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Test 0ne Ilford ID-11 against Kodak Tmax

Developer Ilford ID-11
ILFORD ID-11 is widely regarded as the industry standard powder developer. Catering for general, scientific and technical photography, this popular film developer produces excellent results with all black & white films.

ID-11 gives the perfect blend of fine grain, sharpness and tonal rendition producing negatives which allow a high degree of enlargement. It particularly excels on slow to medium speed films as well as occasions when a wide range of films and film speeds have been used.

Developer Tmax
Kodak T-Max Film Developer
Kodak T-Max Film Developer is a liquid concentrate black and white film developer. You will get a good balance of fine grain, sharpness, and tones. It will give you particularly good shadow detail.
T-Max Film Developer works well with normally exposed film as well as pushed film.

Ideal for processing T-Grain films such as Ilford Delta or Kodak T Max. Kodak T-Max Film Developer has been specially designed to get the most out of these modern films. Additionally, it will also work well with a wide range of black and white films.

We use Ilford ID-11 as our standard go to black and white developer. It is one of the industry standard products. You can process virtually any type of black and white film using it from the slowest ISO speeds to the fastest.

We have conducted this test as a guide to show in our opinion what characteristics each developer that we offer gives to the overall look of the images. In this test we have processed two films taken at exactly the same time and cut into sections to be processed in each developer solution simitaniously. Each different developer test will be compared to our standard ID-11 solution to see any differences. We have scanned each section of film to a large Tiff file. No adjustments have been made to the scans, no sharpening, no change in contrast, they are as you will see them. The film used is 100 iso Kentmere film.


000068330011   000068330008

000068330010     000068330007



000068330001     000068330002

000068330003    000068330004


Our observations
In the outset you might think that Tmax developer would have slightly more contrast than the long standing ID-11 but in our test the Ilford developer has more contrast, deeper blacks and a higher white value in its appearance.
The Tmax developer gives a lower contrast in the highlight areas such as the white tones in the flowers and a marginally softer back in the shadow areas thus giving the appearance of a lower contrast.
Enlarged to 5 times the size there is no visible difference in the film grain
All in all the differences are quite subtle, but you can see a difference between the two so if you want a tiny bit more contrast then ID-11 will have the edge but if you want a bit more detail in the whites then the Tmax is the choice but we will stress tha the differences are subtle.

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  1. The photographs were taken all on the same day at the same time on the same film, the film was subsequently cut in to portions and processed in the relevant test chemicals one after the other. That is how we determine the results of out test and it is in our opinion and experience over 46 years of processing black and white film that we draw our conclusions. Many thanks for your observations

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  2. Bernard Lazareff

    I wonder how yu can draw conclusions such as "the Ilford developer has more contrast..." "The Tmax developer gives a lower contrast in the highlight areas..." when comparing pictures taken of different scenes?

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