5 Frames… With Rollei Retro 80S (EI 50 / 120 format / Bronica ETRC) – by Leo Nikishin

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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:

  1. It would provide ample resolution and contrast.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 my Bronica ETRC with the Zenzanon 50/2.8 PE lens. 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.

Thanks for reading!

~ Leo

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This series is 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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4 thoughts on “5 Frames… With Rollei Retro 80S (EI 50 / 120 format / Bronica ETRC) – by Leo Nikishin”

  1. Hi Leo, these looked wonderful. Ive been curious abou this film, and your photographs are the nicest I’ve seen so far. I’ve been using PMK for many years now and it’s always my go to for slower speeds. I’m curious what time and temp combo you used for Retro80s, and how did you rate it? Also, if you get a chance try Adox CHS II when it returns. It, along with PMK, is an absolute magical look! Thanks!

    • Thank you for the kind words, Bryan! I rated Retro 80S as EI50 and developed it for 9:00 at 22 degrees Celsius. I did enjoy Retro 80S but later discovered that my batch (all 10 rolls of it) had a manufacturing defect: a punch-through hole in the backing paper at the last frame of each roll and a corresponding mark on the back of the film base. That mark was in dead center of the last frame each time, kind of a pain to clone/heal out in post. Also, the rolls I got are grainier than usual for this film and don’t develop as evenly, so I now retired the remaining rolls and use them to test equipment and also to take first steps into pinhole land (which requires a great of experimentation anyway!).

      Will keep an eye out for Adox CHS II, thanks for the tip!


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