characteristic of an analog photo. So you've really got the best of both worlds!


Its 400-speed is also a plus, especially if you're a beginner in film photography. These fast-speed films will allow you some extra room for mistakes. You don't need to worry much about the light conditions before you shoot, so you can focus on just shooting. I would say to try to limit its usage outdoors under the scorching sun to prevent overexposure, but even then, the film's contrast still gives life to the resulting photos.


Kodak T-Max 400: Final Verdict


Not much of a mystery here in terms of my final verdict on the T-Max 400. I love it! I think the combination of its reliability, medium-high contrast and grain have earned it a spot as one of my favorite black and white rolls aside from the Rollei Retro 400s. As I mentioned, I think the same combination also makes it a great black and white roll for film newbies.


I will definitely shoot with this film again, and this time, I'm excited to do it under lower light conditions.

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