I need to make pictures in crummy lighting conditions (inside a convention center) without much ability for external light apart from my camera flash.

I ordered some Ilford Delta 3200 Black & White Film, but I'm getting mixed information what ISO I should actually shoot in.

All my cameras (Nikon FG, FM10 and N80) support ISO 3200, so wouldn't I just set that and treat it like I treat my normal ISO 100/400 Films?

I saw some people having to use a lower ISO because of their cameras not going up that high and then utilizing Push-Processing, but I prefer not to worry about that as I'm still figuring things out and don't want a roll of 36 wrongly exposed pictures. I'm also not trying to achieve Art yet, for the most part I'm using Aperture Priority to get a feel for things like DOF, so I want to keep it simple.


4 Answers 4


Shorter version: Expose it as 3200 and shoot normally. Develop according to the instructions and make sure you use the correct development time for 3200.

Longer version: Delta 3200 is not an ISO 3200 film, it is more like ISO 1000-1200. If you expose it as 3200 and develop according to the instructions, you are actually push developing it. The film handles that well and it can be in fact shot even as 6400 (with appropriate push development) and some people push it even higher. The pushing comes at a price, though. The price is coarser grain and partial loss of the capability to handle underexposure and large tonal ranges. Exposing (and developing) it as, say, 1200 - 1600 will make it more forgiving.

I would not worry about it right now, shoot at 3200 and develop appropriately. At least first few rolls. If you find it lacking too much tonal range, is too grainy for your taste or that it is too unforgiving with underexposures, consider exposing as 1200 - 1600 and developing as 1600. Great developer for Delta 3200 is Ilford DD-X.


The OP commented elsewhere "I've seen people say it's actually ISO 800 Film intended to be pushed, and their data sheet says something about it being rated ISO 1000" and the data sheet is by far your best source of information.

DELTA 3200 Professional has an ISO speed rating of ISO 1000/31º (1000ASA, 31DIN) to daylight.

So yes, it is a fast film designed to be pushed. As for what ISO setting to use...

The recommended meter setting for DELTA 3200 Professional is EI 3200/36, but good image quality can also be obtained at meter settings from EI 400/27 to EI 6400/39.

Why not set the first roll (or load one camera) for 3200, if you're shooting a few rolls you can experiment. IIRC the N80 reads the DX code anyway but if you want to hedge your bets then you can always bracket your exposures.


why not simply set it to 3200 and run with it? That's what it's rated at...
That said, it's a somewhat flexible film and you may get good results at 1600 as well.

There's nothing wrong with doing what the package says you should do. Nor is there anything wrong with experimenting.

  • 1
    I'm confused because I've seen people say it's actually ISO 800 Film intended to be pushed, and their data sheet says something about it being rated ISO 1000 - hence my confusion, because setting the Camera to ISO 3200 is my natural idea.
    – Michael Stum
    Aug 14, 2014 at 6:53
  • @MichaelStum I've not shot Delta3200 in a loooong time, but when I did I shot it at 3200 (or maybe 1600 and had it pushed, my camera at the time might not have supported 3200, was like 20+ years ago).
    – jwenting
    Aug 14, 2014 at 7:04

@MirekE has some great advice. I would also add that you can play around with over and under developing easily with your 35mm. Find a scene that shows a wide range of values, ideally a scene where you can set the lens to infinity. The sun should be behind you and over your right or left shoulder. No clouds if possible so the lighting doesn't change suddenly. Point the camera at the scene and shoot every frame at the same ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. Using a tripod is nice so there are no changes in framing.

Did you just throw away a roll or film? No way! Now it's time to develop. Pull 1/3 the length of film out of the canister and cut off. You'll do this in the dark of course so having a yard stick marked with something like tape (that you can feel in the dark) will be useful for measuring out the correct amount of film. Develop a section normally (we'll say the time prescribed by the manufacturer), develop a section normal-1 and develop a section normal+1. +1 means overdevelop by one zone, -1 underdevelop by a zone. To figure out exactly what these should be would require more tech and experimentation but you can often change your development time by around 1/3 in either direction to get a sense of the change it will give you; more contrast and less contrast. You may find that you like the results better than developing "normal".

Note that if you doing this with T-Grain films like Delta 100/400, the overdevelopment/underdevelopment times should be much shorter as those films are more sensitive to time changes in development.

Also, a good starting place for information regarding development times with a given developer/film is The Massive Dev Chart

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