Pentax MX and Ilford Delta 3200
5 frames with...

5 frames with my Pentax MX and Ilford Delta 3200 on a Bright Summer Day – By Armando Caballero

November 26, 2022

I know that you normally would not expect to find the words “Ilford Delta 3200” and “bright summer day” in the same sentence. But let me tell you the story of how I ended up shooting this film stock normally used for poor lighting conditions on one of the brightest days of the English summer.

The date was the August bank holiday of 2022. The place… the Isle of Wight. I travelled down South with some of my friends to spend the long weekend. Being the passionate street photographer that I am I took two of my cameras with me. My Fujifilm XT2 mirrorless digital camera and, the star of this article, my trusty Pentax MX.

We were driving along the coastline and we decided to stop in a really nice location to have lunch. I left my main bag with all of my extra film stock in the car and just took the Pentax and my small camera bag with me. The place was fantastic, and I started taking candid photos of people enjoying the beach and also of my friends. Before I noticed, my reel was finished, and I needed to swap it for a new one. Probably you can imagine what happened next. The only film stock that I had in my bag was my first-ever roll of Ilford Delta 3200.

Seagulls

Seagulls

My plan was of course to save this roll for indoor photos or some night street photography, but it was the only option I had back then. Slightly reluctant to use my only option, I loaded the roll into my camera, and then I started shooting again. I have read in many blogs that even though this film is commercialised as a 3200 ISO film, it is actually a 1200 ISO film. Hence, I set up my light meter at that value and continued shooting. I had to use crazy small apertures, between 16 and 22 at shutter speeds of 500 and 1000. Before I noticed, I happily finished my roll and I found myself going back home the next day wanting to see the results.

Cable car

Cable car

Once I was back home, I developed the film in my darkroom using Ilfosol3 and scanned the negatives as I normally do it using my digital camera. The results were absolutely fantastic, I was so happy. The first thing I loved was the distinctive grain in the photos, big and beautiful. The mid tones also look unique, and the contrast is perfect for my taste. Another thing that I really liked was that the small details and features in the photos are not as sharp as compared to 400 ISO film, which is the film stock that I normally use, due to the bigger grain size of the Ilford Delta 3200.

Overall, I would really recommend shooting this film stock on bright sunny days too, you will obtain a unique and distinctive look, specially if you are a big fan of grain as I am. This little unplanned experiment just shows once again all the possible artistic results that we can obtain every time we decide to shoot with our analogue machines instead of our modern digital wonders. I hope you enjoy the 5 frames that I have selected from this roll.

Armando motorbike

Armando motorbike

Enjoy the summer

Enjoy the summer

English sea

English sea

By the way, if you ever get the chance to visit the Isle of Weight during summer, DO IT!!! You will not regret it. It is an absolutely beautiful place and I guarantee that you will take some pretty cool pictures there.

I have recently published my first street photography photobook (zine). You can check it out here and get yourself a copy if you would like to add it to your collection as a source of inspiration.

Check my Instagram here

Until next time, yours sincerely

Armando Caballero – Street Photography

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    Fred Nelson
    November 26, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Cool pics! I like the English sea! Did you the digital also.

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      November 27, 2022 at 4:58 pm

      Hello Fred, thank you for taking the time to read my article. I’m happy you liked my photos. Are you asking me if I also took the same photo with my digital camera?

  • Reply
    Vlad Serebryany
    November 27, 2022 at 12:26 am

    What if I simply say – the roll of film is wasted? Here is why. If you are taking pictures with such a high speed film in bright light, you are given the good opportunity to explore extremely wide depth of field along with ability to freeze any fast movement. So if you are shooting film to learn the capabilities of the media and not because you cover certain event, you might have chosen the subjects which will benefit from the wide DoF and fast shutter speeds. For example you may wanted to shoot a runner very up close, knowing he or she will be sharp, as well as any background. You don’t have such an option with low speed film. The same true for water and seagull – you might shot just inches above water and have it crispy and frozen from here to eternity. That’s how you learn the trade, not aimlessly shooting around without slightest idea what it is needed for.

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      November 27, 2022 at 4:59 pm

      Hello Vlad, thank you for reading my article, and thank you for your comment, even though I think it is a bit unnecessarily harsh. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on the fact that the film was wasted. Just because I did not shoot it in the way you would have done it does not mean it was a waste. I obtained beautiful photos, in my opinion, and also had fun shooting them, so it cannot have been a waste on my book. It is funny that you also mentioned some examples of how to use it “properly” and I did take some shots of the conditions that you mentioned to take advantage of the high ISO. I was able to freeze the seagulls in midair with a nice depth of field at high shutter speeds and I also capture a boy running along the shore with minimum or no blur at all at the same time that the background is also on focus. Just don’t be so harsh next time, you can always give advice and express your opinion in a more friendly way. Oh…and one more thing….I did not use this film to “learn the capabilities of the media”, as I mentioned in my article, I did not have any other choice at the time. My plan was to use it for some nice nighttime street photography.

  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    November 27, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Your MX seems to have lived a life!
    I also recently used a roll of Delta 3200 in an old Rolleiflex, exposing and developing as ISO 1000. Results were quite good, but I did have the advantage of a larger negative. The shot of the scooter shows a nice range of tones.

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      November 27, 2022 at 4:56 pm

      Hello Bob, thank you for reading my article. Hahaha, yes….That Pentax MX used to belong to my dad and it is the same camera he used to take photos of me and my sister when we were kids (I’m 33 yo). I think my dad must have dropped it sometime causing that big dent on the top. Shooting medium format with this filmstock sounds like a lot of fun, I would love to see your shots at ISO 1000.

  • Reply
    Armando Caballero
    November 27, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    Hello Vlad, thank you for reading my article, and thank you for your comment, even though I think it is a bit unnecessarily harsh. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you on the fact that the film was wasted. Just because I did not shoot it in the way you would have done it does not mean it was a waste. I obtained beautiful photos, in my opinion, and also had fun shooting them, so it cannot have been a waste on my book. It is funny that you also mentioned some examples of how to use it “properly” and I did take some shots of the conditions that you mentioned to take advantage of the high ISO. I was able to freeze the seagulls in midair with a nice depth of field at high shutter speeds and I also capture a boy running along the shore with minimum or no blur at all at the same time that the background is also on focus. Just don’t be so harsh next time, you can always give advice and express your opinion in a more friendly way. Oh…and one more thing….I did not use this film to “learn the capabilities of the media”, as I mentioned in my article, I did not have any other choice at the time. My plan was to use it for some nice nighttime street photography.

  • Reply
    Sacha Cloutier
    November 27, 2022 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Armando,

    My biggest takeaway is the you went, you conquered, and enjoyed it. There is the old adage that the best camera is the one that you have with you, and I think that that can be applied to film as well. The only time that a roll of film could be “wasted” is if there is not a single usable shot (this excludes test rolls). You seemed to have really enjoyed your day of shooting and came up with results that you like (I find them pretty nice myself), sounds like a win to me!

    • Reply
      Armando Caballero
      November 27, 2022 at 6:21 pm

      Hello Sacha, thank you for your very encouraging comment 🙂 I did enjoy myself very much and I completely agree with you.

  • Reply
    Simon
    November 27, 2022 at 9:32 pm

    Really cool results. Thanks for sharing. I really enjoy the look. I like the photo of seagulls and of the motorcycle the most.

  • Reply
    Julian Tanase
    November 30, 2022 at 5:10 am

    Armando, thank you for sharing, these are very interesting photographs. I am so surprised you have managed to shoot this type of film in bright daylight, and have very decent images. Never been in this situation before, but I do admit that when in a tight corner, one has to make do. And you did :).

    Regards, JT

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