ILFORD Delta 400 Professional is a 400 ISO black and white film. It offers exceptional sharpness and the finest grain, thanks to its improved emulsion with Core-Shell technology.
Designed to produce images with extraordinary depth and detail, its speed makes it an ideal film for situations where scene brightness is low, as well as for situations where the subject is in motion.
Although the best results from this emulsion are obtained by shooting at ISO 400, outstanding results can also be obtained by shooting in an exposure range of ISO 200 to 1600.
While Ilford has been around since the late 19th century and has films still in production from before the war, Delta 400 is a relatively recent film.
First released in the early 1990s and reformulated once since then, it can’t boast the long history of some of its siblings. But that’s no bad thing. What we are looking for is how it differs from them, and it does so in its modernity.
The entire Ilford Delta range (there are ISO 100 and 3200 versions, plus this 400) uses a more contemporary emulsion design than the Plus range, which includes FP4, HP5 and PAN F. We stress this because it’s what Ilford says.
Ilford Plus films have a conventional grain structure, like most films on the market. However, the Deltas use a tabular grain technology that makes them slightly different. This has to do with the structure of the silver halide crystals in the film emulsion.
In visual terms, the smaller, rounded crystals of conventional grain films might resemble grains of sand on a beach, while the larger, flatter crystals of tabular grain films might look more like a well-tiled bathroom floor.
The abbreviated term T-grain has become something of a catch-all to describe any tabular grain film, but this is like calling any hoover a Dyson. T-grain is what Kodak called its own tabular grain technology, which means that the only real T-grain films, technically speaking, are T-MAX.
Ilford’s Delta films, which were released in response to Kodak’s T-MAX range, use their own Core-Shell crystal growth technology which, in addition to being their own branded term, is apparently not the same as T-grain.
This is the technical answer to the question of what differentiates Delta 400 from Ilford’s other ISO 400 films. It is its tabular grain. But it doesn’t address how it affects the results you get. But fear not, as we’ll cover that in the next section.
ILFORD DELTA 400 IMAGE QUALITY
The idea behind developing tabular grain films was to achieve lower grain while maintaining higher speeds. So, in theory, Delta 400 should have less grain than HP5 Plus or XP2 Super.
According to Ilford in this Delta 400 vs HP5 Plus review, the flatness of Core-Shell crystals enhances their light sensitivity properties to ensure that maximum detail in highlights and shadows is captured.
This in turn means you can expect your images to have exceptional sharpness and a cleaner look, as well as a more uniform and finer grain structure. We’re paraphrasing, some of those words are theirs, not ours.
And compared to the HP5 Plus roll we’ve used many times, they don’t seem to lie. The results were certainly cleaner and with less grain. When the light was right, the contrast was also quite good. Probably much better than the Ilford XP2 Super.
Whether this is all good or not depends on the photographer and also on what is being photographed. The Delta 400 might be better for portraits and weddings, while other films might be preferable for street photography, for example.
There’s not much more I can say about image quality and qualities that can’t be better shown with real photographs, so here are three of them.
STREET PHOTOGRAPHY WITH DELTA 400
An ISO 400 monochrome film seems perfect for street photography, but whether Ilford Delta 400 is going to be a good choice for yours is again likely to come down to personal taste and preference. Although we suppose that’s true for most film in its own way.
We don’t mind little grain when shooting and we also like some sharpness with that cleanliness, so Delta 400 shouldn’t be too far off what we’d be looking for. As said before, contrast is also decent when the light is right.
It’s not a terrible film for street photography and has some good points compared to others. However, it also has some disadvantages to consider.
If you compare it to the Ilford Pan F, for example, Delta’s fine grain is very noticeable, which for us is a good thing. But if you compare it with the HP5 Plus, you will notice that it has a grittier look, which you might prefer for street photography.
ILFORD DELTA 400 SPECIFICATIONS
Delta 400 is an ISO 400 tabular grain monochrome film that is available in 35mm and 120 formats. The 35mm cartridges are coded DX with the number 017524.
It has been created using Core-Shell emulsion, which is what Ilford calls its tabular grain technology. The manufacturer also claims that Delta 400 delivers great results when shooting anywhere between ISO 200 and ISO 3200.
However, being a tabular grain film, and perhaps conversely to the latter information, one should expect it to have less exposure latitude than conventional grain films. This makes it less conducive to “Push”. Related to this, some people claim that reflections are easier to remove.
The Delta 400 can be processed in a wide range of different developers using deep tanks, spiral tanks and automatic processors, although Ilford gave the following advice when comparing the development with that of the conventional grain HP5 Plus.
Firstly, the choice of developer is more important for tabular grain films, so choose something like Ilford’s DDX, which is designed for the job, and processing should be more accurate than with the Ilford Plus range.
Secondly, Delta films have longer fix times than their Plus counterparts, and correct exposure when shooting is also more important, as you have less leeway for under- or over-exposed shots and less room for error with processing accuracy.
That said, they also claim that when everything is done right, the negatives are slightly easier to print than conventional film. Although we feel that the process of developing it makes it relatively difficult, compared to the ease of sending it to a lab, we feel it is worth it, even more so considering our development prices and our discounts when you take the development along with the film.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE DELTA 400
I think Ilford themselves hit the nail on the head in this post about their Delta range versus their Plus range when they said that there is no right or wrong choice when deciding between them.
They go on to say that they are both professional quality and that the differences come down to the speeds available, exposure latitude and grain appearance.
This means that whether you will like the Delta 400 or not comes down to a combination of personal preference with how you want your results to look and, of course, the style and subject matter you are shooting.
To bring it all full circle, this illustrates how a company like Ilford can produce a series of films that look similar when you look only at their box – ISO 400, monochrome – and make them so different that they are worthwhile.
Sometimes I fancy an espresso, sometimes a double espresso and sometimes a grande americano. They are all black coffees. They all have at least one espresso. But they all have different purposes.
And also… We can develop your negatives (And at a discount!*)
At Visualkorner we are specialists in analogue development for all types of formats. For every film you buy in our shop (physical and online) you will receive a 25% discount voucher so that you can bring the film to be developed and make copies or scan the negatives and receive your photographs by WeTransfer.
The discount voucher will be sent to you by email once you have made your purchase or will be given to you in the shop when you come to collect the film and you will be able to have your photographs as soon as possible.
Consult our prices in more detail in our catalogue
In Visualkorner we offer our customers the widest range of products for analogue photography, we strive to always maintain a constant stock of film and a price as tight as possible taking into account the monopoly present in the film industry, this is part of our commitment to art.
We also offer a wide range of chemicals for black and white development and as always we offer you the highest quality in the development of your negatives and in the photofinishing. We are a Hahnemühle certified laboratory (Certification No.: 169197) which proves our excellence in printing your photographs.
We also make shippings all around Europe, Contact us if you want to know more about our International shipping methods.
International shipping (All around Europe) +€5 more, free shipping from €250