wifey in artificial rain

Ilford HP5 and a First Experiment at 3200 – by Jonathan Slater

Minolta’s SRT series is regarded as something of a classic for good reason – they’re beautifully tactile in the hands, make sounds that you can find videos dedicated to on YouTube, and they’re fully manual, which appeals to depraved analogue throwbacks like us.

My grandfather used to run a wedding photography business in Nottingham, England back in the day, and while I’d love to say that my thrifted Minolta SRT SC-ii (a Sears exclusive variant of the 201) was his, that seems rather unlikely. I do know he used Minolta gear however, so we’ll go with that for now. Three cheers for family connections!

Last week I decided to try something new with my fully manual camera-child. My wife planned a birthday meet-up for herself at nearby Longwood Gardens, and as the surroundings would be relatively dark I decided to push some Ilford HP5 to EI3200 – despite not having ventured away from the box speed of 400 before. As a sneaky British immigrant to the United States, I have a hankering for anything with similar roots, so the Northern English HP5 is a natural film to pair with my definitely not British Minolta.

Wifey standing in archway
Can’t beat a good archway framing.

As for the shooting process, I very much enjoyed not having to worry about my depth of field as much as usual when the light starts to dim with a 400 ISO film. Most of my shots were f/8 or up, at 1/500 or 1/1000 shutter speed.

I shot the remainder of my second roll at Marsh Creek State Park, first on a blazing hot afternoon – the 1/2000 speed of my F3 would have been nice here – and then as the sun went down a few evenings later. Much of my initial photography tooth-cutting (digital, but don’t tell anyone) happened around that lake, so I have something of a soft spot for it.

Family packing up jeep at the lake
That extra depth of field that shooting at 3200 allows is much appreciated.

Next up: find a developing time to use.


Problem one: not much info on pushing HP5 to 3200 with my chosen developers. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t just go to 1600. That would have been more sensible, but once you’ve made your bed, you must develop in it for an appropriate time. At least I think that’s the saying… anyway, I eventually found a recommendation for 24 minutes and 30 seconds at a temperature of 20.5c with Ilfosol 3, which is the only developer I’ve got right now.

Problem two: My water did not want to be 20.5 degrees! The coldest I could get it from the tap was 25, and then a stint in the freezer dropped it to 19, from which it stubbornly refused to rise. Cue much facepalming and gnashing of teeth.

Artificial waterfall and inky blacks.
I can see a lot more pushed minimalism in my SRT’s future…

Eventually I decided a 24:30 develop time was long enough that playing with it a bit wasn’t too risky, so I started the process at 19 and a quarter degrees. I set my timer (aka Alexa) for 26 minutes and fifteen seconds, to partly account for the temperature and for my assumption that it would only get warmer during that time. Why the fifteen seconds? Good question. Moving on…

Luckily for me, they came out beautifully. Probably my favourite batch of HP5 to date, going just on the contrast and overall feel. So I’m going to say that HP5 at 3200 with a 26:15 develop time at 19-ish degrees is a pretty solid recipe… just maybe don’t try it the first time for a one-off event, like me.

Gardens exterior, rainy day

Thanks for reading! Feel free to follow me on Instagram and say hi.

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11 thoughts on “Ilford HP5 and a First Experiment at 3200 – by Jonathan Slater”

  1. Love this article and love the images! I am an avid Hp5 shooter and expose it anywhere between El 200 to 1600 depending on the light and environment. Never thought about going to 3200 thinking grain would start to really degrade the image, though after seeing your results I am inspired to give it a go! I am very surprised how well the images held up and makes one wonder why one would opt for a delta 3200 or P3200 when Hp5 can get you there, and maybe even handle it better!

  2. Does it count if I’m using a Leitz-Minolta CL w/a Minolta 40mm lens? It has that cool Minolta script on the camera.
    A bit of nonsense trivia: the US home of Minolta was located on a road with the address of 101….in honor of the STT-101. True Minolta users will have the actual adddress.

  3. I too have shot HP5 (and Kentmere 400) at 3200. I did this to capture images during my kids’ indoor basketball games a couple years ago. I subsequently developed using HC-110 dilution H (1+63) for about 40 minutes, inverting for the first minute, then one single inversion every 7-10 minutes subsequently. I really loved the results. There was intense contrast and significant grain, but neither one of them were offensive to the eye. I would surely shoot these films and develop similarly again.

  4. Nice work! I plonk an ice cube (or a few) in the water I’m about to make the dev. up from when I need to knock degrees off the tap water in the summer.
    You’ve inspired me to shoot some HP5 at 3200…

  5. Seriously impressive results. HP5+ is my go-to stock, and I’ve only pushed it to 1600 (about 100 times; EI800 is my favorite grain, I think), but seeing this takes away any fear I had of pushing it further. Thanks for including your development times and temps. I guess EI6400 is next?! How far can it go?!?! XD

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