Film Friday - October 4th, 2019. Ilford XP2 Super
Alright! Here we go. We are kicking off our first Film Friday with a spotlight on Ilford XP2 Super. In truth, we had dozens of options in regard to which film we started with, but Ilford XP2 is something that we have been focusing more of our attention on lately. Truth be told, we often overlook XP2 in favor of the more traditional b&w emulsions, but this is because of no fault on XP2's part, it really is a fine film in its own right.
Ilford XP2 Super is a chromogenic black and white film produced by Ilford in both 35mm and 120 formats. It was originally introduced to the world as Ilford XP back in January of 1981, so this film has been around quite a while. As a chromogenic film, XP2 can be processed in C-41 chemistry (the same stuff that you develop standard color film in), so if it helps, you can sort of think of XP2 as a colorless color film. This has several advantages. The biggest is that any lab that can process color film can process XP2 for you. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a city like Portland where you have multiple labs that can develop b&w film, but the reality of many photographers is that their local options only allow for the processing of color film. If this is the case for you, then XP2 is a convenient method of shooting and developing b&w that doesn't involve mailing the film out or setting up your own darkroom.
But XP2 has other distinct advantages as well. It shares color film's very forgiving exposure latitude. Ilford's site states that you can shoot XP2 anywhere from ISO 50 (3 stops overexposed) to ISO 800 (1 stop underexposed) but we have seen photographers push this limit even farther. Even 4-5 stops overexposed, XP2 can produce decent images. Additionally, XP2 has a much smoother grain than similar ISO 400 b&w films. While we love the gritty texture of the higher speed black and white films, we also enjoy the smooth quality that XP2 renders. If grain is not your thing but b&w is and you want to keep your film speed high then grab a roll of XP2.
Lastly, XP2 scans and prints on minilab machines very cleanly, with minimal dust and scratches showing up in the final images. With most scanning technology, the equipment uses a feature called Digital ICE. This technology scans the negative with an infrared array that detects dust and scratches, it then removes those artifacts from the visible scan. Digital ICE is often the reason your scans don't have dust spots on them. Except Digital ICE doesn't work with traditional b&w films, so those images can often have little spots of white dust, hair, or scratches visible. Ilford XP2 on the other hand works just fine with Digital ICE, so it scans really clean.
Despite XP2's benefits with digital scanners and printers, it still prints very well in the b&w darkroom. We had a customer awhile back who did high-end portrait work and shot all Ilford XP2. She would get digital proof prints and then bring the negatives in for us to do enlargements on fiber paper. The prints would be gorgeous. So we can attest firsthand to how well this film works in the darkroom.
To recap, here is why you should try XP2:
- Easy to process - any lab that runs color film can develop it (it can also still be processed in b&w chemistry, by the way)
- Very forgiving with exposure. We'd say four stops over to one stop under and you will get something usable.
- Really nice and smooth grain. Just see our example photos for yourself.
- Scans and prints cleanly and free of dust and scratches thanks to Digital ICE compatibility... just like all other color films.
- Available in both 35mm and 120.
- And because Ilford is an awesome company and anytime you can buy film to support them we encourage it.
There you go! Now pay us a visit today and pick up a roll at a 15% discount. Additionally, XP2 will be automatically marked down on our website, so if you follow the link below, you can buy remotely and virtually and still enjoy the discount on this film. To read more on our Film Friday project, we have an article up on our Codex with a link below.
Get a roll of XP2 here: http://bluemoon.camera/4ov7
Read our Codex post on Film Friday here: https://bluemooncameracodex.com/topical-news/2019/10/3/film-fridays
See some sample images below! Share your own favorite XP2 results in the comments below and feel free to share this with any photographer friends you think might like to try a roll of XP2. Have a great weekend and shoot film!