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.
To see Ilford Delta 3200 exposure tested and compared with other B&W film, follow this link.
For my medium format cameras, this film has been in pretty heavy rotation for a while as there isn’t much competition for it. The speed of it makes it pretty attractive when the fastest lenses for my 6×4.5 and 6×7 cameras are f/2.8 and f/3.8, respectively. When you’re talking about using it in 120 format, it’s pretty sharp and not very grainy. That’s of course thanks to a unique emulsion making it easy to push without getting crushed shadows.
That said, I’ve shot through only two rolls in the 35mm format and was really disappointed both times. I got a couple shots I liked out of both but really felt a bit let down – it was often way too grainy to make a decent sized print with and the tonal range is a lot more limited than Kodak’s conterpart. I’ll continue to keep some in the fridge in 120 but probably won’t try any more in 35mm unless I run across some film on the cheap.
I will say this about Delta that has blown me away – you can overexposue the daylights out of it and it still turns out fine. The first two shots below were accidentally (yes, accidentally) shot at 400 but still developed at 3200. For those interested, when you have a Mamiya RB67 with multiple backs and an ever revolving stock of film rotating in and out of it, you sometimes forget what’s in it. In this case, I hadn’t used it in over a month and had only a few shots left on it when I was about to mail some other film off to the Darkroom Lab. I thought I had some 400 speed film in it and blew through the remainder of the roll. I thought for sure they wouldn’t turn out but there they are.
These are some examples of what I got out of some 35mm rolls. While I really feel attached to some of them, I wish I had taken the shots with some TMax 3200. Alas, such is the life of a film photographer and I still love it.
As you can see, the grit of the film is a lot greater than the larger negative versions and a bit more gritty than TMax. I’ve also found that it doesn’t have near as much of an exposure latitude as the TMax. But then again, this could be my bias towards Kodak talking.