2021 is upon us, and its off to an interesting start. While the pandemic is still raging on, the days are still cloudy and no snow in sight – with a few coup attempts and celebrity divorces too. With how chaotic and moody everything seems to be these days, we figured why not take it easy and slow down for a bit with some Ilford PAN F+? After all, we all could use some light at the end of the tunnel vibes right now, and you know you’ll need light with Pan F+.
What is Pan F+? It’s a panchromatic black and white film that’s been around in various forms since 1948, with a few characteristics to make it stand out. It’s part of Ilford Plus line of film, which also includes FP4+ and HP5+. It’s incredibly fine grained and contrasty. The slow speed allows for this, as it loves light. It eats light like it’s a black hole. So obviously shoot it in daylight, or use a tripod.
Pan F has been around for a long time, since 1948 in fact, and has gone through multiple iterations. The current + version has only been around since the 1990s, and sees further updates to its grain structure. And indeed, it is one of the sharpest and finest grained black and white film that you can currently buy.
Its fine grain is especially evident when enlarged, and developer dependent. I used Kodak’s HC-110 , which I later find out isn’t the best developer to use for some reason, but it still turned out great images. Apparently Rodinal (Blazinal) or Microphen will produce the best sharpness, but HC-110 still provides a great smooth tonality. I’m finding myself really liking it, as it has quite the punch to it. It is quite niche for general photography unless you’re shooting on an incredibly bright day, but many people use it for portrait, architecture and landscape work.
There may be somewhat low light still, but what this means is that you can shoot wide open! So want to see some of that gorgeous bokeh from your fast lenses? Pan F+ is your friend. Want to produce artistic and kinetic images with motion blur? Pan F+ is your friend. One catch, however, is its poor image retention. Develop it as soon as you can after shooting it because if you leave it for too long, it will look like underexposure with thin negatives.
It’s a very niche film, but don’t be intimidated by its slow speed. It invites you to experiment with your photography, and forces you to shoot in a certain way. Do long exposures! Take blurry photos! Use flash! Don’t be afraid to let it challenge you.
Here’s some photos I took with my Contax G1 recently. Like usual, it will be 10% off in both 35mm and 120 tomorrow and Saturday, in store and online!