Ilford XP2 Super C41 chromagenic film - comments please? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi all,

I would like any user comments on Ilford XP2 Super C41 chromagenic film. I know this film is not available in 4x5 but I was wondering if anyone has used this in 120?

It is supposed to scan well and apparently has exceptionally fine grain with the more exposure it gets. Highlights as supposed to show pure graduations of tone with little or no grain. Is this true?

How does it print, printed traditionally?

Any and all comments and suggestions are welcome.


Kind regards

Peter Brown

-- Some days you are the bug - some days you're the windscreen!

-- Peter L Brown (, January 15, 2002


I used this film mostly at higher speeds in 35mm format. It is excellent in contrasty lights, like concerts and theatre. It also pushes well. Grain is very small but not among the sharpest. I print it normally on multigrade paper with excellent results, but it prints different from ordinary b&w films. You just have to get used to it. Regards,

-- janez pelko (, January 15, 2002.

I second Janez's comments. For making large prints from 120, I find T-max 100 and/or Tech Pan much better in 120 sizes.

-- Gene Crumpler (, January 15, 2002.


I have used XP2 Super in 120 size when I did not have time to process film myself, and figured that lab processing the chromogenic film was more palatable to me than standard black and white.

Grain is extremely fine. Tonality is different than with standard black and white film. It is hard to explain how it is different, but I think you will see it if you expose a roll, especially if you expose a roll of HP5+ alongside it. To give you an idea of what I mean, my favorite image with this film is of a small island in the center of a pond, taken early in the morning with lots of fog, and the sunrise just starting to peer through the cloud cover. It just worked great for that image. XP2 Super is not very contrasty, and you can't do any post-processing procedures on it, such as selenium toning, or chromium intensification.

This is entirely subjective, but I think XP2 Super is sharper than T-Max 400CN, and better for working in the traditional darkroom. The color is closer to what you are used to with standard films. The Kodak version has an orange base, like a color film. Perhaps it is psychological, but I just don't like that orange base.

Try pairing XP2 Super with Ilford MGIV or Oriental VC paper. One great application for this film is portraiture. The chromogenic films are becoming very popular in the U.S. for weddings. The tonal gradation is flattering for photos of people, and the wide latitude makes it perfect for weddings -- you will get detail in the black tuxedo and the white dress.

I have done some architecture with it. Not bad, but neither XP2 Super nor T-Max 400CN have the acutance of a standard black and white film. For what its worth, my favorite black and white film for architecture is HP5+. However, if you have a very contrasty scene, the XP2 Super could be a good choice.

-- Dave Karp (, January 15, 2002.

I agree with most of the above. The grain (such as it is) is very fine, but "mushy". This film has very smooth tonal gradations, handles highlights very well, but seems to have very little edge effects. (High resolution but low apparent acutance - "fine" but not "sharp".) All of this adds up to a film that is (in my opinion) wonderful for most portraits and other "soft" scenes, but not the best for most landscapes and architecture. This is based on my experience with XP-1, XP-2, & XP-2 Super in 35mm and 120. It used to be available in 4x5 (maybe it still is?) but I've never tried it in sheet film. It's definitely worth a try.


-- Mark Parsons (, January 15, 2002.

I have found XP2super to be an excellent film when down rated to 200 or 100 ei for a wide range of subjects. Maintains good highlight as well as shadow detail. I agree it may not be as sharp as Delta 100 or Acros, but I find the graduation between tones to be pleasing for porraits. It also prints well with traditional materials, that latitude in ei gives you a lot of options on how to interpret the neg.

-- James Chinn (, January 15, 2002.

Thanks for all your responses,

The consensus seems to be that it is worth using for portraits or subjects where the "softness" will help the subject or at least not detract from it.

It sounds like it may be worth giving it a try for some portraiture.

Kind regards

Peter Brown

-- Peter L Brown (, January 15, 2002.

Very small grain, alright, but not very sharp. Too mushy for my taste, so I am not using it anymore.

-- Andreas Carl (, January 15, 2002.

Chromogenic B+W Film does not have grain at all. Like every normal color film, chromogenic film builds dye clouds in the color developer. All the silver grain is removed in the bleachfix. Those dye clouds are more fuzzy than conventional silver grain and do not benefit from condensor heads in the same way.

Since chromogenic B+W film resembles color negative film in many ways, it has less long term stability, too.

-- Thilo Schmid (, January 16, 2002.

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