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Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ilford XP2 Super

After being very pleasantly surprised by the results I got from Kodak's BW400CN film a few weeks ago I decided to put my preconceived notions about the world of C-41 B&W to the side and take a second look at what it has to offer. Something I thought I'd never do. What's next? A dSLR?

I had heard and read a lot of praise for Ilford's XP2 Super film - another C-41 B&W film wih the same apparent benefits as the Kodak equivalent (convenience and speed when it comes to developement turn-around (for people that don't process at home)) - and decided to try a roll this weekend.

So, off I went to a Ritz Camera here in San Francisco and picked up a roll for $4.99 (Note: online retailers such as Adorama carries the film for $3.49). Loaded it in my Leica M3 (fitted with a Summicron 50/2 (rigid, first version)) and took to the streets for a couple of hours of shooting. Since this was a test roll I wanted to try it out in a number of lighting situations as well as both indoors and outdoors.

It was great fun and a bit challenging for me to 'have' to finish the roll in a few hours (I can sometimes leave the same roll in a camera for a month...). But alas, I prevailed and managed to overcome the tremendous task of pressing the shutter thirty-six times within my self-alloted timeframe - and below you can see some of the photos that this resulted in (Click on any photo to see a larger version):

First shot on the roll. Cute.


Went and had lunch and ended up next to this studious girl


One more shot before hitting the streets again


Shot from the hip


Another hip shot


Last frame on the roll

Went to my local Wahlgreen's - and three hours after I bought the film I had the developed prints and negatives in my hands. Pretty impressive to someone who is used to rely on a few B&W labs and their sometimes unpredictable turn-around times.

Initial impressons based on this one roll:
- The machine prints from the XP2 Super looked much more like 'real' B&W prints compared to the Kodak BW400CN prints that had a significant green tone to them,

- The negatives were very sharp and contrasty (another 'win' for the XP2 Super when comparing to the Kodak film).
Note: I used an Olympus 35SPn when I took the roll of Kodak film (see separate post below) and my Leica M3 and Summicron 50/2 for this roll of XP2 Super so some of the discrepancy I'm seeing here could have to do with the difference in equipment used. I will put a roll of XP2 Super through my SPn as well in the coming week and see if the results are still the same.

- The negatives scanned very well and required minimum post processing.
Fairly eq
ual to the Kodak film that also excelled in this area.

Over all I am so far very impressed by Ilford's XP2 Super. This is as close to a traditional-looking B&W film I have seen come out of a C-41 minilab and I am already planning on picking up a few more rolls tomorrow. It's a Sunday...but I can still shoot and have my B&W film developed within a hour
.

Sweet.

3 Comments:

Anonymous John said...

I'll have to give C-41 BW film a try again. From what I remember in the past it's easier to scratch the film. That still the case today?

October 08, 2006 10:14 PM  
Blogger Rich Silfver said...

Not sure. It came out of Wahlgreen's minilab without a scratch and I re-scanned a couple of frames without leaving any scratches - so I hope the answer is no.

October 08, 2006 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

These are fabulous!

I've been surprised by XP2 before as well, it's a nice film and minlab prints from it are often pretty good. Contrasty and sharp, even without the use of Leica glass ;)

My favorite film is actually Fuji Neopan 1600, sometimes pushed one stop, but if speed is an issue or i'm being impatient, XP2 is a good alternative. I took a few rolls away with me over the summer because i knew there wouldn't be a lab that did real b&w on the island. A nice alternative.

October 10, 2006 8:39 AM  

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