Scanning Kodak T-MAX 400

I mentioned in my last two posts that the results straight from my Epson V370 photo scanner when scanning the Kodak T-Max 400 film from Kodak Alaris ended up being different from the edit that I made to the photos. So I thought I would share the comparisons and the initial scan versus the changes that I made. I don’t often talk about scanning as I find it a little bit laborious - but the truth is that its totally changed my outlook on film photography - and its changed my photos too.

For the first six years of my film photography journey I was very reliant on who was developing my films and scanning them - and at the time I didn’t even realise how important that was. But now that I scan my own, I know there is a whole added step to getting from an analogue negative to a digital image. So lets explore that step and what I’ve done with Kodak’s T-Max 400 film today.

The photos on the left of the cool swipe feature that I just discovered are the original scans from the scanner using the Epson scan automatic settings for black and white film. As I mentioned in my last post - you can see a really lovely gradient of the mid greys that this film produces - and overall, they are still nice photos, with a fine, smooth (almost romantic I think) grain. In fact, many people might be quite happy with those as a result. However, I definitely prefer my photos to have a stronger contrast, its something I tweak fairly often with colour and black and white film.

The right photos to me now seem to jump from the screen - the amazing bird sculpture in particular is thrown forward so that you can’t miss it and the depth of field in the background with that lovely blur, seems even further back. Some would argue that in upping the contrast I do lose some of the detail in the images - but what good is that detail when the overall image seems flat and unfortunately, a little bit forgettable because of that. I’m OK with the trade off.

So there you are - a visual of how different the film looked when scanned to how I edited it - I don’t think its actually that much but what do you think? Would you edit the left images as well or leave them as they are? Do you scan your own films and if so, how much do you tweak your photos after you’ve scanned them?

Film: Kodak T-Max 400 - sent to me for free by Kodak Alaris (thank you so much!) and developed by The Latent Image (not for free, I would just highly recommend them)

Camera: Canon EOS 750
Location: Reeth, Yorkshire Dales

Little Details around Reeth

Whilst we were in the Yorkshire Dales for a few days we stayed in the village of Reeth - which for a small village has three pubs which still makes me smile. Yes we tried them all, and they were all great. I love a Yorkshire pub.

Anyway, as I was using Kodak’s T-Max 400 film which claims to be “The sharpest, finest-grained 400-speed black-and-white film in the world” I figured the best way to test this out would be to focus on my favourite little details and see how the film coped with those.


I think its safe to say that T-Max 400 does have a lovely grain to it which compliments the depth of field in the photo above rather deliciously.


I really love how the film captured the light really wonderfully too and the delightfulness of the old signs (I’m such a sucker for those). I tried to find photos with textures, light and a variation of tones to really put this film through its paces and I’m really pleased with the results and that the nuances in the grey tones came out. On initial scan, the film felt quite flat, which I think was more a result of the automatic Epson settings than a result of the film itself, so I was very relieved when the film found its depth through some small tweaks.

I’m not sure what the technical term for this would be for film, or if there is one - but in lighting (I’m a lighting designer too) the ability of a lamp to show the colours within a scene depends on the colour rendering index number. I feel like this film has the ability and finesse to capture a large variation of mid tone greys that I haven’t quite seen in other films I’ve tried (admittedly I haven’t tried loads) even my beloved Kodak BW400CN drew me in by its contrasting darker and lighting tones. And although it seems funny to get excited about mid greys - grey is grey right - when you think that a black and white photo is essentially all grey (with true black being nothing and true white being all colours) then the importance of being able to show as many greys as possible seems quite important for a black and white film haha.

Did I just accidentally get technical? Is there a technical equivalent for colour rendering in black and white film? Is film indexed that way like lamps? I have no idea! Anyone?

Film: Kodak T-Max 400 - sent to me for free by Kodak Alaris (thank you so much!) and developed by The Latent Image (not for free, I would just highly recommend them)
Camera: My fave Canon EOS 750
Location: Reeth, Yorkshire Dales.

A trip to the Yorkshire Dales

I’m so delighted to be sharing these photos with you today as they are the first within a group of posts, not only sharing photos from the beautiful Yorkshire Dales - but also in the search for my new favourite black and white film.


As some of you may remember, I have waxed lyrically about Kodak BW400CN often and I am still so sad that it was discontinued (find my many photos here). Amazingly, Kodak Alaris contacted me about trying out some of their other black and white films in an attempt to fill the void. So, on that note, I am obliged to tell you that the film used in this blog post was sent to me free of charge (yes, that does happen, and wow, its happened to me - I still can’t believe it). I did however have to pay for the developing - which I had done by The Latent Image and then I scanned the films myself. The views in this post are my own.

So, first up is Kodak TMax 400 - I asked for the 400 films specifically, one because Kodak BW400CN was a 400 ISO film - but also because the UK Spring is more like the UK Winter just with a bit more sunshine. I find 400 ISO film very versatile in the UK and used a lot of it during the months that weren’t summer for my 2016 366 project. I do wonder if I use this film in the Summer how it will fair and that is definitely something I plan to test and share with you later in the year.


I’ve been a little conflicted in how to share these photos with you as I’m aware that now I scan my own photos, the presentation of this film may not be how others present it. So I decided to be fully transparent and tell you how I did it - I initially scanned these with my Epson Scanner (V370 photo) to the automatic black and white settings and then I edited them to how I wanted them to look. This mostly involved tweaking the mid tones to be a bit brighter and then upping the contrast.

The reason I edited them afterwards is that the photos weren’t singing to me with the initial Epson scan when I looked at them. I’m going to write another post showing the before and after but my ultimate goal with this film was to see if it made me love it. I wanted to get photos that felt like a punch in the chest when I looked at them and I’m happy to say that this film definitely gives results that do that for me. I tried not to edit the photos too much as I didn’t want to take the images too far away from what the film can do and luckily it didn’t take too much work to get the images to how I wanted them to feel.


The photo above is a great example - the speckling of the light against the different shaped stones in the wall tugged at me when I took the photo - and I’m really pleased the the depths of the black in this photo offset against highlights of the beautiful light that we had that day.


This photo also, I just love it. Not only do I love the texture of the wall against the grass, but I love how it captured that Yorkshire Dale gritty greyness - I know, I know its a black and white photo - but the weather had turned on us by this point and although it was cold, there was something so lovely about being in the middle of the Dales, with no one else around (we saw on person on a bike eventually) and the hills fading in the distance as you looked around. This photo captured that ‘ness’ of the location somehow and I really like that about it.

I’ll be sharing more thoughts about this film (and others, Kodak Alaris have been amazingly generous, I’m still pinching myself!), the process, the scanning etc - however I am not a technical photographer or reviewer - as I mentioned above, I want my photos to make me feel something - so I guess I’m an emotive, intuitive photographer? However, if you’re looking for more technical information on this film, definitely look on the Kodak Alaris website and also check out the articles and posts on Emulsive about this film - they like the technical details over there!

Film: Kodak T-Max 400 - sent to me for free by Kodak Alaris (thank you so much!) and developed by The Latent Image (not for free, I would just highly recommend them)

Camera: Canon EOS 750 (mine, bought for like £5 in a charity shop - bargain of my life!)
Location: Reeth, Yorkshire Dales (which was delightful, I want to be there right now)