JCH Street Pan review

It’s been a long time coming, but I finally have two rolls of film developed, scanned, and processed. Here are my thoughts.

I received ten rolls of JCH Pan 400 about 3 weeks ago and loaded a roll into the LC-A within days. I shot around at random for a few days, and then, after completely repairing the light seals on the 35-ZF, I loaded a second roll into it just before Hana and I set out to take a walk around the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. I finished both rolls shortly after, and got to work developing them.

I shot both at box speed, though given the 1.5v batteries in the 35-ZF, any reliance on the meter was about 1/2 to 1 stop over. If images from the 35-ZF are at all overexposed (some are, some aren’t), many of the shots from the LC-A appear underexposed: I wonder if the batteries are going, or maybe conditions were too bright for the 1/500th and f/16 (doubtful, given the cloud cover and deep shade in some of them).

I don’t remember any issues in winding getting the film onto the reels or anything, and I developed following the time suggested in the box: D76 Stock for 12:30, and I agitated at 45 second intervals. The wash water came out cloudy and purple: I wasn’t surprised at the purple, but the cloudy had me a bit curious. I’m not sure what caused it, but it wasn’t anything to be worried about. Next time, I think I’ll switch to 1 minute agitation intervals in an attempt to tame the contrast a bit.

So with that, let’s get into some pictures…

This first one has nearly the full range of tones in it, I think: from pure white in the guy’s clipboard, to black in the trees. It’s probably a bit underexposed (like most of the LC-A roll), but that’s a good thing, I think: the Street Pan doesn’t have the widest exposure range ever.

Here’s a 100% crop to show the grain. It’s pleasant enough, if a bit clumpy, and there’s good detail.

These next two have me puzzled. The first looks like the LC-A’s usual underexposure of the bright mid-day sky, but it was overcast and rather dark out, and I had to torture the file to get anything out of it. The second is just insanely underexposed.

The LC-A did fine with this early morning shot of my darling, adorable wife’s feet about a half hour before we left for the botanic gardens. The Street Pan is quick to blow highlights and loose shadow detail, I think, though it might be a bit over-agitated, as noted above.

We headed off to the Botanic Gardens, and there the fun began…

Extreme variations in highlights and shadows lead to some interesting effects. I didn’t see anything like this in any of the example pictures at japancamerahunter, so I wonder if maybe my brick got x-rayed or something.

Here’s a close up of the fun glowing bit, above.

This didn’t happen in the LC-A, so it’s something with the Ricoh. It could be something with my light seal repair, I guess; it only happens with light sources at the top of the frame (bottom of the rear door), but it’s not on every frame, and it’s in different spots on different frames. Check how it’s inset a bit from the edge.

It’s a fun effect, and something that might be fun to exploit, if I remember it, that is… It has some possibilities.

 

Out of two 36 exposure rolls, and maybe 75 total frames, I exported a bunch of pictures, so I must have seen something in this film, yet when I was processing it and preparing for this, I had some deep misgivings about the exposure range: It seemed like the shadows dropped off too quickly and the highlights blew out too quickly. Looking again now, though, I’m not sure that’s true.

Fort Worth, TX, 2016

It may be that the scenes I shot were just too contrasty or too flat, maybe I just did a poor job of exposing the film. I wouldn’t be surprised at any of that.

Really, it’s a nice film, and capable of good results under the right conditions (and the right level of expertise…).

I really like a couple of pictures, especially from the LC-A and its strange behavior.

There’s a really pleasant, newsy, noir quality to some of these, that I didn’t get from other films. Others are sharp and smooth, graphic, classic, all sorts of things. Maybe its the conditions: others were shot indoors or under clear skies, so the flat light from overcast days probably influence the outcome with the Street Pan.

And really, maybe it’s my post processing… Here’s a quick A/B.

Other than some straightening (that influenced the crop), the only adjustment is to the midtown contrast, and I think it improved the grain and helped out quite a bit… So maybe it was just me being a bit too easy on the processing front… But I don’t know. So many pictures came out fine.

And I guess I was wrong, the glory bit does happen somewhat with the LC-A. It’s not quite the same extent as the Ricoh, but it’s there.

So. JCH Street Pan…

Grain
Character
Handling
Processing

The Grain is pleasant for a 400 speed film, and it’s fine when processed correctly. I look forward to seeing how it comes out with somewhat less agitation.

The general character of it is nice and it’s suitable for a wide enough range of subjects.

It handles easy and the post processing is fine, if you play around with it some.

Overall, I give it 4.3 stars, more or less.

JCH Street Pan 400 is readily available from Japan Camera Hunter, and (as far as I know) nowhere else. It’s a bit expensive at over $10 per roll, shipped direct from Japan. I’d probably take re-spooled, expired Polypan F 50 for $7 or $8, or, better, some HP5+ for ~$4, but I’m glad to have 8 rolls in the fridge. I we can reach economies of scale, maybe the price will drop some. If we could get a container here in the U.S., we could at least get the shipping costs down. Time will tell.

In a few days, I’ll share some more pictures from the Botanic Gardens. I purposefully shot a few near-identical frames with the 32mm LC-A and the 40mm 35 Z-F to see what they looked like next to each other, so look forward to that.

If you’ve shot some, what do you think of it? And if you have any processing tips, please pass them on!

 

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