5 Frames… With ILFORD FP4 PLUS (EI 400 / 120 format / Yashica-Mat EM) – by Tyler Longfellow

I have been stuck in a rut with my film photography. I used to shoot anything and everything until I recently started working on a couple of series for my portfolio. Now I find myself being so selective with what I am shooting, that I don’t actually shoot much.

So I got a Yashica Mat EM as an everyday carry camera and tried a film I have never tried before, ILFORD FP4 PLUS. I already knew I would not like FP4 PLUS after trying Denae and Andrew’s 100-speed blind film scorecard. This film rated second-worst in my blind rating. ILFORD Delta 100 Professional, which was my go-to film, ranked low on my blind test results as well. But I still gave FP4 PLUS a shot and could not have fallen deeper in love.

It may be the inherent nature of FP4 PLUS, the Yashica Mat or the combination of them together, but I just loved the tones I was getting from this setup. The results I got looked like what many try so hard to replicate on their Instagram with their digital cameras. The “filmic” look is so easy when you shoot film.

I loaded up the film in my camera and went on a walk downtown during my lunch break. I did not bring my handheld light meter because the Yashica Mat EM has one built-in, which turned out to be pretty accurate. The camera turned out to be a great everyday carry camera as it is lightweight, really easy to focus and is just a joy to use. The only thing I did not like about the camera is that the highest ISO the light meter will go to is 400, so you’ll need to figure out equivalent values before you press the shutter.

Blacks did not render black, they turned out really dark grey. Midtones came out gorgeous. There is a beautiful haziness when the sun is just out of frame. Everything came out super sharp as well. Just beautiful.

ILFORD FP4 PLUS is a film I am going to keep in my camera bag for a long time.

~ Tyler

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12 COMMENTS

  1. I wondered about lenz haze too, but images ARE sharp .. just very low contrast. Fascinating, really, especially for a +2 push, but the limited dynamic range you achieved makes it real flexible in printing. Printing in a darkroom I’d push the contrast up to get blacks deeper into the zone and still retain the dreamy clarity of the highlights. Nice.

  2. Lee, I developed this film in DDX 1+4 for 18 minutes. I like
    shooting at 400 because it’s a great middle of the ground
    for well lit indoor and moderate lit outdoor shooting while
    keeping the shutter speed fast enough for handheld use
    shooting wide open.

    I don’t care for HP5+ on medium format or Pancro or
    Delta 400 either. Plus I wanted to try a film i’ve never tried
    before and absolutely loved FP4+ at 400.

    • I think Tyler means the highest ‘Shutter Speed’ not ASA/ISO…

      They’re nice images, but I concur with Ed below that they are very ‘low contrast’. Either through under-development possibly or another reason..!

      • At the end of the day however, this may have been what Tyler envisioned in his shots. The artists interpretation of the scene is for me more important than the technical

      • The built-in light meter would only give readings for film rated up to 400 ISO. So if you’re shooting 800, you’ll just have to shoot at half the speed it says to or shoot at a wider aperture if possible. I wanna say the max shutter speed was 1/500th.

        Also I think the low contrast was a property of the lens. I developed the film according to Mass Dev Charts recommendation. Though if you wanted more contrast you could shoot with an orange or red filter, develop longer or just add it in post.

        I personally just loved the low contrast that was produced, whether it was a property of the lens or the film, I’m not sure. But I loved it!

      • The built-in light meter had 400 ISO as a max, so anything above that would need to be calculated, like cutting the shutter speed in half if shooting at 800.

        The shutter speed I think was maxed at 1/250th or 1/500th, something like that.

        And I do think the low contrast was due to the lens. But with this being my first time shooting FP4, I’m not certain that the film itself isn’t naturally low contrast.

        Either way, I loved the results!

      • He’s accurate about the light meter: top speed on the meter is 400 ASA, so for faster films just meter and add x stops.

        The low contrast is probably not to do with development. This is simply a scanning and post-processing issue and just needs a contrast tweak to place the darkest pixels onto true black, if that is desired. The same is true if printing in the darkroom where the contrast grade would be selected to achieve a full range of tones if this dreamy, low contrast look isn’t the original idea.

    • Lee, I developed this film in DDX 1+4 for 18 minutes. I like
      shooting at 400 because it’s a great middle of the ground
      for well lit indoor and moderate lit outdoor shooting while
      keeping the shutter speed fast enough for handheld use
      shooting wide open.

      I don’t care for HP5+ on medium format or Pancro or
      Delta 400 either. Plus I wanted to try a film i’ve never tried
      before and absolutely loved FP4+ at 400.

    • I developed in DDX 1+4 for 18 minutes, as per Mass Dev Chart.

      I decided to shoot it at 400 because 400 is a great speed for both well lit indoor photos and moderate lit outdoor photos. It allowed me to shoot at a shutter speed fast enough for handheld and the lens open enough for some shallow depth of field.

      I don’t care for HP5, Pancro or Delta 400 in medium format, so I wanted to try something new and I fell in love with the results!

      • For a B&W film pushed 2 stops, I am surprised at the low-contrast look of your final images. I have shot FP4 at box speed and developed using HC-110 Dilution B (per Massive Dev Chart) and got very different looking results with lots of contrast. I have not used DDX before so I don’t know how it will differ from other developers.

        https://imgur.com/FpBggNn

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