Rollei Retro 80S is not a new kid on the block anymore, it’s been around since mid-2000s and plenty has been written about its most prominent characteristics: extended red sensitivity, high resolution and contrast – all signs of its surveillance film DNA.
I was aware of this stock but it did not interest me until just about a month ago when I started preparing a large project that would require half the shots to be taken on a film in the EI 50-100 range. This coincided with my interest in pyro staining developers (PMK in particular) and I thought it would be a good match based on the following:
- It would provide ample resolution and contrast.
- It has a rather steep curve in the shadows (rapidly going from mid-gray to pure black) could be dealt with by rating the film as EI50.
- PMK, with its signature highlight preservation and smooth gradations, would keep the highlights from blowing out and give a smoother grain structure due to the staining effect.
These 5 frames are from my field test roll, shot during a walk at a seaside resort of Scheveningen (Netherlands) when the summer was finally gone for good and a sense of mid-season abandonment started to settle in. I used Bronica ETRC with Zenzanon 50/2.8 PE. I used an orange filter to add a bit of drama to the clouds. Since I’m into a hybrid workflow, it is important to me that these shots scanned well and were reasonably flexible in post-processing, dynamic range is really quite impressive.
I like how they turned out, with plenty of contrast but also sufficient detail in the shadows and separation in the highlights. Most importantly, Retro 80S/PMK combination captured the mood that I was after and that’s what really matters.
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This series is being produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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