Shooting Film: Illford 3200

Shooting Film: Illford 3200

One thing I love about shooting film is that I continue to expand my knowledge and continue to learn more about photography.  When I went to Kamakura last weekend with my friend David he brought me a roll of Illford 3200.     An incredibly fast film.   It has lots of grain and you need to find the environment that it works best.  David was saying it works best when you have single light sources like a club where it is dark with light on a musician on a stage.    I think that proved true in the images I took.   I expected grainy but this is more noisy that expected.

At first I thought this was how the film should look but based on what others are saying it seems they overexposed it a bit during the processing.  As I improved my skill in scanning I think the images were actually processed OK.  Labs often overexpose film 1 stop on the CD to ready the images for printing.  Normally that works well but in the case of Ilford 3200 it just completely blows the grain out making it unattractive.

I think I’ll pick up a few more rolls and find a Jazz Club to try this out in…

Today’s configuration: Leica M6-J, Summicron 50mm, yellow filter, Illford 3200

Shibuya Station

Shibuya Izakaya

Mamiya 645

Me in the mirror

Thanks for stopping by today…


  • Alfie Goodrich

    Dave, by the looks of this I’d say you were stiffed on the processing. Grain is horrible. TMAX 3200 always gave better results than this and the Ilford should too, if processed properly. If you don’t know how to do it and want to learn, very happy to show you how to dev it yourself. TMAX I pushed to 50,000 ISO and at 12500 ISO it was giving me grain on the par with what you have here. :-)

  • Jim Donahue

    If this is the result you were shooting for, then you have shot well.

  • Susheel Chandradhas

    Dave, Alfie, Do you guys still get film / ready-made developer there? We seem to have run out of it in Chennai.

  • Dave

    Thanks for the feedback Alfie. I had no idea what it should look like at 3200. I thought they looked overly grainy but didn’t know…

  • Dave

    Susheel – You can get film easily in Tokyo.

  • Dieter Fröhling

    Well. Grainy as i remember my last roll of Ilford 3200. Had it in ID-11. Good. For press usage.

    Should be black where no light is…. Hmmm.

  • David Runacres

    I need to teach you a couple of tricks with Lightroom to make scans work a little better. The blacks – as someone else has noted – are not really black here. I suggest we both get the Noctiluxes out with some of this film soon one evening.

  • Dave

    I look forward to absorbing your film wisdom David…I tried to play around with them in Lightroom but couldn’t get it to look much better. I don’t have experience with this film so I figured it was just really grainy like this.

    Check out David’s awesome film shots.

  • Benjamin B

    This film is a weird one in my view. I once bought two rolls, to be developed in Parodinal. The first one was a test roll; I found it underexposed at ISO 3200, underexposed at 1000, and just about OK at 1600. Now I have to find a reason to use that 120 roll in the Yashica D…

  • Matthew Lamb

    Have you tried shooting it at 1600 and developing that as well?

  • Dave

    Matthew – I haven’t. It is my first time shooting that film. Do you have better luck at 1600?

  • David Runacres

    Dave – as Alfie notes, the grain is objectionable for this kind of film. There could be some reasons – 1. This film MAY have been X-rayed when it came over to Japan or 2. The processing was simply off in some way, I have another roll in my F6 right now and we can see how that comes out.

  • Dave

    David – Cool. I look forward to seeing how yours come out.

  • Dominic Remane


    I have to agree with Alfie. Something is off with the way these were processed. I’ve shot with Ilford 3200 in the past and it is grainy but not like that. I prefer to use T-Max 3200 but since they’ve discontinued it I’ve been pushing T-Max 400 to 3200 with great results. (Click on the image for Full Res)


  • Dave

    Hey Dominic – Thanks for the example at 3200. It looks great.

  • tom lianza

    The problem is probably not the film or processing, it is the scanning. The grain is enhanced in these images because the image is under-sampled. This is called “aliasing”. To properly scan a negative, one should first scan at the highest resolution of the scanner, then use a little bit of blur in photoshop or light room to soften the grain, then resize the image and resharpen the down sized image. Scanning negatives requires a little practice.

  • Dave

    Interesting Tom. Thanks. I had the lab scan them. I would assume they can scan correctly but something clearly went wrong this time. I will try to rescan myself and see what I get.

  • Jeramie Jones

    Just put my first roll of Illford 3200 in my old Canon AE-1…
    Love the shots and the graininess is fantastic to those of us that are old film buffs.. thanks again for the great posts/photos.

  • Dave

    Jeramie – Enjoy the film!

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