Having done a few posts about Adox and Rollei film, it’s about time I did one about an old friend – Ilford’s Pan F black and white film. This was my standard film when I first started B/W photography – so it has a history longer than I’d care to admit! It’s current version is a 50 ASA fine-grained film, with a reputation which suggests it’s difficult to use.
It’s got a tendency to be too contrasty – so reducing recommended development times and tank agitation is a good idea if you’re going to scan the negs. My recipe is ID11 stock for 6 minutes at 20 C, inverting the tank a few times at the start, then every 1 minute. This produces very useable images with some good dynamic range, but still retains some of the film’s ‘dark’ look.
I’d describe it as a half way house between a film like Agfaphoto’s APX100 where contrast is very well controlled, and Rollei Blackbird which produces contrasty, dark images.
The grain is very fine – just what you’d expect from a 50 ASA film.
Physically the film is easy to handle, and goes on the film spiral very easily. It also doesn’t attracting dust when drying – unlike some films.
Overall then, a very fine-grained film with a distinctive look which may be worth a try if you think the look of Rollei Blackbird is a too dark. At 50 ASA – or even 25 ASA – it will allow the use of those fast primes almost wide open on bright days and as long as it’s developed properly won’t disappoint.
It was good to shoot this film again after few years – I’ll be getting some more on my next film order.
Hope you find this useful – thanks for looking!