Film Review: ILFORD HP5 135 – Leica M6

Jul 25, 2016
2 min read

This time let’s look at some images shot with the famous ILFORD HP5 400 on a Leica M6. This film is praised among many photographers who like to shot in black and white so we’ll see if it deserves its fame.

I previously reviewed this film shot on a medium format (check my review here) and it was this roll that actually convinced me to move to analog and sell all my digital equipment!

Needless to say that expectations were high!

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed after seeing the first scans. The grain on some pictures is bit too present for my taste. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about :

The picture of the clouds is probably the worst of all this roll. It came out extremely grainy compared to all the others. I also noticed that mid-tones are showing more grain. I took several pictures of the crane with different orientations. You can see here that the highlights almost show no grain at all when I wasn’t shooting directly toward the light source.

This entire roll was shot at ISO 400 and developed at box speed. I’m not sure if it has an effect on the grain at all and would love to hear your thoughts about that. Also, most of these pictures were taken with a Leica 35mm Summicron and a Leica 90mm Rokkor.

I’ve discuss with some experienced photographers around me about why this roll came out grainier that the one shot on medium format. Basically they explained me that medium format film will most likely have a finer grain due to the bigger film size. Whereas you’re scanning or enlarging for prints, the grain will be always more present on a 35mm film simply because you need to magnify it more than you would with medium format. This has for effect to enlarge the grain and make it more visible but in fact it has the exact same size and structure on both 135 and 120 formats.

Overall I still feel that Ilford HP5 is a good film but still not what I’m looking for. I’m going to review soon KODAK TRI-X which is also well know and as a very strong reputation among fine grain lover.

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