JCH StreetPan 400 Film Review

A Punchy and Versatile Black and White Emulsion With IR Sensitivity

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It’s no secret that Bellamy Hunt’s — the Japan Camera Hunter brand owner’s — film is a repackaged security camera emulsion from Europe. It even says so on the box: “Made in Belgium.” Yet no one in their right mind could hold that against the stock; there’s simply nothing else that captures the light like JCH StreetPan 400.

What’s so special about JCH StreetPan?

I love the balance of strong contrast, the fine grain in the highlights, and the unexpectedly-forgiving latitude of JCH StreetPan.

The negatives dry flat and look somewhat thin but are easy to scan with fantastic results.

Other monochrome films with strong contrast curves reviewed on this site, namely Kodak Tri-X and Ilford XP2, appear to render most of the scene around the mids. StreetPan, on the other hand, places a strong accent on the fringes. This produces punchy highlights and deep shadows that nevertheless retain plenty of information giving your scene a bold, moody appearance.

JCH StreetPan produces some of the best renditions of the white colours — they truly feel white whereas other monochrome films will often dull them into greys. Shot on Minolta TC-1.

Near-infrared film sensitivity.

There’s more to StreetPan than meets the eye. That is, the film is sensitive to near-infrared wavelengths up to 750nm, whereas human vision stops being useful just before 700nm.

Hyperrealistic contrast and flattering skin tones with JCH StreetPan.

When shot without a filter, the film is claimed to have improved contrast and some ability to penetrate fog/atmospheric effects because of its special sensitivity. The film’s near-IR responsiveness may even have something to do with how it renders skin tones (beautifully).

But an R72 or a Wratten 89B filter can transform your scene: the canopies will turn white or light grey, and the skies will become inky.

If you decide to shoot your StreetPan with a filter, it’s best to do that on a sunny day with the light’s angle of reflection as close to 90° as possible. You may also want to overexpose it by one stop.

You don’t need to load StreetPan in complete darkness as you may have to with a few other “true” infrared films. Though the Wood effect that you’ll be seeing with it won’t be as pronounced either (but still very noticeable).

More street portraits with JCH StreetPan in NYC. Shot on Vitessa A.

Grain structure, resolution, sharpness.

I really enjoy the look of StreetPan’s grain. Though it may appear somewhat chunky in the mid-tones, it has a three-dimensional quality that makes it look organic, soft, and complex. I much prefer it to Ilford XP2’s flaky texture. It also becomes significantly less noticeable in the bright areas giving the highlights a smooth appearance that Tri-X lacks.

This film features a double-layer emulsion structure that Bellamy describes as the leading reason for its fine-graininess. Whatever magic’s in there, it’s working.

Unfortunately, there are no datasheets available for this film that would disclose its granularity. Though those stats may not be particularly descriptive as the grain, unlike pixels, can be highly variable — especially in StreetPan’s renderings.

When it comes to microcontrast (sharpness), StreetPan shines. A good lens will capture every little hair, even when the film is shot in 35mm. Even more so if you’re shooting it in medium format.

✪​ Note: JCH StreetPan is available in 35mm and 120 film formats.

Your lighting will play an important role in the film’s texture; if you’d like to get those silky-smooth tones, I recommend picking well-lit scenes and ensuring that your shadows aren’t too busy.

Of course, your choice of a developer and a developing method will affect the film’s appearance. Given that StreetPan is sharp already, you may want to try stand development and chemicals that may dial back some of the acuity.

StreetPan can be pushed and pulled; it can even be processed as a reversal film. You can also rate it at ISO 200 and develop normally.

Snow looks fantastic on JCH StreetPan. Shot on Minolta TC-1.

Contrast and tonality.

I’ve already mentioned StreetPan’s remarkable contrast characteristics a few times in this article. It’s unlike anything else. The film adds a pop of inkiness in shadows and highlights while leaving little space for the mid-tones to remain “normal.” The results feel hyper-realistic, with the bright areas having a “pastel-like” soft flatness and the shadows remaining gritty — although the precise texture of your dark regions will change depending on the developer you use.

And at the same time, it does not look severe, nor does it lose detail as most high-contrast films and post-processing techniques tend to suffer from.

Scanning.

No post-processing needs to be done after scanning — the film is good to print or share immediately — unless you’d like to take care of the dust and scratches. But, of course, the film’s out-of-the-box readiness also implies that it does not yield much room for you to alter its look. Like Tri-X, StreetPan looks best unaltered.

StreetPan uses a polyester film base that looks and feels a little different from the more common acetate components found in Ilford, Kodak, and Fujifilm rolls. The great thing about polyester is that it can last five to ten times longer in storage.

Like that of Ilford XP2, StreetPan’s negatives may look a little thin out of a developer tank. But there’s no need to worry — your images are likely to have been exposed correctly. Especially if you run your scans through an equalization step, StreetPan’s renderings will retain their complete tonality after being digitized.

The film has very little base fog, and its maximum density won’t require a high-end scanner to get all the details out of your film — though scanning at 16 bit per channel is always recommended.

JCH StreetPan 400 in NYC with Vitessa A.

How much does JCH StreetPan 400 cost, and where to buy it.

Though StreetPan started out as a relatively pricey black and white film when I began tracking its price back in 2018, it seems to have defied inflation by either holding its price still or even dropping it by a few cents during the past few months.

As of this writing, a roll of 35mm JCH StreetPan costs on average $10.73, which is cheaper than most films though not nearly as economical as Fomapan Classic’s tag at just over $5.

If you’re interested in film prices and would like to stay on top of them, the best way is to subscribe to the free semi-annual reports on film costs. I do all the hard work surveying a curated variety of film stores across the world on this and many other film stocks.

By the way: Please consider making your Janapn Camera Hunter StreetPan 400 film purchase using this link  so that this website may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!