View Full Version : Difference between Ilford HP5 plus and Ilford HP5 delta professional?

03-13-2012, 06:20 PM
In my photography class at my high school they recommend we use Ilford HP5 plus from a local vendor called The Camera Company. I stopped in yesterday to pick up a few more rolls, but the man at the counter told me they were all out of the usual kind. He offered me the more expensive Ilford HP5 plus delta professional for the same price and with my student discount, so it was a total steel. I showed it to my teacher today and she was unfamiliar with it. I checked the Ilford website to see the pros of the higher end film but it has relatively the same description as the normal one. So I was just curious and please excuse my ignorance, what makes it better? Will my prints come out better quality?

03-13-2012, 06:34 PM
Here's an old thread that may be of interest. http://www.apug.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-52861.html

Delta 400 is one my two favourite films, BTW.

Oren Grad
03-13-2012, 06:37 PM
Ilford offers HP5 Plus and Delta 400 Professional. There is no "HP5 Plus Delta Professional". Both are high quality films, but they do have different characteristics. The tonal scale and grain structure of the two are different; if you print them on the same paper the pictures will look different. In general, HP5 Plus is a more forgiving film, meaning that it is easier to make negatives with it under a wide range of shooting conditions that will print well on a wide range of papers. Delta 400 is also a fine film, but is somewhat more demanding of technique. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with Delta 400, but I would not have recommended it for a beginning photographer. Also, if you are used to HP5 Plus, you should stay with it until you have gained more experience, so that you don't get confused by different results from the two films. HP5 Plus is very widely available, so if one dealer happens to be out of stock it should not be difficult to find it elsewhere.

Hope you're enjoying your photographic explorations - good luck!

03-13-2012, 07:01 PM
Thanks for the responses. You say Delta has more of a demanding technique, does that mean I should shoot or process differently? Do you have any advice for making them come out looking their best?

03-13-2012, 07:30 PM
Main difference is the grain.

HP5+ has the "traditional grain" which usually produces higher edge contrast and sometimes higher apparent sharpness. I usually say that hp5+ has a certain "bite" to it that lends itself to edgier compositions. Compare it to Kodak's tri x.

The Delta film had delta grain (probably epitaxial or similar to Kodak's tabular grain) and has very smooth tonality and high level of detail. It is usually described in more dreamy terms.... subtle smooth, creamy, gentle... Compare it to Kodak's tmax 400, which is arguably superior.

In terms of overall tonality, you can make one behave like the other. The grain and edge contrast is the main difference and that is quite individual.

Oren Grad
03-13-2012, 07:51 PM
In commonly-used developers, Delta 400 tends to produce relatively lower shadow-area contrast and relatively higher highlight-area contrast compared to HP5 Plus. This can make the negatives more difficult to print - that is, to maintain detail in both shadows and highlights within an overall tonal scale that is pleasing.

If you must use the Delta 400, be careful not to expose it too little or to develop it too much. As a general principle, that applies to all films. But as you stray from optimal exposure and development - or if you're not yet sure what optimal exposure and development are - you'll get into trouble more quickly with Delta 400 than you will with HP5 Plus.

Simon R Galley
03-14-2012, 09:19 AM
Dear Calebkaboom,

The APUGGERS above have given an excellent summation of the differences between HP5+ and DELTA Professional 400:

The fundamental is that HP5+ is indeed a conventional type film which is very forgiving and has excellent latitude and an excellent all round film.

DELTA Professional 400 is a very modern film using 'CCG' or controlled crystal growth technology, this gives very fine grain negatives ( for the relative speed) and some cases may not have the latitude and is less forgiving in relation to poor exposure control or processing regime.

You can check out our website www.ILFORDPhoto.com and also if you PM me your home address I will post you some literature etc that will give much more detail. Good Luck.


Simon. ILFORD hoto / HARMAN technology Limited :

03-15-2012, 07:09 PM
Thanks so much everyone for the excellent advice.

I processed my first roll of the Delta Professional today in Photo class and as far as I can tell the negatives look pretty good to me. Comparable to the ones I took with the HP5+ film earlier this month. I got one negative with a picture of a lion statue on a fountain in the dark with light coming from the bottom of the pool. I wasn't sure if it would come out or not, but the negative looks great and has excellent contrast, so I'm excited to print.

Thanks so much again for sharing your knowledge with a beginner.

Colin Corneau
03-15-2012, 08:28 PM
Once again - three cheers for Simon...over and above, indeed.

03-15-2012, 08:34 PM
HP5 is Legendary!

brian steinberger
03-15-2012, 09:27 PM
I've used both and HP5 is by far my favorite. I went through a phase where I thought Delta was better, but then found myself missing HP5. HP5 has better tonality, nicer grain (though more grain), and sharper. Plus, it pushes better. I think Delta 100 is a closer rival to FP4 than Delta 400 is to HP5.

03-15-2012, 11:46 PM
I actually prefer Delta 400 over HP5+

Why? Because HP5+ is so close to Tri-X, that I'd rather use Tri-X for those things.

However, as Delta 400 is significantly different than either, I like it better than the HP5+ i'd rather use tri-x for.

I do like the look...


Delta 400 in Rodinal 1:100 on Ilford MGIV RC

03-22-2012, 04:23 PM
Simon R Galley,

I received the package in the mail today with the reading. Thank you very very much. I really appreciate you going above and beyond to teach me the ropes. I think I've learned a lot more about film from the information your provided.

I decided when making prints out of my first Delta Professional roll that HP5+ suits my taste better. I brought the other two rolls back to the local store I bought them from and exchanged them for HP5+.

Thanks again everyone! I think I'm going to like this forum.

03-22-2012, 04:54 PM
I understand that HP5 is probably the better choice right now, but don't discount Delta 400. I'm not sure what developing time you used, but if you used the same time as for HP5, your negative would have come out underdeveloped, which results in a loss of contrast and shadow detail. When you decide to develop on your own, try Delta again, and develop for the proper time.

You may not like it, but I think you should at least give the film a fair shake.

03-22-2012, 06:11 PM
T-grain films, such as Delta and Tmax, when used in conjunction with developers like Tmax developer, have much shorter developing times then HP5 or TriX. A developing time of 7 - 8 minutes makes it much easier to finish a roll of film in a single class period. With many developers HP5 and the like can take 13 -15 minutes. This is one of the major reasons high school photo teachers favor Delta and Tmax.