I had never pushed film before but upon my arrival on a recent trip to Dublin, Ireland I thought I would try my luck with some old-fashioned analog night photography. As it may be risky to travel with highly sensitive film, upon my arrival I immediately sought out a roll of ILFORD Delta 3200 Professional to shoot at EI 6400.

John, as the Dubliners call him, warned me that ILFORD Delta 3200 Professional was really a 1600 ISO film pushed 1 stop and that pushing it more would render more grain and more contrast. This being said I loaded the film in my Minolta SRT100x that has a light meter that goes up to 6400 and I wandered the streets of Dublin, a city famous for its pubs and lively nightlife. Here are the results of my first film.

When seeing the results, I was astonished by the grain. I guess I was waiting for a something much grainier as I knew ILFORD Delta 3200 Professional already was a very grainy film.  One thing to bear in mind though is that ILFORD Delta 3200 Professional is not a film which is known to push very well. Indeed, in some shots, a gray haze appears independent of how the picture is exposed. I have had both underexposed and overexposed shots show this haze.

Another useful information is to take into consideration how your light meter works when shooting this film at night. Most built-in light meters measure the average luminance for a zone. As Ansel Adams explains in his book The negative it is important to take this into consideration, because if the zone you are metering for is very dark then you should expose more than the reading on your light meter.

This being said I usually exposure one stopover what my meter gives, and it has proven to be a good strategy

In general, I am extremely pleased with the result of my “test” and it most certainly opened my appetite for shooting more night photography!

~ Maxime

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Avatar - Maxime Evangelista

Maxime Evangelista

Maxime Evangelista, wanabee Photographer. I picked up my first camera about 10 years ago, through experimenting and research my love for this art kept growing! First I started with an automatic digital camera then started using manual settings and lastly going...

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  1. Lovely! I just processed my first roll of Delta 3200 yesterday. Sadly the entire roll came out blank, save for a couple of bright highlights – even the manufacturers details and frame numbers were gone. Crushing. Your post has inspired me to try again.

    1. That’s too bad!
      Happy that this inspired you to shoot some more though!
      I definitely should try shooting it at box speed or even pulling it a bit but I’m having too much fun photographing night scenes in Dublin for the moment!

  2. Hello Maxime,
    Would you be referring to John from Gunn Camera by any chance? Last October, my wife & I landed in Dublin, and in our walking about came upon Gunn Camera. I bought 5 rolls of Delta 400, and we spent a wonderful couple of hours talking to Jon & his daughter Fiona. We chatted with customers about photography, politics & literature. One of the highlights of our trip to Ireland.

    An unique camera store filled with all sorts of photo stuff you didn’t know you needed until you saw it there.

    As for Delta 3200; I have had some usable success by rating it at EI 1000, and developing as if it was exposed @ ISO 3200 in Sprint Systems B&W developer. I just don’t use it often enough to be comfortable working with it.

    My favorite of your pics is the Guinness glasses. Nicely done.

    1. I am exactly refering to John of John Gunn Camera Shop in Dublin! He and his daughter Fiona are just soooo nice! I love going there because you know you don’t just go there to buy film but also have a chat with them!
      They do have many different stuff, my bank account does not appreciate it that well though haha
      I have not yet tried to pull this film, I will in the futur though! 🙂
      Thanks! I didn’t know how the Guinness would turn out but I am really happy with the result! 🙂

  3. DELTA 3200 pushes very well, it’s designed to. Look at its characteristic curve under varying conditions. If my “gran haze” you are referring to things like the second image above, that is underexposed. If it were an issue with high fog levels then you would see the problem on every frame.

    1. I was just about to write the same! It’s ISO1000 film so shooting and developing it at 3200 is already pushing, which it does exceptionally!

      1. Well I talked about this to the lab and according to my notes the grey haze varies, they told me that it didn’t push to 6400 that well… I keep shooting it and Kodak P3200 though! It’s just really fun at night 🙂

        1. Because 6400 is a three stop push. Delta 3200 (like Kodak TMAX 3200) is actually a slower film that’s just designed to push well. In the case of Delta its real speed in daylight is 1000 (as mentioned in Ilford’s own data sheets). If you look at the graphs you’ll see that it has a very long, shallow shoulder that means that even when pushed heavily it won’t blow out highlights like most films would. This does mean though, that after scanning, you might have to give the images a contrast kick in the higher values.
          Ilford’s own data sheets for development give times that result in a fairly low-contrast negative, which is why you’ll often see people recommending that you use the next time up. I tend to shoot the film at 1600 but develop using the 3200 times. This gives a fairly normal contrast negative.

          If the grey haze varies per negative then it’s an exposure issue not a development issue. Metering at night is very, very difficult to get right. I tend to use the “meter off of hand and give and extra stop” method that works reliably for caucasian skin. An averaging meter of any type will give very inaccurate results and using an incident meter under strongly directional light will tend to result in underexposure. Be very aware that sunlight daylight where the sky and ground act as reflectors, most lights at night ar suspended above the scene and are very directional, resulting in hard shadows under jaws etc. It’s important to give enough exposure to capture details there.

          Lastly, like colour film, B&W film will react differently to tungsten light compared to daylight. Ilford’s data sheets only give a speed for daylight but generally* films are slower in tungsten so there’s another possible source of metering problems.

          Hope this is helpful.

          *As in most films, but not all.