Bergger Pancro 400 – Film Review

It’s time for another fast film review. This time I’m reviewing Bergger Pancro 400, I wrote a quick review for the film shooters collective almost exactly a year ago, you can find that HERE. That first roll was processed in Rodinal however this time I used D76 so I’ll mostly comment on the differences noted.

To start with there are some similarities despite the different developers used. This film stock seems to have a lower contrast, which means it’s easy to scan and print in the darkroom. The scanner can pull a load of detail out which makes post processing that much easier. Given careful exposure you can really get some lovely tonality out of this film, however in the past I found when the light is tricky the tonality can be quick to bail on you. Above is what I would consider a pretty great example, nice mid-tones, crisp contrast. overall I’m very happy with it.

Below is an example shot into the late afternoon sunlight of my daughter. I had to compensate by 2 stops to make sure there was enough detail in the shadows here, especially given my daughters dark clothing. Again Pancro was able to handle the light quite well.

Processing pancro 400 in rodinal takes a mere 8mins, fairly standard by b&w developing times, however in D76 1:1 it’s more than twice that time, at 17 minutes. Next time I will definitely be trying it in a stock solution or perhaps even trying it in Xtol.

When it comes to drying the film, I’ve tried it unweighted and weighted. I found that it does have some longitudinal curl, meaning it wants to coil back up like a ribbon. While weighted there is some lateral curl so either way you’ll need to flatten it before scanning. You should note, I live in a tropical environment which is high temperature and high humidity for most of the year so some of this issue might be avoided in a cool dry environment. Bergger does state that there is an anti curling layer in the film so perhaps rely on your own testing for this.

The film base contains both silver bromide and iodide emulsions leading to what Bergger exclaims gives the film it’s outstanding exposure range. Below is the layer composition taken from the data sheet.

It seems to handle high contrast situations fairly well, as you can see in the above shot there is still detail in the sky and clouds while keeping the shadows from looking muddy or blocking up.

According to Bergger there is no reciprocity at exposures up to 1sec but beyond that they provide a table with exposure compensations up to 60 secs where you’d be adding 2 stops of exposure.

Overall I’m quite happy with the results I get from Pancro 400, in D76 the grain is tamed and the tonality is still nice, while rodinal gives this film a higher acutance with some more obvious grain but the grain patterning is very pleasant. I’ll certainly be keeping some on hand for when I’d like a little more “character” in my photography rather than the clinical grainless look of Tmax or Delta.

Photos in this review were taken using a Praktisix IIa medium format SLR with Zeiss Biometar 80mm f/2.8.

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