Shooting Ilford's SFX 200 BW Infrared!

Posted: 01/27/2014
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Blog by Michael Raso

All images by Aldo Altamirano shot on his Nikon F6 35mm slr camera (unless otherwise noted)

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I’m really thrilled to introduce Ilford’s SFX 200 BW infrared film to the FPP on-line store. Although this fine film has been around for decades, it's brand new to me and Aldo Altamirano, who I introduce below.

What is Infrared film?
According to Wikipedia on-line, “In infrared photography, the film or image sensor used is sensitive to infrared light. The part of the spectrum used is referred to as near-infrared to distinguish it from far-infrared, which is the domain of thermal imaging. Wavelengths used for photography range from about 700nm to about 900 nm. Film is usually sensitive to visible light too, so an infrared-passing filter is used; this lets infrared (IR) light pass through to the camera, but blocks all or most of the visible light spectrum (the filter thus looks black or deep red). ("Infrared filter" may refer either to this type of filter or to one that blocks infrared but passes other wavelengths.)”

The FPP Flickr Pool - I immediately viewed our very own FPP Flickr Pool to see which of our podcast listeners was shooting this great Ilford film stock.

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I found a large number of shots from Aldo Altamirano, a FPP listener from Argentina (who is currently living in New York City).

I loved Aldo’s  SFX 200 shots and asked him the following questions…

FPP: How long have you been shooting film/ What is your favorite camera?

Aldo: I've been shooting film for about 4 years. I don't have a favorite camera but I have many favorite ones including the Yashica Yashica D, Yashica Mat, Yashica Mat 124/G, Minolta Autocord (or any TLR really, I currently own about 12 TLR cameras), Nikon F6, Nikon F100, Nikon FM2, Nikon FE/2, Canon AE1P, Canon A1, Canonet QL17 just to name a few. What is in my bag as Jan 25, 2014 - Nikon FM2, Seagull 4A-109 (TLR), and a Canon EOS M (digital for snap shots).

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FPP: What tips do you have for fellow film shooters who want to try Ilford SFX 200 BW Infrared?

Aldo: No doubt SFX is probably the best film if you want to try/start with IR BW film photography. It doesn't require special care like other type of IR films like Kodak HIE, Efke IR, Konica 750nm, etc. If you want to get strong IR look, a Hoya R72 filter is my recommendation. Just keep in mind, most IR filters are very dark and you'll need to use slow shutter speeds in the order of 1 second or less, so you'll need a tripod. Small apertures are also recommended (f/9-f/16). IR light have different focus distances than regular light, thus the more depth you get, the better to have everything in focus.

above: FPP's John Fedele peering through the ultra dense R72 Infrared filter. Image by Michael Raso on Svema BW film


IR filters usually block visible light and it gets challenging to compose with a SLR (you can't see anything trough the viewfinder) so a rangefinder will be perfect for this, that said, I've used IR filters with SLR cameras with no problems, you just need to be patient composing the image.

SFX works great as regular 200 ISO BW panchromatic film too, no recommendations needed just get a roll, put it in your favorite film camera and go out for great shots.

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above: One of Aldo's images using SFX 200 as regular BW film


Super thanks to Aldo for taking the time to offer tips and submit his images!

Aldo’s photography can be seen here -http://www.flickr.com/photos/altamiranopics/

Ilford SFX 200 BW Infrared film is available in The FPP On-Line Store in both 35mm or 120!

The Film Photography Podcast can be heard twice monthly via iTunes or feed from our site! https://filmphotographyproject.com/podcast

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