Rollei Retro 80S Black and White Negative Film

Rollei Retro 80S Black and White Negative Film

Analog Film Review

Rollei Retro 80S Black and White Negative Film

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Rollei Retro 80S

Rollei Retro 80S

The Ilford photo is probably top of our minds when it comes to black and white film photography; it started around 143 years ago in 1879 in the United Kingdom. And the question that I often get asked is which black and white film you should try. It probably would be Kodak Tri-X and the iconic Ilford HP5 Plus. How about this humble Rollei brand? The company was founded in 1920 and is well known for its Rolleiflex cameras so the film may be a little less well-known than Kodak and Ilford, but I must say they have a great B&W film collection that is slightly cheaper.

rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-ms-optics-optical-vario-prasma-50mm-50-f1.5-1.5-rodinal-1+25-crossing
Rollei Retro 80S, MS Optics Vario Prasma 50mm f1.5, Rodinal 1+25

First Impression

My first Rollei B&W rollei film was Rollei 400S. My first impression wasn’t about the image but instead the film stripes. Rollei Retro 80s film is a black and white film stock manufactured by Agfa in Belgium. If you are looking for a fine grain low ISO film, Rollei 80S has a broad tonal range and sharpness because it has an extended sensitivity to red colour, making it great for portraiture (better skin tone). It also clears haze and fog, which helps to capture great landscape photographs. I like to use this film when I want to use fast lenses during the day, which allows me to separate the subject from the background and add extra contrast.

If contrast is something that you are looking for in your image, please continue to read this article. I think you would want to try this film.

rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-2
Rollei Retro 80S
rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-leica-summilux-50mm-f1.4-v2-1.4-rodinal-1+25-cityscape
Rollei Retro 80S, Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 V2, Rodinal 1+25
rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-leica-summilux-50mm-f1.4-v2-1.4-rodinal-1+25-light-shadow
Rollei Retro 80S, Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 V2, Rodinal 1+25
rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-ms-optics-optical-vario-prasma-50mm-50-f1.5-1.5-rodinal-1+25
Rollei Retro 80S, MS Optics Vario Prasma 50mm f1.5, Rodinal 1+25

Technical Specification

  • Type: Panchromatic B&W, Extended Sensitivity to 775nm
  • Film Base: Polyester (PE)
  • Film Speed: ISO 80, Latitude: 20-400
  • Formats Available: 35mm, 120
  • Fine Grain Structure, Broad Tonal Range

“Rollei’s Retro 80S is a slow-speed panchromatic black and white negative film with extended near-infrared sensitivity to 775nm. This additional red sensitivity helps to cut through haze or fog and also smooth skin tones and blemishes, making it ideal for portraiture. It has a nominal sensitivity of ISO 80/20° and is characterized by a fine grain structure and broad tonal range. It is coated onto a transparent polyester base, with anti-static coatings, that makes it well-suited to scanning applications.” from B&H website

rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-leica-summilux-50mm-f1.4-v2-1.4-rodinal-1+25-reflection-abstract-tonality
Rollei Retro 80S, Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 V2, Rodinal 1+25

Extended Red Sensitivity

Rollei 80S is a panchromatic black and white film. It has an extended red sensitivity or near-infrared sensitivity. If you use an infrared filter, you could get infrared kinds of photographs. I haven’t tried it myself, but some samples online talk about this film. But pay attention to the amount of sunlight you are working with because you need blinding sunlight to get lovely infrared photos!

rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-canon-50mm-f0.95-0.95-red-filter-hk-fisherman
Rollei Retro 80S, Canon 50mm f0.95 (red filter), Rodinal 1+25
rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-leica-summilux-50mm-f1.4-v2-1.4-portrait-hk-rodinal-1+25
Rollei Retro 80S, Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 V2, Rodinal 1+25

High Contrast Alert!

What attracts me is the high contrast, fine-grained, and extended red sensitivity characters with the prior mentioned characters. Rodinal and Rollei 80S seem to be the perfect combination to me. 1+25 and 1+50 are my usual recipes.

rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-ms-optics-optical-vario-prasma-50mm-50-f1.5-1.5-rodinal-1+25-escalator
Rollei Retro 80S, MS Optics Vario Prasma 50mm f1.5, Rodinal 1+25
rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-ms-optics-optical-vario-prasma-50mm-50-f1.5-1.5-rodinal-1+25-silhouette
Rollei Retro 80S, MS Optics Vario Prasma 50mm f1.5, Rodinal 1+25
rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-ms-optics-optical-vario-prasma-50mm-50-f1.5-1.5-rodinal-1+25-fishing-boat
Rollei Retro 80S, MS Optics Vario Prasma 50mm f1.5, Rodinal 1+25

Portraits with Rollei 80S

When it comes to portraiture, it renders pale skin meaning skin tone is white, and eyes are usually darker. It is very different to regular film stock like Kodak Tmax 100 or Ilford Delta, which might give you a more natural look, so this film here might give you a unique look when you are doing street photography with the blinding sun.

rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-leica-summilux-50mm-f1.4-v2-1.4-portrait-marisa-rodinal-1+25
Rollei Retro 80S, Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 V2, Rodinal 1+25
rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-ms-optics-optical-vario-prasma-50mm-50-f1.5-1.5-rodinal-1+25-skating
Rollei Retro 80S, MS Optics Vario Prasma 50mm f1.5, Rodinal 1+25

Pros

  • Great contrast and definition
  • Can use a wider aperture (e.g. f/1.0, f/1.4 during daytime)
  • Performs well with colour filters
  • Brighter skin tones

Cons

  • Film speed is slow at ISO 80
  • It could be a bit too contrasty in the harsh light
  • Film is too thin and less easy to load into developing reels.

Conclusion

I think Rollei 80S render a scene differently. It brings out essence if you like highlighting that particular moment with higher contrasts, using lights and shadows to curate your shots. But if you are looking for a black and white film to document daily life or do some portraits. Rollei 80S is probably not your first choice.

rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-prague-portrait-50mm-summicron-f2-collapsible-v1
Rollei Retro 80S, Leica Summicron 50mm f2 Collapsible, Kodak HC-110
rollei-retro-80s-film-review-black-and-white-negative-bnw-tone-character-contrast-packing-135-35mm-photography-leica-summilux-50mm-f1.4-v2-1.4-rodinal-1+25-landscape
Rollei Retro 80S, Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 V2, Rodinal 1+25

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