Film Review: ILFORD HP5 120

Jul 24, 2016
3 min read

This is the first roll of film I ever shot and that made me sell of my digital gear and switch entirely to film!

It took long for me to make such a radical move! By the time I got this roll developed, I still had all my digital cameras and wasn’t thinking about this project yet. But something unexpected was about to happen…

Shooting my first roll of film

After receiving my Mamiya M645 1000S and a Sekor 80mm f/1.9 (which is a rare aperture on medium format) I quickly bought a roll of ILFORD HP5 and went for a test photoshoot with my two favorite models.

This was my first real experience with film photography so my hands were a bit shaky while loading my first roll. Once the film was in place it was time to set the ISO of my Mamiya.

Why I pushed my film at 200 VS 400 ISO ?

I did some research prior my first shoot and read that people often over expose their film to bring more details in the shadows. So as I was using a film with a sensibility of 400 ISO, I set-up my camera to 200 ISO which gave a +1 stop over exposure.

I discovered later that this technique is called “Pulling Film”, which means that you purposely over expose the film to gain more shadow details but in this case it also allowed me to shoot at a wider aperture than I would have been able with the film rated at ISO 400.

When I gave my roll to lab, I made sure to mention that it was over-exposed by one stop as development time must be adjusted accordingly to avoid having an negative over exposed.

So here are the few pictures that made my look at photography with a different eye and gave me the idea to get rid of all my digital equipment and commit to film for an entire year.

This first photo below of my loved one was the one that triggered everything!

Ilford HP5 120 sample on Mamiya M645 1000S + 80mm f/1.9 SEKOR
Ilford HP5 120 sample on Mamiya M645 1000S + 80mm f/1.9 SEKOR
Ilford HP5 120 sample on Mamiya M645 1000S + 80mm f/1.9 SEKOR
Ilford HP5 120 sample on Mamiya M645 1000S + 80mm f/1.9 SEKOR
Ilford HP5 120 sample on Mamiya M645 1000S + 80mm f/1.9 SEKOR
Ilford HP5 120 sample on Mamiya M645 1000S + 80mm f/1.9 SEKOR

As I wrote in my first article, while shooting film I would content myself with an average of 10% of keeper images. Here you will see 14 images out of a roll of 15 as 1 pictured turned completely black so no point putting it here. I personally consider that 7 of these pictures as “keeper” (which makes 46% of keepers) but that totally subjective and I leave it to your own appreciation.

I shared this roll of HP5 with my girlfriend and a friend who wanted to try it out as well but they both had almost no experience in photography. Not saying that I’m a better photographer, (but I do hope so!) so I let you imagine how many keepers I could have get if I’d shot this roll all by myself 😉

This was the first roll of many more to come so make to subscribe to our newsletter so you can get a notification every time I shoot a new roll!

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