Help with Ilford Delta 3200
Well, my digital (is that word even allowed here?) SLR just died and my Minolta SRT-101's aperture coupling ring thingy stopped working properly soon after that. Talk about unlucky. All I have left is a Canon EOS 500 (without the D). I need to shoot a pretty dim event so I ordered some Ilford Delta 3200. This is my first time shooting black and white so forgive me if I sound like such a newbie. Here are my questions:
1. I read that Ilford 3200 is actually ISO 1000. Should I set my camera to ISO 1000 and develop the film as ISO 3200 or should I set my camera to ISO 3200 and develop it as ISO 3200?
2. I like grain, but I hate heavy grain. I know that 3200 is very grainy, but what steps can I take to minimize it?
3. Can I just leave my camera in its normal evaluative (matrix) metering mode or do I need to do some weird stuff to get proper exposures?
Ilford Delta 3200 is grainy. But the grain is beautiful. It's pointless to try to stop the grain from appearing. Film speed is gained at the expense of fine grain. That equation never goes away. You can use a fine grain developer, but frankly it looks better if you don't in my opinion. I routinely make 16x20" prints from 35mm Delta 3200 developed in Rodinal, a developer that most people avoid if they want fine grain. To my eyes, those prints look great, and I don't feel that the grain gets in the way. For portraits it may be a bit harsh in the grain department, but you take what you can get.
It is also a low contrast film. At an exposure index of EI 1,000 you'll have a nice grayscale with lots of shadow detail. This is the reason it pushes so well to EI 1,600, 3,200, even 6,400 without suffering in the shadow detail department terribly.
Without doing much testing, the best results will be had if you shoot it at 1,600 and develop it in Ilfotec DD-X according to Ilford's instructions as if the film was shot at EI 3,200. It sounds weird, but it usually works very well.
YOu can also experiment with push processing something like TMax 400 to, say EI 1,600. It works very well and will give you finer grain than Delta 3200, but probably a little bit less shadow detail at that EI.
My advice is to shoot a test roll before you photograph the event, so you can have an idea of what it looks like, and also to know if you need to make any adjustments.
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DDX is a good choice so I second what Thomas has said. It will give you the best speed of any standard fine grain developer. I also agree that trying to fight a film's inherent grain characteristics with special purpose developers is usually a bad idea and will result in overall poorer image characteristics. Fast films are the best examples. Trying to get "fine grain" from Delta 3200 will result in a speed loss and mushy, though still prominent, grain.
Thanks for all the advice! There's just one problem though: I don't have any equipment to develop the film. Seriously. I wanted to start BW dev for the longest time but I put it off since I was using my DSLR and Photoshop (are those forbidden words here?) to make B&W images. Now that I'm months away from a new DSLR, I have to set up a darkroom. Also, forget about developers like Ilfotec since they don't exist here in the Philippines. I've only seen Rodinal so that'll have to do. I also have no film scanner.
Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson
Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO
"We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin
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What I do is rate it at 1600, then develop for times for 3200 in repelenished XTOL. I am a person who is very careful about grain, and I like the results of what I get. Check hidalgo or aperture, rodinal (or parodinal) is not the only developer you can find there.
D3200 is an absolutely beautiful film. I rate it at 1,000 and dev. for 6400 in DDX. The results are breathtaking.
That's an interesting combo. Can you say what developing for 6400 does that the usual practice of developing at the next speed up, say 2000 or even 3200 does not?
Originally Posted by VaryaV
I can only speak in visual terms but I get the most luscious blacks and contrast from that combo. There is some difference in the mid-range tones from souping box speed, seemingly more grays visible... but the project I was working on was a film noir narrative.
Click on my apug portfolio and take a peek. The first 3 pages were done with that combo.