Tag Archives: 120 film

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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.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate product links.

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.

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.

Reasons to love square format image


A Guest post by Andrew S Gibson – author of the new eBook – Square.

Perhaps one of the unintended consequences of digital photography is that it has opened up areas of photography that were previously limited to people that had certain equipment. The square format is a good example – before digital you really needed a 6x6cm format medium camera to exploit it. Sure, you could crop a 35mm negative in the darkroom, but you wouldn’t be able to match the image quality of a medium format negative.

Digital cameras have changed all that. You have the choice of using your camera’s native aspect ratio (a rectangle) or you can crop to a different aspect ratio in post-processing. Some cameras also let you use the square format in-camera – displaying a cropped square on the Live View feed or in the viewfinder if it has an electronic viewfinder.

Apart from the fact that you can, why would anyone crop to a square? Here are five reasons to love the square format:


1. You can Improve the Composition of Some of your Images

Good composition is often about simplifying – eliminating any superfluous elements in your images so that you’re just left with the important stuff. You should be doing this when you compose a photo in the first place, but you can also do it by cropping in post-processing. If you crop from a 35mm to a square, you’re shaving off a third of the image, leaving the strongest two-thirds.

This is a creative exercise that you can carry out on photos you already have. It’s a great way of improving images that have too much empty space either side of the main subject. It’s worth taking some time to go back over old images and see if you can improve them by cropping to a square. The above image is an example of a good photo that became better once it was cropped to a square.

Another approach is to take photos that you intend to crop to the square format. Because you are aware that you will crop the image afterwards, you can take care to compose it in a way that suits the square format. This is something I’ve started to do more often this year as I’ve become more aware of the creative possibilities of the square format.


2. Composition is Different within the Square Frame

If you’ve read Beyond Thirds you’ll already know that I don’t place much stock in the ‘rule-of-thirds’. In the square format you can forget the rule-of-thirds altogether. It depends on what you’re photographing, but placing the subject in the centre of a square frame, or close to the edge, often works surprisingly well.

The other elements that become more prominent in the square format are shapes and line. Look for shapes – such as triangles, squares and circles in your subject when you compose your subject. Lines also become stronger as they pull the viewer’s eye through the frame.

The photo above of a dandelion utilises shape well – the flower head makes a nice white circle and the stalk is a line that leads the viewer’s eye right to it.


3. Black and White Square Photos are Beautiful

I think of the square format as the fine art photographer’s format. There are lots of fine art photographers that shoot almost exclusively in black and white and use the square format. In black and white, shapes and line become more prominent without the distraction of colour – black and white seems to make the most attractive elements of the square format even stronger.

Take a look at the work of Josef Hoflehner to see what I mean. And really look at his work. Josef’s work is deceptively simple, yet he has a remarkable eye for tone and composition. How does he use shape? Tone? Line? Contrast? Negative space? Analysing the work of photographers that you admire, then applying what you learn to your own photography, is a good way of learning.


4. Instagram

This only applies to photographers with an iPhone or iPad, but I really love the Instagram app. I like to use it on my iPad, but I don’t use the iPad’s camera – I transfer photos that I’ve already taken and use Instagram to process and crop them.

For those of you not familiar with the app, it crops the image to a square and then applies a creative filter (the image above is a good example of what it can do). It’s surprising how much the creative filters can improve your images. To get the best out of Instagram, you need to use it with your strongest images – don’t fall into the trap of using it to try and improve weak images.


5. Toy Cameras

Toy cameras like the Holga and Diana create square format images with a unique look. Who would have thought that you could make beautiful images with inexpensive plastic lenses and cameras? Well, you can – as long as you’re prepared to use film.

But there is an alternative for digital camera owner; you can now buy Holga oe Diana lenses for your digital SLR. You can take advantage of the quirky nature of these plastic optics, but with all the advantages of digital photography. I bought a plastic Holga lens for my camera from Holga Direct and I’m delighted with results.



Square format photography is very enjoyable. I like it because it has helped me create some beautiful images, and I am using the square format more and more for black and white photography. The square format has taught me lessons about composition that I also apply to other photos, so the benefits extend into every area of my photography.

I like the square format so much that I’ve written an eBook about it called Square. It explores all the concepts in this article, and more, in greater depth and shows you how to use the square format with your camera. It also has a couple of case studies with two talented film photographers, Matt Toynbee and Flavia Schaller, who use square format cameras. Square is available now from my website for just $9.97 USD.

Read more: http://digital-photography-school.com/five-reasons-to-love-the-square-format#ixzz24dzJXUxU