JCH StreetPan 400 on Contax T3
It took me a year to finally shoot this roll of JCH StreetPan 400 I got from Bellamy when we met in Finland at CameraRescue back in September 2017. I was waiting for the right time and place to shoot it in the best location possible, so when a weekend in London came up on the agenda, I packed this roll of StreetPan along with my favorite point and shoot: the mighty Contax T3 !!
This trip was also an opportunity to try a new style of videos. Instead of my other half filming me while taking the shots, I mounted a GoPro on the side of my T3 and did my best to replicate what I was actually seeing through the viewfinder. Without anyone doing the video shooting for me, it was able to get more spontaneous pictures. Pictures that I would have probably missed if I also had to think about recording decent footage. Here it’s just you, my camera and me!
If you are still exploring the wide range of 35mm black and film that exists and haven’t heard of Street Pan yet, let me give you a little introduction and review about it.
Back in 2016, Bellamy Hunt from Japan Camera Hunter managed to revive a forgotten emulsion that was specifically made for traffic and speed limit film cameras. For these cameras to be efficient and catch a maximum of Formula 1 Pilots wannabes, they needed a film that would cover most lighting conditions, from morning to dusk and even on foggy days.
The spectral sensitivity is extended compared to what the human eye can see and goes close to infrared. In practice, it means that the film is able to see through fog and haze to get sharper edges where standard film stock wouldn’t be able to get so many details because of their reduced sensitivity (something Londoners will appreciate!).
This almost IR superpower also makes it by nature more contrasty than classic film stocks we know like Kodak TX400 or Ilford HP5. Sure, you can obtain higher contrast with those films too by pushing them 2 stops and rating them at ISO 1600 instead of 400. For even more contrast, know that Kodak TX400 can even be pushed 4 stops up to 6400!!
Pushing film to increase contrast is a classic technique used by many black and white photographers, but what you can’t get is this capability to cut through haze like StreetPan does.
Another property of Street Pan is its small grain and high sharpness when compared to other 400 ISO film. When you are shooting in high ISO with a digital camera, you start getting noticeable noise and it can really ruin an image. With film that’s the exact same thing except that we can it “grain” and it actually looks good (most of the time!). For some people, the more grain, the better it looks. Personally, I’m a little more moderate about grain and don’t like when it’s too prominent. With StreetPan, grain is very subtle in the shadows especially when there’s enough ambient light.
However in low light, or when the film is underexposed it becomes more noticeable in darker areas but that’s something most films suffer in general so nothing to worry about. Below are a few samples where it’s the most apparent.
Back to the sharpness, yes the film does a great job at defining edges and giving crisp images, but it’s also worth mentioning that the Contax T3 35mm Zeiss lens is absolutely amazing. Along with the Minolta TC-1 and Leica CM, it’s actually one of the sharpest lens ever put on a point and shot.
Overall I can say that this first roll of StreetPan for a real success! If you want to try it out, a roll with cost 11$ and since last year it also exists in 120 (around 12$ per roll) so you can enjoy it on your medium format cameras as well!
If I wasn’t making Street Candy, that’s probably a film stock I’d be shooting more often but these two are quite similar so I’m perfectly happy with ATM400 even if it’s a little more grainy than StreetPan. That will probably be the subject of a future post as I often get requests to compare those two.
I’ll conclude this StreetPan review by thanking my favorite lab Nation Photo for developing and providing high-resolution scans to illustrate this article. Definitely check out these guys if you’re looking to buy or process film!
You can find all pictures in high resolution in this Flickr Album.