Photos & Projects

Low light fun with Ilford HP5+ at ei3200 and Ilfotec DD-X

Ilford HP5+ shot at ie3200 developed in DD-X

These days I rarely find the need to shoot with with film much faster than 400 iso, but a few years back I used to shoot a lot more faster film. I suspect back then – since I was shooting a lot more digital alongside the film shooting I was doing – I was just used to the idea of being able to shoot in much lower light… or maybe it was the fact that I used to spend a lot more time in dingley-lit bars. Either way, my finding the necessity to shoot in darkened environments seems to have waned… at least until this Winter…

Way back when, I started out this low light shooting with Ilford Delta 3200 developed in ilfosol… If you like massive strong grain, then try that combo! Over time, I tried a few combinations of film and developer looking for the combination that appealed the most to me, until one day a friend suggested I try pushing Ilford HP5+. I’d be playing with Ilfotec DD-X at the time and noticed, that Massive Dev had times for Ilford HP5+ at ei3200. I really loved the results!

Mainly due to the fact that I discovered a love for XP2 I moved away from developing my own film, I stopped shooting HP5+, and stopped shooting in such extreme low low light. That was at least until the end of last year when I bought a Voigtlander 50mm f1.1 and thought it might be fun to find some very low lit things to take photos of. If I’m honest, I actually struggled with this combination. I just don’t find myself wanting to take photos in the dark that often, and what low lit scenes I do like shooting in – with a f/1.1 lens on the front of a camera – 400 iso is actually plenty fast enough film. That said, I did manage to force a roll with that combo.

Along side that roll, I also put a roll through the Olympus AF-10 super, which thanks to it having a f3.5 lens, was actually a lot easier to shoot – you can have a read of my forcing the AF-10 to work in these low light situations here.

The problem is, I’m far too lazy to develop my own film at the moment. I’m not sure what it is, I just can’t seem to find the time. Thankfully I have a good friend by the name of James, who is a lot less lazy than me and has some sort of mechanical developing machine that only needs a tiny drizzle of DD-X … So I volunteered him to do it for me. (Thanks again James! :))

Here’s a smattering of results from those two rolls of Ilford HP5+ at ei3200 deved in Ilfotec DD-X …
These first were shot with the Voigtlander 50mm 1.1

Voigtlander 50mm 1.1

Voigtlander 50mm 1.1

Voigtlander 50mm 1.1

Voigtlander 50mm 1.1

Voigtlander 50mm 1.1

And these – if you read my previous post, you might have seen before – were shot with the Olympus AF-10 Super

Olympus AF10 Super

Olympus AF10 Super

Olympus AF10 Super

Olympus AF10 Super

Olympus AF10 Super

I hope you agree, the content of my photos aside, the results have a wonderful look to them. I am definitely reminded why I settled on this film/dev combination.

More shots can be found on my flickr here

Cheers for reading


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  • Reply
    January 12, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Those are great results. I must try it – thank you. I’m always looking for good film for very low light.

    Like you, I’ve been using more and more XP2 — it’s a lovely film.

    (I’ve been having real trouble with your Captcha system on the mobile browser).

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 12, 2015 at 2:25 pm

      XP2 is just so easy …
      You will have to show me some results if you do go down this road!

      (Thanks for the heads up with the captcha … I’ve switched it off for the time being.)

  • Reply
    February 11, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    The shot at the top of this page is stunning – the bokeh circles are drunk, surely? I love it. The grain is perfect, as are the tones. I really like all the shots, but that first one is fantastic.

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      February 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      I think it is my favorite combo of film and chemical. Me and James (the guy in the photo) are going to shoot some 4×5 hp5 and dev it the same. I’m expecting it to look awesome!

  • Reply
    Olivier SM
    October 10, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Very nice article. Crazy what Hp5 Plus is capable of with the right developer (and photographer). One question…what is this mechanical developing machine your friend uses?

    • Reply
      Hamish Gill
      October 14, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      A Jobo CPE2 🙂

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