Developing Adventures · film photography · Film Processing

Developing Adventures – Pulling Ilford Delta 3200 to 1600

I am always on the search for things in my film journey, and now I have been on the hunt for the perfect film to use for pics of my family and home indoors in low light without having too much noise and contrast.

I have tried several films so far which I will review in the future, but the first I tried was Ilford Delta 3200 because I figured the higher ISO would give me results similar to the way my digital camera would because of course I would rather use my film camera than my digital.

I was wrong. With film you have grain that gets rougher the higher the ISO and lower the light source. You just don’t really have this issue with digital.

I just did not like the look at all for what I was shooting. It had all the things I didn’t want; grain in the skin tones, in fact a lot of grain everywhere, and way too much contrast.

What does it mean to pull film?

From what I have read in my research, pulling film is rating your film at a lower ISO (overexposing it) than the box speed and then developing it for that same ISO. I have also seen people only change the ISO, but still develop for the box speed. From what I’ve read however, that’s not technically pulling film. Thats just overexposing the film for lighter pictures.

I specifically wanted to lower contrast so that I could control it myself. Therefore, I thought I’d try pulling the film by shooting and developing it as ISO 1600.

Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600

If you compare the shot above of my dog to the shot of him I rated at box speed, shot in the same lighting, you can see the highlights on his fur are still a little blown, but the contrast is a lot softer. In fact, I added contrast to these pictures.

Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600

I developed this first roll in Kodak D-76 stock solution, my go-to, for 9min 30sec. I feel like the results are similar to Kodak TX.

Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600

I was able to control the contrast this way because pulling it rendered the film flat. It allowed me to be able to add as much contrast I wanted in each shot in post process.

Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600
Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600

The next roll I developed in HC-110 dilution B for 9min. I am not sure I see a difference between it and D-76 in this application.

Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600

I like how these low light shots came out. I like that I was able to shoot handheld inside because of the higher ISO. With HP5 I could get the same shots, but only on a tripod.

Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600

I also found that this film is not very sharp. The sharper you try to make it the noisier it gets. There are some shots where it’s soft and then there are shots where it’s grainier than a silo. It seems to depend on the lighting.

Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600

The 1600 ISO also allows you to shoot outside in sunlight a little better than 3200. These shots were at sundown so it wasn’t too bright.

Ilford Delta 3200 Pulled to 1600

My only issue is the grainy skin tones. I would like to be able to take pics of my human family (not just pets) with better skin tones. My hunt will continue, but I am really happy to find out that I can use this film indoors after all. I am still learning and I hope you have enjoyed coming along with me.

As always, until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.

12 thoughts on “Developing Adventures – Pulling Ilford Delta 3200 to 1600

  1. Nice shots Aly, and an informative post. I rarely see anyone talk about pulling film. Usually just pushing it. What are you using for your scans? The shots came out very nice and I need a better scanning solution.

  2. Very well done,Aly! Digital has spoiled us for high ISO! I spent many of my younger years working on the edge of pushed film in low light possibility- 6400 was the absolute max with huge grain and no shadow detail . In dark folk music clubs it was 1/30 @ f2 with the 85 Nikkor, Nikon Sp. 50mms were faster, but didn’t have enough reach

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