Sunday, June 04, 2017

Monochrome C-41 - Ilford XP2

A decade ago, if you wanted to shoot b&w with a C-41 film, we had several choices -- there was one from Konica, one from Kodak, and one from Ilford.  Kodak's version had an orange mask like most C-41 films, but Konica's and Ilford's did not (the orange mask made conventional b&w prints more challenging, but I did get good results).  The reasons why someone would want to shoot C-41 b&w are simple -- at the time, it was easily processed by any one-hour lab and did not require any special treatment.  The films were quite good, and I felt that the tonal scale was excellent, especially the Kodak's many iterations of its C-41 B&W. Now, Ilford is the only manufacturer of a C-41 b&w film.  Years ago, I shot XP-1 that was already about a decade expired, and was astonished at how good the results were.  I have shot XP-2 a few times over the years, and found it often was better at an ISO of 320.  Last year, I exchanged a bulk roll of Tri-X for a 10 pack of XP-2, as I wasn't using Tri-X any more.  The XP2 film was a bit expired, and I have been shooting it a bit.  Now that I am doing my own C-41 developing, it's certainly worth noting that it's as easy as any color C-41 film to work with.  Of course, if you wish, you can develop it in b&w chemistry, too, but I have not tried it.  The neutral gray mask allows easier darkroom printing.  Best of all, it scans beautifully, too.   If you are new to film shooting, and want to try b&w, XP2 is a good choice.

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