Ilford Delta 400

Delta 400 at box speed in the sunshine.

Ilford Delta 400 is a bright spot on the film horizon for me.

Some time back, I had worries that APX 100 was going the way of the dodo. I was trying to find something I could depend on, that gave solid performance, and was made by a company with solid commitments to producing film for the foreseeable future. I spent a lot of time fiddling around with various stocks and seeing what I could do. I often push film, out of necessity. I shoot with available light even when doing portraits, and a shoot that has perfect light is not a common thing. I have to live with the hand I’m dealt, and it’s often an imperfect one. I’ve learned to make up for a multitude of conditions with chemistry, only in a good way. I like fine grain. I like a stock with a level of good contrast that HC110 doesn’t make too contrasty. I also don’t want to spend a fortune for it.

I tried Tri-X, and I do like the results it gives. However, I didn’t like how it looked when pushed, and I hate the way it doesn’t just curl when hung to dry, it pig-tails. I had similar dislikes with some other stocks. Like Goldilocks, I kept finding something wrong with each one. I tried Delta 100 and was intrigued by it. I wanted something I could push further, so I moved on to the Delta 400, and found the stock that was just right.

Delta 400 pushed to 3200 in HC110. Grainy, but better than expected.

Delta 400 works, and gives me exactly what I am looking for. It’s perfect for portraits, and loves to be pushed. I even like the results I got when I pushed it all the way to 3200, to offset the darkness of a train ride during the horrible flat grayness of an Illinois January. I expected heavy grain, possibly even a muddy mess, but it looked great. I am impressed by this film.

I was wondering how likely it was to go out of production, but Ilford is not like Fuji. They’re committed, correctly scaled, and in it for the long haul. I’m looking forward to shooting this film for years.

As for cost, they killed it there as well. Delta 400 is available in 100 foot rolls for around $20 less than the comparable Kodak product. Counting the chemicals to develop it, home rolled Delta 400 is around $3 a roll to shoot, which is by far the easiest on my wallet I’ve used in a while.

So what’s the down side to Delta 400 use? I’ll let you know when I find one. It’s available in 35 and 120, for your shooting pleasure.

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