I’m no film addict but once in a while I like to shoot film. It slows me down and makes me think more about my photography. I decided to get back into infrared 35mm film photography. With the Kodak HIE film discontinued and barely available through questionable channels, The Rollei IR400 seems like the only good available option. The Rollei IR400 film is an infrared sensitive B&W film. It’s also sensitive to visible light and will render a standard looking B&W image if not filtered. Some use a red filter like a #25 but I chose to go with the Hoya R72 filter I use in digital infrared photography.
As you can see above, the infrared look we are used to is missing. That’s because of the Rollei film’s sensitivity to visible light. Without a filter the full spectrum of visible and infrared light exposes the film. Different Red and IR filters will produce a wide variety of interesting results. As I mentioned I chose the R72 since I had it on hand. In hindsight I may use a more aggressive IR filter in the future. Keep in mind this film is only sensitive up to 820nm.
In the above image the IR effect is clear in comparison to the first image. It’s metered at ISO 400 without a filter. I then compensated 5 stops for the Hoya R72 filter. In addition the film doesn’t have a code on it so my Nikon F75 set the ISO at 100 by default. To quickly calculate the conversion from 100ISO to 400ISO + 5 Stops I use a handy little app on my Android Phone named PHOforPHO (Phone Tools for Photographers) I bracketed each scene but the exposure was right on in most situations.
A word of caution when handling Rollei IR400 film. Although the manufacturer suggests loading your film in low light, you should load and unload your film in complete darkness to avoid light contamination on your film. If there’s a little glass window on the back door of your camera, tape it black on the outside and the inside. It should also be developed in complete darkness. Since I don’t develop my own film anymore, I tape my canister shut with electrical tape and add a note, “DARKROOM ONLY”. You tend to invest a great deal of time and energy in a 36 exposure infrared film. There’s nothing more disappointing than having your results scrapped. The only time I didn’t seal and label my film “DARKROOM ONLY” the lab at Photo Service in Montreal scrapped my film. There’s very little justice in that situation since they’ll talk down to you like you’re an idiot who doesn’t know what your doing. I now get my IR film developed at Lozeau were they take the time to add special notes in addition to my “DARKROOM ONLY” label.
I still like digital infrared, especially the false color rendering. B&W results can compare somewhat from film to digital. I like the long 20 to 30 second exposures on non converted Nikon DSLRs. In order to do so with film you need an IRND filter. A regular ND filter will not filter infrared light.
I suggest you use a tripod, 720nm infrared filter and a cable release for your infrared photography. Write down your exposure information so you can keep track of your results.
I hope you find this short article interesting enough to get out there and experiment with IR film photography. For more infrared images visit my INFRARED PHOTO GALLERY.
A great place to purchase a wide variety of infrared 35mm and 120 film is at Lomography.com