ILFORD HP5 PLUS vs Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 1600 in the Moscow Metro with the Mamiya 7II

Written by and published on

I highly recommend the Moscow Subway Metro. As someone who loves spending time exploring underground, this was perhaps an unexpected highlight of my 2019 trip to Russia. If you are going for a photo trip (after the obvious COVID restrictions are lifted), I highly suggest Sunday mornings between 8-10am. Weekdays will be hell as you’re battling for space amongst locals and tourists.

Focus on the Koltsevaya Line (Brown Ring Line) and proceed clockwise going on a loop. And guess what, it costs a mere 38 Rubles to spend 2 hours hopping on and off (as long as you don’t tap out). Some smart tips include: not bringing your wallet with you (just bring enough for the ride and a drink) and do note that according to the site, tripods are not allowed. However, I did bring mine (fairly skinny and light) and wasn’t apprehended by any of the police I happened to cross. I think this was because I was there at 9am and things were pretty loose.

Me and my Mamiya 7ii, Aislinn Chuahiock

In my 2 hours underground, I shot a mere 4 rolls of film. Knowing that the Mamiya 7ii would not fail me, I actually hadn’t thought too much about the ILFORD HP5 PLUS and Kodak Tri-X 400 on me I had with me and just chalked it up to, “I’ll just shoot it at 1600”. I had.

All rolls were processed by Sunny16Lab Philippines with strict (hahahha) instructions to use HC-110.

My first set with the HP5 PLUS. For as long as I have been shooting this film, this was perhaps the first time I had pushed it to EI 1600. And I am thoroughly pleased. I just prefer the rendering of detail versus say, a ILFORD Delta 3200 shot at 1600.

The second set is below was on Kodak Tri-X rated at 1600. I have never shot Tri-X past EI 800, and this was really a whole new visual output for me (both films, actually).

My personal dumb-down conclusion, without being too technical, is that I love the way HP5 PLUS responded to the push processing and long exposure. Tri-X just didn’t give me the depth that HP5 did. While I really love the blacks from Tri-X and more importantly, the “evenness” of the grain, I just found it too “dense” where I wish there were more details.

This is extremely apparent, as both rolls were shot in the same settings. I showed the set to a friend and he on the other hand, enjoyed the Tri-X set better because of the “mood” and yes when looked closely, there is an evenness to the grain.

But hhheeeyyy… to each his/her own ya? In the end, I ENJOYED both outputs very much. What about you?


Share your knowledge, story or project

At the heart of EMULSIVE is the concept of helping promote the transfer of knowledge across the film photography community. You can support this goal by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.

If you like what you're reading you can also help this personal passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and giving as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.

Related Reading


5 Frames With… ILFORD ORTHO PLUS and a Yellow filter in the beautiful French sunshine – by Michelle Parr

5 Frames… With my late grandmother’s Kodak Jiffy Six-20 Series II, and my first ever roll of 120 (620) film – by Jason Storey


7 thoughts on “ILFORD HP5 PLUS vs Kodak Tri-X 400 at EI 1600 in the Moscow Metro with the Mamiya 7II”

  1. Hey there, just wanted to join the conversation.

    The thing is that back in 50s there was this decree adopted and implemented by the State Government with its name roughly translated to “On Elimination of Superfluities in Design and Construction”, which basically meant it was time for functionalism in architecture (with this movement being late for party in USSR for somewhat 20+ years when compared to evolution of architecture in Europe). This very decree crippled the unique look of Moscow and Saint-Petersburg architecture, including underground/subway of both (I believe the Saint-Petersburg subway was hurt/influenced by this decree to a higher extent).

    If you are truly passionate about subways, there was this book published by DOM Publishers called “Hidden Urbanism” about Moscow metro (even though it might be an overkill).

    (Also, sorry for nitpicking, but it was truly weird seeing the first picture in the article taken in Saint-Petersburg under the title about Moscow metro.)

    Great pictures, btw!

  2. Lovely images. I am hoping to go to Moscow once restrictions are lifted and might, now, take my Mamiya 7. Which lens(es) were you using? What were the exposures in the Metro?

  3. Thanks for posting! Never ever been, but your photos prove what people have said that the Moscow Metro is the most beautiful in the world!

  4. I agree with your preference for HP5 rendering, but decision depends on the mood you want to deliver. More dramatic and charged with TriX, so much used in street photography, but sometimes almost a chiché.


Join the discussion