So similar yet so different

When talking about traditional ISO 400 speed black and white films, Ilford HP5+ and Kodak Tri-x are probably the most well known ones. They are often considered to be very similar emulsions, which they in a way are, but they obviously have some differences compared to each other. I honestly like them both. Tri-x was my favourite film for a long time and if I’d had to choose one over the other, I think I’d still lean towards Kodak. But I’m an irrational person and to be honest, I’d choose it over nostalgia’s sake. Making the decision based on image quality, I’d probably go with Ilford. 

Being a Kodak fanboy

Kodak Tri-x has such a long history and a distinct significance in the history of photography. For that reason alone, I just like to shoot it. I guess I’m just a bit of a Kodak fanboy. Besides that, it has almost the perfect qualities and characteristics for my taste. I usually develop in Kodak D-76, which gives pretty much the right balance of graininess and sharpness. If I’m really picky, I think sometimes it may look slightly messy. When that starts to bug me, I usually turn into slower films or HP5+ (or remind myself that Fomapan films exist). HP5+ is very very similar emulsion compared to Tri-x, but sometimes I get the feeling it’s slightly sharper and gives ever so slightly neater grain structure. At least in D-76. 

Everything affects everything

It’s worth bearing in mind, that one’s shooting style, personal preferences, general know-how, skill level and developing technique, among many other factors, affect the result. I think it would be a bit silly to say which one is a better product. They are both excellent, tried and true black and white films. 

I don’t know whether I could ever tell which emulsion is which on a blind test. My Kodak fanboyism dates back to my early film days, when I didn’t yet have a strong focus on anything. As a teenager, I used to shoot pretty cluelessly whatever film stocks and subjects I came across. It was only when I really got obsessed with traditional black and white film photography, I started to notice the name Kodak Tri-x appearing time after another. At that point, I was kind of settling for Kodak T-max 400, but after realising how new emulsion it was, I wanted to pick up something more traditional. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with it. But to be honest, someone could have been selling me Fomapan in a yellow box. As it usually happens, we fall in love with the idea or story behind something. It certainly didn’t do any harm, that the film actually was very good indeed and matched my vision.

Becoming a Ilford fanboy as well

Back in those days, Kodak was the cheaper brand, at least in my local corner shop, and Ilford was the expensive snob film that Hasselblad owners most likely shot. Nowadays it seems that Kodak is getting increasingly more expensive than Ilford and for cutting down the costs, I’ve stocked up on HP5+. Over time I’ve really learned to appreciate it more and more. During the past couple of years, I’ve been really enjoying Ilford Pan F and Delta 100 too. They are at the moment probably my favourite slow black and white films. There was a time when I was using HP5+ as a cheaper substitute for Kodak Tri-x, but after realising just how amazing emulsions Ilford makes, I’ve started to appreciate HP5+ way more than before. Nowadays I’m a pretty darn happy Ilford fanboy as well. 


Spot the difference — here’s Ilford HP5+ sample images

And here are the Kodak Tri-x sample images

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This photo of a window cleaner is one of my favourite shots of the entire year. I took it inside a coffee shop. I had my camera on the table so it was ready when the subject emerged out of nowhere. The cleaner worked really fast, basically swiping the entire window clean in fifteen seconds. I managed to take just this one shot. Such a satisfying experience of capturing a candid brief moment. #leicam6 #35mm #analogphotography #filmphotography #35mmfilm #analogvibes #filmlove #filmisalive #shootfilm #scacco_matto_ #35mmphotography #streetphotography #streetphotography_bw #blackandwhitefilm #35mmstreetphotography #friendsinbnw #redditanalog #thestreetphotographyhub #life_is_street #shootfilmmag #believeinfilm #staybrokeshootfilm #thefilmcommunity #theanalogclub #capturestreets #everybodyfilm #allformatcollective

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