Up to this point, my experiences with black and white film had been purely with Ilford stock. HP5+ and the different Deltas were what I started with, but many people regularly recommended Fuji Acros. Silverprint UK is usually my go-to site in the UK for film, and once again their price for 120 rolls of Acros was too tempting. Being a 100 speed film, Acros is generally known for shaprness, fine grain and great detail. It is also of course best used in bright conditions. During my visit to Wimpole (see also Kodak Portra 400 and Fujifilm Pro 400H) I tested out a roll of Acros to see what it could do. Of course, being a test I did take some images in less than ideal conditions (think dark pig sheds) to see if you could still have this film in your camera for a general, versatile walk-about film.
Shooting into the sun, the film still retains a great amount of shadow detail, but the sky also still retains texture - it's not blown out as it likely would be in a digital file. (Note - doing this did lead to some light leak onto the following frame. Not a big deal but definitely noticeable...)
Heading indoors, I had to deal with some pedestrian shutter speeds with my Yashica, which only has a maximum aperture of f/3.5. Luckily, the design of a TLR means it is relatively straightforward to brace the camera against your body and take a shot with a shutter speed less than 1/15 (the main time to look out for in terms of technique is pressing the shutter). In some shots I got the exposure a little bit wrong, with one or two images being a little dark - this is recoverable in Lightroom though.
With more unusual lighting, the contrast of Acros can be amazing. For this image I shot into a barn, waiting for the goat to pass by the little door into their outside area. Even in this extreme dark (metering for the highlights of course) there is still detail on the barn wall - the edges of the planks are clearly visible. This is pretty incredible, considering how bright the goat is (there is also detail here too, it is not blown out).
So, what are my impressions? As you can probably tell, I'm a big fan of this film. The latitude, contrast (in the right conditions), great detail, sharpness, pleasing but unobtrusive grain makes this a fantastic film for a wide range of settings. I wouldn't hesitate to put this film in my camera when on the street or at a location such as Wimpole. I would perhaps stay away from it in indoor settings (unless brightly lit), but this is as much to do with the slow film speed as it is to do with the aperture that can be achieved by my Yashica.
There wasn't much information out there in terms of development. I used this method (Ming Thein blog) - Ilford DD-X, 6.5 minutes at 24 degress water temperature, then standard 1 minute of Ilfostop and 6 minutes of Ilford Rapid Fixer. Seemed to work very well, so I ill be sticking with this in the future.
Go on, get some. You won't regret it...