For years my go-to high speed black and white film has been Ilford Delta 3200, shot and developed at 1600.
Pulling it one stop softens the contrast and grain just a touch, and for situations where lighting conditions are low (like indoor portraits), 1600 ISO is still enough to get sharp results without a tripod.
But as much as I’m happy with it, it’s always good to have options. So I decided to do a little comparison to see how another popular black and white film, Ilford HP5+, would hold up shot at the same ISO.
Once the negatives were developed and scanned, the results were more or less as I expected.
For the most part, Delta 3200 showed more tonal range in the shadows and highlights, with the Ilford HP5+ having stronger mid-tone values.
There were some exceptions to this, namely in the portrait shots, and in the indoor shots of the house plant, where HP5+ had more contrast and deeper blacks.
But this could be due to photographer error (especially in the case of the portrait shot on Delta 3200, where after shooting the last frame I forgot to wind the roll before opening the back and ended up with all kinds of light leaks; it looks cool, but it could have affected the overall exposure).
The grain is where I noticed the most difference between the two films.
I expected that after pushing the HP5+ two stops that there would be A LOT of grain. And while the grain was definitely more pronounced than HP5+ shot at box speed, it was nowhere near the amount of grain in the Delta 3200 shots.
This also means that the HP5+ shots are much sharper than the Delta 3200.
So if you like lots of grain, Delta 3200 is still your best bet!
Overall, I think I prefer the look of the HP5+ shot at 1600 over Delta 3200 shot at 1600.
While I’m all about contrast and grain in my black and white photos, HP5+ does it with a little more subtlety, and gives you a sharper image.
Nevertheless, I am happy to have both as good options for when I need to shoot a high speed black and white film!
Leave your questions about the Ilford Delta 3200 at 1600 and Ilford HP5 at 1600 below in the comments, and you can pick up both of these film stocks for yourself on Amazon here: Ilford Delta 3200 and Ilford HP5+ 400