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Ilford Delta vs. FP4plus


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Has anyone experience with Ilford Deta 100 vs. Ilford FP4 plus? I used to shoot T-Max 100 years ago. How is the Delta compared to T-Max?

Schould I process the Delta in ID-11 as recommended by Ilford for highest sharpness?

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Best Theodor

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Sorry I can't agree with Ludwig here. The FP4 has a harsh grain which is very beautiful for certain purposes or intentions. The Delta100 has a fine grain. Tonal scales can described in the same manner, the FP4 having a steep curve and the Delta having a very smooth tonal scale with lots of attention to nuances in the midgrey section. This is not what a scanner would overlook or could be simply overwritten with PP.

ID-11 is ok but it's a powder and I don't like that for my health and for predictability of results (in a small working environment like the home darkroom). I doubt whether LC29 would be less sharp

Edited by otto.f
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Do you make paper prints?

If not, then the film choice does not matter, and you make all adjustments according to your taste with the help of digital image processing.

Best Ludwig

Well I intend to, I just ordered my Heiland Split Grade Controller.

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So you want to make real paper copies? Then, of course, the advantages that otto.f has called for the benefit of Delta 100 are decisive.

For me the Delta 100 is the best medium fast B & W film of all time.

Best Ludwig

Ludwig,

Thank you. Indeed,I will start with silver prints again, after 13 years of abstinence.

 

Best Theodor

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My take:

 

FP4 Plus is old-school technology and look, from the middle of the 20th century. Grainy for the speed (and with variable grain size) - but that also gives it a lot of latitude in both exposure and processing. The small grains add a small amount of silver in bright highlights, and the big grains produce more silver in shadows, thus the nice latitude and tonal range. (Think of it as ISO 40 and ISO 400 grains in one emulsion, averaging out to ISO 125). But it doesn't have the edge sharpness and finest detail of the higher tech Delta and Tmax films.

 

TMax 100 is the opposite, as much as two 100-ish B&W films can be "opposite" - very fine grain for the speed, with smooth consistent grain size and outstanding fine detail. But somewhat touchy about getting the exposure and processing just right. Almost "digital" in its clarity and contrast.

 

Delta 100, in terms of actual results, falls somewhere between TMax 100 and FP4. Not quite as fine-grained and sharp as TMax - but more forgiving. Not quite as forgiving as FP4, but more clarity.

 

The only one I have darkroom printed much is the FP4 (no Plus) film from the 1970s-80s (I've scanned for the most part since 1994). Looks the same today as it did back then - amazing long tonal or dynamic range is its hallmark, with a slight "softness." The negatives can LOOK denser and more contrasty than Tmax or Delta - but the printable detail is as high or higher.

 

Rodinal developer at 1:50 might improve the edge sharpness of FP4 slightly over ID-11 (less solvent action) - but really the character is built into the dual grain structure. For starting out, ID-11 is a mainstream developer that will get you used to the film at "box" exposure and development times. From which you can branch out into more exotic processing if desired.

 

As it happens I shot this just yesterday on FP4Plus 120 - straight ISO and development (Rodinal) with no heroic overexposing and underdeveloping. It is holding detail in glossy white wall paint in raw sunlight, while still recording the black-on-black banner and other details deep inside the dark store. Even with a very contrasty Zeiss Biogon lens. About as close to a "Zone System in a Box" as you can get.

 

Personally, I've mostly preferred the TMax-Delta resolution - but neither could handle this kind of lighting as gracefully as FP4. You'd get empty shadows or compressed highlights (or both) and/or dull contrast in the mid-tones. I may be reconsidering....

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To get the best out of Delta 100 film I would suggest you DD-X.

FP4+ is an old school cubical type emulsion. Very good results you can have with ID11/D76. With R09/Rodinal you will loose some film speed but you will have crisp negatives with high acutance. However in 35mm it is already pretty grainy.

Cubical type films are also more forgiving in a bit wrong exposure. 

 

The rest is also a matter of taste. I can only suggest to start with one film (and one developer) and follow the manufacturer instructions so far. The last part and correction in printing will do the Split Grade system for you. However the way to a perfect print is starting with a good exposure and  film development.

 

I am already developing my films (and doing wet prints) over 50 years so in principle I can tell you that with every film and a suitable developer you can reach a good result.

My favorites are the Fomapan 100-200 films. But also with OrWo Filmotec N74+ or Kodak 5222 Double-X (in principle cine films) you can have perfect prints. And if you like B&W slides you can reach with Rollei Retro 400(S) (an Agfa Gevaert aviation type emulsion)  E.I. 125 a perfect result. It is always a match between a certain type film, a suitable exposure and a suitable developer.

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My take:

 

FP4 Plus is old-school technology and look, from the middle of the 20th century. Grainy for the speed (and with variable grain size) - but that also gives it a lot of latitude in both exposure and processing. The small grains add a small amount of silver in bright highlights, and the big grains produce more silver in shadows, thus the nice latitude and tonal range. (Think of it as ISO 40 and ISO 400 grains in one emulsion, averaging out to ISO 125). But it doesn't have the edge sharpness and finest detail of the higher tech Delta and Tmax films.

 

TMax 100 is the opposite, as much as two 100-ish B&W films can be "opposite" - very fine grain for the speed, with smooth consistent grain size and outstanding fine detail. But somewhat touchy about getting the exposure and processing just right. Almost "digital" in its clarity and contrast.

 

Delta 100, in terms of actual results, falls somewhere between TMax 100 and FP4. Not quite as fine-grained and sharp as TMax - but more forgiving. Not quite as forgiving as FP4, but more clarity.

 

The only one I have darkroom printed much is the FP4 (no Plus) film from the 1970s-80s (I've scanned for the most part since 1994). Looks the same today as it did back then - amazing long tonal or dynamic range is its hallmark, with a slight "softness." The negatives can LOOK denser and more contrasty than Tmax or Delta - but the printable detail is as high or higher.

 

Rodinal developer at 1:50 might improve the edge sharpness of FP4 slightly over ID-11 (less solvent action) - but really the character is built into the dual grain structure. For starting out, ID-11 is a mainstream developer that will get you used to the film at "box" exposure and development times. From which you can branch out into more exotic processing if desired.

 

As it happens I shot this just yesterday on FP4Plus 120 - straight ISO and development (Rodinal) with no heroic overexposing and underdeveloping. It is holding detail in glossy white wall paint in raw sunlight, while still recording the black-on-black banner and other details deep inside the dark store. Even with a very contrasty Zeiss Biogon lens. About as close to a "Zone System in a Box" as you can get.

 

Personally, I've mostly preferred the TMax-Delta resolution - but neither could handle this kind of lighting as gracefully as FP4. You'd get empty shadows or compressed highlights (or both) and/or dull contrast in the mid-tones. I may be reconsidering....

Andy,

 

thank you, a very useful and detailed answer. I used to shoot T-max 100 with my Hasselblad in 2003. At the moment I am happy with FP4 Plus at box speed and ID11 AND HP5 Plus at ISO 320 in Perceptol, I simply never tried Delta Pro.

 

By the way nice Hasselblad shot!

 

Best Theodor

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

 

FP4+ is an old school cubical type emulsion. Very good results you can have with ID11/D76. With R09/Rodinal you will loose some film speed but you will have crisp negatives with high acutance. However in 35mm it is already pretty grainy.

 

 

Can someone please explain 'loose some film speed' and how this can affect printing.

 

Thanks.

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FP4 was always my choice, and D76.  I still buy FP4 + and use Ilfotec LC29, nowadays.  Even when I occasionally buy 4x5, or 120. I develop at tap temps, often very low temperatures (130C), using a rocking drum roller, at low concentrations...no streaks or worrying about when to shake rattle n roll. I drink coffee, read the paper and watch the roller.  Several films in a batch.

 

A long tonal range can be compressed in printing, but you can't go backwards...like low contrast vs high contrast lenses.

 

all best to the film mob...

Edited by david strachan
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Can someone please explain 'loose some film speed' and how this can affect printing.

 

Thanks.

If the nominal, factory-given speed (=ISO) would be 125ISO, and you develop in this case FP4+ in Rodinal, the actual ISO (= filmspeed) would be less than 125.

'Speed' is a typical english-idiomatic, metaphoric way of speaking, which happens in my opinion all too often in the english language. One might as well speak of aperture-closing or depth-of-field of a film, which is as non-sensical as speed is in its one-sidedness.

The non-metaphoric way to describe a film would be: 'sensibility'.

 

It affects printing in the sense that you end up with an, as a result, underexposed film, so the shadows cannot get enough details, no matter how much you burn. Burning is also a metaphor, meaning giving relative more exposure to dark parts when printing.

Edited by otto.f
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Can someone please explain 'loose some film speed' and how this can affect printing.

 

Thanks.

Some film developers give up film speed and/or shadow development for increased acutance, so a you can either stick with the box speed knowing you may get thinner shadows, or over expose the film a bit more, but then you may loose some acutance. How this affects printing opens up a vast number of variables, it may not make any difference at all (it usually won't because the latitude of the film, given intelligent exposure, will still have workable shadows), but printing also depends on paper, paper developer, technique, etc.

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  • 3 months later...

"...Can someone please explain 'loose some film speed'...". He misspelled lose, a common spelling error. Loose means not tight, notice lose, lost, losing are related and all three spelled with a single letter o. Another common misspelling is loosing for losing, also loosing is not a word in the English language 

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DIN / ISO depends on the choosen film-developer combination. The manufacturer takes his own reference developer and he can round the measured iso speed up to 1/3rd F stop in iso rate according the iso norm.

So a Fomapan 400 can be mentioned iso 400 hence it takes in Foma's reference developer iso 320 only and in a D76 hardly iso 200.

 

Using an ultra fine grain type developer means always a speed loss, sometimes more then 1 F stop.

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I find this FP4 Vs Delta discussion interesting. Last time we visited Europe (2015) I took a selection of B&W films, a bit of everything actually, T-Max 100, Delta 100, FP4+, Tri-X, and possibly some others, all in 35mm for the M6.

 

Most were used, and when I came home they all got processed in the "usual", R09 and all at 1:50, my standard developer. Times were similar and all from the Massive Dev Chart. They all looked great, certainly the Delta and FP4 seemed to have more "bite", and the T-Max a tad "flat", but all scanned fine.

 

This year, Europe again, but I am wanting to take just one type, and have all but settled on Delta 100. Yes, I'll take a roll or two of Tr-X, just in case it's dark, but by and large I want to be one type, and in both the 35mm for the M6 and 120 for the SWC. Colour neg, while not high on the priority list is also accompanying us, and I have Ektar 100.

 

So, all ISO100, simply to keep the numbers similar for this old brain.

 

Developer though, is a question I am not sure of yet. I love the simplicity of R09 (Rodinal and APX100/400 kept me happy for many years). And for the roll or two a month or so I shoot, there is no debating the longevity of R09. However, given 6- 10+ rolls on our return it means I could easily change, and try something else, as they will all be souped within a reasonable time frame, batches of two rolls at a time likely as that's all my old Patterson will accommodate.

 

Any sage suggestions re trying something new? Years ago I used Microphen, it's what the auto processing line I started work on (late 60's) used for commercial B&W. ID-11, Microphen, all OK to use, but once I used Rodinal, I never went back to them, the longevity and convenience won me over. Never tried D-76, nor HC110 or LC29. I'd obviously try a roll or two, in whatever is suggested before I committed big time. It has to be something that I can source locally, or import, many liquid developers are now difficult/impossible to import.

 

Gary

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R09/Rodinal is prone for a 1/3 F stop speed loss on almost all films (or more). Microphen is a speed enhancing type developer 1/2F - 2/3F stop, like Diafine 2-bath. Only with Diafine you can not control the contrast index anymore only make a choice in film speed. Somehow Tri-X 400 works very good with it (E.I. 800-1000).

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...in both the 35mm for the M6 and 120 for the SWC...

It sounds like the Jury has reached a decision!

 

Good move, Gary. Throw sense and sensibility to the wind - You won't be disappointed. When it comes to lumping the SWC around, 'tis better to have shot and lost, than never to have shot at all (My apologies to Lord Tennyson).

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