What Was Once Old Is New Again: Ilford Ortho Plus 80

Orthochromatic film is the original black and white film. Compared with its panchromatic counterpart, orthochromatic film can only see blue light (goodbye, red!)

In this video, Corey Woldenbarger and a friend of his shoot through a few (some 35mm and some 120) rolls of Ilford’s newest film, Ortho Plus 80, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern TN and western NC, USA. He takes us along on their morning trip to the park and shows off several of the images they took. Matt Day did a similar video some weeks back and had similarly interesting results.

Orthochromatic film is the original style for black and white photography but has fallen in its popularity with the development and availability of panchromatic film. I suspect that in much a similar to film in general, Ilford decided to being back this classic style film because of the increase in popularity of shooting film. Ilford recommends this film for landscapes but seems to work well for portraits too. At the time of writing, I am leaving for a two week trip to the Austrian alps and Germany. I have packed up 4 rolls (120 and 35mm) to shoot on this trip and I couldn’t be more excited to try it out. It's a bit on the pricey side for B&W film but I have high hopes that the results will make it worth it.

Have you shot through any of this film? What did you think?

James Madison's picture

Madison is a mathematician turned statistician based out of Columbus, OH. He fell back in love with film years ago while living in Charleston, SC and hasn't looked back since. In early 2019 he started a website about film photography.

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I just put a roll of this in my Mamiya 645, looking forward to seeing what it can do!

Did you finish the roll? I went through 3 rolls recently and had some interesting results. What did you think?

Yet another dopey photographer pointing an incident meter at the subject! Doh!

The assertion that “orthochromatic film can only see blue light” is wrong; green is imaged too.
So “orthochromatic” means that a film is insensitive to red colours—that’s why portraits of pink people make them look very tanned!

An “ortho look” may be simulated by using a cyan filter on panchromatic film.

Thank you, Ian! Concise and helpful.

Also, they have picked season&time where there are no colours, so lack of red colour sensitivity couldn't be showcased in the landscapes.

PS: for anyone wondering, current true only-blue sensitive material is BW photo paper (graded one, not multigrade - which is also sensitive to green) and x-ray film (conventional, not ortho - obviously). [and plethora of alternative processes such as wet collodion, calotype etc., but these are diy and generally cannot be bought ready to use]

Western Tennessee and Eastern North Carolina? The Smoky Mountains ain't quite that long.

Ha! That's embarrassing... I just corrected the typo. Thanks for pointing it out.