Friday, September 6, 2013

The Majestic Beauty.. of IR Film

For a first Film Review, I cannot say I could have picked a better film to review.
Only... I'm not just reviewing a single film, but a pair of films.
Both films are by Rollei, and those two films are...

Rollei Retro 80s

and

Rollei IR400 (Infrared)


These films are both very fine grained, very sharp, and have spectacular red ranges.  Granted, the Rollei IR400 has a slightly longer range into 820nm, which Retro 80s stops around 750nm.

I find that Rollei Retro 80s is more sensitive to red light, than EFKE Ir820c was, and I did try that film!
Sure, EFKE is sensitive to 820nm similar to IR400, but I found you had to rate it at around 1.5 to 3ASA with the R72 filter on, and it's 1/3 stop faster than Retro 80s.
I am rating 80s at between 3 and 6ASA with the R72 filter on.  I recently shot a roll at 1.5, and it was over-exposed, which really surprised me, but it still worked beautifully!

It is not a well known fact that Rollei Retro 80s has Infrared capabilities, as most people shoot it for its incredible fine grain and classic look that has many portrait photographers going ga-ga over!
It is a premiere Portrait Film, and will give you that 1930's to 1950's classic Portrait look that you see on posters and adverts from those times.

Rollei Retro 80s has a very strong contrast curve, but it can be easily tamed with the right techniques.
I find one of the best ways to tame it is, use Rodinal.
I know a lot of people love Rodinal and despise Rodinal.  It is because of Grain.  Rodinal is not a very fine grained developer, but is a very sharp developer.
When used with T-Grained and Delta-Grained films, it will produce a fine grain, and very gradual and even tones.
With Rollei 80s, it produces very fine grain, and incredible tones!  In fact, I was so impressed with the tone and sharpness of Rollei Retro 80s in Rodinal, that I have decided it will be my go-to developer for this film.

I have shot it with and without filters, but for this I'll concentrate on the amazing R72 filter with this film.

"Across The Tracks" - Zenza Bronca ETRs
Zenzanon 75mm ƒ/2.8 w/Hoya R72
Rollei Retro 80s - Rodinal 1+50

"Sundial" - Zenza Bronca ETRs
Zenzanon 75mm ƒ/2.8 w/Hoya R72
Rollei Retro 80s - Rodinal 1+50

"Artificial Ruins" - Zenza Bronca ETRs
Zenzanon 75mm ƒ/2.8 w/Hoya R72
Rollei Retro 80s - Rodinal 1+50

"Hydrant" - Minolta Maxxum 7000
Maxxum 28-80mm ƒ/3.5-4 w/Hoya R72
Rollei Retro 80s - Rodinal 1+50

"IR Parking" - Minolta Maxxum 7000
Maxxum 28-80mm ƒ/3.5-4 w/Hoya R72
Rollei Retro 80s - Rodinal 1+50

Which leads me to feel that I am officially a very big fanatic of this film.
I remember using it the first time for a Portrait session, and was nervous of how it was going to come out, having not used it before for portraits.  Well, I was hooked at that point, but not to the point I am today.
I wasn't too happy with the strong contrast curve, but found the classic Portrait look of this film to be exactly what I was looking for.
Now that I have found the film performs incredibly well with an R72 IR filter, I can't wait to give it another run through, only this time in my Kodak TLR, and have even more fun with this film.

Now, that leads me to the Rollei IR400 film.  I have had a few rolls in my freezer for some time, and was waiting for the right day to take it out and use it.
Well, that day came, and boy was I ready!  I had my Bronica loaded, and had been planning this day for many weeks!
Actually it was well over a month!
So on August 17th, 2013, my wife +Donna Bitaxi and my friend John G. Meadows, and I went to Kleinburg, Ontario, and took a walk through the park along the Humber River.
Well boy was I impressed with the light!
Normally this kind of light is looked upon and said.. "WOW!  This is some seriously harsh lighting...  But for IR film, it is perfect!  In fact, I couldn't have asked for better light.
When the sun wasn't hiding behind a cloud or three, it was just bright and brilliant.
And yes, we waited for the sun to come out of hiding.

"Trail Guides" - Zenza Bronica ETRs
Zemzanon 150mm ƒ/4 MC  w/Hoya R72
Rollei IR400 - HC-110 Dil. B

"Wood Effect" - Zenza Bronica ETRs
Zemzanon 75mm ƒ/2.8 PE (Aspherical)  w/Hoya R72
Rollei IR400 - HC-110 Dil. B

"The IR River" - Zenza Bronica ETRs
Zemzanon 75mm ƒ/2.8 PE (Aspherical)  w/Hoya R72
Rollei IR400 - HC-110 Dil. B

So in conclusion, having been remiss of not using Kodak HIE, but knowing the brilliant effect that it would bring, I must say, this Rollei IR400 film is definitely a very good replacement for it.  With some incredibly blooming effect which can probably be accentuated by removing the Anti-Halation backing, to the strong wood effect capable with this film.
It is definitely a worthy film to be in any photographer's repertoire, whether filtered, or used as a Panchromatic film, I'm sure it'll perform very admirably!

With Rollei Retro 80s, whether you are shooting portraits, or landscapes, it will never disappoint you.  Just remember, it has a very strong contrast curve, so watch out for it, and you can tame it!
This film is a must for any portrait shooter, or someone looking to give IR a try.  Even with a Wratten 25a filter, it produces fantastic results.

Another film worth mentioning is Ilford's SFX200.  A 200 speed Near-IR film that has a reach to around 750nm, with a peak at around 720nm.  It isn't a true IR film like Rollei IR400 or what Efke IR820c was, but more like an extended red-ranged film, like Rollei Retro 80s, but not quite as fine grained.
With an R72 filter in place, I rated it around 3 to 6ASA and was quite pleased with the results

"Growing Over"  -  Zenza Bronica ETRs
Zenzanon 75mm ƒ/2.8 PE (Aspherical) Lens w/Hoya R72 filter
Ilford SFX200 - HC-110 Dil. B

"The Flowing Creek"  -  Zenza Bronica ETRs
Zenzanon 75mm ƒ/2.8 PE (Aspherical) Lens w/Hoya R72 filter
Ilford SFX200 - HC-110 Dil. B
So yes, even this film, Ilford SFX200, could easily find its way into your stash of films, with some nice effects in the IR range, even giving some slight wood effect, it isn't quite as pronounced as the Rollei IR400, but gives a lower-contrast look that the Rollei Retro 80s provides.
Either way, all three of these films are fantastic films!

Until next time Fellow bloggers...  Keep those shutters firing!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Mike, I just now finally made the connection that you are the same person I have been talking with on Flickr. Anyway, this is some very nice work with the IR films. I am looking forward to seeing what that Reflex does with these films. :)

    I happen to be looking into the Rollei films myself as possible alternatives to the Efke IR820 and was considering getting some to do some testing. But it looks like you have done a lot of the work for me! At least I have some good starting points for my testing now. :) But a question for you: you say you have found the Retro 80s to be good at an E.I. of 3 to 6 ASA when using the R72 filter; but how do you rate the IR400? Sorry if I missed it above but I didn't see it.

    Jeff

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