Best B&W Films for Landscape Photography by James Baturin

B&W medium format film landscape - Best BW Films for Landscapes on Shoot It With Film
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Written by James Baturin

Landscape photography is a great way to use your camera to slow down and see the world around you in a new way. It’s the beauty of the outdoor landscape that initially drew me to photography, especially rendered in black and white film.

And just like with other genres of photography, landscape photography has its own set of rules and considerations to take into account when choosing your film.

B&W medium format film landscape - Best BW Films for Landscapes on Shoot It With Film
Ilford HP5+ 400

What to Consider When Choosing a Film for Landscapes

Grain and Detail

Landscape photographs are often taken of vast scenes with lots of important details that you want unmuddied and in sharp focus.

This makes fast speed films with less grain ideal for landscapes in order to capture as much of this detail as possible, especially with 35mm.

Using a tripod for landscapes helps with framing your shot, but also allows you to use faster film speeds even at slow shutters and low light.

Dynamic Range

Put simply, a film’s dynamic range is the difference between the lightest and darkest tones a film can render without losing details in either the shadows or the highlights.

Scenes in landscape photography often deal with wide tonal ranges, especially those that include the sky, clouds, or fog, so a film with a wide dynamic range is important to capture details in all parts of the image.

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Best B&W Films for Landscape Photography

Based on these criteria, here are three of my favorite B&W films for landscape photography!

1. Ilford Delta 100

To start my list, Ilford Delta 100 is a fast speed black and white film, with extremely fine, almost imperceptible grain and very sharp detail.

I have shot a number of wide landscape scenes with this film, and I couldn’t believe how sharp and detailed the images were. Even distant background details popped, and were rendered sharp when zoomed into the negative scan.

Of the three films I’ll mention here, Delta 100 has probably the highest contrast with very deep blacks. Yet despite the high contrast, I also found the dynamic range to be quite good, having good blacks in the shadows without blowing out important highlight details.

Overall, if you’re looking for crisp, high detailed landscape images, I would highly recommend Ilford Delta 100.

Find Ilford Delta 100 on Amazon.

B&W medium format film landscape - Best BW Films for Landscapes on Shoot It With Film
Ilford Delta 100
B&W medium format film landscape - Best BW Films for Landscapes on Shoot It With Film
Ilford Delta 100

2. Fuji Neopan Acros 100 II

Another film that’s hard to beat when it comes to sharpness and low grain is Fuji Acros 100 II.

Like Delta 100, Fuji Acros 100 is an extremely sharp film, bringing out every important detail in your landscape images.

It also has a good dynamic range, rendering details in both shadows and highlights. Acros 100 is less contrasty than Delta 100, but the range of tones is still incredibly pleasing.

If you are looking to take long exposure landscape shots, Acros 100 has an extremely low reciprocity failure, meaning less time compensation for exposure times over 1 second. Acros 100 is one of my favourite films for long exposure waterfall shots for this reason. (You can learn more about reciprocity failure here.)

The one downside to Across 100 II is that it costs about $4 more per roll than Delta 100.

Find Fuji Neopan Acros 100 II on Amazon.

B&W medium format film landscape - Best BW Films for Landscapes on Shoot It With Film
Fuji Acros 100 II
B&W medium format film landscape - Best BW Films for Landscapes on Shoot It With Film
Fuji Acros 100 II

3. Ilford HP5+ 400

I probably shoot Ilford HP5 400 more than any other film on the market, for landscapes and otherwise. It’s such a versatile film that there really isn’t much it isn’t good for.

It’s not as sharp as Delta 100 or Acros 100, so fine details in a wide landscape shot will be more subtle with added grain. As one who shoots a lot of experimental and abstract landscape photography techniques (long exposure, intentional camera movement, etc.), I am not always as concerned with crisp details, so grain is something welcome for me.

As a mid-contrast film, Ilford HP5+ also has an incredibly wide dynamic range, which allows you to maintain details in both shadows and highlights easily.

It also responds really well to push processing. You can easily push it by 1, 2, or even 3 stops if you are after more contrast.

If you’re looking for a versatile black and white film, with a bit more grain and that responds really well to more experimental techniques, Ilford HP5+ is a safe bet.

Find Ilford HP5+ 400 on Amazon.

B&W medium format film landscape - Best BW Films for Landscapes on Shoot It With Film
Ilford HP5+ 400
B&W medium format film landscape - Best BW Films for Landscapes on Shoot It With Film
Ilford HP5+ 400

These are a few of my favorite films for black and white landscape photography.

Obviously there is a lot of personal preference involved in choosing film, so there may be others that work well for you!

Thank you so much, James! James is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out his other articles here, including A Multiple Exposure Experiment: 20+ Exposures in a Single Film Image and Using Intentional Camera Movement to Enhance Your Film Photography.

You can also check out James’s work on Instagram.

Leave your questions about the best B&W films for landscape photography below in the comments, and let us know your favorite! You can also find these three films on Amazon here: Ilford Delta 100, Fuji Acros 100 II, and Ilford HP5+ 400.

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James Baturin

James Baturin is a long exposure film photographer and a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find his other articles here, including Hasselblad 500 C/M Film Camera Review and Long Exposure Film Photography Tutorial.

Blog Comments

I liked Acros but found it to be rather pricey. I have been trying out Ilford films and find that FP4 works best for my landscapes when paired with FX-37 developer (otherwise way too contrasty). IMHO Delta 100 needs a bit more grain and HP5 has too much. Such is life – everyone has to find what works best for them. Thanks for a great review.

Hi James,
I have seen great results with deep blacks and increased contrast by pushing Delta 400 to
800 ASA. Have you had any experience with film?
I haven’t used Delta 100, but now your article has peaked my interest in trying it out.
Thanks for the informative article.

Hi James, I took my Olympus OM10 (50mm & 28mm) & my Canon AE1 50mm with me on holiday to Portsea Melbourne. The cliffs and seascapes with salt mist & cascading layered bays from St Paul’s lookout, in the side light of the afternoon, makes for impressive B&W landscapes. I used Panf50. But it’s hard to tell if I got the exposure right? the automatic exposure on the Olympus seemed wrong, time will tell. What’s your preferred light meter?

Brad, I rarely trust the auto exposure in 35mm cameras. Better to get a good quality exposure meter. I’ve been using a Gossen Profisix for years, as there are attachments that allow selected area metering and it fits my SinarSix for direct measuring of light at the film plane for 4″x5″ work. I have an additional Profisix I use in the darkroom with the Labor attachment. It’s a really versatile exposure meter. Nice to know there are more Australians in this group! (I’m at Aldgate SA).

I could not agree more with Ray. A good light metre is one of the most essential accessories you can own for film photography. You probably need a tripod and a trigger cable, too!

James, A good, informative, article. I still have some Kodak Technical pan in 35mm, 120 rollfilm, and 4″x5″ LF that I’m using sparingly. This film was, perhaps, the finest of all grains for 35mm photography and is superlative for LF. Technical developer is almost impossible to obtain now but I’ve found HC110 dilution F (1:79) to give good results. My main go-to film for almost all types of b&w photography is Ilford FP4+. Some information on what developer/s you use for the films you mentioned would be nice to know, especially for Ilford HP5+. When you’re shooting LF grain is less important than dynamic range.

Hi James, It’s a very interesting piece. I love Acros & Delta 100 for landscape. I also find Ilford FPAN 50 to be excellent, if a little slow. I also find Ilford FP4 to have a lovely retro texture with very smooth gradients.

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