I was recently in a farming community outside Columbia, Missouri, where my in-laws have a wonderful farm. It’s where my wife, my daughter, and I go to get away from the city and relax. My mother-in-law had just returned from a cattle auction the week before and she brought several new cows home with her. I took the opportunity to get up close and personal with them.

I brought my Nikon FM3A, the Voigtlander 40mm F/2, and a roll of Ilford HP5, which I recall shooting at box speed, but I can’t swear to it. I know that HP5 is one of the most beloved film stocks in history, but I have never had good results with it, and I’ve never particularly cared for it. I’ve always thought that it looked bland. Since Missouri is cold, gray, and kind of bland itself this time of year, I figured it was a good time to give it another chance.

I won’t get super specific into the technical details, but I’ll simply point out that I developed the negatives with Ilford Ilfotec DDX, scanned the negatives with a Nikon Z6 paired to a Nikkor 60mm F/2.8D Micro, and I converted them with Negative Lab Pro.

I love how they came out.

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The negatives have so much detail, there is contrast but with a pleasant transition from light to dark, they are very sharp and with very little grain, and to be honest, I wish I had taken these photos years ago because now I see what people go on about and I feel like I have been missing out.

My initial expectations were not incredibly high but these results have convinced me that I definitely need more HP5 PLUS in my life. Now that I know what it can do, I need to see if I can consistently get good results with it. But it will have to be without the cows -– the first thing I did when I got home from that trip was to check the local guidelines on having one in my back yard (obviously) and apparently, they are very much against the Home Owners’ Association rules.

~ Michael

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About the author


I remember the first time I ever saw a beautiful camera. I was six, it was a black Nikon, and I was NOT ALLOWED TO TOUCH IT; but I immediately wanted it. As an adult, I primarily use those same types of mechanical 35mm film cameras to unplug from a tech-heavy...


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  1. Using box rated speed is great for producing negs that scan well. I use PyroCat-HD as my primary developer. The DR is amazing! Once in PS you can make it look as crunchy as you like. Or if you print there is no problem there as well. Split grade is the way to go.

  2. Hey Michael, great article. I have that 40mm as well, such a fantastic lens! As someone who bulk rolls and shoots Hp5 90% of the time, I never shoot it at 400 because of results like you mentioned. Hp5 is so great because it is so versatile and has extreme latitude, but oddly when exposed at its box speed is very flat. Try pushing it to 800, I think you’ll get results you’ll be more happy with.

    1. I love the lens! And thanks for the tip about pushing the film Robert!