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11-16-2010, 05:25 AM   #1
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Ilford XP2 tips

Hi all,

I've just started shooting film for the first time. Have picked up a used PZ-1p. Am planning to run a roll of Ilford XP2 through it for a test run. I've read some differing opinions about what ISO to set the camera to - some people suggesting exposing at 200 or 320. Any tips for getting the best results?

Thanks.

11-16-2010, 06:02 AM   #2
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XP2 is based on C41 colour negative technology which can benefit from a little overexposure. You can either set the camera at lower iso (a very rough approach), or spot meter the shadow area of the scene at iso400.
11-16-2010, 06:02 AM   #3
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Personally, I rate it at 400 or above. The lower the ISO, the flatter the contrast, and I find XP2 to be on the flat side as far as B&W films go. The grain benefits from overexposure, but the contrast seems muddy to me.
11-18-2010, 08:54 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by sardah2626 Quote
Ilford XP2 tips
Hi all,

I've just started shooting film for the first time. Have picked up a used PZ-1p. Am planning to run a roll of Ilford XP2 through it for a test run. I've read some differing opinions about what ISO to set the camera to - some people suggesting exposing at 200 or 320. Any tips for getting the best results?

Thanks.
XP2 is a very fine film. I recommend it highly, particularly for landscape work. I often use it at 200, which results in more shadow detail and finer grain while holding highlight detail very well. Results are also excellent at 400. I wouldn't use 800 or higher except in a pinch.

See the Ilford fact sheet on the film: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20061301945161573.pdf

QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Personally, I rate it at 400 or above. The lower the ISO, the flatter the contrast, and I find XP2 to be on the flat side as far as B&W films go. The grain benefits from overexposure, but the contrast seems muddy to me.
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I'm not sure why you view lower ISO XP2 as muddy. In my experience the tonal separation is just fine at lower ISOs, and of course we all adjust conrtrast routinely either in the darkroom or in scanning/editing. I view the use of lower ISO as a convenient way of dealing with high contrast situations. (I've been using Ilford chromogenics since 1981.)

John

11-21-2010, 04:33 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote

I'm not sure why you view lower ISO XP2 as muddy. In my experience the tonal separation is just fine at lower ISOs, and of course we all adjust conrtrast routinely either in the darkroom or in scanning/editing. I view the use of lower ISO as a convenient way of dealing with high contrast situations. (I've been using Ilford chromogenics since 1981.)

John
I have also used Ilford chromogenics since the 80s. At one point around '86, I was souping a good deal more XP1 than traditional B&W. Now, I seem to be slightly more enamoured of the Kodak version in 135.

Muddy is my way of saying mainly low contrast. You seem to be agreeing that its contrast is lower at lower ISO. For my subjective taste, the XP2 I have shot lately in 120 lacked contrast. It seems like I posted a photo earlier in the year and got that comment as well. Granted, in the right situation that might be desirable, but the question by the OP was whether one should rate the film at 400 or at a lower ISO. It is important to realize that at lower ISO you will not only get less grain but less contrast.

Last edited by GeneV; 11-21-2010 at 05:00 PM.
11-22-2010, 12:17 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
XP2 is a very fine film. I recommend it highly, particularly for landscape work. I often use it at 200, which results in more shadow detail and finer grain while holding highlight detail very well. Results are also excellent at 400. I wouldn't use 800 or higher except in a pinch.
Is XP2 not as good as old XP1 at 1600ASA? I remember getting very nice results in the early 80s with XP1 at 1600 whilst photographing a school play.

I then didn't use a chromgenic BW film until very recently. I have been using Kodak BW400CN as it gives me lovely results and is cheaper. That film I rate at 320 as the slight touch of over exposure seems to give nicer results, not that I have ever done a real comparison!

The main thing I would say is find a dev shop you trust (if you aren't doing it yourself). I had some horrible results with CVS in New York and now use "The Darkroom UK" when I get home.

Best wishes, Kris.
11-22-2010, 08:13 PM   #7
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Real testing

I have just been testing Ilford XP2, and got the results back today. You might be curious to have a look. I have the results posted here:

Gallery -- Black and White film testing

You can compare the results at a full range of exposures in the test, from 6 stops under to 8 stops over exposed. I established the "normal" box-speed exposure by spot metering off the grey card, and confirmed by a separate incident light meter. With XP2 rated at ISO 400, that gave me f/8@125th of a second. You can see that exposure in picture number 7. The rest of the pictures are incremented one stop at a time.

This roll was processed by Downtown Camera, who I trust for reliable, high quality C41. It was scanned on a Noritsu scanner at 6 megapixel. I have uploaded much lower res pictures, but they give a very good idea of the results you can expect.

Please note that this is NOT 35mm, it's 120 film shot in a 645 camera (Bronica.)

I have had to look for a new black and white film, because my absolute favourite is Kodak BW400CN in 120 format. I find the grain-free highlights, coupled with very soft contrast and a flat characteristic curve, to be perfect for portraits. No blown out highlights on skin tones and no unsightly grain on the skin either. (Grain looks good in the grittier shadows to me, not highlight areas like sky or skin.)

Unfortunately Kodak has cancelled BW400CN in 120. (They still make it in 35mm.) So I am testing a whole bunch of different films, including XP2, traditional cubic grain films, and newer tabular grain films (Delta).

Last edited by filmamigo; 11-22-2010 at 08:20 PM.
11-22-2010, 10:10 PM   #8
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Personally, I love XP-2 and it is pretty much the only film I shoot these days. I love grain and lots of contrast so I Underexpose it by a full stop..











11-23-2010, 08:52 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by filmamigo Quote
I have just been testing Ilford XP2, and got the results back today. You might be curious to have a look. I have the results posted here:

Gallery -- Black and White film testing

You can compare the results at a full range of exposures in the test, from 6 stops under to 8 stops over exposed. I established the "normal" box-speed exposure by spot metering off the grey card, and confirmed by a separate incident light meter. With XP2 rated at ISO 400, that gave me f/8@125th of a second. You can see that exposure in picture number 7. The rest of the pictures are incremented one stop at a time.

This roll was processed by Downtown Camera, who I trust for reliable, high quality C41. It was scanned on a Noritsu scanner at 6 megapixel. I have uploaded much lower res pictures, but they give a very good idea of the results you can expect.

Please note that this is NOT 35mm, it's 120 film shot in a 645 camera (Bronica.)

I have had to look for a new black and white film, because my absolute favourite is Kodak BW400CN in 120 format. I find the grain-free highlights, coupled with very soft contrast and a flat characteristic curve, to be perfect for portraits. No blown out highlights on skin tones and no unsightly grain on the skin either. (Grain looks good in the grittier shadows to me, not highlight areas like sky or skin.)

Unfortunately Kodak has cancelled BW400CN in 120. (They still make it in 35mm.) So I am testing a whole bunch of different films, including XP2, traditional cubic grain films, and newer tabular grain films (Delta).
Thank you very much for the test. I also started using XP2 in 120 because BW400CN was not available.
11-23-2010, 09:05 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
Thank you very much for the test. I also started using XP2 in 120 because BW400CN was not available.
I bought my first roll at Adorama this summer, and the last roll they had. Shame, it was pretty good stuff especially when using my Lubitel where I am not confident that the shutter etc. is all that accurate.

K.
11-25-2010, 07:31 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
XP2 is a very fine film. I recommend it highly, particularly for landscape work. I often use it at 200, which results in more shadow detail and finer grain while holding highlight detail very well. Results are also excellent at 400. I wouldn't use 800 or higher except in a pinch.



John
John, do you shoot at 200 and develop at 400 or shoot and dev at 200?
11-25-2010, 09:53 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jgredline Quote
Personally, I love XP-2 and it is pretty much the only film I shoot these days. I love grain and lots of contrast so I Underexpose it by a full stop..

Those are nice captures. If you like grain and contrast, underexposing is the way to go. If you have a very contrasty scene, overexposing may be the way to go. I tend to like more contrast the overexposed XP2 gave me on an average scene.
11-27-2010, 12:44 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by GeneV Quote
I have also used Ilford chromogenics since the 80s. At one point around '86, I was souping a good deal more XP1 than traditional B&W. Now, I seem to be slightly more enamoured of the Kodak version in 135.

Muddy is my way of saying mainly low contrast. You seem to be agreeing that its contrast is lower at lower ISO. For my subjective taste, the XP2 I have shot lately in 120 lacked contrast. It seems like I posted a photo earlier in the year and got that comment as well. Granted, in the right situation that might be desirable, but the question by the OP was whether one should rate the film at 400 or at a lower ISO. It is important to realize that at lower ISO you will not only get less grain but less contrast.
Sorry, but you seem to have missed the main point of my comments, which is that contrast can easily be adjusted and therefore should not be a deciding factor against shooting at 200.

John
11-27-2010, 12:47 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by artobest Quote
John, do you shoot at 200 and develop at 400 or shoot and dev at 200?
Hi.

XP2 uses standard C41 processing, so there is no adjustment of processing for film speed setting.

John
11-27-2010, 01:55 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by John Poirier Quote
Sorry, but you seem to have missed the main point of my comments, which is that contrast can easily be adjusted and therefore should not be a deciding factor against shooting at 200.

John
Actually, I'd say your ship passed mine in the night from the get go. Your comment appeared to me to miss the point of my first comment when you responded to it. It is a given that lowering ISO lowers contrast.

Now, if there are other things you can do in the photographic process to adjust contrast (which in my experience were not necessarily so easy), you still need to know what the effect of ISO is on the film. Or what am I missing?

Last edited by GeneV; 11-27-2010 at 02:47 PM.
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