We have covered the other two cousins of Ilford Delta family before, Delta 100 and Delta 3200, but now its time we cover the middle child, Delta 400!
Delta 400 is probably the one most people will gravitate towards, as its the most versatile and is the sharper alternative to everyone’s favourite HP5+. It was released back in 1990 as a response to Kodak’s T-Max 400, and offers something very different to HP5+ in terms of grain structure.
Delta use Ilford’s version of tabular grain technology that Kodak seemed to have pioneered with their T-Max films. I’ve explained what tabular grain is in past Film Friday posts, but I’ll quickly cover it again here. While the silver crystals on cubic grain films like Tri-X and HP5+ is more round and organic, tabular grain is more flat and clumped, giving the illusion of a smoother and crisper image. Some people think that this smooth image isn’t as pretty and is too sharp looking, but people prefer it when it comes to portraiture and landscapes as a bigger grain structure might be distracting from the image. The image would look softer and more painterly with Delta than with other cubic grained films.
Admittedly I don’t shoot Delta 400 very often, as cubic grain films lends itself better to the kind of things I shoot. But there are instances where I like to use Delta 400. It makes people look flattering as the skin is made to be clean of distracting grain. Its almost like digital but better (duh!)
Why would you want to choose Delta 400 over HP5+? Besidesbeing different, Delta 400 has a bit more contrast and punch to it when it comes to tones. Its not the most contrasty film out there, but it is pretty good with excellent detail retention across the range, in the shadows and highlights. If this is all things that you’d like, maybe its time to give it a go and fit it into your workflow.
As usual it will be 10% off in all formats. Yes, even the new 100ft roll of Delta 400! So grab yourself some today, even is just to try something new.