Just another in my series of shooting real film. This time Ilford PanF Plus, developed in PMK pyro. I was playing with this for a little while to see if it could do duty as my slow, sharp, fine grained film. The brief answer is no. At the time and still to this day I think Kodak TMAX 100 blows it out of the water in every way, including aesthetics. PanF does nothing for better than TMAX (or Delta 100 for that matter) and a whole lot of things way worse.
Here is the brief rundown. Yes it is sharp and fine grained but it has so many faults with no redeeming factors. It is really slow, so slow in the shadows that it is more like using Agfa APX 25 or Kodak Panatomic X. In fact I would prefer either of those to the Pan F. Combine this characteristic with the fact that it shoulders off so fast in the highlights it is more like using an ortho film or Tech Pan and it really sucks. To explain this in english not only is it not 50 speed when trying to retain shadow detail in zone III it blocks up very easily either via exposure or development. When I say it blocks up I really mean that, it doesn't just get denser and denser like TMAX does while retaining detail, it goes to maximum density really quick and that is all she wrote - no more detail - no more differentiation. Done, blown. TMAX 100 on the other hand will get really dense but continues to add more and more density so the detail is there even if it is hard for newbies to get detail in the highlights. Completely different.
Honestly I have no idea why Ilford continues to make this stuff (I think they do). I have no idea why they made it in the 90's when I tested it. For that matter I have no idea why Agfa and Kodak couldn't make money with their slow films like APX 25 and Panatomic X verses this crap. At least those two had redeeming qualities. Yes I know that all really slow films act like I describe more than faster films but having a lot of experience with Panatomic X and APX 25 and the supposedly evil but actually fantastic TMAX I can say that Pan F was ridiculous and virtually useless even after taking the time to calibrate it. I would never use it for plus development - useless.