Review: Bergger One Monobath Developer – David Tatnall

Review: Bergger One Monobath Developer – David Tatnall

Bergger One is a monobath developer (developer and fixer combined) formulated in-house by Bergger in France.

This is quite an extraordinary film developer and fixer. It is used, undiluted, at temperatures between 20°c – 25°c for ten minutes developing time regardless of film type.

I tested Bergger One with 35mm, 120 and 4×5 film using Pancro400, HP5plus, FP4plus and Tri-x 320. Process temperatures were 20°c, 22°c and 25°c. I processed some films by themselves, and I also processed several different films in the one batch.

To process the film, it is first loaded into a developing tank (I used Paterson Multi Reel 3 for the 35mm and 120 a Stearman Press SP-445 for the 4×5) it is then pre wet with water at the same temperature as the developer. I did this for 3 minutes. Pre wet bath is discarded, and developer poured in. Then agitated for thirty seconds, then five seconds every thirty seconds for ten minutes. Developer is then poured back out – it can be used to process twenty films. Film was then washed and dried.

Recommended ISO settings for films to be processed are listed both on the developer bottle and on Bergger website. Almost all ISO settings are as recommended by film manufacturer, there are some exceptions, such as Foma 100 rated at ISO 25, Cat Labs X 320 rated at ISO 100.

I processed Pancro400 at 320 ISO, HP4plus at 400 ISO, FP4plus at 100 ISO and Tri-x 320 at ISO 320.

The developing time for the first ten films processed is ten minutes. For films 11 – 15 the time increases to twelve minutes. For films 16 – 20 time increases to 14 minutes. There are numbers to cross off on the bottle to remind you of the number of films you have processed.

When used for the first time the developer is relatively clear, however it becomes cloudy with more use, this is normal. The developer must be shaken vigorously before using. Once opened the developer has a shelf life of at least two months.

This is a very easy developer to use and the resulting negatives have good sharpness and tonality and print well. I processed a total of twelve films for this review, films eleven and twelve were processed at the longer time of twelve minutes. All results were consistent and processing at the different temperatures or the increase in time due to the number of films processed had no real effect on the quality of the negatives produced.

I can see this developer being used by: photographers who use different types of film and want to simplify processing; photographers travelling and needing to process film in hotels or on the road; and in workshop situations where many rolls or sheets of film need to be processed quickly. 

The flexibility and simplicity of use makes this developer an exciting addition to the photographer’s darkroom.  

In Australia Bergger One developer is available from Gold Street Studios & Gallery.

Darebin Parklands. Pancro400 120 rated at 320ISO
Merri Creek. FP4+ 120 rated at 100ISO
Fairfield Pipe Bridge. Pancro400 4×5 rated at 320ISO
Northcote Amphitheatre Tri-x 320 4×5 rated at 320ISO
Parliament House. HP5+ 35mm rated at 400ISO
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This article was written by

David Tatnall is an Australian fine art photographer & editor of View Camera Australia.

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Harry Nankin at 12:02 pm

    Hi David,

    Thanks for doing all that investigative testing work. This developer sounds unbelievable. The big questions for me are a) in what ways, if any, does the density range and/or characteristic curves of the films you tested differ using this developer (at the times you used) from what would be expected using other standard and/or recommended developers and b) in what ways, if at all, does this combined dev/fix chemistry compromise/change the long term archival stability of the silver gelatine emulsion?

    • David Tatnall Author at 6:23 am

      Thank you Harry. As to question a) this review was to test the developer as recommended by Bergger. I’ll do another set of tests to compare this developer to a standard developer in the future. As to question b) Ellie Young believes that as long as the film is washed properly it will achieve archival standards. As the developer is so new a lot more test needs to be done.

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