Comparing The Most Popular Black and White 400 ISO Films

Screenshot taken from the video.

Some of the biggest questions on the mind of every film photographer has to be how different black and white films perform in a similar setting. So with that in mind, the crew over at Brooklyn Shooters Channel have done a comparison of some of most popular 400 speed Black and white films out there. The films mentioned are Ilford Hp5, Ilford Delta 400, Kodak Tmax 400, Kodak Tri-x 400, and Rollei RPX 400. They’re all shot in medium format; which means that for lots of photographers out there who create vs capture this will be very interesting.

In the video from the Brooklyn Shooters Channel, the group shot the films with the Hasselblad H1 and an 80mm f2.8 lens. They explain they’ve had inconsistent results due to not shooting one film for a while. All of the images were developed with Rodinal and everything was shot with similar settings and situations–which make the comparison much more helpful. All of the images were scanned similarly as well too so that people can see how they handle highlights, shadows, grain, details, etc.

Interesting, right? Of any of these films, Kodak Tri-X was always the one most closely associated with the look of its rough grain. It’s valued by many street photographers and documentary photographers for that reason while T-Max is more popular with portrait and landscape shooters. For what it’s worth too, T-Max 400 was always touted as the world’s sharpest black and white high speed film. Indeed, it really is pretty darn sharp.

And here’s a fun fact: Lomography Lady Grey 400 is rumored to be an older emulsion of T-Max–which means that it’s more affordable and also pretty darned amazing.

Back to the video: Rollei’s film is pretty much immediately discounted due to its price point and because of how similar it is to HP5. But you can also see how different the films look. Delta has been looked at for a while as an alternative, so has HP5. The video then goes on to look at each film individually.

Personally speaking I’m much more partial to Ilford FP4 and Street Pan. FP4 tends to get more from the shadows which means that you can probably underexpose just a tad more. Street Pan on the other hand is a weird beast. In our review, we found that it really likes a lot of light. Part of the reason why is due to it being near infrared–so it won’t push as well. Think of it as chrome vs negative film! We went even more in depth in our review on La Noir Image, but that’s available to premium subscribers only (It’s a stupidly cheap subscription.) Also check out this website’s Kodak Tri-X 400 review.

Be sure to also check out more from the Brooklyn Shooters Channel.