The Great Preset Test

Very excited to be able to bring these to you today (forgot we even did them…)

One of these is actual Ilford HP5+, and the other is VSCO’s idea of what HP5+ should look like…adjusted by me to actually look like Ilford HP5+.


Can you pick them out?

Which one do you prefer?

One was taken on the X-H1 with 35mm f/1.4 lens (53mm equivalent) the other on the M6 with Voigtlander 40mm f/1.2 lens, and subsequently adjusted for equivalent FOV. ¬†The only thing I can’t tell you is the aperture used in each case (as I wasn’t actually paying attention…) but I think it was similar.

In any case, one was certainly a lot easier than the other…


As in:

“Naturally…if you just got a new zoom lens, the first thing you would do, is toss it on the ‘ole F100, throw in some Superia 200, and try and shoot a soccer game to see how it performed…even if the aperture didn’t work correctly on the camera, and everything had to be shot wide-open”

The Problem of Scala.

I wanted to hate these files–I really did.

(…At least be underwhelmed by them, if possible).

Truth be told, they are a massive pain.

For starters, you really can’t push Scala–It is ISO 160, and that’s the way it is.

I suppose once could tweak the first development time, but given the cost, effort, and risk involved, I’m not sure I would want to–So ISO 160 is what it shall be.

Second, Scala is rare and expensive, and the chemicals hard to come by. ¬†You can develop it in regular B&W chemistry (doing with it whatever you wish, I suppose…) but then it is just “regular ‘ole black-and-white film” and you lose the benefits of the additional silver density.

Third, development is a massive pain-in-the-rear.

The chemicals have to be mixed up immediately beforehand (five different compounds…) and do not keep. ¬†One Foma R100 kit will do EIGHT rolls. ¬†Period. ¬†(And don’t even think about trying to do more than one roll at once). ¬†Furthermore, development has to be done at precisely¬†20 degrees centigrade, and the times themselves are just. painful.

All told, the whole process takes upwards of 45 minutes, including washes.¬† Halfway through, you actually have to take the roll out, re-expose it to light in a predefined way, place it back in the tank, and continue the process. ¬†Water spots are a big issue (it must have something to do with the way the film dries…) so extra care must be taken. ¬†Finally, the chemicals have to be massively diluted for safe disposal.

Fourth; scanning is a big pain. ¬†Don’t bother with a Pakon or a Noritsu–most don’t have a “B&W Transparency” option, and it is often difficult to deactivate the intrinsic digital ICE function which usually comes along with slide film scanning. ¬†It is manual all the way here, and one should be prepared to fiddle with exposure, and multiple passes.

Finally, the main problem with Scala…

…is that afterwards, you are probably not going to want to shoot anything else.

Suddenly…there is just Agfa Scala, and pretty much every¬†other B&W film.

So with one roll down, one eaten by the dog (please don’t ask) and six to go; Suddenly every 50-cent press of the shutter becomes something to think that much more about.

So it’s simple really:

Don’t shoot it.


(Or if you do, at least know that you really don’t have to do that much with it in post…)