Developing Adventures · film photography · Film Processing

Developing Adventures – Pushing Ilford HP5 400 to 800

If you have been following my blog for the past month or so, you know that I have been experimenting with different films in order to find one that can be shot handheld around my house in low light.

I have so far shot Ilford Delta 3200 at 1600 with nice results, but the price and the grain has kept me on my quest. Next I tried Kodak P3200 at 1600 and then 800. I just really didn’t like my results. It was even grainier than the Delta 3200, and although some may like that, it is not what I want for the subjects I will be shooting.

Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800

The other factor with those two films was the price tag. Ilford Delta 3200 is around $12 for a roll of 35mm film where a roll of HP5 is around $6. Half the price. So I’ve decided to try pushing my favorite black and white film Ilford HP5 400 to 800.

Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800

I developed the roll in Kodak D-76 developer for 10min and 30 seconds. I agitated lightly 10 seconds every minute with the swizzle stick.

Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800

Below are two photos to compare. The left is my dog Frankie taken on Kodak P3200 at ISO 800 and the right is Frank taken on HP5 400 at ISO 800. The grain is noticeably different. If you are on a phone it may be difficult to see, but it is very noticeable in the white areas.

Kodak P3200 @ 800
The left photo is Kodak P3200 At 800 The right is Ilford HP5 400 At 800
Slide the center arrows to see the difference in the grain

You can also see in the photos below, when comparing pulling Kodak P3200 to 800 with pushing Ilford HP5 400 to 800 the grain is a lot less in the HP5. Look closely to the white wrapping paper and you should see it.

Kodak P3200 @ 800Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Left: Kodak P3200 At 800 Right HP5 400 At 800
Slide left and right to see the difference
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800

I only pushed it one stop this time, just to see its limits and not waste a roll. The next roll I will be pushing to 1600 just so I can have a little faster shutter speeds.

Now you may be asking, why not just google it and see what others have gotten by doing the same? I did that but I have also learned that everyones results can vary. My lighting conditions and subjects, as well as processing methods may differ from theirs.

Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800

Ilford HP5 400 is my go-to black and white film because it has low contrast and low grain which allows me to add in what I want in post. Pushing it has been no different.

Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800

Even though pushing film tends to add contrast, I was still able to control it in post and add a little more as needed. I like having that control.

Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800
Ilford HP5 400 Pushed to 800

Final Thoughts

I am really pleased with these results. The price is right and the grain is to my liking. I would like to be able to use faster shutter speeds and smaller apertures, so next I will try pushing it to 1600. I am not sure if I should push it any further than that. It will depend on the grain. Stay tuned for more.

Heres a link if you’d like to try out Kodak D-76 or a roll of Ilford HP5 400.

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Until next time stay motivated and keep shooting.

8 thoughts on “Developing Adventures – Pushing Ilford HP5 400 to 800

      1. How far you can push it depends on the developer you use. I’ve pushed HP5+ to 1600 and developed in Ilfotec DD-X and it looks great. Grain is still fine and the tonality maintains loads of detail in the highlights and shadows.

        I’ve recently shot a roll pushed to 3200asa (albeit in 120 format shot on my Bronica ETRSi 645 camera), and that looks really nice too. The development time was quite long at 20mins (Delta 3200 has a adefinite advantage in that regard), but the results were very good. The grain is more noticeable, but definitely not overbearing, and tonality is still very good. I suspect that the grain will be much more apparent in 35mm shots though.

        The results can be seen here: https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_id=10407404%40N00&sort=date-taken-desc&text=hp5%20%403200&view_all=1

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