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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
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!
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.
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.
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.
Where Ilford Delta 3200 Shines and Where it Struggles
Call me biased, but I truly believe that this film stock 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.
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:
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.
Okey dokey guys, that’s it for me. 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. 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!