Bergger Question : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Film & Processing : One Thread

The Berrger developing question before this one made me think...I have heard people for years now bemoaning the loss of Super XX film, like it was the death of black-and-white thirty-plus years ago when it vanished. So, how come if Bergger 200 is supposed to be the new replacement, it hasn't taken the black-and-white world by storm? Seems like if Super XX was as needed as I heard, every store and photographer should be rushing for BPF. Yet, it seems to be rather difficult to get, only mail order, really. I don't mean to say anything about the film, I am yet to try it, and I suspect it is very nice. It is the lack of reaction, by all those who I get the impression use a lost film as an excuse, that I find interesting. I was told once by a former professional studio photographer, that he wouldn't be able to do good black-and-white after his supply of 35mm Panatomic X ran out. What rubbish. The man had an 8x10 camera, even. The romance over the lost Super XX strikes me the same. Super XX has a new what are people doing with it?

-- Chris (, March 21, 2002


As discussed before on this listserv at length: Bergger film is rebadged Fortepan 200, a good old emulsion, but definitly not identical to Kodak Super XX. The use of classic emulsions like Efke or Forte depends -- as you point out -- on several factors: Format is certainly one. The tonal rendition and contrast handling of these films is beyond doubt superior to modified crystal structure films, the grain size will not be able to compete. The classic emulsion also respond better than modified crystal films to different developers. The advantages of these films in a larger format starting with 120 for me outweigh the other factors. If you are looking for the finest possible grain, than this film will be nothing for you. I would not use Fortepan 200 in 35 unless I was looking for some grain. Also the price for Bergger films is simply rip-off. In most European countries the Fortepan 200 in 35mm sells for about $2 per roll (the price often will be cheaper if you buy a ten pack), in Hungary for much less. In the US most dealers will charge you around $5.50 per roll.

-- Volker Schier (, March 22, 2002.

I never tried Bergger films, but I use Fortepan a lot. If you are looking for fine grain, forget about this kind of films. I use it in 120 format. The tonal rendition is definetly superior to any of the new technology films. As a rule, never use a superfine grain developer with this kind of films; you will get a muchy grain. I like to develop in Rodinal, and DK-50 1:1- really sparkling high lights with high acutance. I also found that normal grade paper (2-3) are not able to exploit the best tonality of this film (I'm talking about Fortepan 200 and 400). I like to over develop a little- don't worry about that- and print on grade one.

The only films that come closer in terms of tonality, but with much finer grain, are APX and Verichrome pan (now discontinued!). I lost any hope with Kodak!


-- Xosni (, March 22, 2002.

I've used Super XX in 4x5 and Bergger in 120, and have to say they seem like quite different films to me, but perhaps the difference was due to the format. They are both old-style emulsions, as has been said above. Ansel had plenty of opportunity to use Super XX, but he preferred Tri-X. Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee seem to be the current champions of Super XX (they're still using old stock), but for the life of me I can't believe it could make that much difference in contact prints. For my personal work with 120 rollfilm, I prefer the T-Max and Delta films--I get quite good tonality from them, as well as fine grain and better speed.

B&H sells both Bergger BRF 200 and Fortepan 200 for $2.95 per roll.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, March 22, 2002.

Can't say if it's XX (I've only been doing bw for a few years) but it looks lovely in PMK so it's become my standard film for that soup.

Calumet has it for $2.99 for a roll of 120.

-- David Parmet (, March 22, 2002.

Dear Ed, you are certainly right about the characterstics of Super XX. According to the B&H website the 35mm version of the Bergger film currently sells for $4.95, which is definitly more than the Fortepan. The last Calumet flyer I got listed the 35mm version for $5.50. Considering the Hungarian retail prices -- wholesale the prices would be much lower -- I still consider this more than a sound markup by Bergger. Perhaps you refer to the 120 version, which is sold cheaper?

-- Volker Schier (, March 22, 2002.

OK guys, I need a little documentation here concerning the Bergger films being simply repackaged Fortepan. To my knowledge, Bergger is manufactured in France, Fortepan in Hungary. The founders of the French company are supposedly former employees of the Guillemot- Bosflueg company, the makers of the original Zone VI Brilliant. If indeed the Bergger BPF film is just a repackaging of the Fortepan, I would like to know. That way I can buy the cheapest version of the same film. However, I have seen no real documentation. In other words, is there any proof out there?

-- Doremus Scudder (, March 22, 2002.

Check the archive of this listserve. People have recently compared the film by running development tests and -- as far as I remember -- one contributor recently even ran a curve of both film. No one will doubt that this is 100% proof if curves turn out identical. Also read the response by Bergger USA. They had to admit that they do not manufacture a single product. There is no Bergger factory. By the way: I checked prices with Fotoimpex in Berlin. They sell a 10 pack of rebadged Fortepan 400 in 120 (under their "classic" brandname) for the equivalent of around $1.20 per roll. They are surely no charity and also make money.

-- Volker Schier (, March 22, 2002.

Volker, I'm curious. Do you or any members of your family have a financial interest in Fotoimpex?

-- Sal Santamaura (, March 22, 2002.

Dear Sal, certainly you may ask this question. Simple answer: NO

-- Volker Schier (, March 22, 2002.

I wasn't even aware the Bergger film was made in 35mm, as I hardly ever use 35mm anymore. Yes the prices of the Bergger 120 and Fortepan 120 films are identical at B&H.

-- Ed Buffaloe (, March 22, 2002.

Thanks for the replies. I have begun to suspect one of the answers to my original question is that few people lug 8x10's around anymore, and smaller cameras don't work well with older, grainy films. I wonder what dear ol' Ansel would be using nowdays...probably TMX-100 in his antique Hassy! My original post is indicative of my frustration with many photographers I meet who complain more than they create. The people who answered this post are not those type of people, since they have real world suggestions. The "who makes what" situation is interesting in that it makes me wonder what gets shipped from the Ilford plant in unlabled boxes. I think I remember someone saying they had trouble with the Bergger film base curling. That is the very reason I dislike Ilford, especially in 120. I especially wanted to say thanks to Ed Buffalo for creating his great photo site, and for trying all those different films and processes he does. It is nice to see someone who not only talks about creatives processes, but who actually goes out and uses them. Thanks Again, Chris

-- Chris (, March 22, 2002.

Not that its any easier to get, nor that my source is FotoImpex in Berlin, but let me add another film for consideration - Fomapan t200. To me, its just like the old Tri-X [when they still put a lot of silver in it] and produces rich blacks like Super XX. Made in the Czech Republic, IMO it compares favorably with Bergger. In fact its so good the Great Yellow Father prevents its official import.

-- Alec (, March 22, 2002.

Now, I am quite sure Kodak has no control over who imports other films. If they did, do you think Fuji would be allowed in? There might be a problem with East Bloc countries, but certainly not whether or not Kodak wants competition or not. I learned the hard way a few years ago not to base portfolio images on products that you may only be able to get once or twice. At least the big names are available.

-- Chris (, March 22, 2002.

I understand there is a fight over patent application. FOMA just isn't big enough to fight Kodak right now.

-- Alec (, March 23, 2002.

Fomapan T200 has been my standard material for many years, together with Efke 50. For me Fomapan T200 shows by far the best combination of tonal rendition and acutance. Additionally it has finer grain than Fortepan. I think that it is very different to Fortepan film in most characteristics and I cannot praise it enough. According to the information I have there was never an argument between Kodak and Foma about patent infringement. What Kodak did was to put pressure on the dealers not to carry Foma film, otherwise Kodak threatened to rethink doing business with them. It is difficult to get hold of Foma film in the US, especially in 120 and sheet formats, since there is no importer and most European mail order companies will not ship to the US. Therefore I do mention Fotoimpex, because they are my source for many of these lovely products such as Foma, Efke and Calbe, products which I otherwise could only obtain in Europe and I would hate to get along without. In 35mm Fomapan T200 is available as Paterson Acupan 200 film.

-- Volker Schier (, March 23, 2002.

By the way: The new name for Fomapan T200 is Fomapan 200 Creative.

-- Volker Schier (, March 23, 2002.

I was just looking at the B&H ad in Shutterbug. I do not see Bergger film listed at all. There is Forte and Patterson though. As for I have purchased from them for several years. Mirko, the owner, takes a personal interest in his customers and has formed a treasure of black & white supplies. Perhaps the best in the world. He makes purchasing just as easy as buying from B & H. Anyone that buys from him will be "hooked" on his great products and service. A leading USA photographer/lecturer/and educator recently tried Fotoimpex's fiberbase Classic (Forte) Museum paper and has declared it the best there is. I have used it and there is no equal. It is available in graded and multicontrast. it is triple weight, clean whites, beautiful tonality, slightly warm.

-- Don Spangler (, March 23, 2002.

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