Finding Film part 14: Bergger Pancro 400

Written by and published on

Following on from the last #FindingFilm, I will pick-up where I left off; Happisburgh (Haze-bruh). If you haven’t read my last article, go and check it out. Whilst you do, I’ll just wait here. Caught up? Great.

So I was at Happisburgh, had shot my roll of ILFORD’s HP5 PLUS, and I still had some subjects I wanted to capture. So I decided to try Bergger Pancro 400. I was very excited to try this film, as I had seen several great results already, and at the time of shooting/writing, EM was sharing his own work with Bergger, which was making me, very, very jealous. I had planned on shooting some other film, but I simply couldn’t wait. The excitement was too much.

I quickly shot a roll at the beach, before heading back home. On my way back home, I took a detour and stopped off in Coltishall, a village I drive through to get to work. It is just on the outskirts of the Norfolk broads, and is very beautiful. Often, I take it for granted, as it is on my way to work, and I see it every day.

However, on my way over, there was a heavy downpour, the clouds had covered the sky, and I was ready to abandon the second roll of Pancro, when the clouds parted, the sun began to shine, and I had a small window, so I grasped it.

I pulled over at the edge of the river, and worked my way through the second roll. The village green isn’t very large, but very, very picturesque. There were a few holiday makers in their boats, but aside from them, I had the place to myself, it was lovely.

So two rolls of film shot in two very different locations. Happy with my morning’s work, I headed back to the darkroom.

As mentioned in the last article, I developed the HP5 and Bergger at the same time. I used separate tanks, as the Bergger needed a slightly longer developing time. However, the chemicals were the same, as it was easier to mix one big batch. The Bergger was developed in Rodinal (1+25, 22c, 8 minutes), using stand development. The same Fotospeed stop bath and fixer were used as before.

The development went fine, and there were no issues to report. The film did curl quite a bit when off the drying line, but not to the point where it caused issues during scanning. The scanning went well, with only one frame failing to scan. This was my fault, as I had massively underexposed the frame.

Here are some of the results from the two rolls. As always, the only changes made were cropping, and removing dust/scratches during scanning. No editing has taken place.


The film produced some excellent detail when taking images of patterns and textures. Up close, the film retained great levels of detail, which was very pleasing to see.


The highlights and shadows were consistent across the Happisburgh roll, and produced results that I was very pleased with. Similar to the HP5, these are results that I would not want to edit further, which is excellent to see. I thought I had struck lucky with the HP5, but it seems the Bergger is giving it a run for its money.

The one negative to the Bergger, is the grain. I like the amount of grain, and for a 400 speed film, it is definitely a good amount. However, compared to the HP5, up close, it is slightly too coarse for my liking. If I had to compare the two, the HP5 has the better grain (for my taste).

On to the second roll (Coltishall).

Again, the tonality, shadows, and highlights is good, showing excellent consistency across both rolls. Even when shot directly into the sun, the results still turned out well.

I am really happy with the contrast levels, and similar to the HP5, is of a level where I wouldn’t want (or need) to majorly edit the image to get it to my taste. Overall, both rolls turned out well, and I am really pleased with the results.

TLDR; having come from the dizzy heights of HP5, I had high hopes for the Bergger. Having seen what others had achieved with the film had me really excited for this. I was not disappointed. The highlights, shadows, contrast, tonality, and overall look to the images was excellent. Similar to HP5, the film left me with results that were good enough that I would only need to make minor tweaks, rather than major edits to get them to my final images. The only downside for me, is the grain. It may sound really picky, but it is a little too coarse for my liking. Additionally, the Bergger costs on average £1-1.50 more than the ILFORD HP5 PLUS.

To tell you the truth, I cannot really call it between the Bergger and the HP5. Both rolls performed so well (in my opinion) that it simply comes down to grain. I like the HP5 grain more than the Bergger. It may be in second place on my list of favourite films, but it is close, really close between the two. If you are considering checking out Bergger, I strongly recommend it. I will definitely be using it again in the future.

~ Tom Rayfield


Update: this series has grown considerably since it started and you can catch up on all of the other articles in my Finding Film series by following the links below:



Share your knowledge, story or project

At the heart of EMULSIVE is the concept of helping promote the transfer of knowledge across the film photography community. You can support this goal by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.

If you like what you're reading you can also help this personal passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and giving as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.



Related Reading


Photography: Cooled for freshness – Shot on Lucky Super 200 at EI 200 (35mm format)

5 Frames… With IMAGO Direct Positive Paper (EI 6 / 4×5 format / Chamonix 45n2) – by Montague Fendt


4 thoughts on “Finding Film part 14: Bergger Pancro 400”

  1. I shoot it in summers at EI 160 and dev it in Bergger Superfine (a metol based developer). Fine grain, great tonal range, one of the best film/dev combos I know.

  2. Reading your article about Pancro grain being too big…Rodinal give grain. Try Micradol-x but only at 1 to 3 dilution or Xtol

  3. Very nice read. I completely agree with the grain coarseness, although I think that it looks great for city/street shots. Still have to experiment with other developers. For anything else, I like HP5+ better, and its great flexibility.


Join the discussion