The UK’s ILFORD Photo, manufacturers of black and white films such as HP5 PLUS, FP4 PLUS and Delta Professional released a statement today regarding defects found on certain 120 medium format photographic film products.

From the statement:

Over the last couple of months, we have noticed an increased number of customers posting their concerns on forums and social media channels relating to our 120 roll films in which spots / mottle have appeared on the negatives.

We pride ourselves on our high quality and consistent production and want to assure you that this issue is being fully investigated as a matter of priority. We appreciate this will be of little comfort to those who have experienced the issue and for that we offer our sincerest apologies.

If you are a regular user of social media and interact in any of the film photography communities on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you’ll no doubt have seen examples of these issues – as well as ILFORD’s attempts to encourage customers who encounter these problems to contact their technical team.

I recently spoke to ILFORD who told me:

For us to get a full understanding of the situation we need more information from customers to build an accurate picture. We do request feedback and deal with individual issues to solve problems, and we’ve made this statement to make it clear to the film photography community that we are serious about these issues.

As someone who spends most of their time on social media, I can attest to an increase in the number of complaints/requests for identifying issues with ILFORD film stocks in recent months and ask members of the community who contact me directly to contact ILFORD’s technical team for a resolution.

In terms of units affected, ILFORD is clear:

Over the last 18 months, to the end of February 2020, direct complaints submitted to us relating to spots / mottle account for less than 1.5 complaints for every 10,000 rolls of 120 film we have produced. These have also been seen primarily, but not exclusively, in our slower speed films such as PAN F.

ILFORD’s statement goes on to say that affected film will be replaced and that customers should contact them ASAP with as much detail about the film as possible plus and image of the affected negative showing the 4-digit code found in the edge marking.

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Investigations are underway and early findings show that the issue is “significantly influenced by external factors such as humidity, temperature and film age”. To minimise the risk of any issues, ILFORD has the following advice (also found on their product packaging):

Our films should be stored below 20C / 68F as shown on the bottom of each box. It is important to avoid extreme high temperatures, humidity or fluctuating temperatures.

All films have an expiry date which is also printed on the bottom of each box at the time of manufacture. We recommend processing before that date and as soon as possible after shooting.

ILFORD has committed to continuing its investigations and is in the process of reviewing its manufacturing humidity controls and working with supply chain to help mitigate any potential ongoing issues.

IMPORTANT: I should state clearly that the issues described here and in the ILFORD statement are related to 120 film products only. 35mm and sheet film products are now and have been unaffected.

Thanks for reading and please do add your thoughts in the comments below.

~ EM

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  1. Hi everyone… How can I express my utter frustration (fury) with B&W film manufacturers. First it was KODAK 120 roll films with watermarks on all my round Australia trip photos a couple of years back- only my one ILFORD FP4 film was good, and NOW.. its ILFORDS turn to stuff up their products. I processed 2 rolls FP4 120 side by side and one turned out good and the other was mottled in the sky tones. This was the same as with my last batch of FP4s.. extensive mottling in the sky tones and hours and hours of retouching work. BUGGER. I now have 8 more rolls to process.
    Can someone tell me who I can bitch to at ILFORD.

    1. One of two batches concerned is
      41DPN1C01/02 May 2019

      I failed to make a note of the 2nd batch concerned.

      This batch ist NOT concerned:
      67BPN1C01/01 Jul 2021

      I hope this helps.

  2. I have been noticing an unusual amount of mottling in my FP4 and HP5 negatives. I thought it was from over vigorous agitation. It’s very noticeable in the open sky part of the image. I had to create softening masks in Lightroom to compensate.

  3. I am one of those who was affected by the spots/mottle problem on 120 Pan F+ film. It basically ruined the B/W output of my trip to Lofoten Islands in Norway. Ilford never responded to my complaints – they were unreachable via email and phone.
    However, I hasten to add that once I had gotten hold of one of the decision-makers at Ilford they were very quick to acknowledge that there was a problem. I was given a full replacement for the batch of film that I had bought through my local Ilford distributor, with a few extra rolls thrown in for good luck. Their reaction was fast, friendly and effective.
    Kudos to everyone at Ilford for facing up to a problem and for implementing a solution that worked for me. They have succeeded in holding on to me as a loyal customer.