View Full Version : Techpan, wherefor art thou, Techpan?

Brian C. Miller
10-Jul-2005, 18:41
Ooooohh, give me that Techpan feeling! Never mind muskrat love, its time for Techpan love! (do I date myself by referencing that?) I remember Gene Crumpler waxing his affection for Techpan with 35mm, but man, this is a whole 'nother acid trip! (I promise you, I have not been dropping the PMK. I have not, absolutely not.)

As you may be able to tell, I have just finished developing some 4x5 Techpan. A friend had some in his freezer since 1984 (expiration date of 1985 on the box). I got two boxes, and one box was opened and one of the packets was missing a few sheets. I used sheets from the opened packet. I whipped out my Graflex Super Graphic, and ran through a few sheets to see what the camera can do.

Camera can do! I am looking at bicycle spokes in a window two blocks away under a 22x loupe. F8 seems to be a sweet spot, but 5.6, 16, and 32 aren't shabby, either. I can count bricks clearly that I was losing in the grain with Agfa APX 100. Twigs on limbs over 3 blocks away are clear. The film is still good, no blotches, fog, or anything like that. Ohhh, what a feeling!

Of course, Kodak doesn't care about Techpan like I do. Techpan is dead and abandoned, with a few boxes still available at Freestyle.

So what do you high-resolution junkies use now? Anybody try the Maco films? Or am I just a lone freak with a Navy surplus camera who has smoked too much Crystal Archive?

Andrew O'Neill
10-Jul-2005, 19:11
My film of choice is Hp5+ but when I want more rez, I go to fp4 and for even more rez, to efke 25. None of them are like Techpan, though. I feel your pain.

Jay DeFehr
10-Jul-2005, 19:18
I still have tons of TP, but if I was looking for a replacement, I'd use TMX.


John Cook
11-Jul-2005, 10:03
Forty years ago in Hollywood, I assisted an old-timer in his studio.

Once in a while, he would get reminiscing about the old days.

I still remember his eyes filling up when he described how Kodachrome 25 used to come in sheet film. Oh my, what a thought!

Don't tell me things didn't used to be better, you young whipper-snapper! ;0)

Donald Qualls
11-Jul-2005, 15:12
J&C Photo has Imagelink microfilm in 4x5 format. It's similar speed to Tech Pan, and similar resolution, but lacks the extended red sensitivity (and I've also read it's not amenable to gas hypering, though I can't imagine why). I've used a bit of Imagelink HQ in 16 mm, and it's pretty decent stuff, not at all hard to develop for pictorial contrast. I've used highly dilute HC-110 with reduced agitation, a low-strength coffee developer, and I'm thinking of trying another cassette of it in my latest coffee-ascorbate low contrast developer. Expect speed between ISO 12 and 25.

Gene has recently spoken well of Gigabitfilm, but Imagelink is a lot cheaper and they have similar resolution and (lack of) grain.

Brian C. Miller
11-Jul-2005, 15:44
Thanks, Donald!

Its Kodak Microfilm (http://www.kodak.com/US/en/dpq/site/TKX/name/SourceDocumentMicrofilmsProduct;jsessionid=AG24FTLRVMMWHFW4FBCXWD2W1YUEQ4L4?_requestid=15108). J and C Photography (http://www.jandcphoto.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=206) cuts it down and packages it, and it's half the price of Techpan! What's using the Spur Imagelink developer like? Is it just one bottle which is diluted, or is it a combination of chemicals?

Donald Qualls
12-Jul-2005, 17:56
Can't tell you about the SPUR developers. I've developed Imagelink HQ and Copex Rapid in HC-110 Dilution G and a low-contrast coffee developer I call Caffenol LC; most recently I've done Copex Rapid in an augmented coffee developer I call Caffenol LC+C, with excellent results, but haven't tried this brew on Imagelink. I like the image quality of Imagelink HQ better than Copex Rapid, but for the applications where I've used it (subminiature cameras without tripod and cable release capability) the higher speed of Copex Rapid (EI 50 to 80, depending on developer) makes it more useful.

Both films produce quite acceptable images in submini formats, capable of 25x enlargement or more if the lens resolution is up to the task -- just imagine what they can do in 4x5! Copex Rapid is sold in sheets as Gigabitfilm, but it's very, very expensive. The J&C Imagelink (repackaged Imagelink HQ in 4x5) is much cheaper and IMO suffers by comparison only in being slower.

Gene Crumpler
12-Jul-2005, 18:47
Check out gigabitfilm. EI of 25 and much finer grain. Availble for 35mm and 4x5. The bad part is there will unlikely be any 120 size. The inventor can not get an investor to produce 120.

Order from RetroPhotogaph in England. Be prepard to part with a lot of money. I got 50 4x5 sheets and the developer for $160.

I have a report on my experiences with gigabitfilm if any one is interested.

Gene "TP" Crumpler

Gene Crumpler
12-Jul-2005, 19:06
Gigabitfilm is not Copex. but a monodispersive emulsion that will not give a Dmax any higher than 2.2. All copy films will have a dmax of 4 or better.

Once again gigabitfil is not copy film. I hope some day this rumor will die down.

Goggle for " Gigabitfim is not a Hoax"

Brian C. Miller
12-Jul-2005, 19:45
The original Carl Zeiss article: Gigabitfilm is not a Hoax! (http://www.zeiss.de/c12567a8003b58b9/Contents-Frame/17ef1fe449ad3f64c1256f2c002b7dba)

Pretty potent stuff there! The article is also on the Gigabitfilm website, but its easy to miss. Personally, I'll take the cheap seats with the Kodak films. I don't have modern Zeiss lenses, so I'm sure that I won't see an improvement with Gigabitfilm vs the other films.

Right now I'm developing a batch of Tmax 100 with PMK from a trip to east Oregon mining country. I'll see how these print up. First time with it, and I decided to use PMK because I didn't have Xtol any mixed.

Scott Rosenberg
12-Jul-2005, 23:58
gene, please do post your findings, or send a link to me for your report... scott@srosenberg.com

Jim Galli
13-Jul-2005, 07:52
We don' need no stinking Tech Pan. We got Aerial Recon Panatomic X which is where tech pan came from. Same grain structure ie. you can't use a grain microscope to focus it. And much nicer to use and develop. Comes in a 5" wide roll so useable in 4X5 and 5X7 depending where you chop it. Oh and a 4X5 sheep costs about 8 cents. Put a few 250 foot rolls in your freezer today.

Gene Crumpler
13-Jul-2005, 07:57

For a few of us cheap is not important.

Gene Crumpler
13-Jul-2005, 08:01

I sent you three e-mails with information and a couple of images.


Brian C. Miller
13-Jul-2005, 08:35
Well, Gene, if you don't mind spending $3 a sheet when Techpan is still available at $2 a sheet, or Imagelink is about $1 a sheet, then I'm sure that $.08 isn't something to write home about. :-)

Jim, you've sparked a bunch of questions with me!
Where do you buy this film? I did a Google search, and I found a few pages about its use and how it compares with other films, but I didn't notice anybody actually selling it. B&H Photo-Video sells it in the 9.5in x 250ft, and that seems to work out to $.46 a sheet. Shelling out another four bits for Imagelink seems like not too bad a deal.
What are your techniques for cutting the film?
After you cut it, it still has a curl to it, right? How well does it stay flat in the film holder?


Dan Fromm
13-Jul-2005, 11:29
Gene Crumpler, you've been touting the wonders of Gigabit film for a while now. I'm having trouble understanding why using it would do me any good at all. Or, for that matter, Kodak Microfilm or Agfa Microfilm as is sold as Bluefire Police and used to be sold as H&W Control. I tried H&W Control on 35 mm long ago, quickly went back to Panatomic-X.

Here's what puzzles me: it is generally accepted that an ideal lens can resolve at most 1600/(f/number) lp/mm, and that real lenses don't do as well. LF photographers generally shoot at smallish apertures, rarely wider than f/16, so can't lay down more than 100 lp/mm on film. And it takes meticulous technique and a very good lens to do that. So what does a film that can resolve 400 lp/mm bring to the party?

And along those lines, I'm aware of few lenses for LF with maximum apertures as large as f/4.
I have a 12"/4 Taylor Hobson telephoto, designed by the legendary G. H. Cook, that just barely covers 4x5. Wide open it isn't that great. One of my neighbors recently bought a fixed aperture 400/1.5 Zeiss lens. It weighs 35 kg and has limited coverage. I can't imagine how he can use it, and I think he can't either.

Feel free to tell me I'm dumb, but I'd prefer an explanation of what I'm missing. By the way, I've asked this question once before and you didn't respond. My uncharitable reaction to your non-response is that you can't answer it. Please prove me wrong.


Jim Galli
13-Jul-2005, 12:14
OK, for everybody else except Gene who realizes something can't be as good if it costs less here goes. I've bought the rolls I have by doing searches for "aer* film" on Ebay. There's one seller in particular, mrfoto1, who usually has some. It's mostly gov't surplus.

Here's (http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=10481) a link to a piece I wrote about how I cut it.

It curls into the emulsion so the curl works to hold the film flat against the back of the holders. It CAN be a PITA to load. You just have to work with it a bit. 5X7 is easier to load than the 4X5. The 5" section from the roll is correct for both 4X5 and 5X7 so you only have to cut once.

Here's a recent image developed in Rodinal 1:1:100 for about 6 minutes if I recall.

The soft area in the roof tiles was because the print was still damp when I scanned!

Oh, and does all the extra handling guarantee you'll introduce dust and lint into your negs??

You bet.

I Might also add for you critics that the shadow detail in the actual print is full of life but I'm not so hot at making a 45kb .jpg look like an original. This was done with the 450mm Fuji.

Gene Crumpler
13-Jul-2005, 19:41
Sorry I didn't respond to an earlier question.

I must admit that gigabitfilm is "over kill" for 4x5. I've been studying diffraction limits since I got a 4x5 camera in Feburary 2005.

I was hoping gigabitfilm might come out in 120 form. This is where Tech Pan was outstanding.

I shot tech pan for about 10 years with nikons, but quit 35mm about 5 years ago. I currently shoot with Hasselblads and Pentax 67's, but with tmax and delta 100, the 16x20's just don't quite make it.

I'm a charter member of " Grain Sniffers Anonymous". I'm the guy you saw at the last AA exhibit with the 8x loupe hanging around his neck!

I'm not forcing you to use it. Just sharing my experience. $3 a sheet does not seem real high to make a smooth- as- glass 20x24 inch exhibition print. Something like "doctor/lawyer" cameras:>)

I don't expect you to buy a diamond Rolex either just because I own four. Timex keeps better time than a Rolex anyway. I'm comfortable retired now and can indulge my self.

Don't get up set with me because I like to experiment. I'm saving YOU money. If you would like I can e-mail my report and a couple of comparison images. I think you might be "gobsmooked" with the comparison. Scott was very impressed. (Help Scott)

Check http://genecrumpler.home.att.net and click on "About Gene". I'm a very transparent person. I have no personal agenda except to enjoy my self as much as I can, until I end up in a nursing home.

Gene Crumpler
13-Jul-2005, 19:51
One more thing. Ludwig in Germany needs an investor(s) to come up with $120,000 to make a batch of 120 gigabitfilm. I'm not impressed enough to spend that kind of money.

BTW, I still have a few rolls of TP in my freezer.

Gene Crumpler
13-Jul-2005, 20:13
Also, I believe the question was what can replace Tech Pan. Gigabitfilm is one!

Brian C. Miller
13-Jul-2005, 20:19
Gene, I was looking at the Zeiss review, and it indicates that Fuji Neopan Acros has a slightly higher resolution than Techpan. Its available in 120, as well as 35mm and 4x5. I know I've tried some in the past, but its going to take me some time to hunt down the one roll I shot. It isn't expensive, either. Personally, I just never connect "Fuji" with B&W photography.

Gene Crumpler
13-Jul-2005, 20:58
Another experiment I'm going to do soon is determine the resolving power of a couple of FB papers. Ilford FB4 and Kodak Fine art VC.

BTW-I got 156 lp/mm with a pentax 55mm f4, newest version. 168 lp/mm is the diffraction limit at F8. I never saw that with any other films. Not that this matters to most of you.

No Spin Zone-I also do not own any stock in the company.

Jim Galli
13-Jul-2005, 21:26
Fuji Acros rocks. I love that stuff. Even at the price. I just finished loading some Efke 25 ASA that I'll take with me through Tuolumne this saturday if I get to go. Never used it yet. No doubt about it, the Acros is a beautiful film.

Nathaniel Paust
13-Jul-2005, 21:35
Dan, you were wondering why a 400 l/mm film would be important when our lenses can't handle that... basically it's just a matter of sampling the resolution of the lens as well as possible. To be "well sampled" we really need to have data at twice the frequency of the thing we're trying to measure. For a 100 l/mm lens we'd ideally like to have film that can record 200 l/mm just to keep the lens as the weak point in the system. Increasing how well we sample the image isn't a bad thing, but I'm not sure that it gets us a tremendous amount more. It makes me think of point and shoot digital cameras: who cares if you have a 7 megapixel image if there's only 3 megapixels worth of information. You might as well increase the size of the pixels and get less noise and more sensitivity.

I should add a disclaimer though. I only shoot HP5+ in my 4x5 and all my experience in sampling images comes from my work. I'm an astronomer specializing in crowded field photometry. Using a 2.4 meter telescope and cryogenic cameras is a little bit different than taking my canham into the woods.

Brian C. Miller
13-Jul-2005, 23:31
Gene: What, I'm not the only one who leaves eyeball prints on photographs? Great! BTW, when I was at the Gigabitfilm site and looked at their little article about 4x5 vs 35mm (http://www.gigabitfilm.de/html/english/information/4x5/examples/examples_main.htm), I picked the 4x5 picture correctly! Mind you, it wasn't easy. What gives away the 35mm is the end of the wood support in the lower-right corner, and a couple of other fantastically minor points.

When it comes to spending over $2/sheet for film, the application has to really justify it for me to part with my dough. On average, B&W sheet film is a bit less than $1/sheet. I think that's reasonable. Techpan is $2/sheet, but $3/sheet for Gigabitfilm can't be justified for what I want to do.

Oh, yeah: When you do the paper resolution test, you might want to replace Kodak with a different paper. After all, Kodak doesn't have that B&W lovin' feelin' like they once did.

J. Patric Dahlen
14-Jul-2005, 15:58
Efke 25 is extremely fine grained and sharp. The color sensitivity is on the opposite side of Technical Pan though (Technical Pan is super-panchromatic while Efke 25 is orthopanchromatic). Use an orange filter, and the results will look more like Tech Pan.

Efke 25 can be developed in any standard developer.

Dan Fromm
14-Jul-2005, 17:13
Gene, Nathaniel, thanks very much for the explanations.

Gene, its useful to know what you're doing. I shoot 2x3 roll film, typical shooting aperture is f/16. F/11, at times, for lenses made for much larger formats, f/22 for lenses that need it. Almost always from tripod. Not to quarrel, but although I can see the benefits of very high resolution film for people shooting smaller formats, on 2x3 or larger they're not obvious. You tried, I'm dense.

Nathaniel, you gave me a rule of thumb. It doesn't agree well with the ideas presented in John Williams' book Image Clarity. Nice rule of thumb, but why should I believe it since Williams' prescriptions seem to work?

I actually use some lenses that are diffraction-limited wide open. Zeiss Luminars, to be exact, and not generally usable.

On the whole, the search for sharper film and lenses strikes me as having very little to do with photography. People have made fine images using the photographic process for over a century and a half. And they've done it with soft lenses, soft films, soft paper.

There are many many ways to lose the image quality our gear can deliver. It seems to me that trying to improve image quality by improving technique or by moving up in format is more productive than just buying better gear for the same old format.

Further along those lines, Gene, like you I'm a somewhat compulsive tester. The lenses I've tried out in a focal length separate into two heaps, "don't use if better is available" and "ok." Differences between the two groups are large and striking, within the "ok" group they're small and not always reproducible. Good lenses are all pretty good. Bad lenses stand out from the crowd, good ones don't.

Cheers, thanks again,

Gene Crumpler
14-Jul-2005, 19:45
Brian. Welcome to the compulsive grain club. We meet 3 times a day at the nearest 20x24 print washer. Bring your 25X loupe. Nikon/Zeiss microscopes are always welcome.

I'll try and run down some Acros this week and take another roll of pictures of the church across

the street. I'll load up the hassie/80 mm and shoot six exposures and roll it up, reroll it in the darkroom and shoot the last 5 shots with the pentax 67/55mm lens. Who said I was't cheap?

Seriously, me new bride of 7 years is working hard to get the word "Cheap" out of my thoughts and speech. I turned the first corner, in 1999 when I told her I'd always wanted a Hasselblad and she says, "go get one". I progressed in the next year to "I'm thinging about getting another fake rolex" and she says " get a real one". In the last year, I said "think I might buy another Rolex" and she says "get two with diamonds for both of us" No wonder I love her so much:>)

I'm signing off and I will be back with my impressions of Acros. If it works out I have about 10 rolls of Tmax and 15 rolls of Ilford Delta 100 that I will sell cheap. D_mnit, its back again!!!!

Cheers and keep the dirty side down!

Brian C. Miller
20-Jul-2005, 11:20
Just a little update: I printed my lens tests last night.

8x10: Bicycle wheel in window is visible, but you have to know where to look.
11x14: Spokes on wheel are visible under magnification. High contrast bricks are individually discernable.
16x20: Spokes are visible without magnification, nose-to-print distance three inches. High contrast bricks are easily individually discernable.
20x24: Spokes are visible, and this is as far up as my D3's head will go. If I want larger, I have to swing the turret around and project on the floor, or else attach the right-angle mirror and project on the wall.

Here there be no grain, laddie boy!

27-Jun-2006, 10:04
I made a comparison between old rolls of tech pan and new ones, and found the old ones usable and more than that.


So I think we shouldn't look for substitues so early. Many people, including me, still have large stocks of these old rolls for sale, not only in 35mm format but in many other larger formats. I suggest using those instead of looking for inferior substitues. This film, by the way, is undoubtedly irreplaceble for astrophotography uses.