5 Frames with Delta 3200 and a Nikon FE – By Jamie Winder

I have a habit of picking up rolls of film that I’d like to try, without necessarily having a purpose in mind. Even once I’ve filled my airtight plastic tub, I buy more rolls faster than I can shoot them. I do the same with books: buy the ones that interest me when I see them (in case I don’t see them again), then spend the next 3 months flicking at my phone whilst they pile up. I’m trying to be better; at some point I will shoot only HP5 and FP4, or so I tell myself. In the meantime I have a tub of film to get through.

This brings me to my one roll of Delta 3200. I had never shot with such fast film before and so I wanted to try, though first I needed a purpose. I had missed my opportunity for a grand ’Empty Streets’ COVID project, but had made an observation at various hawker centers (public food courts, integral to life here in Singapore). Through various stages of lockdown and social distancing, a web of plastic netting had spread across the tables and crept up the seats—the form of it kind of reminded me of the spiky coronavirus particles. I decided to shoot these normally busy places at night, hoping that the dark backdrops and grain from the 3200 film would lend a certain mood to the subject.

Jamie Winder - Delta 3200

I selected my Nikon FE for the job. This is my ‘easy’ film camera: I’m comfortable with SLRs, like to shoot aperture-priority, and have a decent range of 70‘s AI lenses with great character (I also have one pre-AI lens, a 50mm f1.4, and the character on that thing wide open is something else).

I shot this set with the 50mm f1.8 and the 20mm f4; I love that both these lenses are almost pancake-tiny and have excellent close focusing ability (0.45m and 0.3m, respectively). I must admit, my personal preference wide is 24mm but having read about the size and quality of the 20, I opted to suck it up and challenge myself a little. This kit gave me all the flexibility I would need: Standard, wide, close-in. Maybe a little bokeh too. Also, it all slipped easily into a small sling bag.

Jamie Winder - Delta 3200

Although most hawker centres across the country had succumbed to the orange plastic crawl, I chose to shoot at Newton Food Centre. Arranged in a perfect circle, open to the weather and surrounded with beautiful trees, it is photogenic as far as food courts go. The patterns of the paving complement the layers of prohibitive webbing, and… Ok it is also near my place and they have a local craft ale stall. Total no-brainer.

Jamie Winder - Delta 3200

I had envisioned a range of images from full scenes, to abstracted shapes and textures. Overall I’m fairly pleased though feel like I could have gone a bit closer for some shots. I could (and should) have gone harder on the abstract.

Jamie Winder - Delta 3200Jamie Winder - Delta 3200

A question

Despite having developed the film in DDX (in an  attempt to calm the results a little), I was ready for some big grain from the Delta 3200 though still felt surprised at just how much I got. I wonder what the benefit of shooting this is over pushing something like HP5 to 3200… Anyone have experience of this? Or maybe I’ve just overlooked something here—either way I’d be grateful to hear about it.

Thanks for reading.

Instagram: @j_blinder


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24 thoughts on “5 Frames with Delta 3200 and a Nikon FE – By Jamie Winder”

    1. Right, good to know thanks Bob. Still confuses me now that some films are rated differently to their optimum speed!

  1. Nice images! I shoot Kodak P3200 and develop it in R09 – to maximise that grain. Works wonders. Good contrast too. I’m guessing from your images that you chose not to up the contrast in post!

    1. Thanks Nik! There was actually some boosting of contrast, though that could well come down to my scanning set up (I camera scan with a Fuji XT3).

  2. Hello Jamie,

    The main difference will be in the tonality. If you push HP5 to 3200 you will get a very barrow band of tones and that “pushed look” (deep blacks, blown highlights, and not much middle grey). With the delta 3200, you will get much more shades of grey… Depends on what you want really..

    Have a good day

  3. Hi Jamie,

    This was a very nice article to fill my lunch break. Also I do enjoy the photos!

    My very first self developed roll was actually Delta 3200 in DDX and the grain was way too present for my taste although I expected lots of it, so I never used this combo again.
    Maybe someone here comes up with a better solution 🙂


    1. Thanks Lennart, glad you enjoyed the article. My understanding of the purpose of high-iso film may have been wrong from the beginning – as Marius commented, perhaps the gains I should be looking for are in the tones rather the grain. All said and done though, I don’t mind a bit of grain!

  4. Not really an answer, as I never pushed HP5 yet (it’s my go-to film for solid results). My experience with Delta 3200 has mostly been with Microphen. With that combination, I found the grain of Delta 3200 quite acceptable. I pushed it to ISO6400 and 12800, at which point the grain is similar to the images you shared here.
    I know DD-X should be matched to Delta films, I never tried it – but perhaps it’s just not that ideal for Delta 3200. According to most tests, ISO3200 is already actually a 1-1,5 stop push, so surely some developers will work better than others.

    My main gripe with Delta 3200 is not so much the grain, but the rather flat and dull contrast – honestly, I also feel your photos would have benefitted from a bit punchier contrast – the subject is really well suited to it and a nice original choice of subject!

    1. Hi Wouter, thanks for the comment and suggestions. If/when I shoot with 3200 again, I feel like I may go all out and push it further (which I imagine would give that little extra contrast).

      1. Yes, it will add a bit of contrast pushing it further.
        Currently I’m trying T-Max P3200 (in T-Max developer) for the low-light/night shots, and so far I like it better. Of course it all depends on the look one is after. The suggestion of an orange filter sure isn’t bad, but it will cost ~2 stops of light, so it might push you to ISO6400… (2 birds with one stone)

      2. Developing the film a bit longer will increase contrast. At one time the great yellow father stated that for every 25% increase or decrease of developing time you raise or lower contrast one paper grade.

        1. I just had to look up ‘the great yellow father’ — sounds like some pseudo-benevolent overlord! Seeing the prices of Portra, it may well be…

  5. Very cool idea with the abstract patterns! Depending on the colour of the floor and chairs, I wonder if an orange filter would have helped get some more contrast (if you like more contrast).

    As for your question, I have shot 3200 and HP5 at 1600 and this is what I noticed:
    3200 will give you more grain with more range in the overall tone whereas pushing HP5 (I have only pushed it to 1600) will have less grain but less detail in the shadows and highlights. Essentially you are underexposing by 4-5 stops (little detail in shadows) and then greater overdeveloping (might lose detail in the highlights).

    1. Good shout Kevin, I hadn’t considered using a filter for shooting at night (I have a basic yellow that I use during the day). In this case I believe an orange filter would lighten the plastic? Undecided whether lighter or darker would have turned out best, but it’s a nice thing to ponder! Thanks for the breakdown of your experience with 3200 and pushing HP5, this (and the other comments) have really helped me better understand high-iso film.

  6. Great photos of an imaginative subject Jamie. A bit like the red weed creeping over everything in War of the Worlds.
    Given that the netting is orange perhaps an orange filter would have highlighted it more?
    It’s been a long time since I pushed good old HP5 to 3200ASA but I seem to recall that it give better contrast. Yes, there was grain but more defined grain if you get what I mean, not so smudgy.
    I also think that the more you push a film the more the the resulting images depend on your developing technique and a bit of practice is necessary to achieve what you’re happy with.

    1. Thanks Peter, much appreciated. A couple of mentions for an orange filter, I potentially missed a trick there. Noted on the care required with pushed film – I plan to take a bunch of HP5 or Tri-X to London next month and shoot it at 800 and 1600… will see what happens!

    1. Thanks for posting this link. I’ve read from a few sources that Delta 3200 in medium format is an entirely different beast. From what I’ve gathered, it just is easier to work with. I don’t shoot any medium format, so I’m relying on the observations of other photographers.

  7. I recently pushed some HP5 to 2000 iso and the resulting contrast was quite difficult to work with. Any frames that were underexposed even slightly were goners. The advantage of using a dedicated high speed film definitely would be avoiding that crazy contrast.

    1. Hi Abbey, yep it seems to be that people are getting results up to 1600… I’m gonna give that a go very soon.

  8. I really like these. The tones are good. The grain is fine. The first photo in the post is tremendously interesting.

    Recently, I needed a high speed medium format film and tried Delta 3200, HP5 and Tri-X. All developed in Diafine.
    None of the them reached 3200 for me. I settled on AI 1250 for all 3 and at that speed in that developer with good exposure there is really no grain in any of them. They each have unique tone though. I settled on HP5. The price was a factor. At the time HP5 was quite a bit cheaper than the others.

    Again, Nice work on these. -Troy

    1. Hi Troy, thanks for the insight and the kind words. I’ve been planning to shoot several rolls of HP5 or TriX at 800–1600, I’ll give 1250 a go for some of them.

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