HP5+ or Delta 400 - best pushed?


TPF Noob!
Oct 27, 2005
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50º north
So, my daugher is in the village pantomime this year, and we've got front row seats. I'll take my Voigtlander with the f1.7 35mm Ultron, which I can hand hold pretty well down to 1/15th.

I've seen the spotlight rig they have in action and I think it will probably allow me to use a 400 ISO film at its box speed, but I won't know until I'm there. If I have to I'll shoot it at 800, in which case I wonder if anyone has any experience of which of HP5+ and Delta 400 pushes best, by which I mean with the least grain? I like grain, but for this event I'd like to minimise it.

I have HP5+ and Delta 400 in the freezer and ID11 is my standard developer, but mostly I shoot FP4+ and never push, so I'm open to alternative suggestions for both film and developer.

Thanks in advance

If at all possible, I would shoot Fuji Neopan 1600 at EI800 or 1000. I personally think it's leagues above the competition. You could also try pushing Tri-X to 800, but I think your results will be wayyyyy too contrasy with the HP5. If you have to push one of those two, I would go for the Delta, which tends to be flat at box speed anyway except in staining developers.
One of my favourite combinations for EI 800 with low graininess and low contrast was HP5+ in Resofine. Resofine is a two-bath developer that is not widely available, unfortunately. Bill Troop's TD-201 is very similar, and the formula is given in The Film Developing Cookbook.

Speaking of availablity, which part of the world are you in? It would help to know, so that we can tailor our answers to the things that are available to you. It also helps to know whether you will be wet printing or scanning.

If you want to stick with either HP5+ or Delta 400 (and I see no reason not to) then here are some other combinations that have given me good results at EI 800 without looking like pushed film:

In Xtol I prefer Delta 400 to HP5+, using it at 1+3.

In DD-X it's a fairly close call at EI 800, but I prefer Delta 400 at higher EIs.

If you are scanning, then you might consider using HP5+ and having it developed in the dr5 process. HP5+ performs very well in dr5 at high EI.

I should be able to find scanned examples of all of the above, with the exception of HP5+ in dr5 at EI 800 - I've never shot that combination at below EI 1600.

Max, I hadn't thought of pulling a faster film. I've used Delta 3200, can't recall what I rated it at, possibly 1200, and it was pretty grainy when scanned, but would probably print OK. Don't know anything about Fuji b&w films, so thanks for the tip. I also hadn't thought about contrast, thank you.

Helen, I'm in the UK and my commute takes me within 10 minutes walk of Silverprint, which lists Resofine. It's £7.36 (very nearly $15) for a litre pack, which seems like a lot, but it says it's high capacity on their website, so I wonder if that means that like Diafine you can keep using it for ages after it has been mixed. It sounds like something that is worth trying anyway - I'll be wet printing by the way.

Many thanks to both of you, and Helen I would love to see anything you have in the way of Resofine material. I really like your photos from the early '70s - reminds me of my childhood.

Many thanks to you both!


I've never tried to get the same kind of capacity from Resofine that I've had from Diafine.

Exposing Neopan 1600 at EI 800 or 1000 isn't really a pull. Its ISO speed would be about that, just as Delta 3200 and T-Max P3200 have an ISO speed of 800 to 1000. This isn't kept secret by Ilford and Kodak - it is in their data sheets.

I'll sort out some examples of HP5+ in Resofine at EI 800.

If you can get Barry Thornton's DiLuxol Vitesse it is well worth trying. It behaves in a very similar way to Diafine, but I think that it produces slightly lower graininess. Like Diafine, it works very well with Tri-X at EI 1000 to 1250. I've never tried it with HP5+, however.

These two bath developers do help to control highlight contrast when pushing.


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