Tag Archives: Ilford HP5+

Pulling HP5+ and some thoughts about trying new things

I’m an engineer and I spent most of my time making things faster, smaller und cheaper for the sole purpose of increasing the share holder value of the company I work for. How are investors kept happy? One thing is making enough money to pay a hefty dividend. Another, increasing the market capitalization and again another reducing cost while making more money. But the most important is to tell the investors that the company has a vision how to grow in the future. 

It seems that the digital camera industry just works the same way and the best story seems to be the number of megapixel. Nikon seems to lead the dSLRrace with the 45MPixel D850. The Sony alpha a99 follows with 42MPixels. There is even a mirror less Sony a7r that features 42MPixels as well. Sorry, but this is just crazy. When I got out of the digital race, my pro dSLR had just sixteen lousy MPs. At the time of purchase that Nikon flagship cost me about $4000 (body only) and when I sold it a couple of years later it wasn’t worth much.

I also participated in the mirror less race quite a bit since I liked the concept but never liked the results. It all started with the first digital Olympus Pen. Nice Retro looking piece but the images just “to cry for”. I had to edit every frame heavily and the absence of an unsharp region drove me nuts. Later I tried a Fuji X100 with the fixed 35mm pancake lens. Also, I loved the looks of it and actually the results were quite ok but it wasn’t quite versatile. Much later when I already switched back to analog, I tried a highly appraised Olympus OM-D since the Hasselblad died due to a little bit of ice cream jamming the mirror. That was the last resort. I’m sticking to film and I rather stop shooting than going back to serious digital photography. 

I like to be slow and focus with my own hands. I enjoy looking at 12 frames instead of 200 at the end of a day. I think about film, developer, speed and contrast before I go shooting. I’m crazy about collecting all these weird ass cameras and only spend little money on them. For me it’s all about the experiment and the unknown results trying new film stock or chemistry. Messing things up and starting all over again is part of this game. And when I tried it all, I hope there will be Ilford HP5+ which is in the end all one needs to take great photos.

 That’s why here some frames on Ilford HP5+ pulled to ISO200 and developed in my last stock of Spuersinn’s HCDnew. The images were taken with my more than bitchy Rolleiflex 6008. I still don’t know what to do with this camera. 

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Film talk – HP5+ pulled to ISO100

It seems that in our digital age the concept of b&w photography is taken literally by the absence of grey tones in many monochrome images. To make matters worse a lot of the analog community also seems to love that “crunchy” look. Some “reinvented” film stock hit the market in the past year that just gathers to this market while I wonder whether these people would be better off using a mirrorless digital cam. I suppose running no around with a Leica Mx loaded with Ferrania P30 is a real hipster thing today. I wonder what was hip in my days and the only thing I can come up with is a stonewashed pair of jeans. You know what I’m trying to say? Yes, in a couple of years these guys will look like a sad bunch of losers. Like the guys who still wear stonewashed jeans.

Anyway, I guess I’m mostly kidding so far. But when it comes to gray and richness of tonality, I’m getting dead serious. I know what Ansel Adam is teaching us and I believe his book “the negative” is essential to film photography and processing. I might not be a big fan of his most famous images of NP Yosemite but I highly value his zone system theory. It’s still just a model with its limitation in the just impossibly high number of photographic situations but I think it just does fine in almost all situations.

Here is how it works for me and not just for sheet film but medium format. Let’s say you want to shoot a role on a sunny late autumn day with long deep shadows. I would guesstimate the range from the highlights to the darkest shadows to be seven stops. The film can maybe take five stops or a bit more. Now the decision needs to be made whether to have details in the shadows and burn out the highlights or have no detail in the shadows left. Or, you can compress the seven stops into the available range of five by exposing for the shadow detail and developing for the lights.

Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 100 instead of its nominal speed of 400 and developing it for -2 stops drops even three stops in tonal range. I should easily be able to compress all seven stops onto the film. And as the images show, it worked quiet well. There is literally no dark shadow without detail and the highlights are far from being blown out. The tonal range is used without emphasizing on backs and white filling the images with lovely grays. The images show a nice range I‘m surprised the detail contrast is still quite good and that grain has almost disappeared. Also the images are still quite sharp.

I shot another roll on a similar day with the first snow at ISO 200 looking forward to share it here. This will also continue the Rolleiflex 6008 nightmare. In the meantime I’ll work on some images taken with the finally fully repaired Horizon, an old Russian panorama camera, and another “the last roll post since I sold my Mamiya 645 stuff.

stay tuned …

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Ilford HP5+ – the expired film page

The other day I rushed out of my place, grabbed the Konica Hexar AF for the AF and the ‘ease of use’, took a roll of HP5+ and thought that this would serve my intend. I set the ISO to 800 with the believe that HP5+ pushes with some ‘grace’.  I developed the film in Kodak HC110, dilution B, 21C for 7min.

When I looked at the finished film, I realized that it might have been a roll that expired long ago. I checked the canister and it gave an experation date of 1993. Damn, that thing has been expired for 24 years and I treated it as just coming out of the factory. 

What do the years of unknown storage conditions do to a roll of HP5+? First thing I noticed is the totally foggy film base which really doesn’t help the details in the shadows: they are pretty much gone. In the lights you can still find quite some separation and the scan gets this perculiar semi high contrast look of having separation up to the middle of the tonal scale and falling off right after. Some time ago I observed the same with expired UP400 by Maco. The emulsion is apparaently the same as HP5+. So no surprises here.

What I should have done knowing about the film being expired is to rate the film at ISO 100 or 200 and do a semistand development with 1g of potassium bromide added to avoid extensive fogging. However, it’s obviously too late now. I can try the 2nd roll I still keep in the fridge. Or, I might just get rid of it. Sometimes, if the results look like this, using expired film isn’t fun at all.

My cat Maya served as the model of the example images posted here. The rest of the film is far from usable. Images I imagined to be quite well composed were extremely underexposed. 

THIS AIN’T FUN. SAD.

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First look: Tetenal Ultrafin T-Plus

Going on a trip always means seeing new things, meeting different people, eating less known food but also taking lots of new films with you and trying to figure out how to develop them to achieve the wanted look. Of course there is a risk to it: it might not come out the way you imaged it or it could be totally messed up. People tend to do these kind of experiments with shots somewhere around home and easily accessible. But isn’t that kind of boring looking at motives you’ve seen and taken pictures of for so many times? And what’s the worst case scenario messing up completely? You got to go back. Is that really that bad?

On my last trip, I took three films to develop it in the new Tetenal Ultrafin T-Plus which is marketed a a fine grain developer for t-grain and conventional films with slow and average speed. Here are the films:

  1. Kodak TriX which I usually don’t like for it’s high contrast which needs to be tamed.
  2. Fomapan 400 which I like especially developed in Caffenol, Kodak HC110 and Spuersinn HCDnew.
  3. Fomapan 100 which is a bit flat and not really sharp.

The Ultrafin T-Plus (datasheet here) comes in 500ml bottles and costs 15€ here in Germany. According to the datasheet, thirty 135 or 120 films can be developed with one bottle which makes the developer quite economical with 0.50€ per film. The opened bottle can be stored for about six month and the working solution is good for about 2 month. Ultrafin T-Plus is not a one shot developer.

The list of films and the corresponding development times published by Tetenal is rather short and I didn’t find any recipes on FilmDev.org or the Massive Dev Chart.

Kodak TriX rated at ISO 200, developed for 5:30min

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The working solution. First I prepared the working solution by using one part developer and four parts water. 200ml developer and 800ml are needed for 1l solution which can be used to develop 12 rolls of film. The temperature should be around 20°C.

Watering the film. I know there is some people having arguments that pre-soaking the film isn’t really necessary. However, I usually do it anyway since it doesn’t seem to hurt.

Developing the film. Sometimes it needs to be a little bit of calculation to get the correct developing time. I like to push or pull films to get the best out of the situation.

  1. Kodak TriX rated at ISO 200: 8:15min – 20% for pulling 1 stop – 1min for developer 22°C = 5:30min
  2. Fomapan 400 rated at ISO 200: 7:30min – 15% for pulling 1 stop – 30sec for developer at 21°C = 6min
  3. Fompan 100 rated at ISO 100: 4:30min

The tank needs to be agitated for the first 30sec and afterwards 2x every 30sec.

Fomapan 400 rated at ISO 200, developed for 6min

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Stop bath and fixing. I usually just stop with water. Sometimes, when the developing time is short, I also use stop bath. I don’t think it really matters. The fixer I use is standard and I usually give it 5min with 30sec agitation right at the beginning and 10x after 2:30min.

Watering. I agitated 10x, 20x and finally 30x in fresh water. Afterwards I used a washing aid diluted 1+500 for 5min and hang the film up for drying afterwards.

Fomapan 100 developed for 4:30min.

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The result. I think all three films deliver good results. The TriX and the Fomapan 400 are excellent. They show good contrast, sharpness and a nice grain. The TriX was used in difficult light right into the lens and film/developer did a great job. The Fomapan 400 is super sharp and the grain is perfect for a 400 speed film. Both films are pretty good to be pulled and I’m going to use the combination of films and developer again. The Fomapan 100 shows a lot of little white spots in the brighter areas of the film. Contrast and sharpness are extremely good for a 100 ISO film. However, the white spots are annoying.

The next steps. I will post the results of a Fomapan 100 I used with a red filter and I shot an Ilford HP5+ rated at ISO 200 which I plan to develop in Ultrafin T-Plus as well.

 

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It’s Octoberfest again

It’s Octoberfest again and so far I could avoid coming even close to Theresian Wiese. Next Saturday I’ll go in with a couple of friends, shoot some rolls of film and have a beer. Yes, only one.

Last year I went twice, took two cameras and all kind of film with me. The monochrome images were all taken with a Hassleblad 500C/M on Ilford HP5+ and Delta 400. All the color images were taken with a Pentax 645 starting with a Fuji NPH 400 followed by cross-processed Fuji Provia 400 and finally a roll cross-processed Kodak VS100.

Fuji NPH 400:

FUJI Provia 400:

Kodak VS100:

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Fog and cows

The plan was to go to Spitzingsee, near Schliersee to hike up a little mountain, have some beer on top and make it back down. Saturday was supposed to be a sunny autumn day with temperature up to 20C. All I found were fog and rain. I shot a couple of frames with the cows as my models. One of the smaller cows licked my hand and I touched its smooth fury nose.

I walked a little bit around the lake. The rain stopped for a little while and came back again. I shot a couple of more frames catching the lake, the mountains with the fog hanging heavily in them. Back in Schliersee the sky cleared up a bit and I walked a bit more. around the lake here finishing the trip with a cup of coffee.

I developed the film, an Ilford HP5+, the next day by letting it sit in Caffenol C-L for 90min. As it turns out, HP5+ isn’t as boring as its reputation.The film base took on a brownish coffee stain but the contrast and sharpness are just fine. Maybe 80min developing time is also fine.

Here is the recipe for 1l water: washing soda 16g, Vitamin C 10g, Salt 1-2g, Instant coffee 40g

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Camera Talk – the last fun camera made

Hey, you know what I'm talking about? Do you know a camera that doesn't have dozens of functions and you don't need to click through layers of menus. You don't even need to wait for the autofocus to over-sharpen your image because it just can't. You know what I'm talking about? Yes, a simple point and shoot roll film camera in bakelite housing: The VEB Rheinmetall Perfekta.

 

The camera doesn't have much controls. It's got a fixed focus and a shutter speed of about 1/30sec and a bulb mode. The release needs be cocked by the film transport wheel on top of the camera. And last but not least, the finder are two funny frames which can be flipped in and out. Aiming the camera at anything between 5 and 10m will get you something in focus. Any object nearer will be just blurry while anything further away is just not totally sharp. You need to hold the camera steady. The about 80mm lens and the fixed shutter speed can lead to blurred images. There are no other controls on this camera. It's really up to you what kind of photography you do with it. I think it's best when you take it out to your neighborhood and see what you can find.

The body was made of bakelite and still has this funny plastic smell to it. The controls are cream colored which gives the camera a fancy look. Around 1 million pieces of this modern streamline design box cameras were made between 1953 and 1957 and it looks very much the same as the Druopta Efekta which is difficult to find already. I also found a nice Perfekta II on ebay. But about about that baby later.

I took the bakelite wonder on a trip to Salzburg. It was a sunny day but still decided to got for my favorite film: Ilford HP5+. Even though a very nwell behaving film, I like the over all look of contrast, grey tones and grain. I guessed the exposure and set 7.7 in shady spaces, 11or 16 when it was sunnier. As usual with the uncertainty of the exposure, I stand developed in highly diluted Rodinal (1+100 for 1h) leading to the effect to develop stronger in the shadows compared to the lights and making edges of higher contrast a bit sharper having the low quality of the lens in mind. 

Here are some results which are actually quite OK. Sharpness drops quickly from the center to the edge but the lens does have a beautiful and subtle darker and out of focus vignette. 

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Tech Talk – Testing exposure with a gray scale

The shooting

I took a gray scale and color control patches, a medium format camera, a roll of Ilford HP5+ and a standard light meter. The metering was done close to the target and in reflective mode. The light outside was flat and very even. I shot the metered value first, then -2 stops, -1stop, followed by +2 stops and finally +1 stop.

The developing, scanning and editing

The film was developed in the standard developer Tetenal Ultrafin at 20C for 13min. In general the film looked Ok and well balanced. I used a Canon 9000F and Vuescan and didn’t chop off any levels. In Adobe LR4 I moved average gray to 50%, white to about 2-4% and black to 96-98%.

The results

Here is the first image at meter reading. There is very good separation in the lights. However, the shadows especially between patches 18 and 19 are difficult to differentiate.

 

The next images shows the results with 2 stops underexposure. There is no problem with the separation of the highlights as well as in the previous exposure. The patches 17 -19 all fall together and there won’t be any detail in the shadows anymore. The shadows are simply underexposed. It also seems that the grain is more visible since there is more stress on it in post-processing.

 

Best shadow detail and separation is achieved with overexposure. The sample exposed with +2 stops shows a clear difference between patches 17,18 and 19 while the highlights are still not totally blown out.

 

The conclusion

We were taught by Ansel Adams to expose for the shadows and I think this still holds up today. The question is should we really develop for the highlights? If the plan is to scan the film after developing it, you don’t need to care too much about your highlights since the digitalization process got enough latitude for lights and has its weakness in the shadows.

I realize this is not a scientific assessment with an exact analysis of numbers and levels. Yet, it gives you a hint what to take care of first and that is: shadows. If you don’t expose for the shadows, detail there will be lost and nothing will get it back onto your film. In general I think it is better to overexpose your film slightly and avoid underexposure.
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Camera Talk -The Pentax 645N

Back in 2002, I got my first Pentax 645NII. Even though digital photography was certainly winning more and more ground, I decided to give it a shot. I was shooting mostly color slides and a bit of b&w film back than and I just recently sold a Contax G2 to get my first digital SLR, a Fujifilm S2.

I think I used the camera for about a year on trips to Cambodia, Japan, Germany, China and in Taiwan where I recited at the time. I even have some framed prints left from these rolls but mostly scanned the slides which are sitting somewhere on my hard disk now.

I sold the piece at the B&H store in New York and got a Voigtlaender Bessa R.

Just a year ago when still living in Singapore, I saw a good deal for a Pentax 645N with a 45-85mm, 1:4.5 lens on ebay. I got it even though my memories were mixed.

First of all that thing is heavy. It ways about 2kg with lens and still 1.2kg without. It’s a real pain to haul around. Yet, it works like a 35mm SLR. The autofocus is fast and reliable. The camera got spot, center weighted and matrix exposure measurement and you can adjust the exposure by +/-3 stops in 1/3 steps. You even can bracket your shots. Maybe someone uses it for “film” HDR. But it did come handy when shooting slides.

Here are a couple of slides I shot 2003 in Cambodia

The Pentax 645N was released in 1997. Autofocus was added to the 645 and a new series of autofocus lenses was released as well. It seems to me that the 45-85mm zoom lens I got isn’t the sharpest. I was looking around online but only found good reviews. I guess it doesn’t help to scan and zoom in to 200%. It is film after all.

Apparently, the 645 series was developed for amateur wedding photographers. Today, the camera is bargain for landscape and fine art photography. Even though, Hasselblad and Mamiya 7 lenses are going to beat the Pentax lenses but what you get is more speed and fun shooting.

Here are a couple of images I shot recently on Ilford FP4+ and HP5+:

Ilford HP5+ developed in Spuersinn HCD

Ilford FP4+ developed in SPUR Acurol

Ilford HP5+ developed Spuersinn HCD

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