Kodak T-Max vs Ilford Delta vs Fuji Acros: Is The More Expensive B&W Film Stock Worth It? by Temi Lawson

35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
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Written by Temi Lawson

Is expensive film stock always worth the money? Well, that is up to the photographer’s sentiment.

Recently, I took a trip to my local film store (Garland Camera) to try out and compare three different brands of black and white film stock to see which one would give me the best photos on a recent photoshoot I did.

All images were of impressive quality images. However, there were some I liked more than others, and I’ll explain why!

35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Fujifilm Neopan Acros II

An Overview of the B&W Film Comparison

The film stocks I compared was Ilford Delta 100, FujiFilm Neopan Acros 100 II, and the Kodak T-Max 100.

Fuji Acros was the most expensive at around $13/roll, Kodak T-Max was the next most expensive at around $10/roll, and Ilford Delta was the least expensive at around $8/roll.

I bought them all at the same ISO of 100, all were 35mm to give a fair comparison in terms of image quality, and all three claim to be “fine grain.”

All of the images were shot on my Pentax ME Super 35mm camera with an aperture between 4-2, in studio using natural light, at 1/100 speed, and developed and scanned by a local lab. After reviewing my images (all had amazing quality), here were my findings:

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Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 II

The Neopan Acros gave excellent contrast, and provided so much detail for a film camera. The images looked like they could have been taken on a digital camera.

The black it provided was a very pure and deep black giving more of vintage yet sharp look to the images. I also loved the way this camera flattered my models’ skin. Therefore, I would say this film is dark-skin friendly. It did not wash her out nor blend her into the dark tones.

Find Fujifilm Neopan Acros 100 II on Amazon.

35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Fujifilm Neopan Acros II
35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Fujifilm Neopan Acros II
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Kodak T-Max 100

Next, the Kodak T-max 100 was probably the film stock I was least impressed with.

My biggest issue was that it looked VERY grainy (possibly due to lower ISO & needing more light). You could definitely tell it was shot on a film camera, and if that is something you are going for, then you might favor this one.

Another reason this stock wasn’t my favorite was because of the lack of contrast it gave. Instead of blacks and whites, I felt like it provided more of a gray overcast on all of the colors, and high contrast is something I like to see in black and white stock.

The image quality was still great, it just simply did not provide the outcome I was looking for.

Find Kodak T-Max 100 on Amazon.

35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Kodak T-Max 100
35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Kodak T-Max 100

Ilford Delta 100

The Ilford Delta 100 was the one I was most impressed with, and probably a close second out of the three next to the Neopan.

This stock produced some amazing images for sure, but the grain was still slightly visible. Nonetheless, the results could keep the untrained eye guessing if it was shot on digital or film, much like the FujiFilm Neopan.

The Ilford also gave a beautiful contrast but produced more of a warmer feel than the others. This did not take away from the overall quality of the images, but still something to keep in mind when considering how you want your images to look.

Find Ilford Delta 100 on Amazon.

35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Ilford Delta 100
35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Ilford Delta 100

The Final Verdict

Overall, my first choice would be the FujiFilm Neopan Acros 100 II. It gave the sharpest images with stunning quality with beautiful deep contrast. This film stock is one that I feel would suit all skin tones.

The Neopan stock was the most expensive but well worth the money. I could see myself purchasing this for wedding photoshoots or client work in the future.

A close second and probably the best budget option was the Ilford Delta 100. This one was the least expensive, so I was shocked when it provided almost as stunning quality as the Neopan stock did.

If I am wanting to save a little bit of money I would purchase this one hands-down.

35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Ilford Delta 100

As for Kodak, it wouldn’t be my top purchase. Again, it was not terrible quality, it just did not hold up to the other two options, especially given it was the second most expensive. I do feel like there are more affordable options with better quality.

In my YouTube video, I share all of my findings and image results on each film stock. I recommend checking it out because it depends on what look you’re looking for in film stock.

I know not everyone will appreciate the sharp digital aesthetic that I wanted, and may in fact be more impressed by the grainy vintage look.

Therefore, having a visual to compare results with your own opinion will suit you and your artistic vision best!

35mm film image of a portrait - Black and White Film Comparison on Shoot It With Film
Pentax ME Super with Kodak T-Max 100

Thank you so much, Temi! You can find more of Temi’s work on her website, Instagram, and YouTube.

Leave your questions about Fuji Acros II 100, Ilford Delta 100, and Kodak T-Max 100 and this b&w film comparison below in the comments, and you can pick up some for yourself on Amazon here: Fujifilm Neopan Acros II 100, Ilford Delta 100, and Kodak T-Max 100

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Blog Comments

Nice article and pretty much parallels my own thoughts on these film stocks. What I would like to have had is a review of the developers used for these films. I have found that different developers can make a huge difference in the look of the same film. T max in one developer may be very fine-grained and contrasty while in another may be dull and grainy, for one small example. I have recently been using Clayton F76 with amazing results on all of these film stocks. AcrosII still comes out ahead, but looks so much better than it does developed in Ilford DDX, for example.
Thanks for the nice article. Great photos, too-Chris

How were the films developed and printed? In my experience with these films, there is variability with different developers and time of development. You have to set a benchmark for comparision.
I agree with you on Acros having a good grain structure. The new version release is great. The other two I found was too sensitive to development. The Kodac Plus X and Illford FP4 were my favorites prior to Fuji Acros.
In any case, your photographs are great. Keep up the good work.

TMax being the most grainy doesn’t seem right to me. TMax claims to have the finest grain of these three films, at least according to Kodak. I would suspect the processing was at fault. TMax is finicky with regard to developers.
I personally prefer Delta100 as it seems to have the best overall balance. The Fuji is sometimes too contrasty for me, and being biased toward orthochromatic, sometimes gives a harsh look. But in your instances, it seemed to do fine.

Thank you so much for this comparison! Love seeing the results and the video. The images are beautiful! I’m excited to try Acros on my next roll of b&w.

I loved seeing this comparison!!!! I rarely shoot 100 speed black and white film, so I was very interested in your findings. I’ve only shot TMax 100 in 120 and I haven’t shot the other two ever. Acros ii was the winner in my book as well. All your images are lovely, but the Acros images knocked it out of the park. Well done!

All of these films are capable of high acutance, high resolution images—including Tmax 100. If you desire more contrast, the solution is to develop for a longer time. Excessive grain suggests the use of a less than ideal developer, or development technique, or both. I’ve obtained excellent, sharp, high resolution images from all these films in 135 & 120—well, OK, the original Acros 100, I have some Acros II here I haven’t tried yet—with nothing more exotic than Ilford ID-11 1+3, accurate exposure and sound development technique. Ditch the lab, and take full control over your black and white workflow. It will be worth it in the long run. 🙂

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