Now I don’t normally write about film itself. When it comes to Black and White film, I”ve used Kodak, Ilford, Fujifilm, Kentmere and others. In pretty much all flavors. What more can you say about film that’s not already on the internet? And Bergger is a French company that’s been around over a hundred years. So you would think I would be hip enough to at least be aware of their film products. But I don’t remember ever walking over to B&H, (when they were a little store near Adorama), and seeing this film. However, with the release of this new film, (February 2017), my interest is piqued.
Now I’m not one to easily believe marketing hype. And viewing images on the web are, at best, suspect. But these images, done by Aurelien Le Duc and Hervé Baudat are phenomenal in their dynamic range and clarity. And, oh, those blacks! My heart could melt. So let me just give an explanation from Bergger’s website;
“Bergger Pancro 400 is a two emulsion film , composed with silver bromide and silver iodide. They differ by the size of their grain. These properties allow a wide exposure latitude. Crystals are precipitated by a double-jet process, under the control of a computer. The two emulsions are panchromatic, and are stabilized by high tech systems. Bergger Pancro 400 in sheets is coated on a 175 microns PET base. It is designed with an undercoated anti-halation layer which clarifies during processing, plus a anti-curling layer.”
So, what does that all mean? I have no clue. But if this black and white film can produce the promised fine grain, sharpness, clarity of detail and blackest blacks I think I’m seeing,…well, count me in. They claim extended latitude and pulling to 100 ISO and pushing to 1600 ISO. It also processes in all developers. How does it compare to Tri-X? Don’t know, but I’ve had reports it’s pretty close and pretty consistent.
It will be available as sheet film in various sizes, 120 and 35mm rolls. I don’t think 220. At least I can’t find mention of it. While it’s already been released in Europe, expect an imminent March release for Asia and the United States. Actually, I have used Bergger paper before, and it’s quite good. This IS a new formulation. Probably the first from any company in a while.
If the dynamic range is anywhere near their claims, digital is going to have a fight on its hands. Due to the claimed gradation in tonality, portrait, fashion and landscape will receive a shot of adrenaline in the B+W film community,…as I see it. I can’t wait to pop a roll in my Nikon F4s. And who said film is dead?