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  • Writer's pictureDean Gagliardi

Street (Film B&W) - Nikon F100 / Ilford XP2 Super 400

Updated: Aug 24, 2020


Date - July 18, 2020

Camera - Nikon F100

Lenses - Tamron 35/1.8 VC, Tamron 45/1.8 VC & Tamron 85/1.8 VC

Film - Ilford XP2 Super 400 (B&W C41)

Developed @ - "Dotwell" PhotoLab

Scanner - Nikon V-ED

Software - Vuescan / NegativeLabPro / Lightroom

Location - Hong Kong (SoHo/Central Area)

Comment - Whoa! How did I not know this film existed? 

Ilford XP2 400 Super isn't your usual B&W film; in fact, it's completely different from any other B&W film stock on the market. As far as monochrome films go, this is the only one that's able to be developed in standard C41 colour chemicals. Technically it is a colour film. As a result, there's no waiting around for 3-4 days for this chromogenic film to come back from some specialised B&W developing lab. You can drop this off at any standard lab and pick up the negs in 30 mins (here in Hong Kong you can anyway😍). Just like colour. 

OK, this is no Tri-X 400 in terms of having its sexy grain structure, or it's timeless vintage character, but there's a lot to like about it. For one thing, it's a whole lot easier to scan than other B&W films, and being technically a colour film, it's fully compatible with the Nikon VE-D scanner's Digital ICE scratch removal technology

Since it was my first time shooting this film, I shot it at its box speed of 400. At 400, the contrast seems relatively high but smooth and the grain pretty fine. I'd imagine this film would have some decent latitude in terms of shooting speed with the grain and contrast getting more pronounced as you underexpose it. Conversely, it would be probably less contrasty, and the grain would become even finer when overexposing it. Lot's to experiminet with.

It looks like Ilford's XP2 wasn't the only chromogenic B&W film around. For a while, Kodak was producing BW400CN, and Fujifilm had Neopan 400CN available. Sadly, like many films, neither exist anymore.

I do know why I've never come across this film before; it's because the last time I was shooting B&W was between 2014 & 2017 and 99% of the time it was Kodak Tri-X 400. I must have shot around 100 rolls a year and developed the negs myself at home. Tri-X 400 was the film. I think even if I had of known about XP2 400 back then, I probably would never have shot it anyway.

The thought of developing B&W again does cross my mind a bit lately, but the idea quickly evaporates thinking about all the hassle involved. Sure, it's a satisfying experience, but still a hassle. Maybe at some point I'll change my mind, but for now, I'm glad XP2 exists, and I'll keep on shooting this unique film.




Click to enlarge.

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