Ilford PanF Plus 50: The best black and white film for sunny days?

Vivid images, great shades of gray, but just not grain-free enough to be mistaken for an Ilford Delta or Kodak T-Max.

Compared to a Ferrania P30 Alpha exposed to 50ASA, which feels more at home on the dark side of the force due to its prominent black, Luke Skywalker would probably choose the PanF plus.

Airy light instead of melancholy. Where the Ferrania stamps with size 48, the Pan F+ dances on tiptoe.

But enough with the questionable comparisons, here are the details of Ilford’s sensitive:

Key features of the PanF Plus

First of all, the name Ilford PanF+ does not imply the film speed, as is typical with films from other brands.

However, Ilford does not attach importance to it in his other films. Connoisseurs know what they are getting themselves into. For everyone else I try to bring some light into the darkness. So first of all the most important features:

Name:Ilford Pan F+
Sensitivity: 50 ISO / 18° (50ASA, 18DIN) (measured with Ilford’s ID-11 at 20°C) Ilford recommends using the film between ISO 25 and 64 and also gives development times for different developers at these speeds. (EI 64 Microphen only)
Availability:35mm film in DX coded 36 cartridges or as a roll for self-loading in 17m and 30.5m and as a 120 roll film.

Film Characteristics PanF Plus

Note: Film characteristics are necessarily subjective as each film will achieve a different end result depending on processing (time, agitation, choice of developer, temperature, etc.). Ratings of the film on my part are of course based on my taste and are not universally valid.

Film grain

Film grain is little to non-existent. If you’re looking for a film with as little grain as possible, then you’ve come to the right place. Then choose your developer accordingly and you’ll have the negatives as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

Expandability

Because of the small amount of grain, the 35mm film can also be enlarged very well without the grain being too pronounced.

Tonality

The film shows a wonderfully smooth rise in the density curve, which makes for a great distribution of tonal values.

Definition

The impression of sharpness is quite high and can be brought out nicely by a developer like Rodinal (keyword: edge effect).

Since the film shows little grain, a development with Rodinal can make sense here, since perhaps the greatest disadvantage of Rodinal, pronounced grain, has little effect on this film.

Thus, in combination with Rodinal, the film develops an extremely high impression of sharpness.

Resolution

Ilford does not give any official figures for the resolution of the PanF+, unofficially and in theory it speaks of a resolution of 150 lp/mm (contrast 1:1000).

In practice, resolutions of approx. 80 lp/mm can be found. Still a very good value. In order to achieve this, of course, a lens must be used that can bring such a resolution to the film.

Analysis of the characteristic density curve

Ilford shows the following density curve as characteristic for the PanF+:

Schwarzschild effect

Photo film can be described as linear in terms of exposure in certain areas. We all know this when we convert the exposure from f/8 at 1/500s to f/11 at 1/250s. This linearity helps us to shift the lighting conditions in our heads as we wish.

The Schwarzschild effect, on the other hand, describes the fact that with long exposure times this shifting no longer works linearly, but increasingly exponentially. (Exceptions prove the rule)

Ilford recommends adjusting the exposure time from 1/2s for the Pan F+ and publishes the following graph:

Spectral analysis

Ilford publishes the following spectrum for the Pan F+:

Recommended developers for the Pan F+

Ilford himself gives times for all his own developers for EI 25 and 50. For Microphen EI 50 and EI 64.

There are a number of times for EI 50 for external companies.

My experience with it is good, both work. In Rodinal I usually develop at 16°C to keep the grain as small as possible.

My laundry list is as follows:

  • Rodinal 1+25, 9:35 min 16°C, 30:30:1 (30 seconds continuous tilt at the start, then every 30 seconds 1 tilt)
  • Xtol 1+1, 7:45 min, 20°C, 30:30:3 (30 seconds continuous tilt at the start, then 3 tilts every 30 seconds)
  • Both result in good scannable negatives. If you enlarge analog, you may have to adjust the times or tilting rhythm, since my negatives tend to be on the low-contrast side so that the scanner can read them more easily.
  • Other developer/time combinations can of course be found on the Massive Dev Chart (PanF+)

Scanability

The Pan F+* is very good-natured to scan, as it lies perfectly flat and does not roll up. The densities of the negatives don’t cause any problems for my scanner either, assuming a corresponding development.

Recommendation and final thoughts

Can I recommend the Pan F+ now? Definitely! A prerequisite is, of course, sufficient light to achieve the 50 ASA sensitivity. However, when that light is present, the Pan F+ will reward you with detailed and clean results that offer great tonality and scannability.

Disadvantage: Obviously the 50ASA, depending on the lens, the exposure can get tight in the shade or in the forest, even on sunny days.

If you haven’t tried the film yet: give it a chance, it’s not an everyday film, but if the opportunity arises I’m always happy if I can take advantage of it.

Video: Medium format and 35mm

An interesting review of Danilo Allen on youtube.

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