5 frames with Ilford HP5

I’m going to say this up front – this roll is probably the biggest disaster I’ve had with film since I started shooting it again. However, this is only partly my fault.

Here’s a description of HP5 from the Ilford website:

ILFORD HP5 PLUS is a high speed, fine grain, medium contrast black & white film making it an excellent choice for journalism, documentary, travel, sports, action and indoor available light photography.

Nominally rated at ISO 400, HP5 PLUS produces negatives of outstanding sharpness and fine grain under all lighting conditions.

Its wide exposure latitude makes it a great choice for beginners, those returning to film as well as the more experienced professional users.

I’m not sure I’ve ever shot black and white film before. Even when I was shooting film as a kid it was always in colour disposables or cheap colour negative film in a point and shoot. So I learned a lot from this roll. Here’s a summary:


I managed to pretty reliably underexpose it, which is the opposite of what you should be aiming for with film. I’ve been reading about the difference in how you should expose film and digital recently (this guide is superb if you’re interested) but basically, it’s almost impossible to get any details out of shadows if you underexpose on film and most films can cope with being overexposed by a few stops so it’s safer to err on the side of that.


Ilford HP5 isn’t known for being a grainy film, so I definitely messed up somewhere. In future, I’ll try a different black and white film like FP4 or XP2, I think.


I’m still getting to grips with focussing my Olympus OM2-2N so I missed a few shots here. As I’ve just bought a rangefinder I don’t think I’ll have much time to practice this skill soon, either.


This is the big one. Firstly, black and white development is significantly more expensive than colour negative. So much so, I’ve shot one roll and I’m already considering buying a developer kit and doing my own.

Secondly, the lab I used made quite a big error in my development. They didn’t load it on the spool properly before they put it in the tank, so it ended up ruining most of the roll. You’ll see what I mean in the shots I’ve posted – there are big sections of black where the roll has been out of the developing solution. There are also scanner lines on some of the frames.

This isn’t the first film that person has ruined of mine. I’ve since changed labs.

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