I have been using ILFORD HP5 PLUS in ILFOSOL 3 since forever. In fact, my first camera was my father’s Nikon F2 Photomic, which I still own and use. I started taking pictures under his guidance in 1976, when I was still in middle school and by 1978 I was developing and printing my own photos, and I rarely changed film or developer.

I knew that ILFORD HP5 PLUS was a forgiving, flexible film with a beautiful grain especially for bokeh, and I had no reason to change, and ILFORD liquid one shot developers were always my favourite, for their tolerance, ease of use and coupling with HP5 PLUS.

For more than 20 years that was my — almost always — single film and camera combination: Nikon F2, HP5 PUS, ILFOSOL (with rare chances given to Kodak EKTACHROME, especially for traveling and landscape photos).

Then digital slowly kicked in, and for almost ten years I didn’t use the F2 while moving to digital, learning a different way of shooting, working my way through Photoshop.

Being a portrait photographer, digital and photoshop are definitely the easiest, fastest, efficient ways to go. However after a while, the analog itching started again, I took the F2 out of a drawer, sent it for complete CLA (Clean / Lubricate / Adjust) which ultimately only led to a fixin of some rusty metal contacts in the metered prism, while the shutter, after not being used for ten years, was dead correct at all speed range.

I once again bought a Paterson tank, some liquids, and rediscovered the beauty of developing. But it still was nothing more than a rare habit, as the new sensors of digital machines were unbeatable for quality and speed and post-production increased dramatically the range of people who could model.

One day a friend of mine who was clearing his shop offered me to buy a medium format Zenza Bronica ETRS. Although I was taking photos since forever, I never used a medium format camera, and never heard about a camera maker called Zenza Bronica.

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But my friend seemed enthusiastic, he also has a Hassy and was telling me how beautiful could MF be.

So I went for it.

Today my 135 favourite camera is a Nikon F801s because it autofocuses and can also use digital lenses up to Nikon;s Nikkor AF-D range, so I don’t have to bring with me two sets of lenses, one for digital and one for analog.

The ETRS is my camera for more important work, such as this series of portraits of Anna, a model from Padua.

She has incredible red hair and green eyes, but as you can see, she also shines in black & white 🙂

~ Rodolfo

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About the author

Avatar - Rodolfo Cardarelli

Rodolfo Cardarelli

Born in 1963 in Rome, Italy, I picked up photography in 1976 and have never stopped since. I work in a press agency but not as a photographer, this is just a passion that I never turned into a job. I share photography with my other passions, such as music...


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  1. These are gorgeous. I’ve never been drawn to HP5, every time I try it I just end up with heavy, harsh grain and a muddy mess. I see other people use it though and always love the effect. I need to have another go.