As a film photographer, there might be nothing more exciting than hearing of the release of a new film stock. Of course it means a new film to try, but in a digital world where the relevance of film is generally becoming less and less, the release of new films is an encouraging sign! That being said, I was ecstatic when I heard of Ilford’s release of Ortho Plus 80 black and white film this past October. It took me a while to get my hands on it (I had to get my local film shop to special order it), but I finally got out and shot a couple rolls of the 120 film in my Hasselblad. Here are a few thoughts!
Ilford Ortho Plus is an orthochromatic film stock rated at ISO 80. Most films are what’s called panchromatic, and are sensitive to a wide range of the light spectrum. Orthochromatic films, on the other hand, are only sensitive to blue and/or green light. Therefore, can be developed under a red safe light without any fogging.
I didn’t try this while developing mine, but if you ever wanted to see your film develop in real time, Ortho Plus offers real opportunities for that! Ilford has offered Ortho Plus for a while in sheet film varieties, but the new release offers it in both 120 and 35mm.
The Contrast, Tones, and Grain of Ortho Plus
When I developed the film, my first thought was that I loved the contrast. The lack of red light sensitivity has the opposite effect that a red filter would have on panchromatic film: that is, anything red will appear darker and anything blue will appear lighter. (That being said, don’t use a red filter with Ortho Plus a your image will be blank!)
I was curious as to how the film would affect skin tones, so I made sure to take some portraits with one of the rolls. In the portrait of the girl in front of the brick wall, I noticed the skin tones to be slightly darker than normal, but not in any way unnatural. What was more striking to me was the affect the film had on the pale grey blue wall behind her, which was rendered almost white.
Being a landscape photographer primarily, I was excited about Ortho Plus being a fine grain film. My excitement was justified as the sharpness and detail of this film is incredible, and the grain is almost…well, what grain? Even the long exposures turned out relatively grain-less!
Reciprocity Failure for Long Exposures
As far as reciprocity failure for long exposures, I didn’t have the official charts on hand, and this app that calculates it for me doesn’t include Ilford Ortho Plus yet. I used the same calculations as I do for Delta 100, and my exposures were pretty much spot on. So if you try long exposures with Ortho Plus, use that as a starting point.
Developing Ilford Ortho Plus
For development, I had one of the rolls developed at my local film lab, and developed one of them myself.
I’m not sure what developer the lab used, but I went with Ilford’s box development times, using Ilord’s Ilfosol 3 at 1+9 for 5 minutes, with a 1 minute stop bath, a 5 minute fix, followed by a 10 minute rinse. I finished the rinse with a wetting agent to prevent streaking when the film dried.
Upon drying, I noticed that the Ortho Plus roll curled quite a bit more than the roll of HP5 I developed on the same day, which could be because of the different emulsion of the film.
In general, Ilford Ortho Plus 80 is a great film if you’re looking for a black and white film with a lot of contrast and fine grain. It’s really well suited for landscapes, but I was also really happy with the portraits I took as well!