Customer Reviews: Ilford XP-2 Super 400 135-36 Black & White Film
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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on February 10, 2010
I have to admit I'm not shooting film the way I used to. However, when I do shoot film, I reach for Ilford XP-2, which is a black-and-white film that can be processed by "standard" C-41 processors (same as any color negative film, such as Kodak MAX, etc.). Translation: the film is black and white, but you don't have to take it to a special lab to get it developed and printed.

(I actually try to get it printed on B&W paper to avoid possible "sepia" tones; that is, on regular color paper there is sometimes an orange or green tint to the print. This is certainly not a big deal for 4x6 prints, but if you intend to enlarge and frame a nice shot, go ahead and splurge for true B&W paper.)

The film is sharp with a nice-looking fine grain structure.

Technical detail: I overexpose it by 2/3 of a stop (that is, I force the ISO to be 250 instead of 400), since it's typically much easier to correct for overexposure at printing than to make up for underexposure. (The lost wonders of film!)

I feel like this review is probably five or maybe even ten years too late, but for anyone still looking at such things, XP-2 is a great way to get your feet wet with the look and feel of black-and-white film without shelling out big(ger) bucks to get it developed in "true" B&W chemistry. Have fun while this is still available!
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on March 2, 2013
I love this film. I could go on and on about it, but this fellow does a much better job of that:

Bottom line is that it's a great B&W film that you can process on a regular color film processor at CVS, Target, Costco, etc. I highly recommend Costco who will develop a 36-exposure roll and scan at very high quality to CD for cheap.

For best results, expose to the right, meaning take care not to underexpose this film. Set your camera to ISO 200 or 250 even though the film is rated 400, and the results are really excellent.

An example shot of mine with this film:

Addendum - I tried the Kodak alternative and didn't like it as much. Seemed washed out by comparison.
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on August 13, 2012
I've used the Kodak BW400CN and XP2, and after many rolls I give the nod to XP2. Yes, the mask is slightly purple-ish. Since it's negative film, inverting the image makes the film mask light yellow. However, none of this matters since it's all removed when you convert your scan to B&W. Not sure regarding the high contrast issue, my scans need a lot of levels and contrast boost adjust in PS. I get plenty of detail, a small amount of 400 speed grain, and I like it.

Tip that I didn't invent: scan as a positive with all adjustments turned off in your scanner. Setting black and white points (or levels) with some headroom above and below is OK, but nothing else. Import to PS, then either invert or desaturate, or use monochrome setting in color channels, and adjust the saturation of each separately for results. Don't know WTH I'm talking about? Then get and read Black and White in Photoshop CS4 and Photoshop Lightroom: A complete integrated workflow solution for creating stunning monochromatic images in Photoshop CS4, Photoshop Lightroom, and beyond
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on September 11, 2012
I love this film. I have recently decided to get back to shooting film and this particular film has not disappointed yet. It is sharp and contrasty and delivers a nice mix of smooth tones for people and sharp grain structure. I have also been really happy with the ability to push this film. Shooting much higher than 400, I've gotten decent results (not amazing, but passable). I say this with the caveat, though, that I have only used a real pro lab to process and print my film, just because I am wary about what smaller labs like walgreens (just because my results from them have been kind of crappy-looking.
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on November 24, 2014
I love this film. It's C41 process, so I can get it developed anywhere.

The main feature (which some could see as a bug) is because it's color process, I got less of a black & white, and more of a dark brown & white. I actually preferred it though, as it gave the photos are certain warmth.

High quality film which yields fantastic results with no visible grain. Love it (when I have the money for it)
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on April 17, 2015
A great, forgiving, inexpensive C41 b&w. Less expensive to process than real b&w and can be processed in a mini-lab ("1 Hour Photo").

Scans well because you can use "Digital Ice" or other spot removers that don't work with silver gelatin. It also lays flat in the scanner better than the Kodaks which tend to have an arch.

Otoh, it doesn't have the grainy look of classic b&w.
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on July 22, 2013
I ordered this film to compare taken photos with it with digitally converted B&W photos. Main reason why I decided for the Ilford XP-2 film was to be able to have it developed in a regular film developer anywhere with the common C-41 color negative development process. This means that this film doesn't need to be developed with the normally needed emulsion process for B&W films. ASA 400 allows a good range of exposure times even in dark/night situations. The grain/noise is visible in photos, but I scanned the negatives and post-processed them digitally myself reducing noise and balancing contrast plus sharpness. The result can beat many of digitally converted B&W photos due to the high tonal range provided by this film which is simply amazing. In case you are into landscape/scenic photography, I recommend using a yellow filter on your lens(es), too. I will continue shooting B&W with my old film camera and this film for fun next to my modern DSLRs.
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on September 23, 2014
Color processing in a black and white film? Is this witchcraft? NO! It is Ilford science. Cheap processing for those who don't have access to B&W processing. It is fast for portraits of kids or lower lighting situations.
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on May 16, 2014
I purchased the Ilford XP2 because C-41 is the only B&W film I could have processed locally. The film was adequate but left much to be desired. There were more midtones than shadows and highlights, which would be ok if you're looking for a gray image. I just placed an order for Ilford PAN F+ ... more to follow.
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VINE VOICEon December 31, 2013
XP-2 is one of only a couple films that can be processed at normal color-film supermarket labs with monochrome results. This is convenient, but you definitely trade something for convenience's sake.

A real black and white lab can push and pull the image to get just the right results (a kind of post-processing that you lose once the prints are made), whereas this film gives you a single output, which you can't do a tremendous amount with when you use digital scans, since you only have a monochrome image file to deal with. The good news is, it's fairly high-contrast and renders details very well. For the best effect, though, I've got the feeling you might need to use color filters on your lens. I'm not an old-timey B&W shooter, so that's going to have to be a new discipline for me. The flipside, of course, is that this is cheap to use, whereas a black and white lab is quite expensive - unless you have the know-how to process it yourself.

As another reviewer mentioned, the prints I've gotten have a very cool color cast, which I personally don't find attractive, but if you scan to digital it's easily corrected.

I may use this again, but will definitely give Kodak BW400CN a try, as it can also be processed in C41 color labs. Or stick to color film, and convert digitally. Or use true black and white film. So many options!
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