What Ilford Film is Best for Landscape Photography? (Premium)

Image by ExpectGrainIlford films are available for pretty much any type of photographer that you can name or list. At the moment, they have the largest selection of black and white films on the market as it is pretty much all that they produce. So with that said, there’s no good reason why landscape photographers would have been left out. Many photographers shoot landscapes as a hobby and very few actually end up selling prints of their images or being commissioned for tourist reasons. The look that Ilford film can provide is one that’s quite interesting. There are tons of photographers out there who shoot digital and simply try to create keystoned HDR photos. But that’s not really what film does.

So with that said we’re going to go down the path and figure out what films are perhaps most recommended for landscape photographers.

What Do Landscape Photographers Need?

So what do landscape photographers typically need? Well, while there are surely a whole lot of us who love to simply go about and shoot handheld with little to no other weight on us, the majority of photographers who still take it absolutely seriously do things the tried and true way. These photographers use sturdy tripods, lens filters, low ISOs, get to a location at the right time around sunset or sunrise, and more or less throw away all the great things that digital photography offer–even if they happen to use digital cameras. They’d rather work on getting the perfect image in-camera rather than in post-production. So when you’re using film, we’re pretty sure that you’re going to strive to do the same thing. Look at the landscape photos of so many photographers out there and they’re working to get the deepest depth of field that they possibly can at the lowest ISO that they can shoot for.

And so we’re taking a good look at some of the low ISO films from Ilford.

The Films

Ilford FP4 125

Photo by Nicolas Vigier

Ilford FP4 125 film is an interesting film that when shot, brings out more details from the shadows inherently in comparison to many other films. It’s more or less the opposite of Agfa APX 400–it’s slower and Agfa tends to get more details from the highlights so you can overexpose it. With Ilford FP4, you’ll want to meter somewhere in between the highlights and the midtones. You’re going to get the shadows for sure. Ilford FP4 is available in 35mm, 120, and large format emulsions too–so you can go get it no matter what sort of camera you work with. Landscape photographers using a film like Ilford FP4 will enjoy the fact that they’re going to be able to get an image with a lot of details and something that can deliver details in both the highlights and the shadows with relative ease. When working with the film, it’s perhaps best to look for a scene with a fair amount of contrast and even look specifically for clouds in the sky.

Image by Simon Paterson

Of any of the films on this list, Ilford FP4 is one of my favorite options.

Ilford Pan F 50

Image by Nicolas Vigier

Ilford Pan F 50 should be thought of as a chrome film. It’s range isn’t that crazy, but it can deliver a whole heck of a lot of detail and deliver some beautiful photos. Think about Fujifilm Velvia. You know how when you look at a photo, it’s usually done with a very slow shutter speed and the images are incredibly saturated? Well, Ilford Pan F 50 is a black and white film so you’re not going to get those deeply wet colors that Velvia will deliver. But you’ll find a lot of great details and a lot of contrast. Many photographers tend to love the look of high contrast film. However, you’ll probably still want to use ND filters to get more out of the sky and let the film’s natural abilities give you a high contrast image.

Ilford recommends that this film be used with either a lot of natural light but also does well in controlled lighting environments. It’s also great for enlargements since it’s just so incredibly well detailed.

Ilford SFX 200

Image by Alessio Maffeis

Ilford SFX 200 is a very special film. It’s well distinguished because of the fact that most of their boxes come with a white packaging but this is the only film with a black packaging. If you know anything about Ilford, then that may stick out to you. Ilford SFX 200 has an extended red sensitivity range, and so it’s well used at ISO 200 and with creative lens filters. Many photographers love using blue, orange, yellow, and green filters with their film to get a different and unique look. When you use it with filters, it’s said that you’re going to get dramatic effects. According to Ilford:

“When used with a deep red filter, SFX 200 renders blue skies almost black and green vegetation almost white to create a stunning infra-red look to your shots.”