Ilford HP5: The King of Black and White


When I shoot black and white, there is one film I turn to more than any other. It's a stalwart, bullet-proof film, reliable until the last. Ilford HP5 Plus.

Credits: adam_g2000

Its 400 ISO rating means that it’s perfectly suited for plastic cameras, whose lenses are less bright than their glass cousins. They let less light in so even in bright sunlight with your Diana (for example) you are still better off with 400 speed.

It can be pulled and pushed, pushed as far as 1600 with good results, great for natural results without flash.

It has very good grain for a 400 speed film, it doesn’t take away from your shots and allows plenty of detail to shine through.

Being from the UK where Ilford is from, I tend to use it instead of Kodaks offerings. So I can’t compare but I trust it.

The following shots show just how good it is at picking up detail. I used it to pick up all the tones and pits in the service of the old concrete at a series of gun placements that have seen a few wars (though never fired in anger).

Credits: adam_g2000

It has an amazing dynamic range, it can see a wide range of light and record it well in complicated scenes.

Credits: adam_g2000

It’s excellent for portraiture too.

For those who self develop (like I do) it’s very lenient if you make mistakes. I’ve used other films that reticulate like crazy if your temperatures are even slightly out, but HP5 can handle a few degrees variation.

Credits: adam_g2000

I can’t recommend it highly enough. Want results? HP5 Plus.

written by adam_g2000 on 2012-09-21 in #reviews #complicated-scenes #uk #tones #black-and-white-film #dynamic-range #recommended #highly-regarded #ilford


  1. impaktor
    impaktor ·

    Some really nice pictures!

  2. kiri-girl
    kiri-girl ·

    I like this film too - 400 is very handy

  3. alex34
    alex34 ·

    It's a super film. You can also buy bulk rolls.

  4. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    I have really been warming up to the Ilford HP5, I have had bad experiences with iso 400 living in a tropical climate and tons of available light, but I was pleasantly surprised my first time using it, how little grain there was and how clear my shots were compared to some other brands. I have a bulk of a off brand with heavy grain that I need to use up and when finished, I will replace with Ilford.

  5. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @neanderthalis what bulk roll did you buy? Was it that xtreme stuff and if so, how did you find it?

  6. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    I bought some 120 Ultrafine Xtreme, they have their own website, plus sell through some other online venues. It was really nice and easy to use. I then bought a package of 20 rolls in 35 style, and find it does not behave the same. I will use it, but I do not think I will purchase again in 35. But the 120 is very nice

  7. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @neanderthalis I've used that brand 120 too - I really liked it. I reckon it's comparable to HP5 in 120 form.

  8. simonh82
    simonh82 ·

    Great photos, great review!

  9. lokified
    lokified ·

    I've only bought the Ilford HP5 Plus once, and my one hour photo lab processed it in C41, leaving most of my photos ruined. Nice to see that the film itself is worth buying again!

    (I didn't go back to that lab)

  10. sirio174
    sirio174 ·

    great film, that I use from 200 to 800 ISO!

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