Kodak vs. Ilford - Film ranges

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by modafoto, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    Hi

    I have wondered if the films from Kodak and Ilford are somewhat alike. I haven't done any side-by-side testing, so I am looking for others' opinions.

    I see that the two companies are having almost identical ranges of film (only differentiates when it comes to special films and Ilford has Pan F+).

    Let's have a look:

    Plus-X = FP4+
    Tri-X = HP5+
    Delta 100 = T-Max 100
    Delta 400 = T-max 400
    Delta 3200 = T-Max 3200

    The two first are traditional films, and the rest are tabular grain films.

    What is opinion?

    Morten
     
  2. Justin Low

    Justin Low Member

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    These are the films that sell. The market for specialised film like IR films is more limited, so it's less likely that two manufacturers would want to compete for such a small pie.
     
  3. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I haven't done any tests either. I've used 35mm Tmax films from Kodak and universally disliked them so I never tried the Ilford films. I've shot a trainload of 35mm and 120 Tri-X over the years but I now use HP5. To my eyes, HP5 looks like Tri-X shot with a yellow filter--nicer tonality. Kodak had a PanF equivalent a number of years ago in Panatomic-X. Again, to my eyes, the Ilford film had better tonality. Panatomic-X had contrast that was difficult for me to get a handle on. I really like PanF in 120. I've never had much use for black and white film in the 100-125 ISO range.
     
  4. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    I remember Panatomix X - very contrasty and needed careful handling both at exposure and processing. I also have favoured FP4 over plus X. Verichrome pan? now thats a different animal. I still smile in wonder when Kodak suggested it as a suitable replacement.
     
  5. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    We shot Tri-x in class (what the Instructor wanted) and I normally shoot HP5+. I found that the Tri-x had a more noticable grain when developed in Ilford HC 1+31@20C
    Not alot of difference, but (IMO) the grain was slightly more noticable.
    Haven't tried the T-max, but I occasionally shoot the Deltas. Still undecided if I like them or not.
     
  6. blackmelas

    blackmelas Subscriber

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    My feeling (I haven't tested either) is that Tmax 100 and 400 both have steeper curves than their respective Delta. Does anyone else get that impression? It seems when I get to printing I end up using the next harder filter for the Deltas to get the same print. I only have started to try HP5 and FP4 and I've been very impressed with the tonality. My initial reaction from developing a couple rolls of each was that the contrast was soft like the Deltas but I haven't tried TriX to see if there is a corresponding contrast that I see in the tabular grained film.
    James
     
  7. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The following are my opinions and only my opinions. All of these films are good. I'm simply pointing out what has worked for me. Your opinions may vary, so here goes.

    • Plus-X vs. FP4+. FP4+ is the clear winner in this contest. When either is developed in D-76 or XTOL, FP4+ gives a much smoother range of tones. The contrast of Plus-X is a bit harsher, making it a bit more difficult to work with in bright daylight. On the flip side of that coin, the extra contrast can be useful in flat light. If you must settle on one film in this class, my choice would be FP4+. If you need the extra contrast, simply extend your development times a bit. FP4+ with a bit of overexposure works well in Rodinal 1+50 as well.
    • Tri-X vs. HP5+. My vote goes to Tri-X in this competition. Films in this class tend to be of lower contrast than slower films and these two are no exceptions. Prints made from Tri-X and developed normally exhibit a bit more punch and a finer, or at least less objectionable, grain pattern. You can get the extra punch out of HP5+ with extended development time, but that will exaggerate the grain pattern even more. It's a look, if you like it. I'm not crazy about it. Tri-X responds much better to push processing in XTOL and even in D-76, a developer not know for exceptional pushing powers. Expose Tri-X at EI 1250 in contrasty light or EI 1600 in flat light, then develop in Diafine for manageable highlights without sacrificing too much shadow detail. Avoid the HP5+/Rodinal combination. It is ugly. Tri-X in Rodinal is a better, though still far from a good combination. The common wisdom, along with Agfa's own recommendation is that Rodinal is best with slow to medium speed films. My experience bears this out.
    • Delta 100 vs. T-Max 100. I haven't tried Delta 100 simply because I like T-Max 100 so well. T-Max 100's extremely fine grain and high resolving power are this film's strengths. Some folks say they don't like the tonality, but I think these opinions are the result of printing these negatives on the wrong paper. Print them on Kodak's PolyMax or Polycontrast papers and the curves fit together like a hand in a glove. I print a lot of my work on Adorama's house braind of paper, but I keep a smaller stock of Kodak's paper around for making fine prints of these T-Max 100 negatives that deserve it.
    • Delta 400 vs. T-Max 400. Again, no opinion of Delta 400 due to lack of personal experience with this film. I've seen some very good work done with it by other photographers, so I'm sure it's not a dog. I'm not a big fan of T-Max 400. The grain pattern, though fine for a film in this speed class, is ugly and the tonality is, for lack of a better term, plasticky. Language fails me here, I just don't like it. Having said that, I do occassionally find a use for this film and keep some around in 120 and 35 mm formats. You can underexpose this film by two stops and process accordingly in dilute XTOL with very good results. Yes, you will lose some shadow detail, but not as much as you might think. That's to be expected. Plan for it.
    • Delta 3200 vs T-Max 3200. This one is a hard call. Both are good at what they do, but I tend not to use either very much. My personal taste is for sharpness and fine grain. Neither of these two films deliver that combination to my satisfaction. Both films are very grainy with the Ilford offering exhibiting what may describe as "popcorn" grain. The grain on Kodaks' offering is somewhat sharper edged. Both are very low in contrast when exposed at EI 1600 and are at their best at EI 3200. Delta 3200 is available in 120, whlie TMZ is not making it just the thing for low light, hand held medium format work. Working with 6x4.5 cm and larger negatives minimizes the apparent grain in the final print to a great degree.
     
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  8. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Yes Morten you are about right in comparing those films head to head. While they are not identical they can be compared with each other.

    Being an Agfapan user myself, I never liked the look of TMaxes or Deltas it was too "surgical" to me (except D3200 which is a lovely animal).
    Ilford and Kodak films have each its own look and characteristics, I don;t know if there are ny film curves comparing one to the other, but as usual in photography you might as well give them a try.
     
  9. fingel

    fingel Member

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    For traditional film I like plus x and tri x, but for the tabular grian I prefer Delta 100, and 400. I don't like either Delta 3200 or Tmax 3200, I do like Tri x shot @1600 and developed in Diafine.
     
  10. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Personally, I prefer the characteristics of FP4+ as my "standard" film, and prefer HP5+ for 8x10 or when I need a bit of extra speed. I didn't like the manageability of the contrast curve of T-Max, so I prefer Delta 100 and 400 (or, Fuji Acros 100) when I want the more "technical" look of T-grained films. Delta 3200 is nice for extra speed where the grain isn't an issue.

    Politically, I'm far more interested in helping to keep Ilford in business than Kodak. Ilford has demonstrated a keen desire to support the B&W and LF communities as best it can, while Kodak seems interested only in maintaining the highest possible profit margins. So, I "vote" with my dollars accordingly.
     
  11. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    HP5 has a very muttled grain pattern compared to the very pointilated pattern of TRI-X. For enlargability, I think HP5 is a little nicer with smoother tones where TRI-X is sharper and punchier and grainier. I am sure that HP5 runs out of steam past ASA 1600 where TRI-X keeps on going. I keep both on hand. All my LF 4x5 and 8x10 is TRI-X - I do shoot some FP4 in 4x5 sometimes - less grainy for large prints. All my LF goes in Pyrocat these days and stainability is better with TRI-X than any of the Tab grain films. FP4 and APX100 are the only ASA 100 films I shoot in 120. Both are great. Too bad I can't get APX 100 in 4x5 anymore - I have a lot of great negatives on that. I think APX100 is a little more contrasty and a little sharper than FP4 where FP4 does a better job on the midtones. Delta3200 is a clear winner over Kodak TMZ. Much finer grain - I avoid these films in favor of pushing TRI-X instead. Now that I am using Ascorbic developers for Roll Film, I am getting back into TMY. Full film speed and super fine grain with out the softened accutance is causing me to explore this film more. I know this film is not forgiving and that is why I fully explored traditional emulsions first. The tonal response in TMY is very different than HP5 or TRI-X. Like the difference between first generation B&W video and the B&W movies of the 50s. You could really tell the Twilight Zones that were shot using video tape. Is it better or worse? I am thinking for portraits it might be better but for lanscape, maybe the traditional look is warmer and less synthetic looking. Not to mention the fact that TRI-X can suck up a much higher brightness range.

    How about that for a pile of subjective babling!
     
  12. georgeg

    georgeg Member

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    I prefer the ilford films over anything in the yellow box. Ilford is in the b&w Buisness. kodak is more concerned with color films and the mass market, soccer moms ect. Good results can be obtained with kodak films but the b&w market is secondary.I agree with rbarker the b&w community is better served supporting Ilford.
     
  13. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I don't buy the "Ilford is the purist option" and "Kodak is the evil mass-market option" viewpoint.

    Simply, put history doesn't back it up. Ilford busted its tail trying to tackle C-41 films in the late 60's up until about 1980. And simply put, they couldn't hack it compared to Kodak, Fuji, and Agfa. So B&W was their only safe haven as competitors gave it less emphasis.

    Also, if you review B&W product introductions over the past 8 years - what has Ilford delivered outside of DD-X (aka "expensive, liquid Microphen") and a revised Delta 400?

    I'm not trying to slander Ilford. But, frankly, the David vs Goliath BS is a bit much.

    And as for the "Kodak only cares about profits" stuff, Ilford is still owned by a London-based buyout firm named Doughty Hanson which has wrecked probably a dozen companies - including what were once some very fine names (Vickers Ltd, British Caledonian Plc, etc.). Ilford's stuff remained cheap only cuz Doughty Hanson was in a heck of a hurry to write-off their investment as the company went down the tank.

    Again, nothing against Ilford but a review of the facts will give you a more balanced viewpoint.

    As for myself, outside of Tri-X in 135 and 120 and DD-X (only because I can't get Microphen) I don't use products from either company because I feel I can get materials that suit my work better from other companies (AgfaPhoto, Forte, Photographer's Formulary, BKA, etc.)
     
  14. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Thanks for that rather pragmatic reply. This business about which is the most "politically correct" company to patronize is pure BS. I wouldn't consider consider using Kodak's, Ilford's , AgfaPhoto's, or anyone else's products if they didin't work for me. OTOH, if it works and delivers good value for my money then I use it. Case closed. I could care less who provides the product as long as it meets my criteria for value.
     
  15. Roger Krueger

    Roger Krueger Member

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    My Tri-X vs. HP-5 experience with pushing was different than that of other posters. I shot a step chart with a variety of films, pushed them in several developers, and scored them on what exposure it took to separate the darkest set of steps, and how many of that set were actually resolved. Amongst 400's I found HP-5 to be a hair faster, with TMY and D400 in the middle, and Tri-X as the slowest, although the total spread from HP-5 to Tri-X was about a quarter stop. This relationship held up in XTOL 1:1 stand, Microphen, Acufine, T-Max RS and Speedibrews. There was, in fact, little speed difference between the developers, with T-Max RS being slightly (<1/4 stop) faster), but with zero compensation to control the highlights.

    I also found that, while Delta 3200 and TMZ developed optimally were very close in speed, TMZ held its speed when overdeveloped, so there was a good sized development "sweet spot" where you got maximum shadow density; the D3200, however, was very prone to losing shadow detail in the base fog if overdeveloped, or even when developed for a reasonable time at too high a temperature (>68F). TMY and TMZ both worked fine at 90F!