When it comes to a professional, high-quality standard, Ilford has always been at the top of its class. Needless to say, but their Delta 3200 series is one of our highest rated black and white film stocks and today you’re going to find out why. In our previous review of Ilford’s XP2 film stock, we talked about how shooting with black and white film is much different than when shooting with color film. We still hold true to this point and believe that shooting in black and white is more of a deep, emotional type of photography.
Regardless, today we’re going to be taking a look at one of our favorite black and white film stocks – Ilford’s Delta 3200 professional grade black and white negative film. This film stock is one of our go-to’s when shooting black and white because it provides such a deep contrasty look and is also filled with rough grain making your photos almost feel heavy. Without further ado, let’s take a deeper look at Ilford Delta 3200!
Ilford’s Delta 3200 film was introduced in 1998, just ten years after Kodak introduced their T-MAX P3200 film stock, and has been a strong competitor and favorite black and white film for many photographers since. One interesting fact about the film stock is that it is actually only rated at 1000 ISO, but because of its wide exposure latitude, it is able to be successfully pushed up to 6400 ISO, which is why Ilford marks the film stock as 3200 ISO. This film stock in particular is perfect for action sports photography or anything with low-light settings.
ILFORD DELTA 3200 Professional is a high speed, black and white professional film for making quality photographs in difficult exposing conditions. It is ideal for action and available light photography. It is designed to be exposed at EI 3200/36 and given extended development.
There are many great qualities to this unique film stocks, but three main points that stand out to us – the deep grain texture, the sharp contrast, and the incredible exposure latitude.
See Ilford Delta 3200 examples here:
Heavy Film Grain
One of the most noticeable qualities of this film stock is the texture and feel of the grain. It is far from that of Ilford’s HP5 Plus film which will give off a much more flat look and doesn’t have as much structure as Delta 3200. I believe that this is a compelling component to many photographers because they want that feel and it is a very rare aspect to have in this form.
With that being said, many photographers will strategically use this film stock (and others) for making images almost over-grainy on purpose. For example, take a look at this photo below shot by photographer Brock Fetch. I’m not 100% sure of the film stock that he was using in this photo, but my point is to note the heavy grain and the finish that it leaves on the photo.
This style of photography is used widely and can look incredible when used creatively. Many photographers tend to get boxed in thinking their images need to look crystal clear with no imperfections, but that shouldn’t be the case. If that’s the style your are going for and would like to remain consistent with that, then I encourage you to do so. However, I also believe that imperfect photos are sometimes the best photos. Leaving you on that note, if you haven’t tried this film stock yet, I really encourage you to do so, and try something new.
Because of the film stock’s wide exposure latitude, Ilford actually marks the film at 3200 ISO as the box speed. However, on their technical data sheet shown below, you can see that it can be used in a very wide range of settings.
Looking at the source above in the highlighted area, you can see that Ilford’s lab even says that the film can provide good image quality while metering settings with EI 400/27 to EI 6400/39 – “it can be used in all types of lighting.”
This film stock is quite unique in that case – not many other black and white film stocks have this wide of an exposure latitude and can not be used in any settings such as this film stock. For example, below you can see two photos. The top left photo was taken on a beach at 2 p.m when the sun was at its peak and it was over 90 degrees Farenheit outside – the exposure is still clean. The photo on the bottom right was taken in the city at midnight with flash – the exposure is still clean.
I make this point because I would like to make it clear that you really can use this film in any light settings. The outcomes, of course, will be very different, but they still come out beautifully and if you know how to interpret and understand how the outcome of the photo will be depending on the lighting then you will really be able to utilize this film stock to its full extent.
The last key feature we’re going to look at for Delta 3200 is the sharp contrast. And whenever I think of contrast, I think of flash photography. Flash photography always allows for a more raw, sharp look that creates a more crisp feel.
Contrary to my first point on the heavy grain feel – while shooting with flash and with the intention of creating a sharper image, this film stock is also capable of creating a fine, contrasty image with all the details you are looking for. But because of the wide exposure latitude, you need to find what style you are looking for and shoot with a purpose.
Which leads me to the last point I’d like to make – this is marked on the box as a professional grade film stock, and I believe it is graded correctly. This film is more than versatile and if you are a professional you should be able to understand light and how to use light with your film stocks.
This film stock is professional. It’s not going to be easy to figure out how to manipulate everything. I encourage you to enjoy and endure then challenge!
For more sample photos using Ilford Delta 3200 professional grade black and white negative film, check out the gallery below!