I started out using the classic combination of Ilford PAN F Plus black and white film and Agfa Rodinal Developer. I was happy with the results from the very beginning and learned to love the classic PAN F look. As the two products are so widely recommended as the ideal slow film/high acutance black and white combination, I didn’t expect much when I experimented with using Ilford's ILFOTEC DD-X developer instead of old reliable Rodinal. The results were very surprising.
The grain in my prints was reduced to the point that almost any reasonable enlargement from a medium format neg was essentially grain free. However, as the usual trade-off for reduced grain is reduced acutance, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had lost nothing. Same high acutance that I was getting with Rodinal! I am now able to achieve the same classic black and white PAN F high acutance but with even less grain.
Summer Wheat, Greystones
Ilford PAN F Plus can be somewhat finicky film if you want to develop it really well in order to get those “perfect” black and white negatives but since switching to DD-X the processing is less complex. Unlike with some other developers the slight difference in time or temperature during the development won’t affect the printability of the negative much. More of my negs are easily printable now. I’ve only seen an improvement since switching to DD-X and now I believe I’m getting the best performance from my favorite film. I feel as though I achieved those “last 10% of performance” from PAN F I had been searching for.
Regardless of the developer used however, PAN F itself remains in the unique position that made it a favorite of so many photographers. It’s one of the slowest films on the market with a super fine grain and renowned acuteness. For me the look of PAN F epitomizes classic black and white landscape photography.
To see this great combination of PAN F Plus film with ILFOTEC DD-X developer 'in action' please refer to my following prints:
Summer Wheat, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Fishing Spot, Lough Derg, Co. Clare
Black and White Photography of Ireland