Ilford HP5 is a film which I have limited experience with. I decided to try it because I was looking for a 400 ISO film for use in my medium format cameras. Kodak Tri-x was in my sights but it is quite expensive.
It was suggested that Ilford HP5 is a very nice film which can be pushed very easily if you are struggling with low light conditions. To be honest, pushing film is not something I do often mainly because I am always using a tripod so slow shutter speeds is something which rarely concerns me.
After purchasing a pack of 5 rolls, I decided to try it in my Zeiss Ikon Nettar camera but unfortunately, this led to a disaster for me. The Nettar does not have a frame counter, to see which frame you are on, you have to look through a small red window at the rear of the camera.
I really struggled to see the frame numbers and out of 12, I only managed to expose 3. After I developed the film, I realised why I was struggling, the numbers on the rear of the backing paper were very weak in black, in-fact they were more or less a light grey colour.
I had not done any speed tests with the HP5 film and therefore rated it at ISO 200 which is 1/2 box speed. I had several choices of developer on hand, HC110, Replenished XTOl and PyrocatHD.
Unlike when I use the 5×4 camera, I just metered for the shadow areas where I felt I wanted to retain detail and just let the high values fall where they did. As the roll was exposed under different light sources, I decided to use the Pyrocat developer as this seems to control the high values very well.
The film was developed in a Paterson daylight tank and the Pyrocat was mixed to a 1+1+100 mixture with a total volume of 600ml. The total development time was 16 minutes comprising of an initial 30 second agitation followed by 4 agitations every minute. After the development, the film was stopped using water and then fixed for 5 minutes.
Thoughts on HP5
I have yet to print these in the darkroom but my initial thoughts after scanning a selection of the frames is that HP5 is a very nice film. On medium format, the grain structure is not over powering and the overall tonality is very pleasing. I shall be buying more of HP5 120 Roll film and to be honest, I am even concidering buying a box of 5×4 film to see how it performs on a larger negative.
The following photographs are just some examples of the scans I made from the Mamiya C220 camera. Images produced by the Mamiya C220 are square and I usually print them at 7×7 inches and then mount them into a 16×12 frame. To visualise how they would look framed, I use the Photoshop Frame Tool.