Welcome to part three of my Bergger Pancro 400 review series, which this time takes the film to EI 1600, while maintaining the +/-1 stop brackets that you’ve come to know and love.
In case you’re new to the series, you can read part one, which covers Pancro 400 in 35mm shot at EI 400 and bracketed +/- 1 stop, and part two, which describes the film when shot at EI 800 (again bracketed +/- 1 stop).
My aim with this series is to provide an exhaustive reference of this film shot and developed at EI 400, 800 and 1600 in 35mm and 120 formats (with each bracketed as described above). I’ll also be publishing results of developing both formats of this film as slides – spoiler alert for slide film nerds: it has very high DMax. In the future, I hope to supplement 35mm and 120 tests with those on 4×5 sheet film.
So here we are, Bergger Pancro 400 in 35mm format shot at EI 1600 and bracketed +/- 1-stop. That’s a two-stop push process (expansion development) combined with over / as metered / underexposure. Here’s how this article breaks down:
Table of contents
Here’s another recap of this film, in case you haven’t already read the previous parts:
Bergger Pancro 400 is a two-panchromatic emulsion film, each emulsion being composed of silver bromide and silver iodide. The film is offered in 35mm, 120, plate and large / ultra large formats. No word yet if we’ll ever see it in 110 format but there’s always hope for us Pentax Auto 110 fans.
In 35mm, Pancro 400 uses a 135 micron acetate base, which should make for some interesting results when I publish my slide development tests. In 120 and sheet film format this base is switched out for a 100 micron PET base.
As with both tests so far, the film was shot using a Nikon F100 set to manual and a Nikkor AF-D 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 zoom/macro lens. The lens was set to a constant f/5.6. The camera was used in spot meter mode and each frame was bracketed with a single stop of overexposure and underexposure.
I developed the film at 20C in Rodinal 1+25 and for this two-stop push process, I the roll was developed for 16 minutes using my “normal” development method of 60 seconds of continuous agitation followed by 10 seconds more at the top of every minute thereafter. I will continue using Rodinal for the remaining tests in order to provide consistency across the series.
After development, Ilford Ilfostop and Rapid Fixer were used at the recommended dilutions for one and five minutes respectively. Per Bergger’s instructions, the film was fixed for an additional minute before being dunked in Kodak Photoflo and then rinsed in tap water for a further five. As with parts one and two, the film was scanned on an Epson v750 scanner with minimal post-production: cropping/flipping as necessary and the occasional light straighten.
The six sample sets you see below show the underexposed frame, correctly exposed frame and overexposed frame in that sequence. Unlike the overcast and partly sunny weather I experienced for the first two rolls, this roll was shot under pretty great light!
First impressions: Bergger Pancro 400 (35mm) at EI 1600
The order of images for this and other sample sets is: overexposed one-stop, exposed per meter reading and underexposed one stop. Click or tap on the thumbnails below and use the gallery to navigate left and right.
As with most of the samples from the EI 400 and 800 tests, my preference leans towards the underexposed frames. Sample 03, 05 and 06 especially. The richness of the blacks and purity of the whites (06 in particular) is what catches my attention here.
The film has certainly developed a reputation for flexibility with me, and even shot at box speed one could conceivably take a roll out for an entire day’s shooting from dawn past dusk, and rely on that flexibility to shoot anything from the brightest midday sun to the darkest night. That said, I’ll wait for the results of some night time testing before I put an official stake in that claim.
I finished off part one of this series of short reviews saying that I’d developed a liking for this film and saw a lot of potential of the “wide latitude” touted by Bergger. Part two built on this, especially considering the mediocre light I shot the film under. With the third test here, and my 120 and 35mm reversal development tests still unpublished at the time of writing, I can safely say that this film has found a place in my stable of dependable, “workhorse” fast black and white films. That it adds a certain element of character to the equation is all the better and I no longer need to go scouring the internet for Kodak’s discontinued Double-X AEROGRAPHIC 2405 film any more – bonus.
I should state that Rodinal isn’t the optimal developer to use when pushing but still, I’m very pleased with the results here. I will be trying other developers over the coming months to understand how the character of the film changes but the remainder of these tests (with exception of reversal development) will continue to use Rodinal. And on the subject of pushing, push processing typically bunches up highlights and shadows resulting in a higher contrast look with less fine detail but the feeling I have when comparing the samples above to those shot and developed at EI 400 is that Pancro 400 doesn’t seem to respond in quite the same way as many films.
Thanks for reading and as ever, keep shooting folks.
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