5 Frames… Pushing Ilford Delta 3200 Professional to EI 25000 (35mm / EI 2500 / Canon EOS-3) – by Lee Irvine

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I recently revisited the Delta 3200 datasheets looking for recommendations to get less grainy results than with Rodinal-type developers. I was intrigued to see that if I used ILFORD ILFOTEC DD-X, there was the option to push all the way to EI 25000.

I thought I’d give it a try…


The first hurdle: Find a film camera that has an ISO setting that high. We are getting into digital levels of sensitivity here, and I quickly realised I’d limited myself to one camera I own that can meter at this speed. My EOS-3 could override the DX code to 6400. Then, with two stops of negative exposure compensation, I was into the right territory 6400->12800->25000.

The second hurdle: find an interesting subject for 36 frames at EI 25000. Luckily, there was a circus in town! I figured that should be dark and interesting enough, I was also betting on the performers being lit for decent shutter speeds at EI 25000. Again, the EOS 3 was ideal: with eye-controlled focus, and a tweak to the Custom Function (CF-13:1) the spot meter links to whichever focus point I look through (not bad for a camera released in 1998!) I stuck my EF 50 f/1.4 on the front and left for the circus.

It was dark.

But it was good. The performances were so good that I almost forgot to take photos! And, the lighting design was better than expected. I shot around 30 frames before and during the show, then finished off the roll with portraits of friends lit by tram stop advertising.

I developed the roll for the recommended 25 minutes (!) in DD-X at 20°C, and was relieved to see some reasonably exposed pools of light on the negatives. (All images here were scanned on an Epson V700 and run through Adobe Lightroom for edits that would’ve been previously made in a darkroom.)

Does Delta 3200 work at EI 25000? Absolutely, give it a go if you can meter fast enough.
Tip: take a decent read into your developing space, 25mins is a long time to stare at Paterson Tank!


~ Lee

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This series is produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.

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1 thought on “5 Frames… Pushing Ilford Delta 3200 Professional to EI 25000 (35mm / EI 2500 / Canon EOS-3) – by Lee Irvine”

  1. Very nice. Enjoy reading and seeing what others have done with pushing film. I had a lot of professional experience with B & W, colour neg and positive film pushing.

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