How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 by Samantha Stortecky

How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
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Ilford Delta 3200 Overview: Ilford Delta 3200 is versatile black and white film available in 35mm and 120. It is a grainy film, but if you like that grainy look, it can be shot at a variety of ISOs.

This makes it a great choice for almost any shooting scenario (portrait, landscape, indoor, or outdoor) and lighting scenario, especially low light situations.

You can pick up some Ilford Delta 3200 on Amazon here: Ilford Delta 3200 in 35mm or 120

How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 on Shoot It With Film
How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 on Shoot It With Film
How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Ilford Delta 3200 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky

Ohhhhhh, here we go you guys! One of my absolute, all time favorite film stocks, Ilford Delta 3200. I first discovered this film from Erich McVey and instantly fell in love with it.

This film has so many capabilities with it’s wide ISO range and it’s efficiency in low light settings. This film is one that I constantly have in stock in my camera bag.

One of my favorite aspects of this film is how grainy it is. I know many people in the photography industry have an aversion to grainy images, but I loooove them!

Honestly, nothing makes my heart flutter like a grainy black and white image. So let’s chat more about this versatile black and white film!

Ilford Delta 3200 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Rating & Metering Ilford Delta 3200

A confusing aspect of shooting Delta 3200 is what ISO should be used.

When I first started shooting film, I knew immediately that I was drawn to Ilford Delta 3200, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out exactly how I should be shooting it.

After a little research I started to see how versatile this film stock actually is! I’ve shot this film at 400, 600, 1200, and 1600 ISO and achieved gorgeous results with all of them.

As always, I would go the lowest you’re comfortable with (to limit some of the grain and get a good exposure). Nine times out of ten, I shoot this film at 600 with great results.

How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film
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A Note About ISO and Your Lab: One important note to make is no matter what ISO you use, always make sure to tell your lab by writing the ISO number on the roll of film (or on your order sheet).

With this film stock, the ISO is relative to the amount of time needed in the developing process, so the lab needs to know this to develop your film rolls appropriately.

This is different from pushing or pulling your film. So unless you are specifically looking to push or pull your film, you’ll let the lab know you want the film developed normally and the ISO you used while shooting.

ISO and Self Developing: This is also incredibly important to note if you’ve taken the plunge into at-home developing as well! This PDF chart from Ilford lists the developing times you’ll need based on the ISO used.

If you’d like to learn more about developing black and white film at home, check out this tutorial here on Shoot It With Film.

Ilford Delta 3200 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Metering: When it comes to metering for this film, I don’t do anything crazy or out of the ordinary. I meter the same way I meter for all my film images, bulb out and at a 45 degree angle down.

Or if we’re using fancy talk, I meter for the shadows. This will give you nice exposure and contrast to your black and white images.

How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Where Ilford Delta 3200 Shines and Where it Struggles

Call me biased, but I truly believe that Ilford Delta 3200 shoots beautifully in all lighting scenarios. I’ve shot this film in harsh evening light, inside a dimly lit coffee house, during an evening wedding reception, and on brightly lit mornings. And during every scenario this film holds up beautifully.

The one kicker is, you have to be a fan of that grain. No matter what ISO or location you’re shooting in, you’re going to get a lot of that grain.

Another area where this film shines is with movement and indoor portraits. If you know me, you know I’m an absolute sucker for movement on film and this film stock captures it in the most perfect way with it’s grain and softness.

Ilford Delta 3200 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

I’ve found the one area where this film struggles (and where most films struggle) is the higher the ISO in lower light settings, the muddier your images can get due to underexposure.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and experiment with a higher ISO, just go into it knowing that you might need to do a little extra handiwork during post processing.

But the nice thing is that black & white film is very forgiving, especially during post processing!

Here’s an example of when I shot this film in a low light situation:

Ilford Delta 3200 Film Review by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

This was when I was in the hospital after giving birth and my daughter was getting her first bath. We were in a dark section of the room, and I was shooting at an awkward angle.

The image on the left was straight from the lab, and the image on the right is after a few tweaks to curves in Lightroom.

How to Shoot Ilford Delta 3200 Film by Samantha Stortecky on Shoot It With Film

Now go out there (or stay inside) and have some fun with this beautiful grainy film. If you do start shooting with it, feel free to share your work with me on Instagram (@splendidmusings). I’d love to see it! As always, if you have any questions or comments, leave them down below!

Thank you so much, Samantha! Samantha is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here, such as How to Shoot Fuji Pro 400H and How to Scan Polaroid Photos. You can also check out more of Samantha’s work on her website and Instagram.

Leave your questions about Ilford Delta 3200 below in the comments, and you can pick up some for yourself on Amazon here!

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Samantha Stortecky

Samantha Stortecky is a family photographer and a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find her other articles here, such as How to Shoot Kodak Portra 400 and 5 Unique & Experimental Film Stocks You Need to Try.

Blog Comments

THIS WHOLE SET IS GORGEOUS! I seriously want to run out and use this film right this moment! ::::insert all the heart eyes::::

Pleaseeeeee shoot some, you won’t regret it and I know you will do some pretty stunning things with this film stock! ^_^

So just for clarification: if I set ISO to 1600, I should tell the lab to process it like ISO 1600 film, right?

Hello! You got it, if you shoot the roll of film at 1600, tell your lab that you shot at 1600 so they can develop accordingly. The higher the iso number, the longer it needs to sit in the developer chemical so your film roll doesn’t come out underexposed. Hopefully that makes sense, let me know if you have any other questions and have fun shooting!

Hi Samantha,

Just to clarify. You say that isn’t pushing film but my understanding of pushing / pulling film is to expose at a different ISO and to develop for the extra / fewer stop.

To me, it sounds like you’re pulling the film a stop.

I have also heard people who shoot it at 1600 and develop it for 3200, therefore overexposing it by a stop. No pushing, no pulling. Is that what you meant?

Sorry if I’m just not getting it.

Thanks and lovely article and photos!

I was going to say the exact same thing. I really love the way your images turned out, I just wanted to clarify if the film was pulled to 1600 or rated at 1600.

Same question here! If I rate my 3200 at 1600, I’ve read mixed reviews on whether to have the lab process at 1600 or 3200.

This was really an amazing review, but I have the same question as posted before.

As I understand, I would tell my lab the ISO I want them to develop to. Which is the push/pull.
But beside that I can shoot at a different ISO then box speed OR the developing speed.

Just exemplifying in 3 diff ways…
Given a Delta3200, shoot at 800, I can:
1- develop at 3200. Therefore over exposeing by 2 stops;
2- develop at 800. This way it’s pulled 2 stops. The exposure is neutral, but you change some aspects of the film;
3- develop at 1600. I pulled one stop, changing a bit film characteristic and ALSO overexposed by 1 stop.

There are endless combinations. But I’m just trying to give examples of how I see it.
I’m interested in trying this film for night street photography and I REALLY want to understand what you meant. 🙂

Calebe – I’m also trying to shoot 3200 for night street photography, have you found a ratio that works best for you? Shooting at a lower ISO and developing at a matching, or pushed or pulled ISO?

Yeah there’s some confusion here. Typically, pushing a film means shooting faster than box speed AND developing appropriately for the ISO you shot at. If your shoot 400 film at 800 and develop it appropriately, as per the data sheet, that is pushed one stop. I don’t know the name for the other thing where you go off piste and develop for a different time to what’s recommended, I guess that’s just over or under developing.

It would have nice to know the information on each of your sample pics, ie. shutter speeds and exposures. But amazing work.

Did you have a lab pull/push the film when you shot it at 600? I’m very new to film photography in general and from the videos I’ve watched, I think I might shoot the film at 400/600 but I have no idea what to tell the lab when I give it in for developing.

Love this information. I’m about to start using Delta 3200 for some in studio portraits. Overall advice I’ve seen is to rate it at 1600. Your work is really gorgeous!

I have a question regarding what you said about metering. What do you mean when you said “bulb out and at a 45 degree angle down”?

Hi Omar! Many handheld light meters have a bulb on them that reads how much light is hitting the light meter. You can adjust this bulb so it is either “in” and reading a little bit less light or “out” and reading a little more light. Holding the meter at a 45 degree angle down means you are holding the light meter so it is about 45 degrees from parallel with the ground, which gives you a meter reading more in the shadows of your scene. Here’s an article that goes over metering and has a picture of what the handheld meter looks like with the bulb in or out:

Hi! I’m new to film photography, but would you recommend using this film in a point/shoot that only goes up to 400?

If that would work, what lighting situation would that be best for?

Thank you!

Hi Spencer! You will probably still get decent results, but a b&w film like Ilford HP5 400 or Kodak Tri-X 400 would be better suited for that situation. Using Delta 3200 in a point & shoot with a max ISO of 400 would give the film a lot of overexposure. Shooting at 400 gives it 3 stops of overexposure, while 1-2 stops is more typically recommended.


Happy Holidays! I’m shooting some family portraits tomorrow (mother-in-law & 4 daughters) with my Pentax 6×7. I’m planning to use 120 Delta 3200 due to the low lighting in her house. I may need to push to 6400 or possibly 12800 (no tripod) for hand held. I’ve had good success with my 6×7 hand held at 1/30 so that’s not a problem. I’ve pushed other film stocks in the past but I’ve not pushed 3200. I’m fine with the expected grain; however, I’m interested to know if you’ve successfully pushed this film 1 or 2 stops. I have LightRoom so I can edit in post if need be. I look forward to your comments. rr

Nice work. I haven’t tried Ilford’s 3200 yet. I took a roll of Tmax 3200 at 800 during a city walk. I pulled the development to 800 and satisfied with the results. If I had 200 or 400 film I would of pushed that instead. I will try it again in a darker time and environment and see if it holds up.


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