If there is one film out there that I have disliked the most but have had a radical change of viewpoints Delta 400 is that film. Like TMax 400, I just find Delta 400 too modern, and boring. It’s not a bad film; it’s just not exciting. It gives you a film that is almost equal in performance as TMax 400. And while I’ve found that the film isn’t bad, it just needs better development in many cases. While some people have managed to tame the film, I do have found through Delta Def Jam; it’s a great choice if you can’t get your hands on TMax 400.
Type: Panchromatic B&W
Film Base: Acetate
Film Speed: ASA-400, Latitude: 100-3200
Formats Avaliable: 35mm, 120, Sheets
Roll 01 – Kodak HC-110
I don’t think HC-110 has ever steered me wrong and I do have the Delta Def Jam event to thank for this one as it was here I discovered what I could get out of Delta 400. With HC-110 you get the rich tones and smooth grain. While you do lose a touch of sharpness, it isn’t much to worry about. As for contrast, that’s easily controlled by increasing or decreasing the dilution, but for me, it’s right to perfect at Dilution B.
Hasselblad 500c – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-400
Kodak HC-110 Dil. B 7:30 @ 20C
Roll 02 – Ilford DD-X
While I’ve been using TMax developer and it does work well with Delta 400, I decided to switch over to DD-X the Ilford equivalent for the Delta films. DD-X is probably the best choice for this film using the 1+4 dilution as standard you see the full power of the modern T-Grain, good tones, sharpness, and decent grain control. While you do see an uptick in grain, it really isn’t too bad once you get into the larger formats. Also, make sure your camera’s exposure is dead on, or else you’ll get some terrible results.
Rolleiflex 2.8F – Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm 1:2.8 – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-400
Ilford DD-X (1+4) 8:00 @ 20C
Roll 03 – Kodak D-76
To be perfectly honest this was the singular roll I shot for this review that I was the most concerned about. I had a rough time the last roll of Delta 400 I had shot in 35mm. But this time around I remained pleasantly surprised. Like TMax 400, Delta 400 responds wonderfully to D-76, and even in 35mm you get a moderate contrast, I would like a little bit more. But you have the sharpness and modern look of the film. While I do notice an uptick in grain, I was expecting this when I pulled the negatives out, but you do get a sharp image at the same time, so it’s a worthwhile trade-off. That being said I do prefer Delta 400 in the older D-23 over D-76.
Nikon FE – AI Nikkor 28mm 1:3.5 – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-400
Kodak D-76 (Stock) 9:30 @ 20C
Roll 04 – Pyrocat-HD
I had originally planned to use Pyrocat-HD with one of the Delta Def Jam entries but instead ended up using Kodak D-23. And you know, the wait was worth it. While Pyrocat-HD is based on some of the oldest developers out there, it works wonders on modern films. Giving you a clean, almost grainless look, sharp images, and amazing tones and contrast. Plus it almost gives the film a classic look about it.
Mamiya m645 – Mamiya-Sekor C 35mm 1:3.5 C – Ilford Delta 400 @ ASA-32
Pyrocat-HD (1+1+100) 16:00 @ 20C
So where does that leave us? Well, I can’t say I’ve been won over with modern films, but it certainly does give me one more type of film to shoot in a pinch when I can’t always get the ones I want. And certainly, if I can’t get my hands on TMax 400, I can get the same results with Delta 400 and I would give the edge to Delta 400 over the Kodak film stock. And for me, that’s saying something. Plus overall, it’s just a bit more exciting than TMax 400 in my view.