Film talk: Rollei Retro 400s

After reading about the film on Martin Zimelka’s website I got a couple of rolls and tried it out. The film is a super-panchromatic film with extended sensitivity into the infrared range. For it’s relatively high speed the film has very small but visible grain resulting in the visual experience of extreme sharpness. Zooming in the scanned imaged reveals the sharpest image I’ve ever seen from an analog photo before. However, some might say that the sharpness comes from the excellent Nikon lenses manufactured for the early Bronica 6×6 systems. I guess both, the lens and the film, play their parts leading to unrivaled sharpness.


Just as the slower brother, the Retro 80s, the film has a clear film base which makes it easy to scan. Right now I have no experience printing the film in the wet lab. The Retro 400s has intrinsically a very high contrast and taming it is a good idea to get richer tones in the middle of the spectrum.


I set the meter to ISO 200 with the plan to increase agitation during development from 1min to 2min as well. The day was also very bright and sunny putting a lot of contrast into the images as well. I used Rodinal and a dilution of 1:50 to develop the film. I used the same development time of 22min as for a speed setting of 400 but I reduced the agitation as mentioned before hoping to get a bit more of that compensation effect.


The results are speaking for themselves. The images are super sharp with good contrast while retaining all the mid tones as well. Skin tones (no example shown) come out quite bright and a bit unnatural due to the film’s sensitivity to red. I can see this kind of sharpness and grain being used for portrait photography but not for every subject. In my opinion the film is more suited for architectural, urban landscape and detail photography. Although, breaking with the “rules” always Now I’m curious how the film performs with a red or even infrared filter. … I will update you soon …


Camera: Bronica C

Film: Rollei Retro 400s

Development: Rodinal 1:50, 20°C, 22min, 30sec constant agitation and every 2min thereafter.

Please tell me about your experience and copy links to your images taken on Rollei Retro 400s



New toys: Bronica C and Rollei RPX 100

The Bronica C was released in 1964 as budget version to the S model. The camera doesn’t have a removable back however features a switch for multiple exposures. The Bronica C has a focal shutter with speeds down to 1/500 of a second. The lenses for the Bronica C, S, S2 and S2a were made by Nikon as 50mm, 75mm, 135mm and 200mm fixed focal length versions. These lenses are incredibly sharp and of excellent built quality. An interesting difference to other 6×6 systems is the focusing: It’s not built in the lens but part of the camera body.The focus ring has a distance scale for all four lenses which can be a bit confusing. However, I will get used to it. The waist level finder is bright and fairly easy to focus. I got the camera on ebay for a decent “buy it now” price and the condition it is in is excellent.

I loaded a roll of Rollei RPX 100 and started shooting right away. The first thing I wanted to try were double exposures. Seeing the resuls, I realize it needs a bit of practice and much more thinking to get interesting double exposures.



Last year I got some rolls of Rollei RPX 100 and pretty much forgot about them. Recently I read Martin Zimelka’s review about the film and had second thoughts about the film. So I shot a roll and developed it in Rodinal. A dilution of 1+50 seemed reasonable to get a good balance. It turns out that the combination of Rollei RPX 100 and Rodinal is pretty much the sharpest ISO 100 results I’ve seen.



All summed up, the Bronica C is a cool 6×6 camera that handles pretty well and is able to get very good results. You will certainly not be able to hide with the loud shutter noise that wakes up the death. I will certainly do more stuff witht he Rollei RPX 100. I like what I got developing it in Rodinal and it might become my favorite ISO 100 film. Next step will be trying the 35mm version.