Just to be clear…. I still stand by my original processing technique outlined here in FR years ago which does not use the pre wet and has slightly more agitation than the technique outlined above (metal reels and tanks only for the older process). If the film and agitation technique is perfect without a pre wet then go for it but I have found most modern films do benefit from the pre wet… the only downside is developer longevity and about 1/3 stop loss in speed.
So here are my latest results experimenting with CineStill film in Caffenol (instant coffee)… I am very happy with this combination! I have found the usable EI for this film-developer combination to range from 100-3200, all with one processing time, but the very best is around EI 640. This test image was made with my 1956 Leica M3 with a 1960 Leica 135mm Leitz Wetzlar Elmar at F5.6.
I’ve been continuously tweaking my Caffenol developer and developing technique over the past few years… I find it to be a very solid go-to developer for virtually any black and white film.
A picture is worth a thousand words… so this is going to be a very short review!
Bergger Pancro 400 reminds me a lot of XX by Kodak– it has a very classic long greyscale with just the right amount of grain and amazing highlight control. The quality control is very high, and I love that it’s available in all formats, 35mm through 8×10 sheet film. After extensive testing I have decided to make it my go-to 120 film… yeah it’s that good! In 4×5 the grain is very, very smooth and round. In 120 the grain is there, but very fine and beautiful which I think adds a wonderful depth to the scanned film. As for 35mm? There will be grain, but again it is a classic looking grain, which I love.
So, if you want lifeless, flat, smooth boring film? Bergger Pancro 400 is not for you! This film is classic… and combined with Df96 developer it hits all the right marks.
Rate Bergger Pancro 400 at between 100-325…. I find 200/250 to be the sweet spot if you want full shadow detail. This holds true for all the developers I tested this film with.
CineStill Df96 MonoBath developer produces the very BEST negatives I have seen with this film; it is a perfect combination.
Try pulling the film with Df96… shoot it at 200 and pull 1/2 to 1 stop in development. Note: I did not do that in the sample image above but I could have… it’s a nice way to control high contrast scenes.
Running a test with my new ORTHOTOPOSCOPE SS camera (6×12) and a non optimized pinhole of around F70 (optimized is around F130 for the 25mm focal length). I am looking at the following films with EI from approx 100-1600 all in developers I have found that works best for maximum compensation and best overall tonality with each specific film. Reciprocity corrections were kept to just a gerous doubling to time— with this type of camera and work I like to keep it simple if possible. Exposures ranged from 1 second to 30 seconds all handheld as that is my standard way of shooting with a pinhole system.
400TX • Diafine
400Tmax • 510 Pyro
Delta 3200 • 510 Pyro
Fuji 400CN • C41
Portra 400 • C41
CineStill 800T • C41
All test results will be converted to B&W as that is my current need with these materials.
UPDATE: So I’ve looked at the film and I am very drawn to the Porta 400 and VERY drawn to the Cinestill 800T when both are converted to B&W. The regular B&W film was amazing but due to the pinhole capture I had a lot more range of possibilities in the conversion process that really helped to bring out crazy tonal separation in the two color negative materials.