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Ilford Pan F Plus Film Review

Ilford’s Pan F Plus (which I sometimes condense to PanF+) is probably my overall favorite film. I discovered it shortly after I started shooting film and I quickly latched onto it as my “go to” film for outdoor situations.

Before we get into the film review, I just want to mention that this is a non-technical review. We won’t be examining the grain structure, sharpness, color rendition, or anything else overly technical. Think of this as a practical review from a regular photographer.

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About Pan F Plus

Ilford Pan F Plus is an ISO-50 black and white film available in 35mm and 120 format (too bad there’s no LF). This is Ilford’s slowest available film, and it’s one of the slowest films widely available. As a slow film, the grain is extremely fine and exhibits high resolution and sharpness. Contrast appears to be medium as compared with other films, but this can vary depending on exposure and processing. You can read more details about this film on the fact sheet provided by Ilford Photo (pdf).

Thumbs Up for Beers
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian Auer

Shooting with Pan F Plus

Bright light and fast lenses are your friends when you shoot with Pan F Plus. The film is ideal for outdoor sunlit situations, though it can also be used to gain extra exposure time in lower light.

The ISO speed rating for the film is 50, but it can be exposed between (exposure index) EI-12 and EI-400 depending on the developer and processing. I’ve only taken it to EI-25, EI-50, and EI-100 with no problems using Rodinal.

I typically expose at EI-25 so I can achieve wider apertures with my older cameras. When you have a camera that maxes out at 1/400 seconds on the shutter, you have to lower the speed of the film if you want to move away from small apertures and gain some extra DOF. If I need a faster film, I’ll just use something that’s more well suited — the grain in Pan F Plus becomes more apparent at EI-100.

Developing Pan F Plus

It seems that just about any developer will work on Pan F Plus, but check the massive dev chart if you’re unsure.

I’ve used Ilford Ilfosol 3 and Agfa Rodinal to develop the film. The Ilfosol 3 seems to work fine at EI-50, but I’ve never tried pushing or pulling with it (and there’s no data in the chart for that). The Rodinal appears to do a good job of keeping the grain down, and it has the added benefits of being able to push/pull (time) and control contrast (dilution).

In my experience, Pan F Plus is fairly susceptible to contrast changes when pushed or pulled with Rodinal. At EI-25, the negatives are fairly low contrast. And at EI-100, the negatives are fairly high contrast. Of course, these contrast levels can be somewhat compensated by varying the dilution.

Examples of Pan F Plus

Pan F Plus tends to have somewhat of an “oldschool” appearance to it, probably because of the slightly lower contrast than most films. The midtones are usually creamy smooth and transition well between highlights and shadows, and skin tone/contrast is captured well. When properly exposed and developed, the sharpness is like none other. Here are some varying examples of this amazing film.

Gangsta
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian Auer


Creative Commons License photo credit: maz hewitt

A Dreary World
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian Auer

lone tree
Creative Commons License photo credit: maz hewitt

Pool Girl
Creative Commons License photo credit: Brian Auer

Refuge de la Jasse du Play
Creative Commons License photo credit: boklm

NY, South
Creative Commons License photo credit: magnusw

Sally Gap - Wicklow
Creative Commons License photo credit: PhilPankov.com

...
Creative Commons License photo credit: ManWithAToyCamera

My love is like...
Creative Commons License photo credit: tim_dvia Ilford Pan F Plus Film Review.

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One response

  1. I’ve been told I need to try PanF+ and haven’t yet. Thanks for all the work you put into this post. I’ll go out and give it a try.

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