The Consistency of HP5
Introducing HP5, the most popular choice of the film stocks and there’s good reason for it.
Strengths: Rated at a 400 ISO, this is a rapid and consistent film that can be used in all types of daytime lighting, yet can be metered all the way to ISO 3200/36. It presents a robust mid-range of tones from sepia to high contrasting punchy blacks. It’s one of those tried and true films that can be used just about anytime and anywhere. Check out the range of colors in HP5 below. The first photo shows the deep variety of contrast, and the second picture shows all the potential for sepia toned grays in that are highlighted within this film stock.
The Cinematic Silvery Tones of Delta 100
Strengths: Delta 100 is a film is a slower speed gem that ideal for taking daylight portraiture and nature photography. You can actually see the details of alabaster tones within the sky and the stalks of wheat. Notice the balance of peppery grays and gentle ivories on this particularly sunny day. This film stock really showcases silvery tones to the max. It’s absolutely sharp enough to capture fine details, notice there is little to no blur within the blades of grass in the photo below and there is a delicate balance of blur and refinement in the wheat above. You can clearly see the texture of each photograph. Available in 35mm and 120 formats. Grab this roll!
The Sharpness of XP2
XP2 is a secret weapon among black and white films. It’s actually quite multifaceted film as it has the finest grain of the Ilford bunch, therefore you will get very detailed images. It can be used for all things but really shines when there is a full range of lighting presented in the shot. Also, here’s a reminder that this film is NOT processed in typical black and white processing. This film stock undergoes C-41 (color) processing, which really allows for deep tonal saturation to be reflected within each photograph. XP2 also has very wide exposure latitude, making the film easy to expose even under challenging conditions. Check out the distinct details of the tree, the elements of the garbage bags in the second photo, and the bars on the ramp in the third photo. You can easily garner fantastic results!
The stark beauty of Pan F
Don’t let the slow speed of this film stock deter you from picking it up. Strengths: It really is a gorgeous film that is perfect for portraiture as it captures tone and definition like no other. Check out the sharp distinctive texture shown on the skin of the models below. This film stock perfectly reveals the subtle highlights of the women’s nose, cheek, and neck. Also the stark difference between the ombre tones of the brick wall behind the model, though not as sharp, are truly distinctive.
The model below also further proves how beautiful this film stock performs with a bit more shadow. Check out the range of black in this picture! The model’s hair maintains a peppery shade of jet black, his glasses are a supreme obisidan, and his skin tone is a gentle sable. We can also note that his collar is a dusty shade that is clearly darker than the rest of his shirt. The blacks are so definitive in fact, that there is even a clear distinction between his ear and his earbuds. Also check out how stark in contrast the white elements are on his glasses and the light shown on his left eye.
FP4: The Contrast King
If you want a dose of DRAMA, take a roll of FP4 on the town. Sure it’s a slower speed film but it fully captures the deepest ebony and the cleanest alabasters without any muddiness. Take this photo of Luis Mendez for example. In the foreground, every aspect of raven and slate is at its tonal peak, and every detail is super sharp (take a look at his camera!) and yet the woman’s pants in the background are also truly expressed in white. The distinction is incredible.
Additional ways to make this film pop. Excerpt from Ilford website: Using a deep red filter, skies can be rendered almost black, and most green vegetation almost white. Unusual tonal rendition—interesting results for portraits landscapes, townscapes, and architecture. Best results in bright sunshine, or in studio under tungsten lighting. Has full panchromatic sensitivity to ensure good pictorial contrast with or without the use of filter. Use yellow, orange, red filters. Redder the more dramatic. Get it here, starting at only $7.89!
Ortho Plus 80
Ortho Plus is a slower speed film, but truly reigns supreme with architecture and nature photography. Grab this roll if you want to hit the streets of Manhattan or capture the mountains of Montana. It really shines with presenting the rustic stony grays of hills and valleys as well as the slate of looming skyscrapers. This film is also sensitive to blue and green light, so a deep red safelight can be used if you happen to process it within a darkroom.
The Dexerity of Delta 3200
This high speed film is the creme de la creme of film stocks in general. There aren’t many films that are made with such low sensitivity to light to begin with and its a true workhorse for low lighting situations and high action. This is a film stock for the partiers and concert goers, as an ideal place to shoot this film stock would definitely be a dance club or music hall. Check out the beauty of this film below. The white of the man’s shirt in the first photograph is a crispy alabaster and his skin is also obsidian without losing depth of tone. Also, the boxing photo below showcases this film it its best light. Even though the two men are deep in fight, the action is clear to see though blurriness. Also the distinction of their boxing shorts has an alabaster sheen that is positively satiny. It also reigns in capturing the detail of the gym through the darkness.
In all honesty, Ilford is killing the game but continuing to create a comprehensive assortment of black and white film stocks that can address all the needs of the student, novice, and professional photographers. Who knew black and white film could come in such variety?