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Ilford FP4+ 125: Sharp But Unforgiving

Ilford FP4 Plus 125 is a high-quality film, with a fine grain, excellent for getting the fine detail. However, I find it hard to get it right when there is a wide range of lighting in a shot.

Photo by adam_g2000

Ilford has always been my favourite manufacturer of black and white films. I find the range most comprehensive, and here in Auckland they are easy to acquire.

Ilford FP4 Plus 125 is a high quality film, recommended for having a very fine grain, therefore being capable of picking up very fine details of the subjects you are shooting.

This makes it great if you want to do sizable enlargements and really squeeze the detail out of your shots. Historically, when I shot the images used here in this review, I was doing exactly that in my own darkroom (which sadly is no longer the case).

Although Ilford suggests that it has ‘latitude for exposure error’ I must admit I found this not to be the case. Mostly, I expected this because of my lack of skill at the time, especially if there is a wide scale of light in the shot. I always seem to blow out highlights and underexpose the darker areas.

A disappointing shot.

However, I must say I still prefer to get it right in the camera as much as possible, so I use it mostly in cameras with a light meter. You cannot argue with it being excellent at picking up fine details; the hairs in these shots of a cat show this!

It also very evident in the quality of the lattice structure and the water in the Auckland Harbour bridge here, the wood and walls in these pontoons.

In summary, I wouldn’t think it’s particularly well-suited for use with La Sardina, or Diana F+ cameras, which I would probably feed Delta 400 Professional or something similar for fun with the grit and grain.

I think if you are going out for the day with something that grabs fine detail like a Lubitel, or an LC-A+ I might want to go out with this. I plan, soon, to feed some to my Holga, it captures very fine detail only in the very centre of a shot and I think this film would enhance that.

I’d like to know if you agree; has anyone had the same experience of FP4 as me? When do you use it? Any plans for any future projects with Ilford FP4?

Unrivalled when it comes to high quality B&W photography, the Ilford FP4 Plus is a great choice for enlargements with its fine grain, high acutance and exceptional sharpness. Check it out with the rest of our black and white film selection.

written by adam_g2000

1 comment

  1. gvelasco

    gvelasco

    I agree with you exactly. Ultra fine detail at the expense of latitude. You can get great results, but you do have to be more conscientious about exposure.

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