Tried and Tested Thursday: A Stop in Arundel and Felpham – Olympus XA2 with Ilford FP4 (Pushed to 200)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a roll of Ilford FP4 (pushed at 200) on an Olympus XA2.

This isn’t the first time pushing Ilford FP4 beyond its box speed; I had pushed one roll two stops at 400 on a Canon Canonet camera late last year. I decided to get out of my comfort zone again and push the FP4 roll at 200 on another camera, an Olympus XA2, which has the settings to change the film speed.

Admiring Arundel Castle: Bigger both inside and outside

It had been a while since I last picked up my Olympus XA2, but this is the first Tried and Tested Thursday post on it.

In the last week of May, my friend, her youngest son and I went on a four day break to Butlins, a popular British holiday resort in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. We did explore beyond the resort during our stay, we went walking mostly along the beach and going into town.

On our second day, we headed to Arundel, a short train ride away from Bognor Regis. It was a nice day trip, relaxing and interesting to go around the town, as well as Arundel Castle. I couldn’t resist bringing my two cameras with me; a Canon Z135 for colour film (Kodak Pro Image – expired), and the Olympus XA2, already loaded for black and white shots.

I recently had to cut down on the number of films I took whenever travelling or when I am on my outings. Bringing five rolls on my trip was the right amount; four colour and one black and white, only to avoid ‘shooting for shooting sake’ – as I would put it. On the upside, it was easy for my workflow when scanning not to be overwhelmed with the heavyload of negatives to scan. If I had twice the amount of negatives, it would have taken a longer process to finish, not mention frustrating for me.

The overall outcome came out very good, I was very happy with most of the shots from the film. Certainly worth pushing a stop higher, it did make a difference with the contrasts and tones. The castle shots from outside were amazing, however inside shots were blurry and shaky due to its speed, since I didn’t attach a flash to the camera as I rarely use it.

The beach shots taken in Felpham, the quieter side of Bognor Regis, were also my favourites too. I captured the peaceful spots while on a morning stroll around the area, a day after Arundel. I finished the last few exposures there and then. I would consider producing darkroom prints of the beach, maybe on both gloss and matte finish photo paper, possibly a size bigger than 10 x 8 inches – great for framing and displaying on walls. Alternatively, I could create postcard style prints.

I wished I did shoot more beaches with Ilford FP4, or at least bringing along another roll – though I put myself on a limit on shooting. Surprisingly enough, the film did last me a day and a half, so I made sure that 36 exposures were put into great use.

The shadows were spot on, the quality was smooth like most films with a reasonable speed and subtle grain, even when pushed a stop or two. I have been shooting Ilford FP4 for a decade and I am very rarely disappointed with its results after processing, scanning or printing. Ilford FP4 is a film I would highly recommend shooting for beginners, enthusiasts, intermediates and professionals.

Is there any room for improvement? Not really, maybe consider pushing Ilford FP4 higher or lower on other cameras, preferably manual setting ones? Maybe give the Olympus Trip 35 a try or two?

Close but no Monet’s garden in Giverny: a small pond on the grounds of Arundel Castle

Whatever I decide, I know that I have to order some more FP4 rolls at some point as I have none left!!

Take care and stay safe

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