I have a long story to tell, but I’ll give away the ending first: ARF Plus 400 and BRF 400 Plus are the same film (OrWo NP74 Plus, cinema film stock). They are relatively low contrast but have an interesting look that I might like to pursue more if I can find it at a good price in the future.
Many months ago, I made an exciting international purchase: a sampling of various films that I had never tried. I forced myself to maintain an ignorance and naiveté about it, as if I had ordered them from a Shutterbug ad via mail-order pre-Internet. I didn’t slavishly scour APUG and Flickr and Photo.net for development times, who rebadged what film…
What I did do around July 2013 was shoot a test roll of the Bergger and develop it in Diafine. I was going to post the results here, but they were just not very inspiring.
At the end of 2013 I shot the Argenti and Bergger literally back-to-back. They were the last two rolls I shot in 2013 in fact; I finished up the Bergger on New Year’s Day.
The other day I had already developed 10 rolls of Plus-X and Tri-X in Rodinal, and I had a bit more time so I tried to spool up the ARF 400. I used an old Jobo hand development tank. I couldn’t figure out how the spool worked in the dark, so I ditched that and got a steel reel and tank. I bunged that up, too, probably having bent the film when trying the Jobo reel. At my wit’s end, I grabbed a Paterson tank and was done with it. After setting everything up, I spied the Bergger roll, alone. I did some quick Internet research and decided to develop the rolls together. I would be shortchanging the ARF a tiny bit if I developed at the 7 minutes recommended for the Bergger, but it’s Rodinal and 400 speed negative film, so I figured I’d be o.k.
After drying and scanning, I kept mixing up in my head which film was which; I was working out how to write about them—the grain, contrast, etc. So I spent some time online poring over APUG, Photo.net, Flickr, etc. (what I had not done before) and realized the truth I gave away above. This is a cinema film that’s been repackaged by the respective brands.
I had found the Bergger development time online here, but later came across the film canister and found a slip of paper inside that had a different (longer) development time. I suspected I had underdeveloped them, as they were not only low contrast but rather dark. To confuse things further, the ARF development times I had found online were different as well. To add smother this enigma in even more secret sauce, the Massive Dev Chart has a much longer development time (13 minutes at 68F). I only have a couple more rolls of this stuff, so I have some decisions to make.
So mystery kind of solved, I now have a new film to think about. When I shoot some again, I will share those results with you.
Finally, here’s a side-by-side showing the adjusted image on the left (levels and contrast) and the original scan on the right (click it to big it):
Yeah, pretty underdeveloped. Better luck next time.
Have you used these films (this film)? Thoughts?
Living in Spain and being Argenti a Spanish dealer, I’ve tested some of its films and I know for sure that all of them are rebadged, in some of them it even says “Made by Agfa”.
But I’m not sure that Bergger also rebadged their products… What makes you think that?
Thanks for the input. Primarily, I think that Bergger is rebadged because Bergger’s not a film manufacturer. There are only a few left: Lucky, Ferrania, FilmoTec, Fujifilm, Ilford, Kodak/Alaris, Slavic, Tasma (the latter two being more industrial/specialized), Foma, Adox, Inoviscoat (materials for instant film) and The Impossible Project.
Based on bits and pieces I read in various forums when I was researching the development times, mine is an educated guess that this was manufactured by FilmoTec and that it is OrWo. I’m very open to being proven wrong!
I’m also looking forward to what Ferrania has to offer in the future–they’re talking about an 800/3200 ISO chrome film based on the old Scotch Chrome 100.
It is indeed hard to obtain reliable information when it comes to the origin of certain films…
But, according to Bergger’s website (http://www.bergger.com/) it seems likely that they produce (or used to produce) their own products: films, paper and chemicals. That’s why I always assumed that the Bergger film wasn’t rebadged, but of course I may have been wrong.
I found some references to a Bergger 400 film in some forums dating 2003. I thought that it was discontinued and then released again in 2012. But whether all their current products are own manufactured or some are rebadged I don’t know.
I recently processed two rolls of Bergger 400 in Dilution H. (1:63) HC110, 7 mins. at 75 degrees — film rated at EI 320 — and the results were good for a first try. I needed a grade 3.5 filter to print, and even with that the image seemed low in contrast. Grain wasn’t too prominent in an 8×10 print, and the film seemed reasonably sharp. The Tri-X that I processed in the same tank and shot at the same EI looked much nicer, but I’ve been using that film for decades. I will have to experiment further with longer processing times in HC110 and maybe in Rodinal.