Recently, I went on a photowalk in downtown Detroit to try to finally get some good shots after my previous failures with black and white film. The forecast called for overcast skies, so I decided to grab JCH Streetpan 400, which I’ve been meaning to try for some time now. If there’s one thing I like in my black and white photos it’s deep, ink-like blacks and JCH Streetpan 400 has it in spades.
For this outing, I took my Canonet QL 17 GIII which is a great little Canon rangefinder with a fixed 40mm f/1.7 lens. I wanted to grab a camera that was simple and light since I was planning on walking a long distance.
Unfortunately, the skies were clear and blue like it was the middle of July rather than the middle of November in Michigan. 400 speed film is way to fast for the bright outdoors, especially when your camera of choice has a max shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. I had no choice to proceed since I only brought one roll of color (Portra 400) and one roll of black and white (Streetpan 400).
I have yet to buy the right replacement battery for the Canonet, so I was guessing the aperture and shutter speed with the sunny-16 rule. A lot of the outdoor shots ended up being over or under exposed. With the sun bearing down, f/16 at 1/500th of a second was still too much light.
Still, I was able to get some great shots and fix my mistakes in post.
The above photo of the Spirit of Detroit has very little cropping, so you can see how small the grain is compared to the image size. I love the sharpness and grain size I get out of Streetpan. The grain is small enough to be ignored while large enough to add that je ne sais quoi to the photo.
Is It Worth It?
The biggest downside here is the cost. At the time of writing, JCH Streetpan is $11 for a 36 exposure roll vs $5.69 for a 36 exposure roll of Ilford HP5+.
For my money, JCH Streetpan is totally worth it and it’s my favorite 400 speed film so far. I love the contrast and the blacks I get straight out of the camera. To get the same look out of HP5+, I’d have to push it to 800 or 1600. Without a camera with a max shutter speed of at least 1/4000th of a second, that’s really not feasible.
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