Ilford Black & White Film Review / Ilford FP4 ReviewA quick 2 part Ilford FP4 review (120 and 35mm black and white film) with sample photos (portraits) taken with a Leica M3, Yashica MG-1, ARAX-CM and more..
PART 1 : Ilford FP4 125 film (35mm & 120)
Ilford FP4 PlusHere are the first samples of me using medium format 120 Ilford FP4+ black and white film. Photos were shot on my Russian 6×6 ARAX-CM camera (Kiev 88)(aka “Hasselbladski” – Hasselblad clone) and a Russian Mir 3 65mm f3.5 lens. I shot the ISO 125 film at 250.
Ilford FP4 Developed in RodinalI develop my own black and white film using a Patterson tank. Here I used Rodinal Stand Development, 45mins 22 degree with 1 inversion (so semi-stand developing really). I used 1:150 rodinal to tap water. Once dried negatives were scanned with a Epson v600 scanner then cleaned up and contrast enhanced in Photoshop Elements 6. I found the negatives to be a little flat (with lens contrast) so next time I will develop for less time so the shadow stay black. I will also invert more than once to make the highlights brighter (as during stand developing highlights develop first then if left longer shadow detail next. I normally use Kodak T-Max 100 and 400 film. T-Max has a finer grain structure and can look more like digital if very sharp and contrasty. Ilford FP4+ film is more grainy with nice tonality give a more filmic look i think. I like it but i think for 35mm film FP4+ developed in Rodinal may be too grainy for my portraits (however fantastic for architecture).
Ilford FP4 120 Flickr photosAs a comparison to the above photo shown, here is the same photo with the Leica M9 in colour. I have to say on this occasion for me the 35mm digital vs. medium format film battle is won by the 35mm digital.
Ilford FP4 Developing – It’s easier than you think!Here are a few old photos from when I shot my very first roll of black and white film on my late Grandfathers 35mm Yashica MG-1 . It was also the first roll of film I ever developed – December 2012. I was both amazed and overjoyed when this seemingly old fashioned process of developing black and white film at home actually worked! Even now they are some of my favourite film shots. They look like film and have a great retro feel, rather than all the later 35mm Kodak T-Max shots that looked more modern.
Ilford FP4 Developed in Xtol
35mm Ilford FP4 Plus film – Developed by Ilford
Film vs. Digital Leica M9I think when film can offer me something extra or different to digital then I get excited. During 2013 I shot almost all Kodak T-Max film. I then bought a digital 35mm Leica M9 rangefinder camera. The results from the M9 look filmic due to the Kodak CCD sensor. As a result my use of film temporarily stopped. Ilford FP4+ film gives a look that is more grainy that the images from the digital Leica and with a much greater dynamic range.
Voigtlander Bessa R3AAs I still have a Voigtlander Bessa R3A 35mm rangefinder film camera that uses my amazing Leica M mount lenses I am now excited at the prospect of shooting some 35mm Ilford FP4+ film. I have a roll of 35mm Kodak T-Max 100 in the camera at the moment and but I will definitely order some 35mm FP4+ film to try next. I also want to try some ADOS film as I have a soft spot for high contrast black and white images.
Ilford FP4 DevelopingTonight I developed a roll of 35mm T-Max 100 that was shot on the Voigtlander Bessa R3A at ISO 400 at the start of the summer (before the Leica M9 arrived). Most of the photos were shot at the end of the day in low light conditions using the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens at f1.4. Taking this into consideration, I decided to use Rodinal stand development 1:150 ratio again for 45mins but this time with 3 inversions during the stand. The plan was to push the highlights (so brighter) and underexpose the shadows (to give black blacks) to give some punchy high contrast negatives. The negatives are currently drip drying over the bath but I think at first glance I will have contrasty negatives that may be a little dark (perhaps) but I can brighten the highlights when I scan tomorrow if I need to. I did the shoot while in Edinburgh on a work trip with local model Emma and that combination usually produces some very rewarding images. New Kodak T-Max images coming soon!
PART 2: Ilford FP4 125 35mm FilmIlford FP4 125 35mm film was the first film I tried, in my late Grandfathers 35mm Yashica MG-1 back in 2012. FP4+ film has a classic grain structure and negatives often have a vintage low contrast grainy appearance. I find the grainy appearance of FP4+ and Kodak Tri-X 400 can sometimes be too much for my female portraits shot on 35mm film so I wanted to try to minimize grain when developing.
Ilford FP4 vs TMax 100I bought 3 rolls of Ilford FP4 35mm plus to try it again (Ilford FP4 vs Kodak TMax 100 film I used mostly in 2013-2014). I decided to load a roll in my 1950s Leica M3, with Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2 lens at f1. The FP4 plus film was developed at box speed in 1:100 Rodinal, semi stand developed for 45 minute at 21 degrees. Negatives were scanned with my new Epson v800 scanner at 2400dpi using an Epson v600 35mm film insert (placed on the v800 glass). Please see the results below. FP4 film has a lot of character and it is up there with my current favourites.
Ilford FP4 Leica Photos
Black and white film posts (a sample of!)
- How to Process Film through to Digital (Develop, Scan, Edit)
- How to Develop Film at Home (Step by Step Guide)
- Rodinal Stand Development / Semi-Stand Development (Guide)
You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
- See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
- See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE
12 thoughts on “Ilford Black & White Film Review / Ilford FP4 Review”
I agree about the grain in FP4+. It looks like film. When shooting 35mm I mainly shoot HP5+ pushed to 1600. I develop at home as well and scan with an older v500 scanner. I’m happy with the results for medium format. I’m planning on moving forward with professional scanning for 35mm. What kind of negative holder are you using with your scanner?
Cheers my friend.
Thanks Ben. I scan 35mm with the standard Epson v600 35mm film holder. It comes with 120 & 35mm widths. I’ve not tried HP5+ so will check out some example images. Thanks.
I’ve not used Ilford or HP4+, but it looks a lot like Kodak Tri-X to me with the blacks a little more rich. Reminds me of the Agfa film I used to shoot, though I think it’s now made my Rollo?
Thanks Frank. Yes I love the look of Rollei Retro 80 film but have not had chance to buy any yet as often out of stock. I think FP4+ is also a bit like Tri-X in terms of grain.
FP4+ is a very good emulsion. Ilford shines in black and white.
You can try Agfa APX 100 film. This emulsion has cubic grain and provides great detail and halftones.
Thanks Jose, I will try to get some Agfa APX, thanks!
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I mainly shoot HP5+ its the grain and contrast that I shoot film for.
I shoot it anywhere from 200 to 3200 iso and process in ilfotec HC its such a versatile film 🙂
I like the higher contrast of FP4+ however I may need to get mayself some HP5+ for low light shooting. Cheers
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Thanks for these advices. I saw on some of your pictures some white dots, which come in my case from the last bath of tensio-active agent ( Agfa Sistan, Tetenar Mirasol 2000 antistatic ) and apparently you solve this issue : what is your advice for such bath, and to dry the firm ?
I didn’t find in your tests the use of the ID-11 / D76 : did you tried it ? Using it at 1+3 gives a lower contrast and an increased grain, but a nice border effect comparable to the Rodinal’s. A classical, good intermediate between the character from Rodinal and the mid-tones and grain from the Xtol in my opinion. What do you think ?
Thanks Damian, No i’ve not tried D76 yet, thanks for the info, I must try it once i use my existing chemicals. That said i’ve been happy with my Xtol and or Rodinal results most of the time. Occasionally I get white marks but usually only developing marks if anything. Matt