It’s rare when a new film hits the market–but it would make a whole lot of sense that someone like Bellamy Hunt decides to create one. Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 film is an emulsion available in 35mm and was developed to really be shot in low light situations. In fact, he states that it works best in red lighting. For the casual street photographer, that means sundown as you head out on your commute to go back home at the end of the workday. Beyond this, ensure that the film lab working to develop the film knows what they’re doing.
Born out of a discontinued surveillance film made from Agfa, StreetPan 400 isn’t a respooled film, but one that’s reborn according to Bellamy.
Editor’s Note: My review goes far more in depth in its continued form over at our premium publication La Noir Image. Click here to see it. Please subscribe for as little as $15/year to gain access.
The JCH StreetPan 400 film was tested with the Hexar AF camera.
Ease of Use
Whenever I test a new film, I like to use my standard knowledge of film and apply it to every day shooting. For example, I know that Tungsten film will be very blue with a flash or during the daytime. Looking at some of Bellamy’s photos on his website with the film, it looks like something very attractive.
Most of my work with the film was during sunny days outside by the beach, indoors, in some shadows, etc. For the most part, that’s how I shoot a lot of black and white film. The Hexar AF is a camera that requires you to sometimes be really careful. Why? The max shutter speed is 1/250th. So when you’re outside in the sun with an ISO 400 film, you need to stop your lens down to f22 according to the rules of Sunny 16. For the uninitiated, that would otherwise mean that at f16, ISO 400, I’d be shooting at 1/400th. But the camera doesn’t shoot at that speed.
If you’ve got a camera that does this, then use it. But if you don’t, just hope that your lens is great. Thankfully, the one of the Hexar AF is incredible.
Then combine this with the high contrast look of this film. It’s surprisingly sharp and makes me think even higher of the Hexar AF.
The film grain from Street Pan is very fine overall. It’s much finer than Tri-X and Delta 400. So if you’re a person that craves that super grainy look, then this may not be the 400 film for you. In fact, this is some of the finest grain that I’ve seen overall for a 400 speed black and white film.
Because it’s such a high contrast film, you’ll also need to find a way to meter very carefully to try to balance out the shadows and the highlights. When you properly expose it, you can get a whole load of detail from both the shadows and the highights overall. Typically, you don’t want to expose for the shadows or the highlights specifically–instead you just want a balance here or in certain situations even overexpose just a tad. The black here are very inky and deep, so the film will really reflect that.
This film is more contrasty than Tri-X overall though not as contrasty as Delta 400–so it’s an interesting in-between with the finest grain of all of the options.
Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 in 120 has been long awaited. It’s still a beautiful film, but the larger format lends itself to other things besides street photography very well. This is a film that I’d be ecstatic to take into a studio or use with natural light for portraiture. Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan I believe has a very limited range. It doesn’t work so well at ISO 1600 and needs a good amount of light but not an overwhelming amount. It wants to be fed just the right amount. Some of the images below illustrate the film when it is shot at ISO 100 and others are at ISO 400–what the film is rated at.
Personally speaking, I think that for street photography work, this film is best served at 35mm. If you’re doing careful, slow work on a tripod, then use it for architecture or portraiture.
I really ended up liking JCH Street Pan 400 film. It’s overall pretty nice and wonderful to know that another company is trying to create something new for the analogue world. Would I shoot it again? Totally; though I’d probably want to shoot something like a documentary project with this film. For casual street photography, Tri-X and Delta 400 are generally speaking still king here.