It’s better to be lucky than good.
This film simulation recipe was a mistake. I discovered it when I accidentally chose ISO 51200 instead of Auto-3 ISO. In my hurry, I scrolled down one too far, which took me from the bottom to the top, and I didn’t notice that I had inadvertently selected the highest possible ISO. I wouldn’t normally, or really ever, use ISO 51200. Even on most full-frame cameras, that high of an ISO is pushing the capabilities of the camera. It’s beyond what most would ever think of using on an APS-C camera. I’ve often wondered why Fujifilm even made it an option. Yet on Memorial Day I made a few exposures with it, not even realizing it.
When I reviewed the images that I had captured, I was reminded of some photographs I made four years ago when I pushed a roll of Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film by one stop. Push-processing is a technique where you underexpose film and increase the development time to make up for it. You are essentially increasing the exposure in the lab using chemicals. The result is a higher-contrast image with more pronounced grain. Sometimes you would do this because the ISO of the film wasn’t high enough to make a good exposure, and sometimes you’d do this just for the aesthetics of it. Different films respond differently to push-processing, and different films have different tolerances to how much they can be pushed. While HP5 Plus is a good film, it’s not typically considered one of the best for push-processing, but the results can still be good, especially if you don’t push it too much.
Here are some push-processed Ilford HP5 Plus 400 pictures that I captured several years back:
After seeing the ISO 51200 results from my Fujifilm X-T30, I decided to make some more ultra-high ISO black-and-white pictures. What I discovered is that for contrasty and grainy B&W pictures, ISO 51200 on the X-T30 is not only usable, but it can produce film-like results that are similar to push-processed Ilford HP5 Plus 400 film. A negative aspect of ISO 51200 is that it can sometimes produce “smudgy” results, especially in grass. It doesn’t always do that, but it sometimes does, so I would say that this maximum ISO should be used with care. Taking the ISO down one stop to 25600 seems to remedy this, and delivers similar results to the higher ISO images. ISO 12800 is almost not grainy or contrasty enough, but it’s very close and is also usable for this recipe should you need to drop the ISO.
You might notice that this recipe is quite similar to my Tri-X Push Process recipe, mostly just a higher ISO and added grain. I like that recipe a lot and I think it also delivers analog-like results. Even though it’s based on the same film, there are several differences between this recipe and my original Ilford HP5 Plus recipe. This one is much less “clean” and is fun to pair with vintage lenses. Also, this recipe can be used on X-Trans III cameras, except (obviously) you ignore Color Chrome Effect. I tried it on an X-T20 and it looked good, even at ISO 51200 (see the very top picture in this article).
Acros (Acros+Y, Acros+R, Acros+G)
Dynamic Range: N/A
Noise Reduction: -4
Grain Effect: Strong
Color Chrome Effect: Strong
Toning: 0 (off)
ISO: 25600 or 51200
Exposure Compensation: +1/3 (typically)
Example photographs, all camera-made JPEGs captured using my Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Push-Process Film Simulation recipe:
See also: My Film Simulation Recipes