View Full Version : HP5 Plus & Delta 400 ... what's the difference?

08-02-2008, 07:45 PM
I don't have much experience with Ilford films. I'm looking at HP5 Plus and Delta 400. What's the difference? Which do you prefer? Grain, dev., etc, it doesn't matter, I just want to know what people think :)

Uncle Bill
08-02-2008, 08:02 PM
HP5 is Ilfords version of Tri-x, a traditional formulation. Delta 400is a modern t-grain film while the results may be great, it is not as forgiving as HP5.

Of the two I prefer HP5.

08-03-2008, 03:09 AM
Will not use HP-5 I didn't like the way it developed. Delta 400 for the high end customers

08-03-2008, 04:13 AM
Different grain structure. Delta is a more modern emulsion that has finer grain but less latitude, HP5 has less fine grain but more latitude, it has an "older" look. But to be honest processing will make more of a difference to the look of either film. Try both and see which you prefer.

Robert Budding
08-03-2008, 07:53 AM
HP5+ is an excellent film. I developed with D-76 for several years, but now I'm using XTOL.

Vincent Brady
08-03-2008, 08:31 AM
I use Delta 400 and dev. in stock ID11 for 9.5 mins. I'm very happy with the results. HP5+ in my eyes belongs to the past.


George Hart
08-03-2008, 08:57 AM
OK it's very personal, but I find HP5 more "journalistic" and D400 more "pictorial". Developed the same way D400 should have finer grain, but it all depends… Barry Thornton rated HP5 dev'd in 1+3 perceptol very highly.

IMO D400 has a more even approach to the whole tonal range, slightly cooler in feel than HP5, and it's the film that I use for landscapes when there is a full contrast range. I rate it at 200 and dev it in ID-11/D76 1+1. Very nice film.

HP5 has a lot of "character" and probably has a shorter range of mid-tones than D400. It's a punchy film, very popular. I rate it at 250 and again use ID-11.

There's no substitute for testing yourself! With the above EI values I shorten development from the rated Ilford datasheet times, by 0.85–0.9x.

Ian Grant
08-03-2008, 09:08 AM
Recently I've switched to using Delta 400 from Tmax 400 and its a superb film. Unfortunately Delta 400 isn't available in sheet film which means I'm going to be using HP5 for hand-held 5x4 work but I don't expect any problems again it's a excellent emulsion.

On a recent trip to South America I had to make do with whatever extra 120 film was available there and mixed Tmax400 with FP4, HP5 & Fuji Neopan it's very difficult to see any difference at all on my 14" wide prints.


Robert Budding
08-03-2008, 10:04 AM
OK it's very personal, but I find HP5 more "journalistic" and D400 more "pictorial". . .

I think your impression of a particular film depends on format or how much you enlarge. HP5+ in 35mm produces a pleasing grain when printing 8x10. With 4x5, on the other hand, I get lovely tones and little grain even printing 16x20.

HP5+ has great flexibility for pushes or pulls. And I can control the contrast easily. So, to me, the 'character' of a film depends on how I treat it.

08-03-2008, 11:21 AM
I settled on Delta 400/D76 many years ago but my daughter recently started using my darkroom and she is an HP5/D76 lover. They are both excellent films. HP5 reminds me of all the Tri-X I shot over the years. I like the tones and grain of Delta 400 and I find it much more forgiving than TMAX.

Rob Archer
08-03-2008, 03:20 PM
HP5+ is my favourite general-perpose film - purely personal, I know. I just like the 'feel'. Obvious grain but not too obtrusive. It's also very versatile. I've had excellent results at ISO200 in Perceptol (1+1, 15 Mins) - lower contrast and less grain , ISO400 in ID11 (1+1, 13 mins) - for general use and at ISO 800 in Microphen (1+1, 16 mins) all at 20C - 'grittier' feel, seems to suit Northern English landscapes! I generaly shoot 6x4.5cm.

OTOH if I'm shooting 35mm landscapes handheld, particularly if the sun's out I'll use Delta 400.

Try a few combinations and see what you like!


08-03-2008, 04:15 PM
If its 35mm and less grain is wanted for big enlargements then ID11 and D400 is probably a better combination. This is purely a subjective opinion but if DDX dev is chosen then the difference in my experience between the two is lessened and if Perceptol is used, albeit with some loss of speed then HP5 will enlarge considerably without grain.

I have twice shot a wooden carving of two birds of prey. On both occasions I hadn't got a telephoto lens and had to enlarge to get what I wanted. On the first occasion it was ID11 and the enlargement of a section of the neg was the equivalent of about 12x16. Grain was very obtrusive with ID11 but barely noticeable with Perceptol.

Try both films and if you like HP5+ and want grain free negs and can accept some loss of speed then HP5+ with Perceptol is a good combination.


08-03-2008, 06:13 PM
A few weeks ago I loaded HP5+ in one OM1 body and Delta 400 in another. Then I took a series of pictures of the old apple trees in my garden - in full sun - doubling up each shot by swapping the same 35mm lens back and forth between bodies. I developed both films in ID11 1 + 3 and made some 8 x 12 comparative prints. To be honest I couldn't see much difference in sharpness or grain between the two films, but there was a big difference in tonality. The prints from the HP5 negatives looked much better to me. Much brighter and full of light. This was because the upper mid-tones came out lighter than "normal" and in the delta prints they came out darker and more drab looking.
I was already a big fan of HP5 before this simple test, and I only used the Delta because it came free with a magazine. I won't be using it again. HP5 , in 35mm ( and 120 for that matter) does everything I want.

Alan Clark

08-03-2008, 06:14 PM
Thanks for the responses, everyone :)