Back when I shot lots of film, my favorite black-and-white options were Ilford Delta 100, and Ilford Delta 400 when “high ISO” was necessary, as back then I considered ISO 400 to be high ISO. I didn’t use Ilford HP5 Plus very often, but I have used it on several occasions. I still have a few rolls of the film lying around, which I should go out and use just for the fun of it. The differences between Delta 400 and HP5 Plus aren’t huge. Delta 400 uses tabular-grain, which is supposed to be a finer grain that produces sharper images, but I think in real-world use it’s not really noticeable. Delta 400 has a hair more contrast than HP5 Plus and in my opinion is a bit better for push-processing, but HP5 Plus seems to have more exposure latitude, making it more forgiving if you didn’t get the exposure quite right. Overall the two films produce very similar results.
I’ve been asked a number of times to make an Ilford HP5 Plus film simulation recipe for Fujifilm X-Trans III cameras. The title of this article says “Fujifilm X100F” but these settings can be used on any X-Trans III or IV camera. In fact, you’ll find a few Fujifilm X-T20 examples at the bottom. I already have a number of different black-and-white film simulation recipes that I like, so I didn’t really need to make a new one, but I enjoyed doing this and I’m pleased with how it turned out.
A few days ago I was asked if my Agfa Scala recipe is a close match to HP5 Plus, and as I thought about it I realized that it’s not all that far off, and only some small changes would be necessary to get it right. Of course, any time that you attempt to mimic a certain film the problem is that the film can vary in look. How was it shot? Developed? Printed? Scanned? There isn’t necessarily one aesthetic that’s right because there are so many variables. Still, I feel like this is recipe is in fact pretty close to Ilford HP5 Plus film.
I captured the photograph below, Airport Lobby, using a Canon AE-1 about 20 years ago using Ilford Delta 100 film. I printed it on Agfa Classic paper using a split-filter technique and toned it with sepia (just barely). This is a (rather poor) scan of the print. I included it in this article for the heck of it, as it doesn’t really have much to do with this film simulation recipe. My experience with Ilford films goes back pretty far, and perhaps that’s the point of including the picture with this article.
You could modify this recipe to shadows +3 if you need more contrast or shadows +1 if you needed less, or highlights to +3 if you need to prevent clipped highlights. If you feel as though the recipe needs some changes to best capture an image, don’t be afraid to make those adjustments. I don’t always stick rigidly to my recipes, and I’m not afraid to adjust them when needed. The example photographs in this article are all the exact recipe, but with some other pictures (that I didn’t include) I made some modifications to the settings because the scene required it. A few of the pictures here might have been better off with a modification to the shadow or highlight, but I wanted to demonstrate the aesthetic of this recipe as is.
Acros (Acros+Y, Acros+R, Acros+G)
Dynamic Range: DR200
Noise Reduction: -3
Grain Effect: Strong
ISO: Auto up to ISO 6400
Exposure Compensation: 0 (typically)
Example photos, all camera-made JPEGs captured using my Fujifilm X100F Ilford HP5 Plus Film Simulation recipe: