How to Push 400 ISO Film to 1600


This is one of our favorite ways to shoot 400 speed black and white film.It is probably one of the most popular ways of pushing film as well.

This works best with Ilford HP5 and Kodak Tri-X but basically with any 400 speed black and white film.

Above are a few samples of 400 ISO film being pushed to 1600.

The idea behind pushing is to be able to shoot at a 1600 ISO but without having to use 1600 speed film. Many people use this when shooting manual focus street photography, so that one can zone focus, using smaller apertures and faster shutter speeds.It can be handy if you are shooting in a darker environment.

It also adds a nice bit of contrast to the film too.

The way it works is that you are underexposing the film by 2 stops of light and then over developing the film.

Remember if you do not develop the film yourself to tell your lab that it is pushed 2 stops!

There are a few ways to set your camera up to shoot 400 speed film at 1600
If you camera allows you to set the ISO manually then you would just change it to 1600.

The second way to do it is if you have an exposure compensation dial on your camera you can just set it to Minus 2 (-2). Remember to check that this does not reset every time you turn off your camera.

The third way, which is the most popular because a lot of point and shoot cameras do not have either of the above options, is to DX code hack your film.
All you need it something with a nice hard edge, like scissors, a knife, or a coin would probably work too.

It is super simple, you just need to scrape off a little square of the DX “barcode” on your film canister.

If you look on the canister it is divided up into a grid. Basically all you have to do is edit this grid by taking away one “square” to change the film from 400 to 1600.

If you look below I have scraped away the third square from the top on the right side.

When you put it into your camera, there are these little metal contacts that will read the canister and think that the film you have put in is 1600 ISO.

Boom, that’s it. Super simple. Just about 1 minute of work and you have “hacked” your film to shoot at 1600.

There are all different ways you can hack your film, changing 400 to 1600 is probably the easiest.
I have attached the chart of DX Codes for every ISO to show you the other options.

Good luck and have fun, you can experiment with just about any type of film this way, by pushing or pulling film. It does work best with black and white, but also it is possible to push color film too.

Feel free to contact us with any questions!

All pictures by Chris Morgan