This week we will be talking about Ilford Ortho Plus, the latest film stock to come out from a major manufacturer. It’s quite a unique film, being an orthochromatic film. We’ll be covering what that means and how it renders light differently to produce an entirely different kind of photograph from your usual black and white photos.
Most black and white films on the market today are panchromatic films. Panchromatic films are sensitive to most wavelengths of light, being quite realistic to what the human eye renders (minus the colour). Before the invention of panchromatic film, however, orthochromatic film was the standard. Orthochromatic film is only sensitive to blue and green light, rendering blue coloured items to appear lighter while red items appear darker.
As a result, Ilford Ortho Plus offers you a vintage film look with the results more akin to the silent movies and wetplate portraits of yesteryear. With portraits, for example, people with red skin undertones will see their freckles become slightly more exaggerated. With landscapes, the leaves of plants appear slightly lighter. This effect can be achieved with a cyan filter on panchromatic film, but orthochromatic films offers it right out of the box with especially fine grain.
For day to day shooting, it is perhaps difficult to tell it apart from regular panchromatic film, but it’s a great film for shooting landscapes. At ISO 80, I found it slightly difficult to try and shoot day to day, so I decided to also test the latitude by pushing the film in development by two stops, as if it’s a 400 ISO film. What came out was incredibly contrasty scenes with detail in the shadows for me to recover, especially useful in the sunny days we’ve been getting lately.
We are stocking Ilford Ortho Plus in 35mm and 120. It is also available in sheet film sizes by special order. For the next two days (Fri-Sat), it will be 10% off in store, so perhaps with the sun out, it is time for you to give this film stock a go this weekend! In the meantime, here are some of the sample images that I shot last weekend. Film developed at Rocket Repro.
For more technical data and processing information, have a look at Ilford’s web page for Ortho Plus