The pandemic really threw a wrench in my shooting habits back in March of 2020. For a long time, I was used to driving around town to practice my photography, but obviously, once the pandemic hit and stay-at-home orders were in place, I was forced to make some major changes to my routine.
I’ve bought and sold a lot of gear in the last year as well. One of my recent finds was a Nikon N90S I bought off of eBay, and a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF lens to replace my cheap 50mm Series E. Autofocus film cameras have intrigued me for a while, and since I already have some F-mount glass, a Nikon camera was the obvious choice. Quick cameras fit my shooting style well, and the N90S is no slouch when it comes to speed and ease of use.
For the past few months, my fridge has been well stocked with black and white film, especially ILFORD HP5 PLUS. I quickly learned that I wasn’t a fan of HP5 PLUS’ low contrast and (in my opinion) chunky grain at box speed. FP4 PLUS was always recommended to me by fellow photographers as a higher contrast alternative, but I was hesitant to give it a shot since it was always so closely compared with HP5 PLUS. But after seeing great example photos of FP4 online, I went ahead and loaded a roll in my N90S.
My home and my family have been my main subjects for the past year. Looking back through previous photos, I can clearly see how my shooting style has matured in the choices I make when composing and shooting. Being forced to shoot in one location for the majority of the time was definitely a struggle at first, but it forced me to learn to see the same scenes in different ways, and taught me how to approach familiar subjects from new perspectives. This is one of my favorite rolls that I’ve shot at home in the past year. The full roll includes images of my family, my dog, and my favorite places around the house.
I developed this roll in Kodak HC-110 (dilution B) and scanned it on a Nikon Coolscan IV. I have to say, I’ve very rarely gotten results as striking as this out of HP5 PLUS. All of these photos were shot at box speed with the N90S’ matrix metering and autofocus. The 50mm 1.8 AF performs significantly better than my Series E, too. What really impressed me was the sharpness of both FP4 and the 50mm 1.8 AF. FP4 PLUS seems to handle contrast very well without blowing highlights. And look at how fine that grain is! I was expecting it to look similar to HP5, but the images were far finer-grained and more detailed than I thought they would be.
In the future, I’d like to experiment with pushing FP4 PLUS to EI 200 and 400 and see how far it will go before it starts to break down. Either way, it will definitely be a mainstay in my fridge. This is the first roll of FP4 PLUS that I have ever shot, and also the first roll that I have seen through my N90S. The N90S honestly might replace my FE2 as my daily camera – especially paired with the 50mm f/1.8 AF. It’s a joy to use and so far I would highly recommend it.
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