The Endless Dilemma—HP5 or 400TX?!?

For those of us who prefer shooting B&W for street photography, I’m sure you’re well aware of the various options available. While there are many ways you can choose a stock, I prefer to base my selections depending on the aesthetic I’m hunting for. I often want high-contrast and high detail for some of the work that I do; I find it adds that extra touch that’s hard to describe, but it’s just there. When I’m not looking for a contrasty film, I want a nice sharp and gentle shadow look—typically found in Ilford Delta 100 or Kodak T-Max 100.

When it comes down to it and you want a nice versatile BW film that can be pushed out the wazoo and give you every inch of detail, HP5 and 400TX are strong contenders. I often have a hard time determining whether I enjoy one or the other, therefore I continue to shoot with both. Unlike color film and how prices can be scattered, making the decision on one versus another a bit easier, these two are unfortunately within 50 cents of each other. So, take your frugal decision making-self out of the choice…what now? How can you possibly decide? Maybe you could play the brand-loyalty card; every shooter has their preference of Kodak and Ilford, but can that really be the deciding factor? Maybe you like buying film in bulk, that’s a quick method of choosing as HP5 is ~$20 less than 400TX is. But that just doesn’t seem fair to put the two against each other for brand loyalty, or price-points; what really makes the case is what you like most.

Here’s how this will work, I’m going to put up two shots side-by-side without any hint towards which brand it is. At the very end of the article you can discover which you liked most!


You have made it! To the bottom of the page that is, and the answers you’ve been patiently awaiting. I’ll list out the film stock in order from left to right, and are as follows: 400tx, hp5, 400tx, 400tx, hp5, hp5, and finally 400tx. Let it be noted that the photo of the man in the hat was shot on a roll where I pushed it to 1600. I’m currently waiting to get back my roll I pushed all the way to 3200 so we’ll see how that goes.

I hope you enjoyed reading this short little comparison of the two and maybe it helped you arrive at a conclusion on which stock you prefer more. All the same, keep it analog, and have fun shooting!

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