Kodak vs Ilford – It’s a WIN-WIN

In case you missed it – we are focussing on black and white photography over at SOOC throughout the month of August and have chosen four recipes which offer a lot of exciting qualities for any black and white photography enthusiast or connoisseur. Even if the world of black and white photography is a bit of a grey area for you, our selection represents recipes that emulate some of the most popular film stocks ever produced and all deliver great results.

Kodak T-Max P3200 | Ilford HP5 Plus 400 | Kodak Tri-X 400 | Acros

I have been shooting quite a bit with two of the recipes in particular over the last week and am loving the process of getting lost in the many shades of grey while letting my eye find great light and interesting shapes and shadows.

Kodak T-Max P3200

This recipe caught my attention straight away when Ritchie from Fuji X Weekly published it in May and I have been using it since. It is an actual film stock that can still be bought today, thanks to Kodak re-releasing it in 2018. So, if you wish to compare the recipe to the actual film look, you will find a lot of real-life examples online.

This is how Kodak describe this film stock:

T-Max P3200 is a multi-speed continuous-tone panchromatic black-and-white negative film that combines high to ultra-high film speeds with finer grain than that of other fast black-and-white films… good depth of field combined with fast shutter speeds.

If this doesn’t mean anything to you, don’t worry! Just load the recipe into your Fujifilm camera (it is compatible with all X-Trans V and IV cameras) and start shooting. You can expect great results in many situations, since the recipe is extremely versatile and delivers sharp jpegs with a beautiful tonal range and great contrast in many ISO settings, just like the original film stock.

You will notice that the recipe uses “Monochromatic Color Toning” which makes it stand out from the other black and white recipes and makes it so much fun to use. The feature can be compared to White Balance Shift in color film simulations and works in a similar way. You can add warm or cool tones (WC) and magenta or green (MG) colour tones to your black and white image. Don’t Panic! If this went straight over your head – Ritchie figured this out for us so you don’t need to understand it.

Just know that these settings add a slight toning to the jpegs, which helps to make them look more like the analog film. The effects of colour toning becomes obvious the moment you compare jpegs shot with another black and white recipe without toning – like Ilford HP5 Plus 400 for example.

Image 1 – Kodak T-Max P3200 with Color Toning | Image 2 – Ilford HP5 Plus 400 without Color Toning

Ilford HP5 Plus 400

No selection of black and white film simulation recipes is complete without one that simulates Ilford. The UK-based company has been making black and white film since 1879, so they have been around long enough to know what they are doing! The first roll of black and white film that I bought way back when was a roll of Ilford and their films have been extremely popular amongst hobbyist and professionals for longer than I can remember.

HP5 Plus 400, also still available today, is way up there on the popularity chart and according to Ilford:

it is a medium contrast, all-purpose panchromatic black and white negative film, an excellent choice for journalism, documentary, travel, sports, action and indoor available light photography. It offers great exposure latitude, responds well to mixed lighting conditions and provides medium contrast for a greater overall control.

Jpegs shot with the recipe of the same name emulating this look will give you images with classic medium contrast with soft highlights and is especially suited for moderate and high contrast scenes. It is based on the Monochrome film simulation and asks for lots of juicy grain to add to that analog film look. The shadows are not as black as in Kodak T-Max P3200 (or even Tri-X 400) which makes it more of an all-rounder and no matter the weather – sunshine or rainy days – you’ll get great-looking jpegs. 

I absolutely love the look of my jpegs shot with this recipe!

My Recipe of Choice

And so you may wonder which recipe I prefer? Both! And that’s all there is to it. They deliver noticeably different results and they both deserve a place in my Black & White Custom Menu arsenal. If I feel like crisp images with lots of contrast, toning and clarity I’ll choose Kodak T-Max P3200. If I’m after a bit more of a mellow look without clarity I’ll opt for Ilford HP5 Plus 400.

A Challenge for You!

I hope you’re joining me on this awesome journey of monochromatic discovery! It is inspiring and rewarding! If you’re looking for a photography project, something to get excited about and a way to motivate yourself to pick up your camera, join our challenge over on SOOC for this month!

You have until 25 August to upload three of your favourite images shot in any of the four recommended recipes. They will get featured in the viewers’ slideshow and you also stand a chance to win a 12-month subscription of the fabulous Fuji X Weekly App!

If you missed the theme show “Focus On Black & White Photography” you can still watch it:

So – what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit the streets and take your shot(s)!

All images in this article are jpegs straight out of camera from my Fujifilm X-T5

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