Last week, I decided to take my Hasselblad 500CM out with me on the golf course. After all, why not live my best life by combining my two favorite hobbies in one outing?
I don’t typically shoot in bright, sunny conditions. Partly because harsh light often isn’t conducive to the images I want to take. But also, my Hasselblad’s fastest shutter speed is 1/500 of a second, which means I’m not able to shoot with wide apertures in bright conditions if I’m using faster film speeds with a higher ISO (and I usually am).
So I took this on-course shoot as an opportunity to try a new film that would give me the flexibility to shoot wide open in extremely bright conditions even with the limitations of my camera’s shutter speeds. That film is Ilford Pan F Plus 50.
On their website, Ilford describes the film as “suitable for bright conditions from sunny days to controlled studio lighting.” The slow speed was perfect for me on the golf course on a clear, sunny afternoon in early June.
I was able to shoot everything handheld, using an aperture of f/4 or f/5.6 and still had a stop or two of shutter speeds to work with on my camera. The ability to shoot with a wider aperture was great for shooting portraits where I really wanted to shallow out the depth-of-field to bring attention to my subject.
The Clarity, Sharpness, & Grain of Ilford Pan F
The drawback to the slow speed of Pan F+ is obviously that it’s not going to do well in overcast or low light conditions, unless you have a tripod. But what it lacks in versatility, it makes up for in its clarity and sharpness.
I only shot one roll of the 120 version of Ilford Pan F, but based on the shots I got, this film might be the smoothest, sharpest film I’ve ever used. It’s incredibly sharp and brings out so many fine and intricate details in the images.
I brought out my extension tube as well to try shooting macro images for some close up detail, and I’m glad I did. This film is a perfect candidate for close up portraiture, architecture on a sunny day, and macro photography, as the details it captures are stunning.
But if you like grain, this film is probably not going to be for you, as there is very little of it. However, what grain there is is really smooth and pleasant.
The first word that came to mind when I scanned the Pan F+ images was “classic.” This film has a really classic look to it.
The contrast is lovely, with nice deep blacks and bright whites. Shooting on such a bright, sunny day, I was concerned about blowing out the highlights in some of the shots, but this film held its own, and I was really happy to see so much detail in the whites of the image.
There were even a couple shots that I slightly underexposed as the light grew less in the early evening, but the film still captured a remarkable amount of information in the shadows when I brightened the scans up in Lightroom.
I developed Pan F+ in Kodak HC-110 (dilution b) for 4 minutes.
I never have experimented much with developers, but given its sharpness I’m sure Pan F+ would be a good candidate for experimenting to see which developer was best for bringing out the clarity and sharpness of your images.
While it probably won’t be your everyday go-to film, if you’re looking for what might be the sharpest film on the market and are planning on shooting subjects with lots of detail on a bright, sunny day, you won’t do better than Ilford Pan F Plus.
I don’t always shoot film on the golf course, but when I do, I’ll probably reach for another roll myself!