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The Japan Camera Hunter, Bellamy Hunt, is a street photographer who loves to unite rare, esoteric, and beautiful film cameras with new rightful owners. In that spirit, he has sourced and is marketing a rare and esoteric camera film. I impulse bought some as soon as pre-orders were announced and shot my first roll at the weekend.

The film, StreetPan 400 costs a UK buyer around £6.50 a roll when bought in a bundle of ten. It's more expensive than my usual go-to, T-Max 400, so it must pack a punch to compete. It was quite a bit cheaper a few weeks ago, please blame exchange rate fluctuations and those who inflicted them.

I decided to carry the film everywhere I went this weekend so that I could try a roll in a variety of conditions. I loaded up my Canon 7, a rangefinder from 1961, paired up with the wonderful 50mm f/1.4 lens which was designed for the camera. I metered using the 'Sunny 16' rule when conditions allowed, and using the meter on the camera at other times. The negatives were developed commercially in Sheffield, and scanned on a Minolta DImage 5400. They were imported into Lightroom for a spot of dust cleaning only - the images have not been altered in any other way. As ever, you can inspect larger copies of the images via the gallery links at the bottom of this post.

I've left the scan borders on - try to think of it as evidence of my scan's authenticity rather than my own hipsterdom.

So what happened out on the street ?

Jolly's

The first thing I noticed was how much detail showed up in the mid-tones, which appear on scans with bags of contrast. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing a full range of tones from deep black to pure white on an image. The film emulsion is understood to derive from a surveillance camera application which suggests that it was specifically designed to render very clearly and accurately and the film does not disappoint. As you would expect from film rather than a digital sensor, high contrast scenes are recorded with enormous dynamic range as shown in the above, a pretty contrasty shot.

Though, today, there's not a film for sale which does not have great dyamic range and good detail in the contrast so I went looking through my negatives for features which made this film special.

Chicken!

When I shot this image, I expected it to be a throwaway. After all, how could a street photographer's film possibly render such dark, indoor tones ? I exposed for the highlight plus two stops, expecting an almost blank negative without detail in the dark patches. In reality there is very little of the scene which is detail-free, the dark patches are rendered honestly, with much more detail than I was expecting. I would expect a digital rendition of this scene to be quite noisy in the dark areas.

Yes the negative was thin - of course it was because the room was very dark, but when the preview appeared in Vuescan I was shocked how much there was to look at in the dark areas. And how I'd managed to focus on a chicken in the dark.

Froggatt!

In the bright light StreetPan is more of a mixed bag. Again, in the mid-tones, I saw amazing levels of detail - in fact, I almost cleaned a 'hair mark' on the negative before realising it was some detail in a tree bark. And the film even managed to cut through a bit of haze present in the distance on the day to substantially improve sharpness in the distance. Though if you look in the sky, at the overexposed area, the grain is very pronounced. Not unpleasant but definitely coarse. This is a film landscape lovers might like to use to add contrast to flat days, but not one for a sunny July lunchtime.

Alley!

Here's a street scene with every bit of light to contend with - bright direct sunlight, total shade, and everythng in between. I think it shows that the film can cope with everything that a street photographer needs it to. I'm looking forward to trying it on some rainy days in London - I think it will become a firm favourite. I'm also hoping for a medium format version, since I would love to see a little less grain in the image than is recorded by Street Pan.

I recommend that all film photographers give it a try.

More images from the weekend below :