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  1. #1

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    Why does Slower B&W Film Have a Darker Look?

    I was comparing prints of Pan F Plus 50 with those of Delta 100 and 400. While the Pan F 50 prints seem a bit sharper, they also have a darker tonal character. I do not think my hand-held light meter is defective, but I will know for sure when I get some more prints back. I doubt the meter is faulty. Anyway, is this the true character of Pan F Plus 50 and other slower b&w films? The Delta 100 and 400 seem brighter, and perhaps more realistic in this respect. Does one need to slightly overexpose slower b&w film?

  2. #2
    Willie Jan's Avatar
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    Maybe the way you develop the pan F+ compared to the delta film is different.

    Could be that the pan film should be overexposed or that the development period should be longer.... Maybe a test with a gray card can get you further.

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    kauffman v36's Avatar
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    ive eperienced the same results as the OP, someone once suggested rating it at 25 or 32 and developing normal in order to get it a little brighter but ive never tried.

  4. #4

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    Indeed, the film seems dark to me, and I am glad someone else has noticed this. People seem to love this film, but I have gotten only "film noir" prints from it.

    Rollei Superpan 200 is also a bit darkish, but not nearly as dark as Pan F. With the Rollei film, the slighly dark quality helps skies (which are often too white in b&w), but hurts other aspects. With Pan F, the "film noir" tone spoils everything.
    Last edited by FilmOnly; 05-17-2010 at 09:23 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    Rick A's Avatar
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    It mearly means you have to find the optimal speed for your particular camers.
    Rick Allen
    Argentum Aevum

    “What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.”
    -Neal Peart-

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    VaryaV's Avatar
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    I had the same problem with Pan F+. Super, super high contrast and I usually shoot HP5+ and D3200 which has just the opposite effect with me. I know it's something I am not doing right for the film and camera which also leads me to believe it's the exposure. I have seen others get incredible results with Pan F+.

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    I've used Pan F+ for years with great results. It's a contrasty film which is often the case with slow films. Shooting in the LA sun as I do, I find that by rating the film at iso 25 and developing in Rodinal 1+100 with gentle agitation gives me great easy-to-print negs. Pan F requires a bit more patients and work to get it they way you want, but when you do it's a great film.

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    To me it has nothing to do with the camera, and only a bit, perhaps, to do with being patient. The fact of the matter is that the film is clearly slower than the box speed of 50. My lab has produced consistent results with numerous other films, and only rolls of Pan F Plus have been obviously dark. I have two or three rolls of this film left, and do not know what to do with it. I am hesitant to shoot it, as I put a fair amount of effort into my shots and processing is expensive. I suppose I might ask: would anyone like to trade for some Delta 100?
    Last edited by FilmOnly; 05-17-2010 at 09:47 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9
    VaryaV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcmarc View Post
    I've used Pan F+ for years with great results. It's a contrasty film which is often the case with slow films. Shooting in the LA sun as I do, I find that by rating the film at iso 25 and developing in Rodinal 1+100 with gentle agitation gives me great easy-to-print negs. Pan F requires a bit more patients and work to get it they way you want, but when you do it's a great film.
    I know I shot mine at box speed and from what others have been recommending on this thread and others is 25 or less, 18. Will have to give it a whirl. I have had much better luck with rating Ilford films then shooting at box speed, as a relative newbie to film, these tips have been very helpful.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by FilmOnly View Post
    I was comparing prints of Pan F Plus 50 with those of Delta 100 and 400. While the Pan F 50 prints seem a bit sharper, they also have a darker tonal character. I do not think my hand-held light meter is defective, but I will know for sure when I get some more prints back. I doubt the meter is faulty. Anyway, is this the true character of Pan F Plus 50 and other slower b&w films? The Delta 100 and 400 seem brighter, and perhaps more realistic in this respect. Does one need to slightly overexpose slower b&w film?
    Your later comment of "processing is expensive" may contain a clue. When I worked in a B&W lab many years ago, we ran all of the film though Microdol-X at the same time, regardless of the film type. We even offered "push" processing, also in Microdol-X. Now I know that Microdol-X on a good day gives about 80% of the rated film speed. I tried hard to get the management to use D-76, at least for pushing, but they would have none of it. I couldn't even get them to let me sort the film by development time and run multiple batches (this was a 3-gal sink line, not really high tech.) Somebody from Kodak told them that Microdol-X was the "best" developer, and that was that. My guess is that your B&W film, if you send it to a lab, gets tossed in the soup with all of the other B&W film for some "average" amount of time. In that case, you really will have to find an EI for Pan-F that works for you, and the results will probably be far from optimal.

    For the record, I've used Pan-F for years, mostly developing it in D-76/ID-11 but also in other developers. It's always been my go-to for fine grain, and gives beautiful tones when handled properly. If you aren't going to develop it yourself, though, your best bet is to figure out which films your labs processing is calibrated for and stick with those. From what you've said, it sounds like they are more geared toward T-grain films (Delta and T-Max) than older emulsions, but you probably should ask them. If they'll tell you the time/temp/developer they use, you should be able to pretty easily pick a set of films that are well matched to their processing.

    Good luck!
    Ulysses

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