Simulating Kodak Tri-X Black & White Film

By Nick Bedford

In the last six months, my approach to photography has changed a great deal, leading me to switch to film for most of my black and white work. The process of shooting film, from the tactility of the Leica M7 and Nikon FA cameras I use, to the developing and scanning process have given me a much deeper appreciation for the craft of being a photographer.

The issue I face after becoming so accustomed to the rich, grainy texture and tonal range of Kodak's much-beloved TRI-X 400 (400TX) film is that my work has become a sea of monochrome.

I've created some of my best black and white work this year alone, but my long-held desire to carry only a single camera has made it difficult to create both colour and black and white photographs at the same time.

Being able to shoot my digital Leica M Typ 240 and still achieve the feeling of Kodak Tri-X at same time as producing colour work is something I have been reaching for with a new effort to simulate, exactly, the look of 400TX. It has taken me a few months, but I think it's ready.

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COMPARISON // Film Emulation Is A Good Thing

There's something that strikes me every time I view a photograph I take without having applied any sort of preset, and that is just how bland the colour and tonal range is in those photos in comparison to my usual processing.

You get used to seeing through a VSCO coloured lens and forget how different it makes your photographs feel. So I thought I'd show a few photos before and after applying my favourite colour preset based on Fujicolor 800Z film.

It does something absolutely magical to the colours and tonal range in my opinion. It brings skin tones to life, smooths out highlights and shadows while still adding punch to the contrast. It can make a "snapshot" feel like a wonderful moment in time.

There was always something about film and I feel like digital cameras, while very accurate at reproducing what they're seeing, have no life in their default JPEG conversions (or the default settings in raw photo development).

That's why I love using these kinds of film emulation presets.