Delta 400 vs HP5+ : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

I'm curious to hear feedback from others regarding the comparative qualities of Delta 400 (new) and HP5+.

I formulate my own developer (catechol based) and so my results may not be indicative of what others might experience. In any case, I have not found Delta 400's grain any finer than HP5+. Nor, in fact, do I find it yields greater resolution of fine detail. I think HP5+ is at least its equal in these areas. Ironically, these are the areas one would expect superiority in a film exhibiting modern grain structure.

However, what I have found using Delta 400 is a superb tonal scale. In this respect, it blows away HP5+. Also, Delta 400's edge acutance, which supports an illusion of sharpness, is stunning. Objects often have a 3-dimensional look, suggesting layers of depth one seldoms sees. The first time I noticed this in a Delta 400 print, I thought it was a fluke, but I have seen it repeatedly now. I keep glancing at Delta 400 prints and going back for a closer look.

I've long been an HP5+ fan, but Delta 400 has certainly turned my head. (I just wish it was available in 4x5!) What have the rest of you experienced?

-- Ted Kaufman (, October 31, 2001



I can't comment personally, but there are a couple of relevant articles in the British Journal of Photography that compare 400ASA films including the new D400 and you may find these informative. They are 20 Sept and 11 Oct 2000.


-- George Paltoglou (, October 31, 2001.

George: Thanks ... but where does one find The British Journal of Photography in the USA? Is it by subscription?

-- Ted Kaufman (, October 31, 2001.

I've read those articles and the basic conclusion was that the new Delta 400 is better (in terms of grain) than the old Delta 400 and it's 1/2 stop faster (really ISO 400) but that the difference between the new Delta 400 and HP5+ is suprisingly small. They saw a very slight edge in favor of the new Delta 400 in terms of grain and speed. So while the new Delta 400 is very good and is better than the old Delta 400, it's not a quantum leap over "conventional" films like HP5+.

As I recall (and I may be wrong on this) they used D-76 for development (?), so there's the chance that a less "generic" developer might show larger differences.

-- Bob Atkins (, October 31, 2001.

The biggest difference I see between new Delta 400 and HP5+ is in tonal rendition (in "standard" developers).

Compared to HP5+'s dead-straight curve shape through at least 14 stops, Delta 400 has a distinct shoulder, modified slightly by the developer used. The result is that a straight print from Delta 400 shows quite a bit more highlight detail when both films are developed to comparable midrange contrast but highlight contrast isn't so low that it's muddy. The tonal rendition reminds me of _old_ Tri-X and is a distinct move away from the "modern" straight-line rendition that began with TMX.

I don't see any big differences in graininess, RP or acutance although there are at least slight improvements in all those areas.

The overall effect, though, imho offers quite an improvement over HP5+, so much so that I feel it'll be worth the effort to "learn" a new film and move to it for 35mm and 120.

I too would like to see it in large formats.

-- John Hicks (, October 31, 2001.

I get HP5+ to be somewhere between 250 and 320. New Delta 400 comes in between 500 and 640. I would say this is a big improvement over HP5+. I think you have to also compare to TMZ, Neopan 1600, and Delta 3200. For the most part I am going to stick with the New Delta 400.

-- Russell Brooks (, October 31, 2001.


Its not a common magazine over here, but I found that my State library had a subscription. If you like, I can email a transcript to you. The second article compares all major 400ASA films.

-- George Paltoglou (, November 01, 2001.

I shot 15 35mm rolls of the new Delta past july. Deveoped it with Ilfotec DD-x, Xtol and ID-11 using EI 320 - 1600. What most bothers me is the grain pattern, tabular grain is ugly ! Perhaps I did not 'learn' this film well enough, but my prints did not show better tonality or edge sharpness than HP5+. True, I know HP5+ like the palm of my hand and have learned to get fantastic results with it in various conditions, it is a true workhorse film. I for one wont change films!

-- Johannes Aaltonen (, November 03, 2001.

I've been using Delta 400 for weddings and portraiture. I rate it between 250 and 3200. I had terribly grainy results with Rodinol and Xtol. I've been over-developing in Ilford HC with great defined, sharp, wonderfully lit, "smooth" results. Very fine grained at 3200- blows true 3200 away, exellent tonal range! It's just amazing to use fill flash only and get details in the background of a dim church. My aperatures are tiny-which helps in the background light department- (I rate at 1600 in camera and develop at 1:15 dillution, 68 degrees, 13 minutes for true 1600, 18 minutes for 3200 or more. (I aways agitate 5 times per minute after 1st 30 second agitation or I get bad results) Even pictures that come out underexposed can be corrected in photoshop with curves. The tonal range is so good that I'm finding I get better negs out of fine-grained developer Ilford HC with not bad contrast at all. I've been wanting to try HP5+ wondering if I could push it like the Delta. I tried pushing it's counterpart FP4+ to 400 with very bad results in shadow areas. It did great pushed in well lit areas. Much better grain than Delta rated at 400, but bad for dim lit scenes. - Heidi of Arc

-- Heidi Heil (, December 19, 2001.

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