This reliable little Yashica 35mm camera has been the envy of other backpackers — small, lightweight, and fully mechanical. Not to mention, the 50mm prime lens of the same brand provides respectable quality considering it cost the same as dinner for two at a fast-food restaurant.

I began my film journey shooting almost entirely color negative stock, thinking black and white was “too simple” — although that was likely because I couldn’t produce consistently satisfactory images. Fuji Acros eventually became my choice black and white stock because of its fine grain and contrast, but nearly as soon as I started getting pleasing results, its end was announced.

On my backpacking trip this summer along the Pacific Crest Trail, I intentionally chose a wide assortment of monochrome mediums to find a new favorite slow-speed fine grain film. Enter ILFORD’s Pan F Plus 50. In my limited research before buying, I read it was slow but produced super sharp images. Perfect!

I shot one roll from the Mount Whitney Summit to Kearsarge Pass, arguably one of the most beautiful sections of the Sierra Nevada high country. To my extreme disappointment, that roll developed completely blank and I was forced to try again:

This roll of Pan F got its chance in northern Oregon in mid-August. Wildfire smoke was difficult to deal with, but the high contrast helped cut through the haze. Most scenes in bright sunlight were turned well, however mornings and under tree cover usually proved difficult and ended up at a shutter speed too slow for handheld. I was quite happy with the results from the entire roll, and PanF Plus has earned a seat in my go-to for black and white films for the outdoors.

Shown here is Mt. Jefferson’s north face, Lake Ollalie dock, Timberline Lodge with Jefferson and Three Sisters to the south, Ramona Falls (handheld against a tree at 1/2 sec exposure!), and The Bridge of the Gods.

~ Erik

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  1. Great pics! Pan F is a really wonderful film. My favorite Ilford film. So fine grained, so sharp, such great tonality (in a fairly high contrast way). Such a pity it is only ISO 50, which is often too slow in the UK where I live.