I was disappointed with the photos from my first roll of Ilford Delta 100.

As much as possible, I want to get the photo right in the camera. That didn’t happen on a single frame of this roll — every shot was at least too light, and several were washed out. Still, after considerable Photoshoppery many nice images emerged. I was astonished by how many. Not this one, however; it’s the worst of the lot. This photo has an interesting ghostly quality to it, but that’s not what I was going for.

Blown out to the max

I used my Nikon F2AS and my 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E lens for these photos. The F2AS’s meter is dead on accurate and wonderfully sensitive, and I had ISO dialed in correctly. On the next roll I shot, however, my batteries were dead, dead, dead. Perhaps weak batteries are to blame for these misexposures.

Fortunately, most of the time detail was not lost, it was just hidden. This photo is the poster child.

Arches (unprocessed)

I adjusted brightness and contrast considerably and got this, which looks much more like my memory of the scene.


I took this photo looking up while standing in my driveway. It’s my favorite shot from the roll — I like the crisp tree branches against the mottled gray sky.

Barren and stark

On the day I shot my Canon T70 in the park near my home, I brought the F2AS, too. If you look through my T70 gallery you’ll see some of these same scenes in color.

Ring things

Bringing these shots back to life in Photoshop revealed good contrast and decent tones.

Shadows 2

I started this roll on my trip to Rose-Hulman back in October. That day was sunny, and the campus is heavily wooded, leading to lots of light/dark contrast. I couldn’t fix a few of those shots, but this one of White Chapel turned out.


I did a lot of Internet searching for user experience with Ilford Delta 100. Reports varied. Some people call this a surefire, can’t-miss film. Some say that it offers high contrast with little in the way of middle tones; one fellow in some forum called Delta 100 “chalk and soot.”

A few reports called Delta 100 fussy in processing. I sent this roll to Dwayne’s, as I do with almost all of my black-and-white film. I get great results from Dwayne’s when I shoot Tri-X or T-Max. Now that I think of it, I got blown-out highlights from a roll of Kentmere 100 that Dwayne’s processed, too. Hm, maybe weak batteries weren’t entirely to blame. Perhaps Dwayne’s is set up for best success with Kodak black-and-white films. I’m guessing wildly here.

This experience has me thinking again about processing my own black-and-white film; maybe I can learn what chemical soup is best for each film I shoot. Or maybe I should just stick with T-Max and Tri-X. I know what I’m getting with those films.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


10 responses to “Shooting Ilford Delta 100”

  1. bodegabayf2 Avatar

    Could’ve been a bad day at the photo lab. Could’ve been a bad roll of film. Could’ve been a fussy meter. That all being said, my Delta results have been hit or miss.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The more I think about it the more I want to blame a and b, not c. Fresh batteries are in the F2 now, with a roll of Neopan 400.

  2. Mike Avatar

    Scanner software settings must sometimes be changed to better match the tonal profile of the film. I often choose to use the TMAX setting in Silverfast on my old Epson 2450 in place of the recommended setting. Sometimes it is also possible to get a better tonal distribution by using a color profile and then converting to b&w.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I would hope that a pro lab like Dwayne’s would figure that stuff out for me. I feel like I’m paying them for that. If I get to the point where I’m processing and scanning my own film, perhaps I need to buy Silverfast, then.

  3. pesoto74 Avatar

    I remember a long time ago I used to use Delta 100 a lot. I even used to buy it in bulk. I always found it to be pretty consistent. Although like I said that was a long time ago. Not sure what the problem could be. I don’t remember the development requirements being all that different from other films of this type.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Maybe I should give it another chance, then. Same with the Kentmere.

  4. Christopher Smith Avatar
    Christopher Smith

    I develop all my own films in Ilford ID11 not had much problems and it’s easy to do but not used Delta 100, but have used other Ilford films
    like PanF and FP4 with good results.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I haven’t tried FP4 but I’ve tried Pan F — in my box Brownie. Surprisingly, that ISO 50 film was too slow for the Brownie!

  5. Richard Scholl Avatar
    Richard Scholl

    Processing your own 35mm black and white film is relatively easy with the proper equipment (primarily a darkroom or changing bag, a tank and a thermometer), and you can use chemicals appropriate for the film. For scanning software, try VueScan (see http://www.hamrick.com). It is significantly less expensive than Silverfast, and you don’t need different versions for different scanners.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks for the perspective on VueScan. $40 is a nice price. One of these days I’ll plunge in and start processing my own film, but for now Dwayne’s still gets all of my business.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: