I have recently started using a Diana F+ again after a year or so of sticking to 35mm and I have now decided that by far and away, my favorite film is the Ilford XP2 120 400 ISO, even if it has long expired.
I have to admit, as much as I love black and white film photographs, I find black & white film difficult. It costs more to buy it in the first place, and more to develop it at the labs. I have avoided it for a long time for these reasons. When I decided to get back into it again a few months ago, I knew that the best films cost wise would be those that develop in normal C41 chemicals so all labs can develop them. So, I bid on a few packs of film on ebay and ended up winning 10 rolls of XP2 in 120 format. When I got my new Diana F+, this was the first film I tried in it. Unfortunately, and for reasons I am still not entirely sure of, that first roll came back from the lab totally blank.
I was quite disheartened but as I had another 9 rolls of the stuff I knew I needed to give it another go. Plus I had a trip to New York City planned and I knew I would shoot tons of photos so I needed to try to keep developing costs to a minimum when I returned home. These became my first shots on the XP2 and I fell in love with them instantly when I saw the results.
The film only cost me £3.20 for all 10, which was a super bargain. Then I found a place not too far from my home where you can have a roll of 120 C41 developed for £1.50, and as I have my own scanner, I don’t need to worry about CDs or anything. This is what attracted me to this film in the first place, and this is what will keep me going back to it time and time again. That and the fact that the picture quality is so great. I am not a technical girl, in fact I am unsure what most words mean in photography, but according to Ilford's website, the results from the XP2 have:
“particularly high sharpness, and much lower graininess, compared with conventional films of the same speed. In addition, graininess is reduced by overexposure – the opposite of what is found with conventional films”
I would have to say I agree with this. I used some 400 ISO Ilford Delta in the same conditions and the results were nowhere near as good as with this stuff – much grainier, and not as sharp.
I also love how it doesn’t seem to matter how expired this stuff is. My rolls are a good 5 years out of date now, yet the results have been beautiful and I have not been disappointed. My favourite New York trip photos were taken on this film, and that has made me a fan of the stuff for life.