Ilford HP5 Plus 400
Which black and white film should I start with?
For people who are new to photography, this is one of the most often asked questions. People are usually either impressed by the unique result produced from the black and white film or are attracted by the texture of the photo which cannot be replicated in digital format. In my opinion, shooting in black and white can help film shooters practice using different light sources and obtain more layers of gradients without worrying about the colours. As long as you like black and white photography, you can’t go wrong with this film.
Name: Ilford HP5+
Film type: Black and white
Character: High contrast with high grain structure
Ilford HP5+ is a classic black and white film with grainy texture. Among all other types of black and white film, I would describe HP5 and Kodak Tri-x as two extremes. It has relatively better contrast and higher grain structure while the later one gives lower contrast and is usually used by many famous photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson.
Greyscale and sharpness
HP5 has a rough character. It gives your image that journalistic feel yet with a vintage tone when you shoot it at ISO400, while the same line up of Delta 400 gives you a more pictorial result. I like to use HP5 in documentary type of photography and it gives me the timeliness feeling. I also do prefer it over the Kodak Tri-X mainly because Tri-X makes the picture looks too greyish when there isn’t much contrast.
How is HP5 different from other brands?
Note: Table developed based on my personal experiences with the different BW films and developers.
With classic emulsion, it has high grain structure at ISO 400 and of course, it also depends on which developer you use. If you develop it with HC-110, the grain will be coarser. However, if you pair this with DDX, it will be silky smooth. Comparing HP5 with Delta 400, Delta 400 looks less classic but with more fine grain structure. Then in that case, why do people still go for HP5 instead of Delta 400? It all depends on your taste and HP5 can easily be recognized by its unique characters.
Flexibility to push or pull the film
Ilford HP5 plus has flexibility to be pushed up to ISO1600 or even at ISO3200, and the result is excellent. I would recommend processing it with Ilford DDX developer in order to achieve the finest grain and to improve its overall details and sharpness.
What lenses did I use to take these images?
Leica Summicron 35mm f2 v1
Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v1 collapsible
Leica Summicron 50mm f2 v1 radioactive
Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 v2
Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v3