Rollei Retro 80s Film

Rollei Retro 80s Film

Matthew Osborne Photography

May 2015

The Film

Rollei Retro 80s is a black and white film manufactured by Agfa in Belgium.  I am still experimenting with new film types so bought myself a roll of 35mm Rollei Retro 80S for my Leica M2 rangefinder camera and took it with me to a recent model photography workshop in Zurich, Switzerland.

Zurich Model Photoshoot – Anne-Marie

It was day three of my three day trip and we got to work with the beautiful Swiss agency model Anne-Marie.  It was blue sky with the sun overhead so the lighting was proving difficult for my usual model portraits.  I metered the Rollei Retro 80s film at box speed (ISO 80). I was using my digital Leica M9 so could see the results on the camera LCD and I also used a Sekonic L-308S to meter for the film photos.  Here are some of the results from the model shoot.

M2 + Rollei 80 S

Leica M2 + Rollei Retro 80S

High Key B&W Film

Zurich Agency Model

High Key Film Portrait

Film Developing

I develop my own black and white film with a Patterson tank system.  I knew the conditions were bright so wanted to try to retain as much of the highlight detail as possible.  From past experience developing different film types I therefore processed this roll of film as follows:

  • 1:3 Xtol + 1:400 Rodinal
  • 10 Minutes with agitations for the first 30 seconds and then every other minute
  • 20 Degrees
  • Epson v800 scan using Epson v700 35mm insert

My Thoughts

Rollei Retro 80s film is high contrast fine grain film that gives soft look images when developed as above.  It is very easy to lose highlight detail shooting at film box speed so next time I would expose Rollei Retro 80s at perhaps ISO 25-50 under similar conditions or perhaps box speed on an overcast day.  I would then also develop for perhaps 9 mins instead of 10 and see how the result look.  Another point to note is my negatives were very thin compared to Kodak T-Max 100, Kodak Tri-X, Kentmere 100 and Ilford Pan F 50that I have used recently.  As a result the developed film negatives curled easily making it slightly more difficult to scan.

Rollei Retro 80s for Portraits?

For anyone that follows my photography will know I enjoy my portrait photography.  Would I chose Rollei Retro 80s for portraits in the future?  I would describe the film as like shooting perhaps Kodak T-Max 100 or another ‘regular’ black and white film emulsion through a deep orange-red lens filter.  Blue eyes become almost black and souless as the film darkens blues and lightens red tones.  Blue skies become darker and skin becomes lighter.  I think Rollei 80s would be better with brown eyes than blue eyes so if I used the film again with a model I would bare this in mind as the darkening of the eyes effect would be somewhat lessened.  I think the film would be excellent for high contrast landscapes or perhaps still life photography.

Rollei Retro 80s in the Studio

Lastly here is a few samples of me finishing the roll of film in my Coventry UK home studio and outside with local model Sophie.  As with daylight it was still difficult to retain highlight detail on the face.  Sophie’s hazel coloured eyes were affected less confirming my thoughts about blue eyes.

Rollei Retro 80S in the Studio

Leica Elmar 50 + SOOKY-M

Rollei Retro 80s vs. Rollei Retro 400s

I tried 35mm Rollei Retro 400s back in January 2015 and I was a huge fan.  See my blog post here with example images.  The light in the Rollei Retro 400s portraits was overcast or softer and I think this type of light suits both Rollei Retro 80s and Rollei Retro 400s much better.  To me Rollei Retro 400s was more similar to Kodak Tri-X that Rollei Retro 80s


Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

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