Film Comparison: Bergger Pancro, Street Pan, Rollei RPX


The past 15 years or so have not been easy for film photographers: Most photo labs have closed their doors, major brands no longer manufacture analog cameras, and the few remaining repair shops are all but out of parts. The biggest heartbreak of all, though, is the extinction of several film stocks: Infrared, Kodachrome, Ektachrome, Neopan 1600, and Kodak Royal Gold, to name a few. But for those of us sticking it out, we are seeing a renewed interest in analog photography. Our patience is being handsomely rewarded with new and re-released films to enjoy.

Fujifilm Neopan 400 was one of my favourite films, and the stash in my fridge is starting to look bare. So I set out to compare three new ISO 400 black and white films: Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400 (a re-release of an AGFA film), Bergger Pancro 400 (a completely new film), and Rollei RPX 400, which has been around since about 2011. They join HP5, Delta, Tri-X, and TMax in a very popular film type, where it never hurts to have more choices.

Methodology:

All three rolls were shot through a Canon EOS-3 with an older 28-70 f/2.8 lens, on the same day, in the same two places (Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles).

As a custom function of the EOS-3, the film can be rewound, leaving some of the leader outside the cartridge. This makes for very easy re-loading of a partially exposed roll. Because of this, I was able to use the exact same camera and lens combination to shoot with all three rolls of film. I shot five frames at a time with each roll and then changed it out. By shooting on the same day, I could be sure the lighting conditions were the same. I managed not to make any unintended double exposures but did have some light leak at the beginning of the roll of JCH Street Pan, a reminder to load film in subdued light in the case of a faulty light trap on the canister.

I shot all rolls at EI 400 and tried to maintain consistent exposures by selecting two shutter speeds—one metered for the shadows, the other for highlights—and switching between the two, keeping the aperture at f/4.0.

They were each developed in a fresh batch of Rodinal. The instructions for Bergger Pancro 400 suggested extra fixing time (6 minutes), but I already fix all film for about 7 minutes to avoid purple negatives.

*Note: While I’d love to say the scratches are an intentional touch of flair, they’re the result of a battle with my metal reels that I clearly lost. In my defense, it was unusually humid during the latest heat wave here in Los Angeles and my hands were very sweaty, making them stick to the inside of my changing bag. It took several tries to get the film loaded, and I expected some scratches, but the film looks like I put it through the wash with a bagful of nails.

Comparisons:

These images were all exposed for the shadow areas to compare highlight retention. I found that JCH Street Pan had the least detail in the highlight areas, while the Bergger Pancro still shows plenty of detail on the black speckled terrazzo of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Street Pan, Metered for Shadows

rollei RPX, Metered for Shadows

Bergger Pancro, Metered for Shadows

The images below were exposed for the shadows in backlit situations. I tried to include the sun, or a reflection of it, in the frame.  Much like the first set, the Bergger Pancro seems best at retaining detail in the highlights, in this case the sky. But in general, Pancro looks to be almost a stop underexposed, despite using the same exposure settings as the other two film stocks.

Rollei RPX, Backlight

Street Pan, Backlight

Bergger Pancro, backlight

These next images were exposed for a midtone and were all using the same exposure settings. While the angles are slightly different, they were also taken at the same intersection so that the tones could be compared.

Bergger Pancro, Metered for midtones

Street Pan, Metered for midtones

Rollei RPX, Metered for midtones

At this point it became clear to me that Bergger Pancro should probably be shot at ISO 200 or 250, but it appears to have the least contrast. In a final image it isn’t always desirable to have low contrast, but in this case I think it will provide the most flexibility for adding selective contrast in the printing process. Japan Camera Hunter’s Street Pan has by far the most contrast of these three films, often losing detail in the brightest areas, but has very nice mid and dark tones. Rollei RPX 400 has a very bright, airy quality, and good, balanced contrast.

My personal favourite of the three is Street Pan, as it has a similar contrasty look to Fujifilm Neopan 400.

 

Fathom Gallery: On The Street

Fabrik Magazine’s Street Photography competition winners and a curated selection from Fathom Gallery’s collection make up the On The Street exhibit currently on display at the gallery in downtown Los Angeles.

According to Fathom, “The exhibition illustrates the evolution in photographic style and technique from the very inception of the street genre. ” I’m very excited to be included in this show, I have three Urban Landscape pieces on display.

A personal highlight of opening night was this moment:

A young art viewer receives an impromtu architecture lesson from another gallery visitor while they both look at my work.

 

Nick Ut’s Retirement Party at The Perfect Exposure Gallery

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Nick Ut on multiple occasions, he was sweet and cheerful every time. Last night, Armando Arorizo of The Perfect Exposure gallery threw Nick a party to celebrate his retirement and an admirable career. Nick was graciously meeting and greeting everyone there, and with a little patience and help from Armando, Nick granted me a quick moment away from the crowds to take his photo. It helped that he was impressed by my Hasselblad (“Oh! A real camera!”) and handheld light meter.

Nick Ut. Hasselblad 500c, 80mm 2.8, Cinestill 800T


Armando and Nick. Hasselblad 500c, 80mm 2.8, Cinestill 800T


Nick’s prints. Hasselblad 500c, 80mm 2.8, Cinestill 800T


Nick’s Leica cake. Hasselblad 500c, 80mm 2.8, Cinestill 800T

Hanami At Descanso Gardens

This past weekend I went to Descanso Gardens in La Crescenta, CA for their annual Cherry Blossom Festival. I love any opportunity to learn from another culture’s customs, and this one is a favourite. In Japan, the Cherry Blossom (Sakura) is one of their national symbols. In the spring, for the short duration of the blooms, people all over Japan watch the news for bloom reports and then head out to enjoy being around the cherry trees, these viewing parties and gatherings are called Hanami.

I took the Hasselblad with a 120mm makro-planar lens and some Fujifilm to the gardens:



Japanese String Instrument, Koto

Tulips also in bloom!

And lots of Magnolia trees!

[These were all shot on Fujifilm Pro400H, except for the tulips shot on expired NPS 160. Developed at home with Unicolour C-41 kit, and scanned in a Canon Canoscan Pro 9000 with betterscanning.com ‘s insert]

Here in LA, we don’t have many Sakura, but Descanso Gardens has several in their Japanese Gardens. The botanical garden put together two weekends of tree viewing with crafts (origami!), live music, and a barbecue. I highly recommend this event to everyone. The garden is accessible to all ages and abilities, the tickets were only $9 (get them in advance, they sell out), and food was reasonably priced.
I’m not much of a flora shooter, but after being so inspired by these I might have to go looking for wildflowers. Next stop might be the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve!

Japan Camera Hunter Street Pan 400

I’m so used to seeing my favourite film stocks being discontinued that it was very surprising and exciting to see a NEW film stock hitting the market.
Japan Camera Hunter has revived a discontinued AGFA film as Street Pan 400. It’s an ISO 400 Panchromatic film with high red sensitivity. It’s contrasty with fine grain, it was chosen to replace Fujifilm’s Neopan 400 (and probably because it was feasible to put back into production).
I have yet to find anywhere in California selling the film, but my partner was in Portland, OR recently and bought me a couple of rolls at the awesome Blue Moon Camera and Machine shop. Carol is by far the best gift-giver (and thanks, Jim, for the recommendation!).
Japan Camera Hunter does ship worldwide, but the film is (temporarily?) sold out.

We took a day trip to Long Beach to visit my sister and I shot a roll through my Canon EOS-3. I’m happy with the contrast and overall tones of this film. I’m even more impressed with how much of the sky detail it retained with all that contrast. It’s definitely a film I’ll use again!

JCH Street Pan 400 Test Roll

JCH Street Pan 400 Test Roll

JCH Street Pan 400 Test Roll

 

JCH Street Pan 400 Test Roll

It was a very nice gift, and a hard-to-find film, I had to do something cool with the canister after developing it (yes, I pull the film out without destroying the canister). So I stuck a magnet on it, and it now lives on my fridge along with photos of friends and family.

Leitz Park, Wetzlar, Germany

Back in May I got one of the coolest phone calls ever: “Leica wants to send you to Germany for training.”

The End.

(Okay not really, but what else do I even say after that?!)

Wetzlar is a small town about a half-hour drive outside of Frankfurt where Leica Camera AG has its headquarters. While the city looks like any city, it has a smaller “Old Town” area, with narrow medieval streets, half-timbered wood frame buildings, and a Gothic cathedral at its center. For an awesome week, a dozen of us Leica salespeople (and overall camera geeks!) were put up at a small, nice hotel in this Old Town area and spent our evenings dining and walking around there. We spent the days at Leitz Park, the Leica HQ area, learning about the company culture, history, products, and sales strategies. Sounds like boring conference room stuff, sure, but we were in camera geek heaven the whole time. We even had the chance to hear from Peter Karbe the head of Optical Design! The highlight of Leitz Park was the tour of Leica’s factory. I wasn’t allowed to take photos, but Oh. My. God… when Leica says “made by hand” they really mean MADE BY HAND. There is also a gallery of famous Leica photographs and a museum containing one of every model ever made. The architecture of the building itself is something to admire: one half built in the shape of binoculars, the other in the shape of a lens (complete with a center atrium), and the windows resemble film strips. We had lunch with Leica staff in their cafeteria and the Leitz Café (so fancy!). Here are my photos of Leitz Park and of my new friends from Spain, England, Italy, France, and all over the US.