Film Shootout: Ilford FP-4 Plus

Film Name: 

Ilford FP4 Plus

Type: 

Black and White

ISO: 

125

Grain: 

Fine

Sizes Available: 

35mm, 120, & sheet

Size Tested: 

35mm & 120mm

Development: 

Following MassiveDev chart, using Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer. Seven minutes development time, 1 minute stop bath (Ilford), 5 minutes of fixing (Ilford), 10 minute rinse and Kodak Photo-Flo. 

 Developing a roll of 120mm and 35mm Ilford FP-4 Plus. I measure all of the chemistry first and use the MassiveDev app on my iPad as a timer. Film is loaded into a Paterson tank.

Developing a roll of 120mm and 35mm Ilford FP-4 Plus. I measure all of the chemistry first and use the MassiveDev app on my iPad as a timer. Film is loaded into a Paterson tank.

 The chemistry used to develop these test rolls. From left to right: Developer (Ilfosol 3), Stop Bath (Ilfostop), Fixer (Rapid Fixer) and Kodak Photo Flo. Again, note the MassiveDev app for iPad.

The chemistry used to develop these test rolls. From left to right: Developer (Ilfosol 3), Stop Bath (Ilfostop), Fixer (Rapid Fixer) and Kodak Photo Flo. Again, note the MassiveDev app for iPad.

 Developed film (120mm and 35mm) ready to be hung for drying. 

Developed film (120mm and 35mm) ready to be hung for drying. 

 Film drying in the darkroom. My drying rig is expertly crafted from a metal clothes hangar, gaffers tape, film hanging clips and a over-the-door hook. 

Film drying in the darkroom. My drying rig is expertly crafted from a metal clothes hangar, gaffers tape, film hanging clips and a over-the-door hook. 

Fact Sheet (Provided by Manufacturer): 

ILFORD FP4 Plus is an exceptionally fine grain, medium speed, black and white film. It is ideal for high quality indoor and outdoor photography, particularly when giant enlargements are to be made. In addition to general photography, FP4 Plus is also suited to copying and internegative work, and has many applications in scientific, technical and industrial photography.

FP4 Plus is robust and will give usable results even if it is overexposed by as much as six stops, or underexposed by two stops. It is compatible with all major processing systems, including those which give the standard short fixing and washing times.

FP4 Plus 35mm film is coated on 0.125mm/5-mil acetate base and is available in 24 or 36 exposure cassettes, or in bulk lengths of 17 and 30.5 metres (56 and 100ft). FP4 Plus 35mm film is supplied in DX coded cassettes, suitable for all 35mm cameras.

FP4 Plus rollfilm is coated on 0.110mm/4-mil clear acetate base with an anti-halation backing which clears during development. It is available in 120 and 220 lengths and is edge numbered 1 to 19 (120) and 1 to 40 (220).

FP4 Plus sheet film is coated on 0.180mm/7-mil polyester base with an anti-halation backing which clears during development.

Packaging:

 Packaging of a 120mm roll (35mm packaging is the same, just different shape). Box is white with black and blue logo lettering. Expiration date is printed on the bottom corner, along with a suggested storage temperature of less than 20*C / 68*F.

Packaging of a 120mm roll (35mm packaging is the same, just different shape). Box is white with black and blue logo lettering. Expiration date is printed on the bottom corner, along with a suggested storage temperature of less than 20*C / 68*F.

 The exterior of a 35mm Ilford FP4 Plus canister

The exterior of a 35mm Ilford FP4 Plus canister

 The exterior of a 120mm roll that has been exposed. Sticker is left at the end of the roll and can be affixed with a quick lick, like a postage stamp.

The exterior of a 120mm roll that has been exposed. Sticker is left at the end of the roll and can be affixed with a quick lick, like a postage stamp.

 Leftover paper backing after the 120mm film has been removed (in a dark film changing bag) and transferred to the developing tank.

Leftover paper backing after the 120mm film has been removed (in a dark film changing bag) and transferred to the developing tank.

 Remains of the 35mm canister once film was removed for developing. 

Remains of the 35mm canister once film was removed for developing. 

Scanning:

Both the 120mm and 35mm film was scanned on an Epson V700 scanner using the provided film trays and Silverfast 8 software. I scanned for internet and printing, so the files were not the absolute best the scanner can achieve, but I don't need a million DPI either. I set the scanner to 900dpi using a RGB color profile. In the crops seen below, the scan quality is a bigger limiter to the quality than the film itself.

User Review:

This was the first "high quality" (aka not sold at your local drug store) film that I ran through my 120mm and 35mm camera. As a company, Ilford has a fantastic reputation for making some of the best films on the market.... they also specialize in black and white film, so you sort of expect only the best.

I have found the FP4+ to be a very forgiving film that captures great dynamic range and can therefore make up for an imperfect metering and exposure settings. Negatives consistently have a nice balance between contrasty blacks and light tones. I find the grain to this film also very appealing - too much grain can distract from the image, but the FP4+ fine grain is enough to offer texture and depth to the film without being overpowering.

Development of this film is very easy. You can use any number of developers and get fantastic results.

The more I shoot this film, the more I find myself really liking it! There's not much to complain about, it's a very solid all-around film for a variety of shooting conditions. Portraits, architecture, landscapes, etc all look great; if you are setting out for a day of shooting with no expectations of what you might photograph, Ilford FP-4 plus is a great choice to load up. Where other films are particular good for portraiture, et, the FP-4 plus is a wonderful "do all" film and the 100 speed offers a very fine and pleasing grain. 

 A super crop (200%) of a 900dpi scan on an Epson V700. This isn't even remotely close to the best scan quality possible, but the detail and sharpness is very apparent. The grain is very fine and not overbearing.

A super crop (200%) of a 900dpi scan on an Epson V700. This isn't even remotely close to the best scan quality possible, but the detail and sharpness is very apparent. The grain is very fine and not overbearing.

 Another super crop, but this one is at 300%. Again, incredible sharpness and detail captured in this negative.

Another super crop, but this one is at 300%. Again, incredible sharpness and detail captured in this negative.