I loaded my Ilford FP4 Plus 125 (35 mm) into a new-old camera that had been given to me to try out and test. I thought, why not shoot a monochromatic roll? Once I finished the roll I wandered down to my photo lab, only to be told that they could not develop it, as it was a true black and white film. I gave them a confused look and asked where I could get it developed. Luckily, the one place in Johannesburg that develops is far but manageable from where I live. So, I went there to find out if they could develop it for me.
I was in luck and was told that I should leave it with them for a day as it had to be hand developed for a couple of hours. So what is the difference between “black and white film” and “true black and white film?”
Well, color negative film is processed and developed in C-41. There are some black and white films that can be developed in this process and they will say so on the box. These films are your ordinary black and white films.
Now, there are “True Black and White films”. These films are considered to be the traditional black and white films that are used to take the best black and white images. This film only captures images in black and white, and shades of gray. So, basically, it captures the image in dark and light.
So here is the problem if you try to develop a black and white film with C-41 chemicals: it will actually destroy the image because C-41 chemicals will bleach the film. So, you need chemicals that are specifically made for “true black and white film.” You will either have to develop it yourself or send it out to a photo lab to have it developed. The film looks silver once it has been developed and you can feel the quality when you touch it.
Now, let’s go back to the lovely Ilford FP4 Plus 125, a roll of 24 exposures.
It is a very fine-grained film with great sharpness and detail. It is a medium speed film, being 125 ISO, so it is suitable to use in a variety of lighting conditions.
I enjoyed using this film as I got to learn a little more about film processing and developing. Also now I can say I have shot some “True Black and White” images!
Unrivaled 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.