Here we go! Week 1 of my Film of the Week series. I chose Ilford’s FP4+ because that’s what I had in the camera and right now it is my favorite film to shoot with. As I mentioned in my intro. post for the series, I will give as much information as possible about the film and also tell how I developed it. The camera and lens will always be the same – the Leica MP and the Voigtlander 35mm 1.4 Nokton Classic SC.
So, how about a little history. In researching the beginning of FP4 film, I ran across a website chock full of information about Ilford and a few other companies. Photographic Memorabilia is just a wealth of info. and literature. The creator of the website is based in the U.K.
Ilford was started in 1879 by Alfred Hugh Harman. He began making Gelatine Dry Plates in the basement of his house in Cranbrook Road, Ilford, Essex. His business was named ‘Britannia Works’. Pretty appropriate. Around 1900 the company name was changed to Ilford, Limited after approval from the town of Ilford. 135 years ago, wow, that’s a long time. In 1935 F.P. was introduced. The FP stands for Fine Grain Panchromatic and originally FP was only 28 ASA. Really slow film but that’s why it was such fine grain. In 1939 F.P.2 was launched and the ASA went up to 40. 1946 “Ilford FP3 Fine Grain Panchromatic Safety Film introduced, initially with a speed of 40ASA (Ilford speed group D), but around 1951 it became Weston Meter (ASA) 64, Ilford Meter 29º and Ilford Speed Group E. In 1960 the same emulsion speed was revised to 125ASA.” Courtesy of Photographic Memorabilia. From 1968 until 1990, FP4 was available. “FP4 was claimed to give greater acutance with finer grain than FP3 but retaining the same speed of 125ASA (200ASA when developed in Microphen) and the same price. Wide exposure latitude of 6 stops over and 2 stops under, still producing printable results. Sold in the distinctive black & white Ilford cartons but identifiable by a blue band on the end flap.” Courtesy of Photographic Memorabilia.
Which brings us to FP4+. It’s still 125 ASA or for you digital people 125 ISO. Here is a link to the PDF from Ilford with the Technical Specs. of the film. From what I can gather, the “+” means that the film has very good exposure latitude, meaning you can push the film a few stops. Personally, I never try pushing film so I’ll leave it at that.
Why do I like FP4+? I love the contrast I get with it and there is not a lot of grain. For developing, I use Ilfotec DDX film developer which gives good tones in the film. I also like it because it is a liquid developer and easy to dilute. It is a bit more expensive than, ID-11 or Kodak D76. I dilute the DDX 1:4 with a temperature of 68℉ and the developing time is 10 minutes followed by a 30 second stop and a 5 minute fix and finally a 10 minute fresh water rinse. At the end of the rinse I use Kodak PhotoFlo and use my trusty salad spinner to remove excess water and then hang the film for a couple hours to dry. All of the times except the stop bath are what Ilford recommends. I really could get by with a 10 second stop. I also make sure that the stop, fixer and final rinse are all at the same temperature as the developer.
Below is a little slideshow of some of the images I shot with FP4+. The negatives were scanned with the Plustek 8200ai scanner and edited in Adobe Lightroom 5.4 and Sliver Efex. None of the images are cropped so what you see is what I shot. Like I’ve mentioned before, I really like this film. The speed is perfect for outdoor shots and there is hardly any grain. To me the contrast is good. So, next film up is Kodak Tri-X. A tried and true film which goes back a long way. We’ll see what happens!