Ilford HP5 Plus has a solid reputation for versatility. I’ve been shooting a lot more of this film lately to prove its reputation for myself.
Until I started developing and scanning black-and-white film at home, I was dedicated to Kodak black-and-white films. I put a lot T-Max and Tri-X through my cameras. But HP5 always turns out great in my preferred developer, HC-110. Crucially, HP5 dries nice and flat. It pops into my scanner’s film holder with no fuss. I miss Tri-X, but that stuff curls a ton, and it’s a fight to get it to lay in the film holder.
I’ve shot plenty of HP5 Plus at box speed. I’ve also shot it at EI 1600 to see if it would make a good substitute for films like T-Max P3200 when I’m shooting indoors. This time, I wanted to see what HP5 would look like shot at EI 800. On my January trip to Chicago, my last morning in the city was dull and gray. It was the perfect day to try HP5 at 800.
I made this photo inside Macy’s on State Street, the former Marshall Field flagship store. The building features a glass mosaic ceiling designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It’s spectacular in color (see my photo here) but still very interesting in black and white.
I shot the rest of the roll while walking around in the Loop. HP5 at 800 handled this very gray scene nicely.
I shot this roll in my Olympus OM-2n through my 40mm f/2 Zuiko Auto-S lens. This was a wonderfully compact kit that fit nicely inside my coat on this 15-degree day.
After scanning, I boosted contrast on all of these images in Photoshop. That’s the only post-processing they required.
I am pleased with how managed the grain is in these photographs. It is much more noticeable at EI 1600.
I’ll keep experimenting with HP5 Plus. I’ll try it at EI 200 and EI 3200 yet. I feel sure I’ll get a good look at 200, but 3200 might be pushing it too far. We shall see.
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