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Thread: HP5+ Processing and EI

  1. #1

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    Question HP5+ Processing and EI

    Okay, I am returning to 4x5 after quite a few years. I have a trip planned next week and will be shooting Illford HP5+. I shoot landscapes only. I want to make sure I have good detail in the shadows without blocking up the highlights. My thought was this: Either rate the film at 320 and develop normal; or shoot at 250 and reduce development time (not sure how much). Anyway, I hope to get some advice. Any thoughts appreciated.

  2. #2

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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    Quote Originally Posted by McAir View Post
    Okay, I am returning to 4x5 after quite a few years. I have a trip planned next week and will be shooting Illford HP5+. I shoot landscapes only. I want to make sure I have good detail in the shadows without blocking up the highlights. My thought was this: Either rate the film at 320 and develop normal; or shoot at 250 and reduce development time (not sure how much). Anyway, I hope to get some advice. Any thoughts appreciated.
    That’s not what I would do… your equivalent exposure index is, well, yours. You can do controlled tests such as those described in the book “Beyond the zone system” or others, to extract it based on how you meter and develop, or just shoot at box speed, but shooting at arbitrary lower ratings will not necessarily help to get better negatives…. and definitely doesn’t help in optimizing your results….

  3. #3

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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    Why not try exposing with box rating and develop in accordance with Ilford recommendations first.... and change from there if it doesn't meet your expectations? That might better give you a baseline from which to compare.

    BTW, Kingsville... as in TX? I spent some quality time at Beeville and Kingsville during a very exciting phase of life.

  4. #4

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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    Quote Originally Posted by McAir View Post
    Okay, I am returning to 4x5 after quite a few years. I have a trip planned next week and will be shooting Illford HP5+. I shoot landscapes only. I want to make sure I have good detail in the shadows without blocking up the highlights. My thought was this: Either rate the film at 320 and develop normal; or shoot at 250 and reduce development time (not sure how much). Anyway, I hope to get some advice. Any thoughts appreciated.
    EI on its own doesn’t mean much without knowing how you meter etc. that said, you can’t really go wrong giving a little extra exposure on average for safety, so you are fine rating the film at anything say 200 and higher. Develop normally. Reducing development time (ie contrast) is a separate thing from EI and won’t “improve” or compensate for anything.

  5. #5
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    HP5 has a somewhat long toe to the characteristic curve, so I find that under moderate contrast situation, box speed 400 exposure and normal dev works just fine; but with high contrast situations, you might want to change strategy and boost shadow exposure more, and develop a couple minutes less. But I have no idea of what developer you have in mind. I use PMK pyro, and really have a different tack for high contrast, which involves supplementary unsharp masking instead of "minus" development. But as others have already recommended, you should first experiment to determine your own personal boundaries with this film, in relation to your own metering style.

  6. #6
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    I always shoot this film at EI 160-400, depending on subject brightness range (EI 250 for normal). It's toe is somewhere between Tri-X and TMY... It responds wonderfully to Xtol 1+1, or replenished Xtol. My favourite developer is Pyrocat-HD. Reciprocity isn't too bad, either. I find Ilford's chart to be a little over the top, so I use my own. The only thing I don't like about HP5 is that it builds up too much B+F density with extended development. Using a high contrast develop such as D-19 (I like it diluted to 1+3), skirts around this issue somewhat.

  7. #7
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    Personally I use an EI of 250, process in HC-110 dil. H (1:63) for 10 minutes at 68F.
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    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  8. #8

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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    First of all, ultimately I believe that its in your best interest to make a few exposures and vary the exposure + processing and evaluate the results to determine what works best for your tastes. We all do things differently to achieve the specific results we want, and film + developer technique has a large effect on the result.

    But I do have one suggestion, since you're specifically asking about HP5: I have found that for my tastes, HP5 lacks separation of values in the upper tones. I find it renders the light values a bit flat, with poor tonal separation. But there's a developer that is known for delivering a better tonal range on HP5 and is capable of rendering better separation of higher values, and that's FA-1027, available from Photographers Formulary.

    "FA-1027 produces a very fine negative with Ilford HP-5 film, for example. There is a very distinct high value separation in Zones VI and above. In Zones V and below, there is just as impressive a separation, without the dumping of those values into murky darkness; as is the case with the Tri-X/HC-110 effect. The chemist responsible for the FA-1027 formula tells me that 2 restrainers, Potassium Bromide and Benzatriazole are responsible for this phenomenon; that one affects the upper end of the film curve (high values) and the other affects the low end (low values)."

    I've used FA-1027 a lot in the past 2 years and I find that the statements about its performance are accurate and truthful. I have rarely liked images I've made on HP5, no matter what the choice of developer: I've always found the results lack "sparkle" compared to - for example - Delta 100. (You can view two photos I made to compare the two films here The differences are subtle, but what I'm describing should be perceptible)

    FA-1027 improves the results I've gotten on all films, not just HP5, but its definitely made my HP5 negatives better. (for MY tastes - YMMV) So you might want to consider trying this combination for yourself. I've found that FA-1027 tends to give a bit of a speed boost to films: I'm able to expose HP5 at 250 to get what I want, instead of 160ASA. Also worth noting is that FA-1027 is a liquid concentrate, and it lasts for at least a year after opening the bottle. At the 1:14 dilution, its very economical.

  9. #9

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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    Years ago...I also purchased a bunch of untried film for "a trip that leaves next week," (Zion Nat. Park to hook up with Per Volquarz and a bunch of other folks) and boy, did I end up regretting this! It was Nov. 2004, and the "new" (to me) film was Bergger 200 - later processed in PMK to disastrous results (horribly clipped highlights on VC paper). Thing is...I'd had such great results using FP4 with PMK - and why, oh why, I'd decided to try something new for this trip is beyond me.

    My advice - for going on a photo-trip? Either stick with what you know, or give yourself at least a month to evaluate something "new" to make sure it will work for you!

  10. #10
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: HP5+ Processing and EI

    Interesting ... Bergger 200 & PMK was the finest combination I've ever encountered for 8x10 Southwest work; but it is a verrrry different animal than FP4, and even more than HP5. But yeah, one never want to be a guinea pig with an unfamiliar film on a significant outing. Do your experimentation homework first. Better to deal with the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.

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