Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Another Film Treasure: Ilford Pan-F Plus

This short review is for a film that is still in production (yes, I do sometimes use modern film):  Ilford Pan F Plus. According to the manufacturer:

ILFORD PAN F PLUS is a slow speed, high contrast, black & white film offering exceptionally fine grain, sharpness and detail.

Suitable for bright conditions from sunny days to controlled studio lighting. It suits subjects ranging from architecture and still-life to portraiture and fashion.

PAN F PLUS is perfect for enlargements as negatives show an outstanding range of tone, high-edge contrast and extreme sharpness. It is therefore also suitable for a range of specialist or scientific applications such as photomicrography or the production of black and white slides.

This is a traditional cubic grain film, like the Kodak Panatomic-X that I normally use when I want a fine-grain traditional film. Pan-F has been in production for decades, but for some reason, I never tried it. My friend in Indiana, Jim Grey generously sent me a roll of Verichrome Pan film, but he also included a roll of Pan-F in 120 size and said Go At It. Most reviewers write that it is contrasty, so I loaded it in my Hasselblad and set out for Port Gibson on the last day of 2020, a gloomy day with drizzle (my favorite light). Because of the low light, these are all tripod-mounted exposures. I exposed it at EI (exposure index) of 32.

I sent the film to Northeast Photographic in Bath, Maine, to develop, and scanned the negatives with my Minolta medium format film scanner. To the eye, the negatives looked too contrasty. But the Silverfast Ai scanning software has a profile for Pan-F, and the resulting files looked just about right, with little need to manually adjust the contrast. Here are some examples, all full-frame. Click any frame to expand it. Please tell me what you think via the comments.

US 61

Unusual shed at 3316 US 61S, Vicksburg, Mississippi (80mm Planar lens)
Unknown shop or warehouse at Cedars Road, Vicksburg
Former Sonny's BBQ and gasoline, Yokena

I remember driving by this shop/gas station many times and thinking I should take some photographs. But I never did and now it is closed. Bogus.

Port Gibson

Fixer-upper truck, 1097 Shiloh Road, Port Gibson (50mm ƒ/4 Distagon lens, ⅛ ƒ/11)
Fixer-upper cottage, Back Grand Gulf Road (50mm Distagon, ⅛ ƒ/8, minor fill flash)

North of Port Gibson, some shaded narrow roads wind through the woods. One of these leads past the popular Warner Tully YMCA summer camp, known by generations of summer campers. I want to go back and explore some more. You see many of trailers with beat-up cars and trucks abandoned on the lots.

Abandoned cottage, Vandeventer Street, Port Gibson (80mm Planar-CB, ⅛ ƒ/11)
Abandoned house, Vandeventer Street (80mm Planar-CB, ⅛ ƒ/11
Store/commercial building, Carrol Street

Port Gibson is pretty rough. Despite its fine architectural heritage, much of the town looks beat-up and dirty. The downtown has hollowed-out, like so many small towns in the US heartland.

House belonging to an artist, Farmer Street (80mm Planar-CB, ⅛ ƒ/11, minor fill flash)

I chatted with the gent who lives here. He graciously let me take a picture of his house. He had interesting items on the porch and in the yard.

Old Hwy 61 bridge over Little Bayou Pierre

This is the old Highway 61 bridge. Looking west, you see it from the current 61 bridge. I tried to find a viewpoint. Some gents at a car shop/garage graciously escorted me through the shop to the muddy banks of the Little Bayou Pierre. I slipped - mud everywhere. They said when the river overtops its banks, they get nasty water in their garage (and snakes). Note the water level stains on the concrete pier.

This is the end of my short experiment with Ilford Pan-F. This is nice film! It is very fine grain, similar to the Kodak Panatomic-X that I like. On this overcast, drizzly day, I did not have any issues with contrast and cannot comment on its performance on a sunny day. Of course, you can modify development to make a black and white film more or less contrasty. I am not sure when I will use it again because I still have 10 or 12 rolls of Panatomic-X in the freezer as well as some Fuji Acros 100 film. For hand-held use, Tri-X is more convenient. Regardless, thanks, Jim Grey, for sending me a roll of this Pan-F!

This is no. 07 of my irregular series on different films, but this product is still in production, unlike the other emulsions in the series.


Jim Grey said...

You're getting better results from Pan F than I ever do!

Mike said...

Looks good. I'm encouraged to try the rolls I have now. I have mostly shot faster films in medium format in the past, but that very fine grain looks promising.

Ed said...

You picked a great day for Pan F. As slow as it is, it's best in softer light. Try shooting it at ISO 25, it cuts backs the contrast a bit and to my eye at least works better (at 25) on sunny days.

Kodachromeguy said...

Oops, I forgot to write in the article that I exposed the Pan-F at EI=32. I'll add that to the text. Your hint of 25 is a good one, Ed. usually use an incident light meter, and that often gives a bit more exposure than reflected, so in effect, I probably was around 25.

Rick said...

It's been awhile since I shot any PanF+. I've seen others have great results with it, but they seem to elude me for some reason. I do like the tones you got here. Nice work.