Why I Like Ilford Film

Just a quick note today – regarding something that I’ve wondered about for many years. I should also say that I love Kodak’s color films. I shoot Portra 400 quite a bit (in both 160 and 400 ISO). Before it was discontinued, I shot more Kodachrome than anything else. But for black and white film, my opinions are quite different, but maybe not for the conventional reasons.

Since college (back in the 1970’s) I’ve been shooting Ilford film instead of Kodak for black and white photography. It’s not that I don’t like the tonal qualities or the overall images produced by films like Tri-X. In fact, I can’t really say HP5 produces better images than Tri-X. The main thing I like about Ilford (HP5 & FP4) films is that I can roll it on my developing reels with far less problems than I encounter with Tri-X (for 35mm film – with 120 size film, I don’t have issues). The only reason I can figure for this difference, is that maybe Ilford’s film base (plastic) is slightly stiffer, or slightly thicker, than the plastic Kodak uses. Maybe I’ve used it so much that my fingers are just used to the slightly different feel of Ilford film.

I wonder if anyone else has ever encountered this phenomenon… or found it easier to roll one brand of film as opposed to another. It’s funny, but sometimes there are factors that impact our decisions about something – and it’s not directly related to what we might think. When I talk about using one film over another, people usually expect an image quality reason. That’s not always the case – especially when you’re developing it too.