Week 23: Ilford SFX 200 Infrared film

Join me and Ilford's SFX 200 film for a wander around Frankfurt during a very sunny day to get the best out of this infrared film.

I was intrigued to try out Ilford's SFX 200 film with infrared qualities, as I had previously (see Week 18) tried out Rollei's infrared film. I had also learned to overexpose even more to get a stronger infrared effect, this means longer shutter speeds. Armed with my R72 filter (designed for infrared photography), I set out to find some interesting subjects in the middle of a very sunny day.

According to Ilford: "ILFORD SFX 200 EXTENDED RED SENSITIVITY FILM . SFX 200 is a medium speed black and white camera film for creative photography. It has extended red sensitivity and is especially suited for use with a filter to create special effects. By using a deep red filter skies can be rendered almost black and most green vegetation almost white. Its unusual tonal rendition ensures interesting results for a range of subjects, including portraits, landscapes, townscapes and architecture." So according to that I don't think this is a pure infrared film like the Rollei is, but it has great reviews and everyone talks about its "near infrared qualities", no need to go into physics this time - let's talk about the photographs!

In similar fashion to my Rollei Infrared post, I was curious to see the before/after shots, so I took a photo of the Hasselblad camera's viewfinder before each shot and have shown these here for comparison. Remember, the Hasselblad viewfinder reverses everything, so the final image is the other way around!  

Tight crop of the new European Central Bank building with Frankfurt's main skyline in the background. Just goes to show you how perspectives can be deceiving, the ECB is 185m high versus the Commerzbank in the background at 300m high (inc its antenna). Quite a bit of infrared effect going on making the city look a bit eerie - good result!
One of my favourite bridges in Frankfurt, and it has a fantastic view of the skyline. This was shot nearly straight into the sun, so unsurprisingly there is a bit of sun flare off the lens. Overall good result in very bright conditions.
Close wide angle shot right under the arches. I was really pleased with how this came out, despite super strong sunlight. You can see how busy the skies above Frankfurt get, look at all the airplane trails!
One of my favourite viewpoints to photograph the city, look how white all the grass / tree vegetation becomes with the infrared effect. Also some movement on people on bicycles as I had to use slower shutter speeds to increase the infrared effect. 
Shot with a longer lens, great crop of the main skyline. Look at that wonderful infrared effect - this is right in the middle of a sunny day!
Shot from behind the ECB - in the final image I managed to capture a family kayaking and a couple of dudes on paddle boards. As before, with the slow shutter speed it doesn't freeze motion, hence they look blurry (and white, due to the infrared!).
Probably my favourite shot from the roll, really cool infrared effect bringing out all the various lines you can see in the image (river, line of trees, railway line, also airplane trails in the sky).
A very cool pedestrian suspension bridge in the middle of town. I think I got the exposure slightly off here, there is not enough separation in light between the city and the sky for my liking, but not bad overall.
Strong infrared effect in the grass and trees. It actually makes an otherwise quite boring photo into quite an interesting one.
I think this shot came out quite nicely too, the very dark ECB building adds contrast to all the white grass and tree vegetation around it, nicely balanced out by the railway bridge on the bottom right (or left when composing the image - it gets confusing, especially if you start moving the camera!).

Overall observations

Overall, I am very pleased with this film. Whilst not as strong of an infrared effect as the Rollei Infrared film, it is definitely easier to use. For one thing, you do not need to load it in complete darkness, and it also has a wider exposure latitude. Additionally, most places develop it, whereas the Rollei is so specialist many places don't develop it anymore.

My view would be to have both, especially if, like me, you have invested in an R72 Infrared filter. I will definitely use both again - a great film to have when it is very sunny and you're looking for something a bit different!

And, as usual with Ilford films, excellent quality all round, definitely a keeper.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing Frankfurt through infrared, and as I have said before, if I can turn seemingly mundane objects like bridges into (semi) interesting photographs - then so can you. So get on out there and take some photographs!

See you next week, including a guest joint post - exciting stuff!

Cheers,

Neil