Rollei Retro 80s Film Review (For Portraits)
Are you looking to try out a new B&W film? How about Rollei Retro 80s!?
In this article I shoot my first roll of Rollei Retro 80s 35mm film discuss it’s use for black and white film portraits.
Rollei Retro 80s 35mm
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.
Rollei Retro 80s Portraits
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.
Rollei Retro 80s Developing Times
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 times differ for film types and conditions so I therefore processed this roll of film as follows:
(If it had been overcast / darker conditions I would have increased the developing times)
Rollei Retro 80s in Rodinal
Rodinal is my go to developer for all my black and white film. It just seemed bomb proof and gives results every time (even when I think I may have messed up!) Rodinal is a cheap film developer and I like the sharpness and contrast it gives.
Thoughts – Rollei Retro 80s vs Other Film
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 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 Studio Portraits
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 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 than hard light. To me Rollei Retro 400s was more similar to Kodak Tri-X that Rollei Retro 80s.
(Rollei prices seem cheaper in the US and both Amazon sites only sells single rolls of 80s. Single rolls of film are a great way to experiment with different film stocks to see which suits your taste best. I buy film in bulk (10pks) if I use the film a lot but for film i’ve not used before I just buy one or two rolls to try. That way if I don’t like it is doesn’t break the bank!) 🙂
- Fomapan 100 Film Review
- Kentmere 100 Film Review
- Kodak T-Max 100 Film Review
- Ilford Pan F 50 Film Review
You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
- See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit (2018) – HERE
- See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit (2018) – HERE
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