Finding Film part 13: ILFORD HP5 PLUS

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Having finished my rolls of ILFORD Delta 100 and 400 Professional for part 12 of this series, I decided to carry on with the Ilford theme, and shoot some HP5, the last of Ilford’s offerings I am yet to try. Well, I say try, I have shot HP5 PLUS before. My Yashica-Mat 124G came with a roll of HP5, which I tested out by taking photos of my son, and a selfie of me in an elevator, as you do.

None of the photos I bothered to share (other than the selfie, which EM made me use in my “Why I Shoot Film” article), as it was simply to test if the camera worked properly.

Finding Film part 13: ILFORD HP5 PLUS
Finding Film part 13: ILFORD HP5 PLUS

So, this is my first time trying HP5 properly. I remember liking the results from the first roll I shot, so had high hopes for this roll. Unfortunately, I only had the 1 roll to shoot, so this will be a shorter article than usual.

I’ve noticed that I have got into a bit of a rut of heading for woodlands, or areas full of trees. So to avoid these articles becoming stale and full of banality, I decided to head for the coast. Back in Article 6, when I shot my ILFORD PAN F PLUS, I mentioned Happisburgh (Haze-bruh), and the coastal erosion that takes place there. Well, it has been several months since my last visit there (with or without camera), so I decided to head back and see what has changed.

It was a partially cloudy, typical autumn day; mid-teens on the weather front, with the odd burst of sunshine. I love these conditions as the clouds are often really epic at the coast, and if you wait for the sunshine bursts, you can get some really dramatic light. Other than the lovely weather, not much had changed since my last visit. Despite a harsh winter, and a wet summer, the place still looked the same as last time. Undeterred, I headed along the coast, walking towards the next beach, Cart Gap. I managed to shoot the roll along the way, and shoot another roll of Bergger’s Pancro 400 whilst I was there (stay tuned for the review next month).

Shoot over, I headed home, and into the darkroom. I developed the film in Rodinal (1+25, 22c, 6 minutes), using stand development (I was developing the Bergger at the same time, and can’t multi-task well enough to agitate two tanks at once). I used the same Fotospeed stop bath/fixer combination as my other articles.

The development went fine, and the film was typical of the other Ilford films; easy to handle, and feels good in the hands. The film dried with no issue, and there was no curl when it came off the line. Scanning was also a breeze, with no issues whatsoever.

Here are the images from the roll. As always, I have simply cropped any edges, and removed any dust/scratches picked up during scanning. No other editing has taken place.

Now this I like. The shadows and highlights are exactly how I would want them to look, and I am delighted that they look like this straight off the scan. Removing the step of fiddling with the image in Lightroom really appeals to me, so we are off to a good start.

Even under direct sunlight, the HP5 handled well, producing good contrast, but not to the point where it was too much. Similar to the shadow/highlight comment, this is just where I would want my contrast to be (personally), so another plus for the HP5.

Even up close, the HP5 renders good levels of detail, as seen in the sea defences above. The level of grain is very good, and even up close does not look gritty, which is something I try to avoid in film (I like smoother grain).

TLDR; the shadows, highlights, grain type, grain level, consistency, and overall tonality of the film has really blown me away. I was very happy with every image, and other than slightly tweaking the images in Lightroom, I cannot think of many major edits that needed to be done to them. This is a real plus to me, as the development/scanning already take up a lot of my free time, this may have saved me some extra time in the process.

The development and scanning process was also a breeze, with the film holding its shape well once off the drying line. The price point of the film is good (not 5*, as there are cheaper films on the market), however, it is excellent value for money.

At the risk of sounding like I am giving up on the series (I’m not), the HP5 is going to take some beating in my eyes. I am really struggling to find something I dislike about the film (other than not having another 10 rolls of it).

The gauntlet has been laid down in impressive fashion. I can’t wait to see if anything can beat this. Until next time…

~ Tom Rayfield



There’s more!

By now there are somewhere in the region of (at least) a billion parts to this series and you can catch up on them all by following the links below:



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Photography: Porka #02 – Shot on Kodak BW400CN at EI 400 (120 format)

Photography: Used daily – Shot on Kodak Portra 400 at EI 400 (35mm)


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