FILM REVIEW – ILFORD DELTA 100
Ilford Delta 100 is a film I have probably shot the most. Released in 1992, it was a film I had used the first time around whilst shooting film at high school and college photography classes. So I was quite familiar with it and seemed like a natural choice to restart with when I got back into film.
Ilford released the trio of Delta films in the 1990’s, starting with Delta 400 in 1990, Delta 100 in 1992 and finally the high speed Delta 3200 in 1998. At the time it was the answer to Kodak’s TMax line of films that were also available in the same emulsion speeds. Whilst never quite overtaking the popularity of the HP5+ and FP4 films in Ilford’s product lines, they have remained a staple due to the fact that they are quite different to their other available films.
The main difference is that Delta films have a tabular T grain rather than a cubic grain like HP5. What this refers to is the different way of forming the silver crystals that allow’s the film to capture light. Tabular grain films like Delta or TMax (another favorite of mine) have a much smoother and therefore less noticeable look to the grain. This is something I really like when shooting landscapes with large expansive skies.
When I shoot digital black and white I really like my images to be high contrast, and I think one of the key reasons I keep coming back to Delta 100 when trying other films, is not only the smooth grain, but also the subtle transitions of tones whilst being quite high contrast with deep blacks and bright whites that really help make the images pop.
Delta does quite well with long exposures too – not as good as something like Fuji Acros II (read my review HERE), but I have found if you shoot 10 second exposures, adding a stop of light is required to get the right exposure. So a 10 second reading would actually need 20 seconds. But the grain remains smooth and the tonal range is retained, even at longer exposure times.
I have developed a lot of this film in both Kodak HC-110 and Ilfotec DD-X with great results. I do find, like many black and white films, that I get better results by reducing the developing time by 5-10%. Therefore if the recommended time is 10.5 minutes for ASA 100 in DDX, I usually develop it for 10 minutes, removing 30 seconds or 5%.
There has always been a saying of “expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights”. The main reason I do this is to reduce the contrast a little and ensure that I don’t over develop the highlights. I find this gives me a slightly flatter negative, retaining more detail in the shadows and highlights that I can then adjust once in Lightroom.
I scan my film with an Epson V850 pro using the Silverfast 8 Pro software that has the built in negative presets that seem to work quite well. I find this automatically adds a little more contrast to the image as well, so under developing has been a good workflow for me.
Ilford Delta 100 is very much one of my go to films. I have shot so much of it that I feel like I have a good handle on what results I will get. I must admit, more recently I have been enjoying Kodak TMax films and been using that a lot for something different, but if you have not shot Delta 100, I would definitely pick up a few rolls.