Film Review – Rollei Superpan 200 in 120 format
UPDATE: We’ll be publishing the experimentation guide for this film on July 03 2015. It’ll be available right here from 9am UTC – make a note in your diaries for some infrared action!
Today we’re reviewing Rollei Superpan 200 black and white film in 120 format. It’s also known as Agfa Aviphot 200 or Agfa Superpan 200 depending on where and how you purchase it but it’s safe to say that this film stock is the same, regardless of the name. It’s distributed via the brand owner, Maco Direct in Germany.
Rollei Superpan 200 is a direct descendant of the much loved Agfa Scala 200X. Whilst the film shows slightly less contrast than it’s predecessor, it’s still more than enough for my high-contrast tastes, if shot under acceptable conditions. The film is pretty sharp when shot at box speed and also maintains a high level of sharpness, even when pushed a couple of stops.
Two points worth noting are that this stock can be used for infrared photography (it’s sensitive up to around 750nm) and is also great for long-term archival due to it’s super thin polyester base.
Interestingly, this film is also able to be developed as black and white slides!
Before we get into the review, lets see what Rollei say about this film:
With its expanded color sensitivity into the near infra-red range of the color spectrum, Aviphot Pan 200 offers excellent penetration through haze, fog and other atmospheric conditions…obviously, this yields an improved image contrast and therefore more information.
With the uniform distribution of the panchromatic sensitivity within the range of visible light, the terrain can be imaged very faithfully without having to revert to the use of special spectral recording filters.
With the film’s specific sensitization and its capability to reproduce small details and a flexible image contrast, different shades in the vegetation, waterfront shores and information in the shadow areas are rendered with outstanding detail.
|Name||Rollei Superpan 200
Agfa Superpan 200
Agfa Aviphot Pan 200
|Type||Black and white|
|Formats||35mm / 120|
|Exposure latitude||±2 stops|
|Push processing||2 stops|
What’s it really like?
I first took this film out on a mildly sunny day, which quickly turned quite dull. I wanted to finished the roll quite quickly and get on with developing it, so perhaps I wasn’t as focused on “nailing the shot” as I should have been. Sometimes days just turn out that way.
When I viewed the scans I wasn’t immediately blown away by the results. Some shots popped out at me, others just didn’t move me in ways that other film does. In all fairness, it was probably my mood at the time. I love high contrast black and white and sometimes forget that not all film will produce those kinds of results straight off the bat.
In the months that have followed this roll, I’ve since come to really love tis film. Take a look below.
On closer (less grumpy) inspection, I actually found myself very happy with the results. The minimal light and shade in the background of the first image is rendered in a very pleasing way and the foreground detail, especially the fauna retains a lot of detail.
Flat light never does film any favors (the second image above). That said, the subject in this case provided the perfect counterpoint. The bland background helps highlight the mirror-like properties of the car out. In addition, the car’s front-right headlamp and the reflections on the bodywork (especially on the lower right) really show the detail this film is able to produce.
Personally, things get much, much better when this film is pushed on a sunny day. Read on for more.
This film stock is very easy to recommend and thanks to Maco Direct (Germany) and eBay, relatively easy to procure at a reasonable price. Whilst it doesn’t have the latitude of films such as Kodak Tri-X or Fuji Acros 100, it becomes a total monster when pushed just a single stop, exuding contrast and maintaining fine grain. Let’s go over the highlights:
- Very fine grain, similar to Ilford Delta 100, Kodak T-Max 100
- Nominal speed of ISO200 but happily pulls down to ISO100 and pushes up to ISO400
- Infrared sensitivity for use with a deep red, or 720nm IR filter
Just make sure you shoot it in good light, or high contrast situations if you want to bring out the best in this stock.
Whilst not an everyday walkabout film, there’s something special about this film that will keep you coming back form more.
To see what more Rollei Superpan 200 can do, head on over to our experimentation guide.
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