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Ilford's Pan F is an old film, and the slowest they make, although not their sharpest or lowest grain. (That would be Delta 100 for both.) It has about the same dynamic range as my 2007 Olympus E-510 dSLR, which is to say that it will simultaneously blow out the sky and block up the shadows on a cloudy day. I used one roll of 35mm about a year ago, and it took a lot of work to keep it under control. I still haven't used the other roll that I bought back then. But I heard some good things about it with Ilford Perceptol as a developer, so I decided to give that a try in medium format.

A film known for finicky exposures, fine detail, and high contrast in a pinhole camera. Why not?

I 'metered' for EI25, and then developed the film according to Ilford's recommendations. This gave me usefully long exposure times; Museum subway station was two minutes, and the bike below was about fifteen seconds. This is very helpful – the last thing you want with a pinhole is a shutter speed that's too short to perform reliably. 

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While the camera wasn't always pointing in the best direction, the quality of the negatives amazed me. I've added a whack of contrast to these photos – I could have kept the shadows open if I wanted to, which defies my expectations for both the film and the 6x9 camera. But the way the film has held on to the highlight detail is fantastic. The fine distinctions between the building and the sky are clear with the bike, and only the actual light bulbs are blown out in the subway station stairwell. And I could recover those if I really wanted to. There's no actual detail in the sky, but that's not the film's fault – blame Toronto weather.

So I'm very impressed by this odd little film on my second try.

Next I want to use it with a yellow filter on a day with a pretty sky, and I also want to see what it can do in Perceptol when shot with a camera that has a reliable meter and a good lens. Or at least with a lens. But I never thought that I'd be seeking out contrasty urban canyons with it in a pinhole, and too excited about the results to sleep properly after scanning the negatives.