Film Friday #4: Ilford HP5 Plus

Ah, a classic and a mainstay in film photography, is the Ilford HP5 Plus. Ilford’s answer to Kodak’s famed Tri-X, is as basic as they go, and its been around for a very long time in various guises. It’s a 400 speed black and white film, with classical grain structure. Students and professionals alike swear by it as it’s a very dependable film, with the ability to be over or underexposed by multiple stops. In fact, many professionals back in the day used it as an alternative to Tri-X!

There isn’t much to say about HP5, due to its no frills nature. Nicole and I here at Beau each go through 5-10 rolls of it every month. While it is a 400 iso film, I personally always push it one stop – shooting it as if it’s a 800-1000 ISO film. What I personally love about it is the grain. While grain isn’t for everyone (I know a lot of people who aim for the cleanest and sharpest negative) I much prefer the texture the grain provides with black and white photographs. An underrated aspect about HP5 is the negative itself. It dries flat! Its perfect for both darkroom printing as well as scanning.

I haven’t even got to the best part yet. It’s cheap. One roll of 35mm HP5 with 36 exposures will set you back $9.04 here at Beau. The only other black and white 400 speed film cheaper than that is Kentmere 400, which coincidentally is also another Harman product (Harman owns Ilford and Kentmere.)

HP5 Plus comes from a long line of Ilford pancromatic films dating back to 1931 as plates. HP stands for Hypersensitive Panchromatic. The original HP film was a 160 ASA film. They were originally produced as plates only. Even when HP2 was released in 1937, it was plates only. Roll film was only invented in 1939, and HP2 (now 125ASA) and FP2 was thus also released in roll form (advertised as being made for Leicas). HP5 Plus as we know it only came out in 1989. With almost 90 years of constant development and refinement, you can trust that HP5 is as solid and dependable as they can be.

Today and Saturday only, August 28th and 29th, you can have it for cheaper than cheap, since it will be 10% off in all formats! If you haven’t tried it, now is the time to give it a go and if you’re a regular HP5 user, its a good time to stock up!

Here’s some photographs that I took over the past 6 months.

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