ILFORD FP3 labels; for FP4 labels, scroll down the page





Images made available coutesy of Michael Talbert

Left is a FP3 Series II tin of bulk 35mm film. 35mm was the first FP3 format which became FP3 Series II (in October 1959).

The expiry date stamped on the bottom of the tin is September 1962, so the film must have been manufactured around the end of 1960. It’s got the old ASA number of 64, which was the 1960 (and previous) emulsion speed rating and included a '+1 stop' (halving of film speed) safety factor. This 'safety factor' was removed from all makes of black & white film emulsions after 1960.

The B.J. Almanac for 1960 gave the speed of 64ASA for FP3 Series II in an Ilford advertisement, but this increased to 125ASA in the Ilford advert in the 1961 Almanac i.e. by the latter date the '+1 stop' speed safety factor had been removed. After this, film labels stated “Meter settings for minimum exposure: ASA 125 DIN 22".

The picture below shows various boxes of FP3 5 x 4inch sheet film.

The black and white box dates from 1966 and has the (then new) “sunburst” trade mark in its top left corner.

The red and black box (centre) dates from 1964, when Ilford began to change their FP3 labels from reading 'FP3 Series II' back to reading simply 'FP3'. But this FP3 film was, of course, the 'new' Series II emulsion.
The red and black boxes are thought to have first appeared in 1961.

Prior to the red and black label boxes, sheet film boxes were like the one on the right, dating from 1959 with the emulsion speed still 64ASA i.e. still including the '+1 stop' speed safety margin.

The Ilford Flat Film instruction sheets for 1959 and 1960 list FP3 whereas the instruction sheet for 1962 list FP3 Series II, so FP3 Series II may have arrived 12 months later in sheet film than in 35mm. The instruction sheet for 1964 lists FP3 without stating Series II, so it seems Ilford dropped the Series II 'tag' in 1964.


ILFORD FP4 labels

In 1955 the name FP4 first appeared as a plate emulsion, a name not used for roll & 35mm film until 1968. The box shown below (date unknown) has a price of 14s.4d (72p) for 12 off 3½"x2½" (means 6p each).
FP4 plates had a pre-1960 speed rating of 80ASA. At that time, FP3 film was 64ASA.



In May 1968, Ilford FP4 film introduced, replacing FP3 roll and 35mm film. "Fine Grain, High Speed, Panchromatic, Backed" FP4 was claimed to give greater acutance with finer grain than FP3 but retaining the same speed of 125ASA (200ASA when developed in Microphen) and the same price. Wide exposure latitude of 6 stops over and 2 stops under, still producing printable results. Sold in the distinctive black & white Ilford cartons but identifiable by a blue band on the end flap. Tested by Pete Cropley for 'Photography' magazine (June edition), he found FP4 to be "the sharpest medium speed film available, and by far the finest grain."

By July, Ilford were offering a free 20 page booklet entitled "Ilford FP4" to amateur photographers "wishing to make the best use of the fine qualities of this new emulsion". It was obtainable by writing to Mike Williams, Customer Services, Ilford Ltd, Ilford, Essex. This booklet (see left) updated the booklet "Ilford FP3, Film of Many Faces" offered in 1965. It is dated March 1968. To view it as a PDF file, click on the image or here.

Also, to download the ILFORD Technical Guide to FP4, click here.


The image below is courtesy of Jim Fisk

Three tins that used to hold FP4 film. The top left held 30m of 35mm film and is dated December 1979 (presumably as 'use by' date) whereas the tin is coded F73, indicating a date of May 1973. Because of its date of manufacture, the film was already speed rated at 125ASA/ISO.
The upper right tin held 200feet (61m) of 35mm film. The tin itself is code dated as G68, indicating July 1968.
The lower tin held 17 of 35mm film and the tin is code dated as L81, indicating December 1981.


Ilford 220 FP4 was available in 5 roll professional packs by either December 1971 (date of printing of the leaflet enclosed with the film pack shown left) or more likely March 1972 (the date on the box itself). The film within the box had an expiry date of January 1978, so probably packaged around 1975. By 1982, Ilford 220 film was available both as FP4 and HP5 versions . But 220 film never seemed to 'catch on' to any great extent and by 2009 the availability of 220 film (in the UK at least) seems virtually zero.

This page last modified: 3rd August 2019