How to choose a film from Ilford Photo

Photos by Tomas Wikers | @tomaswikers


Ilford Photo offer the world’s most comprehensive range of black & white films covering a variety of formats, speeds and applications.


Crash course in film photography for beginners

Film type
The ‘type’ of film you need will be determined by the camera that you are using.
Ilford Photo produce films in 35mm (135), 120 roll (medium format) and sheet film (large format). See for product availability and sheet film options.

Film speed
Film speed or ISO is the measure of the film’s sensitivity to light. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive to light the film is i.e. ISO 50 is a slower film than ISO 400. The amount of available light (either natural or created) will determine which speed you should be using. If light is limited, then a fast speed is best to keep things sharp. If there is plentiful light you can use a slower speed. As a general rule the slower speed films have a finer grain structure (when used at their recommended ISO).

Range comparison

Most Ilford films fall into two distinct ranges: PLUS films (FP4 PLUS, HP5 PLUS and PAN F PLUS) and DELTA PROFESSIONAL films (DELTA 100, DELTA 400 and DELTA 3200).
DELTA PROFESSIONAL films use the latest film emulsion technology which give them the advantage of a lower grain to speed ratio. This means that you get less grain at the equivalent speed when compared to PLUS films presenting a marginally cleaner, sharper look.

However, PLUS films, which use an established emulsion technology, have more exposure latitude than DELTA films. This makes them better for push and pull processing. They are also less sensitive to over processing making them ideal for people getting started in film photography.

There is no right or wrong choice when choosing between DELTA PROFESSIONAL and PLUS films. Both are professional quality ranges with the fundamental differences down to the available speeds, exposure latitude and the look of the grain structure.


1. Film range: Plus

Pan F Plus
A high contrast, super sharp black & white film with very fine grain. Ideal for studio photography and shooting in bright, natural light. Available in: 35mm, 120 roll and 30,5m lengths.

  • Slow speed ISO 50
  • Exceptionally fine grain
  • Outstanding resolution & sharpness

FP4 Plus
An all-purpose black & white film with fine grain, medium contrast and outstanding sharpness. Ideal for most shooting scenarios in good light conditions. Available in: 35mm (both 24 & 36 frames), 120 roll, sheet film, 35mm bulk length and 35mm pro pack 50 (both 24 & 36 frames)

  • Medium speed ISO 125
  • Fine grain, high sharpness

HP5 Plus
A medium contrast, all-purpose black & white film. Ideal for action, documentary, travel, street and available light photography. Available in: 35mm (both 24 & 36 frames), 120 roll, sheet film, 35mm bulk length and 35mm pro pack 50 (both 24 & 36 frames) and Single Use Camera.

  • High speed ISO 400
  • Great results in varied lighting conditions
  • Wide exposure latitude

2. Film range: Delta

Delta 100 Professional
Medium speed, exceptionally fine grain, black & white film. Ideal for capturing maximum detail and sharpness. Available in: 35mm (both 24 & 36 frames), 120 roll, sheet film and 30,5m bulk length.

  • Medium speed ISO 100
  • Superb image quality and fine grain
  • Core-Shell™ crystal technology

Delta 400 Professional
High speed, fine grain, black & white film designed to produce images with depth and detail. Available in: 35mm (both 24 & 36 frames), 120 roll and 35mm bulk length.

  • High speed ISO 400
  • Maximum sharpness and detail
  • Core-Shell™ crystal technology

Delta 3200 Professional
Exceptionally high-speed black & white film. Ideal for fast action and low light photography. Available in: 35mm and 120 roll.

  • Ultra-high speed EI 3200
  • Core-Shell™ crystal technology

3. Film range: Specialist

Ilford Photo produce specialist films that have unique characteristics.

XP2 Super 400
Fine grain, highly versatile black & white film that can be processed in C41 chemistry. Can be shot at different speeds between ISO 50 and 800 on the same roll and processed as standard. Available in: 35mm (both 24 & 36 frames), 120 roll, 35mm bulk length and Single Use Camera.

  • High speed ISO 400
  • B&W film using colour C41 processing
  • Wide exposure latitude and well-defined highlights

SFX 200
Medium speed, black & white film with extended red sensitivity for creative photographic applications. Available in: 35mm & 120 roll.

  • Medium speed ISO 200
  • Use with filters for creative effects
  • When coupled with a deep red filter it can produce infra-red style images

Ortho Copy Plus
Medium speed, black & white fine grain sheet film. Ideal for studio photography, continuous tone copying, medical and forensic applications. Available in: Sheet film.

  • Medium speed ISO 80
  • Fine grain, orthochromatic film

4. Film range: Kentmere

The Kentmere brand, which includes the Kentmere 100 and 400 black & white films, is owned and manufactured by HARMAN technology. These films benefit from the same rigorous production and quality control processes as all Ilford Photo films.
Kentmere films are a great starting point for students or anyone learning film photography, before stepping up to ILFORD films.

Kentmere 100
Medium speed black & white film. Suitable for most applications in good lighting conditions. Available in: 35mm (both 24 & 36 frames) and 30,5m bulk length.

  • Medium speed ISO 100
  • Fine grain and good sharpness
  • Broad tonal range

Kentmere 400
All purpose, high speed, black & white film. A smart choice for beginners and those returning to film. Available in: 35mm (both 24 & 36 frames) and 30,5m bulk length.

  • Medium speed ISO 400
  • Fine grain and good sharpness
  • Wide exposure latitude

Ilford Photo film at a glance

Photo: Tomas Wikers

Ilford Photo

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