UPDATE: Part two: EI 800 bracketed +/- 1 stop is here
Read part two of this series, exploring Pancro 400 shot at EI 800 and bracketed +/- 1 stop here!

You may have seen this recent article covering all the films announced and released in 2017. One of the films featured was Bergger Pancro 400, a totally brand new emulsion for 2017. In fact, if my research is correct, it’s the first totally new black and white emulsion for over a decade (and yes, that includes ADOX Scala 160, which is apparently a reformulation of APX 100).

Since getting my hands on a few rolls of Pancro 400 in both 35mm and 120, I’ve been hard at work testing out a batch of the 35mm for this mini review of Bergger Pancro 400. I’ll be covering my first impressions on the film – take from it what you will.

I won’t be going into the history of the company in any detail in this mini review. As that will be covered in an article you can look forward to in the near future. I will be talking a little about what Bergger themselves say about the film and the results from my first roll, shot at ISO 400.

There will be future additions to this article, which will cover Pancro 400 pushed to EI 800 and 1600, as well as a possible article discussing the film developed using a black and white reversal process to produce slides. Of course, you can expect the same treatment for 120 and eventually for large format sheets, too.

About Bergger Pancro 400

Taken from this article covering all the films announced and released in 2017:

BERGGER, Pancro 400 is a two (panchromatic) emulsion film, each emulsion being composed of silver bromide and silver iodide. Apparently, the result of these two emulsions together is a very wide exposure latitude, and the sample images immediately below show off these claims pretty well.

Bergger are offering the film in 35mm, 120, plate and large format/ultra large format. To be honest, the range of formats available is a little mind-boggling, and that’s without even mentioning custom ordering options, details of which I am assured will be available soon.

In 35mm, Pancro 400 uses a 135-micron acetate base, which is switched out for a 100 micron PET base for 120 roll film and a 175 micron PET base for sheet versions. It’s an interesting choice and means that in 120 and sheet form at least, it should be possible to create some crystal clear slides with a black and white reversal process (stay tuned for more!).

Here are a couple of sample images below via Aurélien le Duc:

Pancro 400 - (c) www.aurelienleduc.com
Pancro 400 – (c) http://www.aurelienleduc.com
Pancro 400 - (c) www.aurelienleduc.com
Pancro 400 – (c) http://www.aurelienleduc.com

If you’d like to have a crack at trying this film out for yourself, my friends at Camera Film Photo have you covered.

Shooting/development methodology

The roll discussed here was shot at box speed (ISO 400) using a Nikon F100 set to manual and a Nikkor AF-D 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 zoom/macro lens, which was consistently shot at f/5.6. The camera was used in spot meter mode and each frame was bracketed by a single stop of underexposure and overexposure.

The film was developed at 20c in Rodinal 1+25* for 8 minutes as per Bergger’s datasheet. During development, it was agitated continuously for the first 60 seconds and then again for 10 seconds at the top of every minute thereafter.

Ilford’s Ilfostop and Rapid Fixer were used at the manufacturer’s recommended dilutions and as per Bergger’s datasheet, the film was fixed for an additional minute before being dunked in Kodak Photoflo and then rinsed for five minutes.

I have provided a few examples of frames from the roll, showing the overexposed frame, correctly exposed frame and underexposed frame. Weather conditions were dull and the light was incredibly flat, so please consider the results below with that in mind.

* EDIT: I originally incorrectly stated 1+50. Thanks for spotting the typo, Antonio Gimeno!

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Sample images

The order of images for this and other samples is overexposed one stop, exposed per meter reading, underexposed one stop.

I’m a lover of high contrast film and underexposing this film by a single stop when shooting subjects in open light really bumps the contrast in a way that really appeals to me. The film is very reminiscent of Eastman Double-X. Very.

It’s incredibly tempting to underexpose an entire roll based on these results, as the tonality is generally preserved but blacks hit a very deep tone. Click or tap on the thumbnails below and use the gallery to navigate left and right.

Sample 01

Sample 02

As I mentioned, it wasn’t a particularly bright day, so the first frame below suffered a touch from camera shake. As with sample 01, the underexposed frame (third), catches my eye the most. That said, it’s worth talking about the correctly exposed frame, which more accurately represents the bottle of wine in real life.

Sample 03

This sample shows how subtle differences some differences were in my three-stop bracket (in open light). I would expect the result to be a little different in brightly lit scenes but at the very least, these frames do an adequate job of showing the range of tones this film is able to capture. I hope to do a better job and provide greater detail in the next test article (EI 800).

Flicking through this roll, it’s my feeling that this film could be easily under or overexposed 4-5 stops in open light with little risk of totally destroying the final image – for scanning at least.

Sample 04

This final sample is my favorite and uses the macro mode of the ageing Nikkor 28-105 lens I used for this test. When I first saw the negative I asked myself when I’d shot snakeskin but quickly remembered that it was actually a torn seat cover on a motorcycle used by neighbourhood street cats as a scratching post.

As with the other three samples in this mini-review, the underexposed image is by far my favourite – your own taste may vary.


There’s a lot more to be considered (and shot), before arriving at a definitive conclusion about this film but based on the three rolls I’ve shot and developed so far I can say that I’ve developed quite a liking for this film and see a lot of potential in backing up that “wide latitude” claim made by Bergger.

Whether this film will replace my beloved EASTMAN Double-X for 35mm black and white photography remains to be seen but it has, for this roll at least, produced a similar look to that film stock. The extra flexibility of being able to underexpose this film by a single stop and develop normally to produce broadly similar results to that of Double-X is a tempting one. Let’s see if the “look” carries through to the other test rolls.

The next first impressions article, which will cover the film when pushed to EI 800 should be interesting. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s my feeling the film will absolutely shine in medium format. If it somehow continues this Double-X look (which I strongly doubt), I think the possibility of medium format “Double-X” might drive me mad with glee.

I can’t wait to get started on it.

Have you shot and Bergger Pancro 400 yourself? Do you have any experiences or tips to share? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

As ever, keep shooting folks.

~ EM

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  1. Thanks for all the information, I find it remarkably helpful. I know about Pancro 400 since some time ago and is now that I have decided to try it. My question is about using Rodinal 1+50 solution, would be there any difference in terms of contrast, highlight, shadows and grain size? Also, if rated the film to 320, should be made any change in the time developing process? Thanks again.

  2. I’m curious about your metering. What did you target for the spot reading? A middle gray? Highlight/shadow? And what was the luminance range of your subjects (if only approximately)? Thanks.

  3. Shot a roll of this and disappointed with how it came back from the lab … wondering if they didn’t do enough to get the anti-halation layer to clarify … there’s a bit of a mottled texture/pattern to the entire film base. Lab says they used Ilfotech DD-X as the developer. Ideas, anyone???

  4. Pancro has slowly become my 2nd “regular” film. I normally use TMax 400, which I love, but Pancro characteristics have won me over with certain cameras. I’ve used about 100 rolls of it without a problem of any kind. It’s consistent in quality and the two grain structures make for a gray scale that is unbelievable. It is an incredibly forgiving film when used in simple cameras without adjustments and has become my favorite film in these cameras.

  5. Recently tried out both 120 and 135 mm film, i love it. Nice latitude for ecxposre, reasanble forgiven film. Did some experiments with Ilford ID11 developer dilution 1+1 with and with-out the suggested pre-soak. Did some quixk scans and 2 prints and i’am falling in love with this film !
    I exposed EI 320 and decreased the developer time proportional to the over exposre.
    I have done some dark area photographs of ferns and some landscapes with nice clouds…..results will be later to see om my site

  6. Thanks for the review. I just shot my first roll of 120 of this film, at box speed developed in Rodinal at 1:50 for 22. Lots of contrast and nice tones, but quite a lot of grain. Definitely liked it enough to try it again though. Might stay away from the Rodinal this time.

  7. I am very curious to see the results of a seascape- or landscape photograph and dev, in R09 !

  8. I am eagerly awaiting my first shipment of this film. I just ordered five rolls of 35mm and a box of 4×5. I’m actually pretty shocked by the reasonable price and it surprises me that more people aren’t talking about it.

    1. “pretty shocked by the reasonable price” – YES! Based on my tests so far, the film appears to be very flexible indeed and the price is very reasonable coming from such a small vendor. Looking forward to seeing you share your results on 4×5 🙂

  9. Nice review. I’ve tried one 35mm roll in Xtol 1:1 400ei 18mins @20c. Excellent contrast yet massive shadow detail could be retrieved. Grain looked good possibly slightly finer than HP5 . A great looking film. I’m kicking myself for not getting more but I do have vast supplies of HP5 to use

  10. Tanks for the information and testing, it has realy potential al so i’am impressed by the results. It’s a kind of taste but i like te normal exposed more. this is a film to work with in the future……wonderful results. Hoping more will folloow from this brand to play with.

  11. The question would be where to buy this in 35mm or 120 here in the U.S.. The usual distribution channels seem to only have it in sheet film sizes currently. Has anyone heard of a date when the roll film version would be more widely distributed in the U.S. ? Very interesting to see the comparison to Eastman Double X.

    1. Hi Chris. Yes, the underexposed stops here are the same as metering for 800 and developing for box speed (400).

      I simply set my camera’s meter to 400 and for each sample set:

      – Shot one frame a single stop slower than the metered value for over exposure.
      – Shot one frame at the camera’s meter reading for a “box speed” sample.
      – Shot one frame a single stop faster the metered value for under exposure.

    2. The difference with the upcoming test @800 is that those shots will be developed for that EI.