The slowest film Ilford produces might also be the sharpest black and white film you can get your hands on.
Before I get into the pros and cons of this film, first, a little background about ISO might be necessary. Simply put, ISO refers to the sensitivity of the film to light. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive the film is to light, while inversely, the lower the ISO number, the less sensitive the film is to light. ISO is also called film speed. The lower the number, the slower the film and vice versa.
Pan F Plus 50 is the slowest film that Ilford produces. Having an ISO speed of only 50, it is a very slow film. It sits at the bottom of their film range in regards to speed. It needs a lot of light to produce a decent image, whereas at the other end of the speed spectrum, Ilford Delta 3200 is a super fast film that can be used indoors without a flash and still produce a good image.
One of the best features of this film is its outstanding clarity and sharpness. There is virtually no grain with this film and because of this attribute, the amount of detail you can capture with Pan F Plus 50 is amazing. The delicate seeds of a dandelion puff on a windless sunny day, the wrinkles on an old man’s face, ornate architectural details on a brightly lit street scene are all begging to be shot with this film. To get the full benefit of this film, you’ll need to load it into a camera with a precise glass lens. While I love my Diana F+, its plastic lens is unable to take proper advantage of Pan F Plus 50.
However, this is not an everyday type of film. Since it’s so slow, your subject has to be very well lit. On a bright sunny day, you can shoot hand-held outdoors. Overcast conditions tend to require a tripod or shooting with a very wide aperture. This is not good film to use if you are trying to shoot a fast moving subject in low light. Portraits shot indoors will need either bright studio lights or your model will need to stay perfectly still for a few seconds so they do not appear blurry.
So, if you’re looking for a film with an incredibly long tonal range and exceptional clarity, I highly recommend using this film. Just make sure there is enough light.
If image quality is a priority over film speed, count on the Ilford Pan F 50 120 yield excellent images with fine detail and undetectable grain. Check it out with the rest of our black and white film selection.