TECH PAN OR PAN F which is easier. : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

Hello everyone, I am trying to figure out which film is better kodak's TECH PAN or Ilford's PAN F. I am not trying to create a war here. I just want to find out the advantages and drawbacks of the two films. I will be shooting in 120 format. End result, I would like very sharp high magnification upto 30x40 images. Which of the two is easy to handle in the darkroom. I know alot of it has to do with the developement too. What developer would you suggest. I really appreciate all your help. Thanx in advance. Fuad



Both are slow/low-grain films, and as such both are a little more difficult to use than, say, an ISO 400 film, which is much more forgiving of errors. That said, I think TP and Pan F are completely different, and both have their own virtues. I prefer TechPan in PMK pyro myself, but it is a fairly difficult combination--ISO 16, very little tolerance for underexposure (goes grainy and detail-less very quickly) and of overexposure (I don't know the words for what happens here...the highs glow wonderfully but get very flat and wierd). I use ISO 16 because it does make a big difference over ISO 25.

I haven't shot a lot of Pan F, but it is a 'regular' emulsion, designed to give typical gamma with normal developers, unlike TP, which is really, I've heard, a lith film, made for high-resolution line art etc, where gradations are less important than sharpness. I may get busted on that one, though...shawn

that all said, i don't think either is difficult to use once you dial in--just shoot some test rolls to see how the films, react, like any other film you might want to try...

hope this helps a little

-- shawn gibson (, April 01, 2000.


These two films are like specialized tools. A person has to practice with them in order to acheive great results. TP and Pan F are not like 100 or 400 speed films. The highlight details will be lost if the right techniques are not used. I have more experience with Pan F so here are some things that I have learned from experimenting with it. The sharpest detail with Pan F is obtaied with Rodinal. But if the subject is high in contrast, I use Rodinal diluted to 1+75 and use a stand development(no agitaion) for 5 minutes at 68 deg. This is an easy development process. If you want a longer tonal range, easier printability, nearly the same sharpness, use PMK. It is the only developer I use now. The glowing highlights you hear about are true. PMK requires extra steps and time, but it makes your efforts worry free. You always know that the results are going to be great. I would reccommend Pan F and PMK. Once you use this combination, you'll be hooked. I wouldn't worry about sharpness in the prints you are planning. With good technique, they will look impressive. PMK puts you way ahead on the learning curve so you can concentrate on composition, not on technical concerns.You can get liquid PMK from or

People either love or hate these two films. I beleive its beacause the people who love them have practiced enough with them to be able to get the most from them.

Good Luck, Greg

-- Greg Rust (, April 02, 2000.

I love TechPan for the fantastic grainless results and sharpness when developed in Rodinal 1:200 for 8 minutes at 23 deg C (35mm film), but TechPan being a thin film, is more difficult to load in the dev reel. Half the time, TP gets stuck in the reel while loading and it's a pain to get it loaded completely.

-- Sriram (, April 02, 2000.

Shawn's bang on with his assessment of Technical Pan. It's a high contrast copying film. I've tried to use it as a normal gradation film a number of times after all the hype its received. A disaster every time! Stick to Pan F, or better yet Tmax, which actually has a finer grain. The learning curve with Tech Pan is as steep as its gamma curve.

-- Pete Andrews (, April 03, 2000.

For 30x40 cm prints from 6x6 negs, Ilford Delta 100 should also be fine.

BTW: There is also an ISO 25 film by Agfa (APX 25). Has anyone got experience with this?

-- Thomas Wollstein (, April 03, 2000.

The learning curve with Tech Pan is as steep as its gamma curve.

...well put, Pete :-)


ps contracted development in PMK helps with this, ISO16, 1:2:100PMK, 6:30 @ 68deg, 15sec cycling...try it?

-- shawn gibson (, April 03, 2000.

Pan F is easier--and cheaper. For one thing, you can develop it in XTOL 1:3 for around 10 minutes @ 75 degrees (whatever the Kodak data sheet says) and be done with it. For another, it's a lower contrast film, so it's easier in that regard. And the cost at B&H is less than half of Tech Pan.

That said, however, I sure have some beautiful, grain-free Tech Pan 16 x 20 inch prints hanging on my wall. Photographers Formulary's TD-3 Tech Pan developer is the best way I know to get the film to behave. The glycin in it gives highlights a bit of a glow, too. On the down side, they recommend a 21 minute development (but with agitation only every three minutes). On the up side, you get to shoot at ASA 50 and get some decent gradation to go with your sharpness and lack of grain.

Finally, someone mentioned Agfa 25, and I would have to say that's another very good way to go. It's like Pan F, but with a little more contrast. XTOL 1:3 does marvelous things for it, too, although there is that ISO 25 thing. Of the three films, I would put Pan F last, but not by a lot.

-- Brian Hinther (, April 03, 2000.

I've never quite gotten around to trying Tech Pan, although I'm going to have to very soon. Pan F+ is almost like an all-purpose film compared to Agfapan 25. Easier to control and more forgiving - - like a fine grain Tri-X -- you can still get nice prints out of less-than-perfect negs. I use it in XTOL 1:1, and I find its EI to be something more like 32. Pan F+ has an extended blue sensitivity, which means blown out skies unless you use a filter (yellow-orange-red). I like it a lot.

-- Michael Kackman (, April 03, 2000.

Hi, my experience with Tech Pan is using for astro work and as such have come across some of the history. Apparently started as a film for taking shots of atom bomb tests, technidol was developed to give extreme contrast range. Grain and contrast are both highly variable with devloper used and time. I develop astro negs for 12 mins in hc-110 dil B. But you would't want to do that for pictorial work!! The other original use for T-Pan was taking shots of the sun in H-Alpha light, normal (Panchromatic) film is almost insensitive to this wavelength, but tech pan has very good sensitivity, unique among B&W film I believe.

I am interested to try pictorial work with this film, can some one give me some info on PMK and TD-3. I am an Australian (living in Thailand for the moment) I'm don't know if this sort of stuff is available here. I have often wondered how those glowing highlights were obtained, and had assumed a bigger piece of film than 35mm was a big help.

-- Chris Ross (, May 01, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ