Kodak vs. Ilford - Film ranges
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
Originally Posted by modafoto
- 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.
Last edited by fschifano; 12-06-2004 at 10:39 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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.
Mama took my APX away.....
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.
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.
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