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


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  1. yep, i say it’s just the lens. i shoot bronica for some while and get razor sharp results with almost every high quality film both color and b/w. the rollei might be good, but you need to try the lens with other films and the rollei film with other lenses in order to judge it concerning sharpness, i think.

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