Technical Pan film
This is a black-and-white panchromatic film with extended red sensitivity. It has micro-fine or extremely fine grain (depending on the developer used), extremely high resolving power, and a wide contrast range for pictorial, scientific, technical, and reversal-processing applications.
Kodak made this film for either copying documents or for aerial reconnaissance by the military (I have read both theories). Kodak discontinued sales in 2003 or 2004 but stated that they had been selling off stock that had been stored for years. Many astronomers used it for celestial photography.
Most document films are very fine grain but also high contrast. Therefore, for pictorial use, the photographer or laboratory must use special low contrast developers to provide a normal tonal scale. Kodak sold a proprietary Technidol developer for pictorial use, but it has been discontinued for at least a decade.
With a degree of hyperbolae or over-enthusiastic marketing, Kodak claimed Technical Pan in a regular 35mm camera rivaled the results from normal film in a 4×5" camera. Well, maybe, sort of. I cannot find an example right now but recall seeing these advertisements in camera magazines in the 1980s.
I used Technical Pan 2415 in 35mm cameras only twice. Once was in Texas (see my 2017 post) and the second in Athens, Greece. I agree that the film was incredibly fine-grain, but it was hard to develop and was contrasty, even with the Technidol developer. It had a "soot and chalk" tonality. My ultimate conclusion was why bother? If you want high resolution and smooth continuous tones, just use a medium format or 4×5" camera.
The Acropolis, Athens
We will make this a double abandoned films treat: Technical Pan from 1985 plus a couple of 1951 comparisons with other long-discontinued films. Let's take a walk around the Acropolis on a brilliant sunny July day. Click the 1985 frames to see the amazing detail.
|Parthenon east side, July 7, 1985 (Technical Pan film, Leica M3, 50mm ƒ/2.8 Elmar-M lens)|
|Parthenon east side 1951 or 1952 (Kodachrome slide, Leica IIIC camera, 5cm ƒ/2 Summitar lens)|
The magnificent Parthenon is under perpetual preservation and reconstruction. It is amazing to think that Aristotle himself must have visited this temple and walked among the columns. And consider modern famous visitors such as Lord Byron, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Princess Elizabeth, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Elizabeth Taylor, etc.
Archaeologists and marble masons have spent over a century on repair and preservation. All the stone on the ground has been catalogued, measured, and fitted using 3-dimensional CAD software. The dilemma is what to do where original stone is missing. How much reconstruction is "authentic?"
|Checking the Parthenon|
|Summer in the city - checking out the Parthenon|
|The Erechtheion under restoration.|
The Erechtheion or Temple of Athena Polias is an Ionic temple-telesterion on the north side of the Acropolis. It was primarily dedicated to the goddess Athena. The geometry and placement of features within the temple is unknown. It may overlie a palace of Mycenaean age.
|1985 south view of Erechtheion|
|Erechtheion photographed in 1951 from the porch of the Parthenon (Kodak Plus-X film)|
|Looking down to the Anafiotica neighborhood.|
|Acropolis from the Temple of the Olympian Zeus (Leica 90mm ƒ/2.8 Tele-Elmarit lens)|
This scene is an extreme example of high contrast that demonstrated a soot and chalk rendition. I am glad I experimented with Technical Pan film. With the revival in film photography recently, it has become a cult favorite among some film users, and they buy remaining stock eagerly. But for me, a normal panchromatic film is fine.
Here are some curves for Technical Pan film from Kodak Professional Black-and-White Films book F-6 © 1984.