Monday, April 24, 2006

Oh, How I love Tech Pan!

Originally uploaded by argusmaniac.
Yup. I do. And a lot of you are wondering what the hell I'm talking about. Last year, Kodak stopped producing Technical Pan Film. A b&w emulsion that can be used as a high contrast film with one developer (such as D-19) for pure black and white images, or as a lower-contrast pictorial film with a wide range of grays using Technidol developer (or some other common developers in weird dilutions).

Ahh, you are probably saying, "So it's just a b&w film..." yes it is, but one without any appreciable grain at big enlargements. It's also very slow -- ISO 25, which in today's high speed world, is glacially slow. But, that slow speed means 1/60 at f11 on a sunny day. Or, use tripod. What you get are amazing enlargements from a 35mm film that look as though they were shot in medium format.

The beauty of different films (especially b&w) is that each film has a different character, different spectral response, different grain -- and grain dependent on the developer used, as well as a "feel" that is SO different from digital. I am not a big fan of a lot of photoshop post-processing. The problem with digital b&w, is that every image has a sameness to it -- no grain, no "bite", no serendipity.

So, I am not anti-digital. But I am PRO- b&w film for a lot of good reasons.

The sad part is, Kodak stopped making TechPan, but lucky for me, I have about 300 feet of it in my fridge. So, I'll just keep shooting with it until it is eventually gone forever. I just found this interesting article on a small resurgence in b&w photography here. So, you see there IS an alternative to Tech Pan.

Image info: Shot in Livingston Co., MI, April, 2006, Nikon N8008, Nikkor 70-200 AF Zoom, Techpan developed in Technidol, per box instructions. Yes, I used a tripod.


MikeR said...

I have yet to find the one film that I just love. I feel that I am still tuning my eye to the differences in the films available. I have to agree with your assessment on digital images converted to B&W--they are all the same. It seems that, eventually, we will move in the opposite direction of the f64 group and search for unsharpness, zing, differentness, or whatever you might call it.

After seeing your image, I would love to have tried the TechPan film. I think the slowet 35mm film I have now is some asa100. I better bust it out.

mfophotos said...

Mike -- Try some Ilford Pan F (ISO 50) or the Efke 25 (from J&C Photo). The Efke film is very nice. I like experimenting with different films, but I find myself going back to my old standbys -- Ilford FP-4 and HP-5+, and Techpan.

Anonymous said...


There are alternatives. I've done some research on this, and basically what you need is microfilm, which is what Tech Pan started off as. Kodak Imagelink HG is a good one, as is Fuji Super HSU. The Agfa Copex was a good film from what I hear, but I don't know if it is available any more, after the fall of Agfa.

Nice Site!

Wes Medlin