Kodak Tri-X vs. Ilford HP5 – 35mm Film Camparison

Kodak Tri-X 400 vs. Ilford HP5 400 film canisters icon

Kodak Tri-X 400
Ilford HP5 400

Which 35mm film do you prefer?

Both Tri-X and HP5 have incredible exposure latitude, allowing them to retain their highlights up to 3 stops of overexposure. When metering, it’s best to err towards overexposure as opposed to underexposure, giving pleasant tones, beautiful whites and blacks without over empathizing the grain. All comparisons were shot at box speed with the same settings and lighting.

Kodak Tri-X 400 is known for its classic grain structure, great contrast with deep blacks and pure whites, while Ilford HP5 PLUS 400 has less contrast with a subtle grain and very pleasant tones.

We highly recommend both the Tri-X and HP5 and would encourage you to pick up rolls each to see what you think. We feel the Tri-X’s high contrast works well in even light – it seems to bring dull light to life where the HP5 could be flat. If you’re shooting in contrasty light, consider shooting the HP5 for subtler tones. In the end, it all comes down to preference.

Ilford now has a line of Single Use Cameras.
See our article on comparing Single Use Cameras – Side by side photo comparison including Ilford HP5 and XP2 cameras.

Click to enlarge photos

Leica vs. Canonet

A side by side comparison and photo examples between the Leica M.P. and Canonet QL17 GIII with the Kodak Tri-X 400 and Ilford HP5 400 film
See Leica vs. Canonet Post

See our other post on comparing 12o format films
Kodak Tri-X vs. Ilford HP5 120/Medium format films

Medium format Kodak Tri-X 400 vs Ilford HP5 400

Some Notable Comments from our Instagram Post @thedarkroomlab 

  • indepthoffield I think that’s a fairly good comparison there, f we’re picking favorites, I quite like the TriX processed with the Ilford stuff. At least for this box speed scenario. The highlights and shadows really stand out with TriX. HP5 unquestionably has a greater range. I suppose it all depends on what mood you’re in, if you want more range or higher contrast. When pushed 3 stops I think HP5 really comes into its own as far as contrast is concerned. When compared to TriX pushed 3 stops. Hey to each their own. TriX vs HP5 will probably always be a debate as big as Canon or Nikon. Honestly, I like them both, but certainly, play the course you’re on. Here I think the TriX shines. *caveat, if these were processed with Kodak chemistry, It might’ve brought out more contrast from the HP5 and I might be singing a different tune. Funny how that is.
  • bob.stcyr Wow, is that ever obvious, glad I use HP5+ and recommended it to my students 🙂
  • f8photogroup Tri X shot at 100ASA developed 1:1 D76. For classic grain and subtle Greys
  • jac1nt I keep coming back to this one, srsly one of the most helpful I’ve ever seen. I shoot both, at 1600 both. Trix: love the blacks, love the skin tones, if I nail the shot, there’s nothing more beautiful. But if I screw it, it falls apart. HP5: way more flexible to me. Even if I underexpose, it still works great. Generally looks better in low light to me. Thanks again for this great post!

11 replies on “Kodak Tri-X vs. Ilford HP5 – 35mm Film Camparison”

Like HP 5…usually get better results. 35 only had to stop using 120 keep getting 2 light struck frames from loading…never have this problem with any other film.

I have used TX in 35mm, 2 1/4, and 4×5 for years, processed in HC110. There is nothing like it for atmosphere! I exposed at ASA 320-200. Want to see great TX work? Look at Irving Penn’s, “Worlds in a Small Room”. That work was TX processed in Rodinal I believe. I can’t seem to get what I want with HP5……. just my opinion!

I’m a bit new at developing. Back in the 90s, I shot T-Max 400, mostly.
Now, I finally decided to try Tri-X. (D-76, 1:1 @ 80°F) I just love the tonal range and the grain.
I went to my local camera store, who doesn’t or can’t stock Tri-X, so I bought a couple rolls of HP5+. I’ll process that in D-76 1:1 also and see how it goes. The scanning and post processing afterwards can also make a difference; maybe more than anything else.

Sorry, bit the comparison is entirely nonsense if you do it with different cameras. If you compare Leica glass with a Canonet QL17, you will have a massive difference in the contrast. No matter want film stock you use.

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