5 Black & White Films You Should Try

Posted in Analog photography
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Estimated reading time: 4 min read

Black and white enthusiasts are all about the finesses. Making your black and white photo perfect takes much more effort than many people think – just the right lighting, range of contrasts, amount of grain, and of course, the right film. Among the many different types of films, choosing the one that fits your needs and taste in photography is never an easy task, but these five turned out to give the best results when used the right way.

Kodak T-Max 400

Kodak T-Max 400

This film is probably the best and the most used BW film that’s currently on the market, widely accepted among the professional photographers. Kodak Company advertises it as “The world’s finest-grained 400-speed B&W Film”.

Although we can’t know for sure, and prove this claim, we have to admit – Kodak T-Max 400 does have smooth grain, thanks to unique T-GRAIN emulsion, that gives beautiful touch to your images. It gives exceptionally clear and sharp images, perfectly detailed realistic and strong look of photographs and the contrasts are also very realistic. It has huge tonal range and high resolving power that benefits scanning and enlarging applications. It’s a very versatile film that’s thankful for working in variety of conditions, and also with moving subjects. In the most of the cases it gives great results,

Kodak Tri-X 400

Kodak Tri-X 400

This film is something you could call ‘classic’. It’s a film that’s good in many situations and conditions and has nice tonal response, perfect sized grain, and great contrast. On the subject of grain, unlike T-Max gives you more contrast and a coarser grain to provide ‘dreamy’ look of your images.

In developing you can also push it a few stops and it will only amplify the effect of grain you already expect, so you can get very interesting results. Very important thing about Tri-X is that you cannot use it after its expiry date – it just won’t provide that artsy look that films usually do after they expire.

Ilford Delta 3200 Professional

Ilford Delta 3200

Ilford Delta 3200 Professional is an ultra-speed film. It’s versatile film that’s great for difficult conditions – shooting in low-light and shooting fast action such as sports or a concert, but also good for situations where you want to capture something but using flash is not an option. This is a genuine high speed film with an and THE film if you need to record highlight detail.

It is actually an ISO 1250 film, but it has so much latitude that it can be processed at 3200 without a problem. In fact, what separates this film from many others is that you can push it even to 12500 and pull it to 400, and still get acceptable and good results (depending on what you are trying to do in photography).

Ilford HP5

Ilford HP5

Ilford’s HP5 is probably one of the most versatile films you can buy. Although its It’s rated at 400, but you can easily push it to 1600 and still get good results. It’s medium contrast film, and as for the grain, I would say that this film stands somewhere between T-Max and Tri-X – it’s not as smooth as the first one, but its grain is not as noticeable as when you use Tri-X.

What’s important with this film is that if you miss an exposure, you can probably rescue your photo. It’s especially suitable for action and press photography and also a good choice for everyday photography. Ilford HP5 is stable film that won’t disappoint you and that you can use in almost every situation. It provides good shadow detail and well separated mid-tones with sharp grain.

Ilford SFX 200

Ilford SFX 200

When getting into field of infrared photography, this film is the way to go. Just to note, Ilford’s SFX is not a real infrared film; it’s a conventional B&W film with extended visible red sensitivity that can mimic the effects of infrared with filters. Due to the fact that process of making ‘the real’ infrared photography is tricky and somewhat difficult, this film is a good choice, for it gives almost the exact results.

By using a deep red filter skies can be rendered almost black and most green vegetation almost white. Its unusual tones ensure interesting results for variety of uses – from portraits to nature and architecture. It’s a very interesting film that gives many options for photographers, but it’s not for everyday use.