Film Comparison: Kodak Tri-X vs Ilford HP5+

Kodak Tri-X vs Ilford HP5+

Film Comparison

Side by Side Comparison

Film Comparison: Kodak Tri-X vs Ilford HP5+

11 years ago I started shooting black and white film, Kodak Tri-x 400 and Ilford HP5 were the top of my mind to try. Kodak changed its name from TX400 to 400TX in 2007 and extensively re-engineered the grain structure. At that time I remembered my shots with Kodak Tri-X were so grainy but with an interesting grey tone while Ilford HP5 had more whites in the highlights and Ilford HP5 is normally my “pushable film” now because I often rate it as 1600 to 3200 and find it extremely versatile to develop with Ilford DD-X developer. In 2018, I decided to revisit Tri-X 400 and deeply fall in love with it and its brother Double-X. Hope this comparison will help beginners to pick the black and white film that they want and see the difference between these two films. 

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All sequence will be Kodak Tri-X (LEFT) and Ilford HP5+ (RIGHT)

Film-comparison-type-black-and-white-kodak-tri-x-400-400tx-bw-compare-character-leica-m2-summicron-50mm-f2-50/2-rigid-type2-lateFilm-comparison-type-black-and-white-bw-ilford-hp5-plus-grain-compare-character-leica-mp-summicron-50mm-f2-50/2-dual-range-DR

Cameras and Lenses used for Comparison

Leica M2, Summicron 50/2 Rigid (Tri-x) 

Leica MP, Summicron 50/2 Dual Range (HP5)

Development and Chemicals

Both films shot at box speed (ISO 400), developed in Kodak HC-110 and development time was according to the digitaltruth maintained at 20 degree celsius, stop and fixed with the same process and scanned by Epson V800 with Silverfast and process with LR without further adjustments.

Contrast

Both have medium contrast and great tonality. I like the Kodak 400TX contrast more than HP5.

Kodak Tri-X (LEFT); Ilford HP5 (RIGHT)

Film-comparison-type-black-and-white-kodak-tri-x-400-400tx-bw-compare-character-leica-m2-summicron-50mm-f2-50/2-rigid-type2-lateFilm-comparison-type-black-and-white-bw-ilford-hp5-plus-grain-compare-character-leica-mp-summicron-50mm-f2-50/2-dual-range-DR
Film-comparison-type-black-and-white-kodak-tri-x-400-400tx-bw-compare-character-leica-m2-summicron-50mm-f2-50/2-rigid-type2-lateFilm-comparison-type-black-and-white-bw-ilford-hp5-plus-grain-compare-character-leica-mp-summicron-50mm-f2-50/2-dual-range-DR
Film-comparison-type-black-and-white-kodak-tri-x-400-400tx-bw-compare-character-leica-m2-summicron-50mm-f2-50/2-rigid-type2-lateFilm-comparison-type-black-and-white-bw-ilford-hp5-plus-grain-compare-character-leica-mp-summicron-50mm-f2-50/2-dual-range-DR

Grain

Ilford HP5 is using typical conventional film crystal and Kodak Tri-X also has this cubic grain structure. Both are quite similar but when you push these films, HP5 is less grainy than the other one.

Personal Preference

I still shoot both of these two films under different situations and sometimes I just randomly pick one but when I know I wanna do portraits with medium format cameras, I would prefer using Tri-X to get that classic black and white look. At night if I want to shoot something like skateboarding which requires me to push my film, then I know I will use HP5 so that I can use it at 1600 to 6400 without having so much grain.

You might find that HP5 shots look a little bit underexposed, maybe because both camera’s shutter speed is slightly different.

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