How to Shoot Ilford HP5

How to shoot Ilford HP5. Oh this amazing film stock. It’s constantly the go-to black and white film for photographers all over the world. In part because it’s simply gorgeous but also because it’s so versatile! HP5 became my favorite starting the beginning of this year. When I started my Year with Olympus and Ilford project, I shot roll after roll of 35mm and fell it love. I even love 120mm in my Holga.

Ilford HP5 does well when you push the film but it also does well when you shoot it at a different speed but develop at box speed. I’ll show you some examples.

Ilford HP5 Shot At Box Speed (400 ISO)

As you can see it performs well under natural light (these were shoot around noon in January). However when shot indoors, it provides some gorgeous moody tones.

indoor photo of Ilford HP5 at box speed

Ilford HP5 Shot at 320 ISO (developed at 400)

So for these photos, I set my meter to 320 ISO, but developed it at 400 ISO. I told my camera there is more light than there really was. The different isn’t drastic, because there wasn’t a drastic change in the ISO from 400 to 320, but I love it. The details seem to pop more.


Ilford HP5 Shot at 500 ISO (developed at 400)

With these, I metered my film at 500, but developed it at 400. Again, the difference isn’t drastic, but there is a difference. Not a lot of white - more gray. Look at the sky in the first photo and my daughter’s cheeks in the second photo. Those should be closer to white, but they are definitely a light to medium gray. We seem to lose some of the details (since there isn’t a lot of white).


Pushing HP5 to 800 and 1600

Pushing your film allows you to shoot an entire roll at a different speed AND develop it at that speed. For example, HP5 is a 400 ISO film. So if you had lower light situation, you could shoot the entire roll at 800 ISO or 1600 ISO or even 3200 ISO. Keep in mind you need to tell your lab that you pushed it and to what speed so they can develop it correctly. Pushing film will allow you to shoot an entire roll at a different film speed and add gorgeous film grain to your images. These images below were shot at 800 and 1600 ISO, respectfully.

Ilford HP5 pushed to 800 ISO

Ilford HP5 pushed to 800 ISO

Ilford HP5 pushed to 1600 ISO

Ilford HP5 pushed to 1600 ISO


Do you have any questions about shooting HP5? Or tips? I’d love to hear them - leave them in the comment section below!