Developing HP5 at 3200 in D76

Ilford makes some excellent black-and-white films. They’re dependable, reasonably priced, and look wonderful. Whenever I choose to shoot HP5 Plus I mostly rate it at 400 or 800, and occasionally would shoot it at 1600. But for the first time, I pushed it three stops all the way to 3200 and came away with some good results on the first go.

After searching around online and checking my favorite source for development info I didn’t find any specific times for HP5 at 3200 using Kodak D76 at stock dilution which was only the developer I had on hand. So, I took a semi-educated guess after looking over some other times for HP5 in D76 at lower speeds and hoped for the best, and thankfully, it worked out.

So why would I rate HP5 to 3200? It was kind of born from necessity. I was shooting indoors handheld somewhere that had less than ideal light. To make sure the shutter speeds were high enough to not introduce camera shake I had to really jack up the iso.

Harrisburg Capitol Building, HP5 400 at 3200 straight scan with no edits

Since my Patterson development tank holds two rolls, it only made sense to shoot an additional roll at 3200 in some other conditions as a test roll. Like outdoors. For science, of course.

About that contrast

Pushing black and white film increases contrast. The farther you push, the higher the contrast. So, even before developing these rolls at 3200, I expected the images to be contrasty, but I was more concerned with losing the shadow detail and the highlights getting blown out.

Checking everything out in Lightroom shows that they held together okay. The negatives retained a decent amount of shadow detail without blowing out the light areas. It’s worth noting, though, that the outdoor images were shot in a more flat lighting with cloudy overcast, so had the sun been shining that would probably have moved the histogram to the right quite a bit.

While perfectly adequate, if there was one aspect that I thought could be improved just a bit, it would be the sharpness. Looking at some of the scans closeup shows a bit of muddiness, but we’ll call that “analog charm”.

Sharpness comes down to a lot of variables like the type of emulsion, development temperatures, the developer used, agitation methods, etc. So there is plenty of room for improvement if I want to go that route.

Development info for Ilford HP5 400 at 3200 in D76 Stock:

Ilford HP5 400 rated at 3200 iso (35mm or 120)
Kodak D76 Powder Developer (Stock Mix)
Photographers Formulary fixer
Developed in Patterson-style tank

  1. Pre-soak film in 75°F water
  2. Pour in full strength (stock) ratio of Kodak D76 at 75°F
  3. Total development time 19min
  4. Agitate for 10 secs every minute
  5. Pour out developer
  6. Water stop at 75° for 1 minute, agitating constantly
  7. Pour in fixer- total fix time 5 minutes
  8. Agitate fixer for 30 secs each minute
  9. Pour fixer back into storage bottle
  10. Wash for 8 minutes, (running water) any temp is fine
  11. Rinse with distilled water and Kodak Photoflo 1 min
  12. Hang dry

But wait! There’s more!

Shooting HP5 at 3200 was only a small portion of a larger project that I was working on. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for trying weird and experimental stuff, so I combined these rolls of HP5 with a few other techniques to create something a bit different. If you want to check that out there’s a video on the FIMF YouTube channel that goes through the process:

YouTube player

Amazon Affiliate Links:

Ilford HP5 Plus 400 Black and White Film (35mm, 3 Rolls)

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