Review: Ilford XP2 Super

Much like Illford Delta 3200, my feelings on this film are laregely dependant on whether I’m shooting 35mm or 120.  There are only a handful of shots I like that have been in 35mm format but I’ve mostly liked all of my 120 stuff.

This film is, of course, the most peculiar to try and categorize.  It’s a B&W film that’s processed as color (C-41 processing).  I started giving this film a go when I was living in Charleston, SC and there was a film lab across the street but they could only do color.  Since I was shooting half color at the time anyhow, it seemed only natural that I shoot a B&W film that could be processed at the same place.  That said, after having a couple rolls get ruined at the shop across the street and already not being a huge fan of this stock, I moved on and haven’t used it in a while.

In sunny outdoor conditions, this film is very boring.  Almost every shot felt like a grey blob with a little detail. The only real way to describe it is to imagine a nice B&W shot- then imagine you’ve lowered the brightness so that the whites are light grey and lowered the blacks to be just a bit darker than the brightest values.

In less lighted conditions where you can control a bit more, the contrast really has a big improvement.  So much so that I wouldn’t mind shooting through another roll but it would likely be around sunset or in a studio.

As you can see in those last couple shots from Sedona, AZ, I had the wrong film loaded in the camera that day.  I regret missing out on the gorgeous red and greens.  Otherwise, in the less sunny conditions, you can see increased contrast and some pretty good detail.  These were all taken on 35mm format using a Nikon F2.

The shots below are all 120 format.  If I were put in front of some of this film again, I think I’d be passing it up.  In the best circumtances, I wasn’t all that impressed.  Although, if I happen to stumble upon an XP2 disposable camera… That I would try it if for nothing but the sense of nastalgia.

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