The Quest to Get Ilford HP5+ 11x14 Large Format Film Figured Out
I have an update at the bottom of this article after six years of using HP5+ film.
In the past, I haven't really cared for HP5+ in 120 roll film, so I hope my opinion is different for the large format sheet film.
Hopefully, it is a blessing in disguise because being able to do 11x14 sheet film at ISO of 1600 or would be pretty incredible!
With a typical aperture setting of F/45 minimum on 11x14 and likely F/64, F/128 the extra speed would be nice on certain landscapes (leaves blowing in trees).
I will be taking the new camera out this weekend and my plan is to expose a few sheets of HP5+ in addition to some Ilford Harman Direct Positive Black and White paper, and some RC Multigrade IV as a paper negative. I have two holders, so I will probably expose two sheets of direct positive paper (more difficult to get right) and the other two will be HP5+ and the paper negative. This is easy to do while the camera is setup.
My goal is to be able to develop the 11x14 sheet film in my mobile darkroom in my van while I am in the field. I keep a small Jobo CPE2 unit that can develop up to 11x14 sheet film with me. I already do the direct positive paper and the paper negatives mobile.
The CPE2 only has two speeds (1 and 2) and my plan is to use the slower speed that seems like it would have similar agitation to my tray development procedure where I shuffle the films and agitate the tray.
For this weekend, based on an educated guess, I am going to start with the parameters noted below and see what happens. I don't have time before then to do proper testing, which I will eventually do with 4x5 sheet film and a densitometer to dial in my EI and respective development times for N, N+ and N-. I suspect they will likely come out just fine.
I am going to experiment a little because HP5+ is a low contrast film and in a previous test I found it to have an incredible 18 stop dynamic range. I will develop the first sheet at my suspected N time for 9.5 min. Then I will develop the same scene on the second sheet of film for 11.5 min (20% increase) and make contact prints of both to see which I like better.
I will be using the same reciprocity times as I do for FP4+.
I can say with total confidence that HP5 has become my standard film for 11x14 and frequently with 8x10 as well. I also use FP4 for platinum printing because it is a higher contrast film. However, I have figured out how to expose and develop HP5 for platinum printing too and combine that with a restrainer in my platinum developer.
I would highly recommend both HP5 and FP4 for large format photographers no matter what your genre and style of photography is. With proper testing and a lot of field experience, you can effectively shape both of these films to just about anything you need. I tend to use HP5 when I am in a higher contrast scene and need to dial that back a little and FP4 in lower contrast scenes when you need to add some contrast.
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Keywords: 11x14 large format, analog photography, black and white, chamonix, darkroom, film, fine art, ilford, kodak, landscape, large format, nature, photography
I can't wait to read about the results you'll obtain with your testing!
Hi Richard, thanks for the follow-up info. I assumed 20C, but I guessed you were rating your film at EI250, so thanks for that info. I am going to expose some test 4x5 sheets today, so I will give your EI 400 and Rodinal 1:25 at 8 min at 20C a try. Then I will be doing the proper densitometer testing next week. I will be developing in my Jobo CPP-2 and using Speed F by the way.
Please, publish your HP5/Rodinal results when you get a chance. I failed
to mention that I rate HP5 at E.I. 400 and develop at 68F (20C). I think you
will like the high acutance of Rodinal on 11x14 HP5, since the grain of a
non-solvent developer is not an issue with 4x5 and larger formats. My
11x14 HP5 negatives look very sharp when developed with 1:25 Rodinal.
Keep up the good work!
Hi Richard, thanks for your comment. I finally got around to properly testing HP5+ with my densitometer and here is what I found. For HP5+ in D76 1:1, my N development time for silver gelatin prints is 9:00 at 20C in my Jobo CPP-2 at speed F. For my Pt prints, I used my N+1 time of 11:30 and I am getting good results. I really like Rodinal and use it for my X-Ray film. will be trying it with HP5 this next week to see if I like the prints better. My plan is to also use 1:25 at 20C at EI 250. I will be doing proper film tests so I can fully utilize the zone system. I am beginning to warm up to HP5...
I was underwhelmed by HP5 when I was developing it according to
Ilford's box recommendation and the Massive Developing Chart's,
for 1:25 Rodinal. The negatives lacked contrast. Then one day I
decided to put one 11x14 HP5 negative in a 2840 Jobo Print Drum.
I added 15% to the recommended 6 minutes (54 secs.) plus an extra
stop for my N+1 (54 more secs.) and rotated the drum for 8 minutes
of continuous unidirectional spinning with 1:25 Rodinal, and the results
were stunning. I fixed with TF4 for 7 minutes and magenta stain was
completely removed. Now I love HP5!
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