I'm a Tri-X shooter for 35mm and 120 (for now), but I need some 4x5 stuff and I'm about to purchase my first box. I 'want to purchase a large box, so I'm looking at 25 sheet boxes. I'm also looking at 100-200 ISO films since I'm limited to 1/200th on my Speed Graphic's lens, and I don't trust the focal plane shutter right now, and I don't have any ND filters.
Can anyone explain the difference between FP4 and Delta 100? One is ISO125 and the other is ISO100, and both of their descriptions sound very similar.
Ilford Delta 100 Professional is simply the best in its class - offering the photographer exceptionally fine grain and a level of sharpness rarely seen, resulting in outstanding clarity of detail and the most precise image rendition. Capable of superb image quality at its recommended rating of ISO 100/21, this film will also produce great results rated between ISO 50 and 200.
Ilford FP4 Plus is a very fine grain, outstanding sharpness and high acutance make it the film of choice whenever a job demands great enlargement or the subject contains a wealth of fine detail. Nominally rated at ISO 125, Ilford FP4 Plus has become the benchmark against which other medium speed films are judged. With enormous latitude for exposure error above and below its ISO 125, Ilford FP4 Plus is very suitable for most photographic subjects under a variety of lighting conditions.
Delta 100 is a newer technology film making it, IMO, smoother and sharper than FP4+. FP4+ will give you a more traditional look. A sort of comparison would be between Plus-X and TMax 100. I have a personal love of Delta 100, but we all have slightly different tastes and either will make a ridiculously good 11x14.
You can't go wrong with only a 25 sheet box and you will enjoy either and eventually both.
Why don't you go for something cheaper to start with? I just purchased my first box of 4x5 and went for Arista EDU Ultra 100. 25 sheets is $16 compared to FP4, which is $33.
They are both wonderful films. Tonality is similar and they are both very flexible. Delta is finer grained than FP4+ but in 4x5 grain is not much of an issue unless you are making very large prints. Delta has better reciprocity characteristics than FP4+.
Delta100 = Ilford's answer to Tmax
FP4+ = Ilford's answer to PlusX
Arista EDU is repackaged fomapan 100. I use quite a bit of this when light conditions allow. However, my personal film speed is 1so 50 which may make it a little slow for your needs. Also its reciprocity characteristics are none too impressive needing adjustment, according to foma, at 1/2 second. Lastly whilst it is tonally a very sharp, and contrasty, film I have found it to be "fussy" in processing needing, in my case, distilled water for my working solutions combined with a couple of drops of wetting agent to avoid mottling. I must stress that these are my personal findings and other users' experiences may be different.
The difference I find is that FP4 seems more forgiving, Delta a bit more finicky. Beyond that they are both just fine thanks, IMO.
The other reason I like FP4 is that of the prints I have from Delta and FP4, and regardless of what I prefer; the FP4 shots simply get more compliments. I have no idea why, they just do.
Why not Tri-X or a 400ASA film? Sunny 16 says f16 at 1/400, or f22 at 1/200, with room at each end (I assume your lens closes down to f45 or f64).
I use a lot of FP4+ and occasional Tri-X (I have 50 sheets calling out to me -- and a bunch of empty 8x10 holders that feel, well -- empty inside). But when it comes to B&W film, I tend to be an omnivore.
I like shooting as wide open as possible.
Shop around and you'll find FP4+ at about $1.00/sheet in 100-sheet boxes. A fine film at a decent price. You'll not see any grain in a big enlargement (16x20") from 4x5, regardless of the film. I find FP4+ more versatile and less finicky than Delta. Delta seems to gain contrast very quickly in development making it a little more difficult to control, especially for a beginner. Both are good films.