Ilford Announces a New Film in 35mm and 120 Formats – Ortho Plus

Ilford Announces a New Film in 35mm and 120 Formats – Ortho Plus

1240 414 Aaron Stennett

Ilford Photo has just announced a range of new products to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the British film manufacturer. As well as offering a new updated range of resin-based photographic paper, Ilford will release their orthochromatic black-and-white film, Ilford Othro Plus, in new 120 and 35mm formats.

Ilford Ortho film isn’t totally new, per se. It had previously been available to large format photographers. However, medium format and 35mm shooters will now be able to try this 80 ISO rated (40 in tungsten light) film when it is released in November.

At this point you may be scratching your head wondering, what exactly is an orthochromatic film? The answer all comes down to light sensitivity. In the early days of film photography, many of the emulsions available were orthochromatic. Orthochromatic films are far less sensitive to red light than their newer panchromatic equivalents. If you were to compare an orthochromatic film such as Ortho Plus to a panchromatic one like HP5 Plus, you would notice that red and orange light were rendered much darker in the final back-and-white image.

There are very few ortho films still available on the market. Ortho Plus is Ilford’s only one. And out of the other manufacturers, Fujifilm’s Acros 100 (which was discontinued in 2018 and then later announced to be returning) was the only other example to get close. Acros was called ortho-panchromatic, which is a vague term that lands that film somewhere between rendering what the human eye sees (except in black-and-white) and ortho (red-blind).

Developed initially as a ‘technical, high-resolution copy film’, Ortho Plus should have a sharpness and tonality that is appreciated by landscape photographers.

Ilford has updated its range of Multigrade RC Deluxe papers. The new fifth generation of the Multigrade papers will supersede Multigrade IV RC, which was released over twenty-five years ago.

Ilford has worked on the new paper for over eight years, highlighting their ongoing commitment to analogue photography. The new range has a warmer base tint than the last generation. It has also been re-engineered for deeper blacks and more consistent contrast throughout the tonal range.

Our friends over at Emulsive have already had a chance to try the new paper. Craig Pindell engaged in a blind test of the new Multigrade RC Deluxe paper, and his resulting images and experiences are invaluable. Visit Emulsive to see the entire report.

What do you think of the new Ortho Plus film? Are you going to give it a try when it’s released next month, or will you be sticking to your tried and trusted stock? Let us know in the comments.

Aaron Stennett

Aaron Stennett is a writer and photographer from London, England. He caught the film bug after discovering his father's SLR in the attic and hasn't looked back since. You can find more of his photography on his Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/aaronanalogue/) and his personal blog (https://scenethroughthelensblog.wordpress.com)

All stories by:Aaron Stennett
10 comments
  • Regarding the new paper . . . it seems like I need to decide whether to stock up on IV, for which I have printing data going back a couple of decades, or move on to V, presumably requiring me to recalibrate that data (I’m strictly an amateur). Any thoughts from darkroom printers out there?

  • I’ll try it, but in general, I really just love pushed Tri-X. The ability to shoot at 1600 and have one roll for night or day is great for the type of stuff I generally shoot film for. Wouldn’t mind seeing some shots with this though, to better understand this purported tonal differences in the light spectrum.

  • Excited about the new Ilford ortho! But I’m not sure Acros was/will be ortho. They call it “orthopanchromatic” on their data sheets which I think is another way of saying panchromatic. I think.

    • Hey Jim, Thanks for catching the flub. Yeah, Acros was ortho-pan, which I suppose puts it somewhere between pan and ortho – whatever that means! Article updated.

    • Orthopanchromatic means it closely resembles the human eye’s spectral sensitivity (much closer to panchromatic than orthochromatic). Rollei’s Ortho is the only ortho film on currently the market available in 135 and 120.

  • Thomas J. Schitteck October 25, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    Of course i will buy the new Ilford Ortho! It’s a sensation in our digital time. So i will test one in my Contax RTSIII and one Rollfilm in my Rollei SLX…

  • Does the low sensitivity to red mean it’s like using a green filter?

  • I feel like Agfa or Rollei had a film like this… I have used it before. it was really awesome.

  • Not including IR or near IR emulsions, the three terms used to describe the spectral sensitivity of a black and white emulsion are:

    1) Panchromatic, the most common. It describes a near flat sensitivity across the visible light spectrum.

    This includeS Tri-X, HP5, Tmax and many many more. Most black and white films today.

    2) Ortho-panchromatic, the second most common. This term relates to a spectral sensitivity that closely resembles the human eye’s spectral sensitivity (humans are most sensitive to green light), but it’s still sensitive across the entire visible light spectrum.

    A few emulsions that are currently being produced fall in this category including Adox CMS II and Silvermax 100.

    3) Finally, orthochromatic is not red sensitive (as correctly described).

    Although most ortho emulsions are no longer in production, Rollei does produce a 25 iso ortho film and has for years. Rollei took up production when Agfa ceased its production of a very similar film.

    Bottom line, ortho emulsions in 135 and 120 are not new and never completely went away. Ortho-panchromatic is not the closest to Ilford’s Ortho, and Acros was not the the only ortho-panchromatic film when produced, nor is there a void of ortho-panchromatic emulsions currently available and in production.

    • Almost there. Quite counterintuitively, orthopanchromatic is used in the examples you mentioned to indicate a spectral sensitisation that is even more “correct” (= ortho) than common panchromatic films. Films such as Adox CMS II and Silvermax 100 have a slightly higher red sensitivity than most panchromatic films. To make things more complex, however, in old publications the term is sometimes used to refer to what Aaron assumed it meant—a sinsitisation intermediate between ortho and pan films.

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Aaron Stennett

Aaron Stennett is a writer and photographer from London, England. He caught the film bug after discovering his father's SLR in the attic and hasn't looked back since. You can find more of his photography on his Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/aaronanalogue/) and his personal blog (https://scenethroughthelensblog.wordpress.com)

All stories by:Aaron Stennett