Thursday night I had the chance to go to a Jazz concert togheter with a friend of mine, we bot had our cameras. He had a nikon f3 with HP5@1600, I my contax 167 with Tri-x@1600 and delta 3200@3200.
The following night I have processed all the rolls in microphen stock and compared the results. HP5 has been developed following the times suggested by ilford. For delta 3200 I've used the ilford times plus one minute. For Tri-x, since it was the new one, I used a 20% shorter time than that suggested by digitaltruth for the old tri-x.
Here is what came out:
- delta 3200 large very nice grain, good overall tone rendition. The film is still a bit flat in contrast;
- tri-x grain smaller than delta but with a nice texture, good shadows but very high contrast ( a hell of burning and dodging while printing);
- HP5 good shadows and controlled lights, I was really impressed. Grain size similar to tri-x but with a mushy texture.
Delta 3200 provided the best overall result with an extra, usefull, stop. HP5 proved to be a very nice film to pull, the best bang for the buck of the lot (delta is really expensive in Italy). Microphen tri-x was the coupling that gave the worst results. Probably with a shorter time or used 1+1 instead of stock will give better results.
Remember the old addage, "Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights?"
When you push process film (in other words overdevelop it) you add density to the highlights. This is not proportional across the density range of the film so you will end up with contrast negs that propably still don't have much shadow detail.
If you shoot with a film that is rated for 3200 ISO, or a film like T-Max P3200 professional that was specifically made for over processing, you will get a better scaled negative.
Another thing that helps in these situations is using larger film. If grain reduction is your goal, 120 is always a good way to go. I use a Pentax 67 which is expensive but a Mamiya C330 or some other TLR can be had for less money and works great for shooting in clubs and crowds.
In 35mm, I think tri-x in Acufine developer (EI 1200) would be a better combination, in that you get an increase in shadow detail but the contrast of the negative is held down.
I prefer Delta 3200 in straight Xtol for 8 1/2 min at 68F, rated at EI 800. much better shadow detail, but also the grainiest. In 120 size I often use this as a general film to help keep higher shutter speeds and smaller f stops.