This post explores the different brands of Black and White Medium Format film I use in my work, and with which I have experimented with through the years. The films I will discuss here are all around ISO 100 or below, which I personally prefer when creating the sharpest and finest art prints. Shooting moving subjects, or spontaneous work such as street photography, or where a tripod isn’t available, then a higher ISO is more desirable. All films are self-developed using Kodak D76.
Ilford Delta Pro 100
It seems that every photography student beginning with film starts with Iford HP5 or FP4+. While these are great films, personally I found that Ilford Delta Pro 100 taught me more than these films could. I preferred the very fine grain that Delta offered; the quality of the images I produced was significantly better. Initially I used this film for studio portraits, although I found the film gives a pearlescent look to the skin. Recently I have been using Delta for landscapes, buildings and architecture. I find it is incredibly sharp, a good ‘fine art’ film.
Ilford Pan + ISO 50
This is a film I have tried and hated in the past, however it is currently one of my go to films for classic studio portraits. Perseverance is key. This is slow film, and gives a wide tonal range; the amount of detail this film achieves incredible, with sharp detail. Often the images appear quite light as negatives, but this is normal, especially when shooting with black backdrops. Having an ISO of 50 can be a nightmare, especially when a model is particularly fidgety: good lighting of the subject is essential to increase the shutter speed.
Kodak T-max 100
Kodak T-max is a classic for many photographers and consequently this became the main film I shot during the third year of my BA. The main feature of T-max is its extremely fine grain; I have produced several stunning images with this film. I have used it for both landscapes and portraits with great success, I feel the detail is higher than the Delta, perhaps on par with or even slightly better than Pan 50 +. This film is great for making enlarged prints or scans and is popular with photographers who use the zone system, or like to push or pull their development. The film has a nice level of contrast.