Replacing Efke 820 IR Film with Rollei IR 400

As my stocks of 35mm Efke IR film in the fridge are dwindling, another IR film is needed! Efke film is now no longer made so the challenge is to find a replacement. Efke IR came in two flavours – normal and ‘aura’ where the anti-halation layer was removed to give a glowing effect around highlights.

Efke IR film was capable of some stunning results, but the processing and slow speed was a bit of a problem. The soft emulsion attracts dust like crazy when drying – something which has ruined several shots for me. So to compare what was available and what is available here we go. All shots – OM1N with R72 filter, all developed in D76/ID11.

What IR monochrome is all about – excellent DR, glowing foliage and a fairytale image.


Second Efke shot – those delicate greys are lovely (even if my cropping missed a bit down the left).


The obvious replacement emulsion is Rollei IR 400. I really like Rollei film, especially ‘Blackbird‘, and the addition of a few stops is welcome.

So, what’s it like? Well well good is the short answer. Much easier to process with a much harder emulsion, and the extra speed results in no more grain – not that it would be a problem as the classic IR film – Kodak Hi-Speed IR – was about as grainy as it’s possible to get. It’s also OK to load the Rollei film in subdued light while the Efke film needs darkness.

So first Rollei IR shot – not bad at all. There’s a hint of grain in the sky but it looks to have better grain than Efke.


Second shot – you may have seen this before – and a very good result.


All sorts going on in this one – internal lens reflections, complex clouds – the lot.


All in all an excellent replacement – not that there’s much choice! It hasn’t quite got the fine subtlety that Efke IR film had, but it’s easier to process and isn’t a dust magnet. With a bit more practice it should be fine – and better than my best digital alternative which is a converted Fuji F810. Having said that, I’ll really miss the Efke film!

Hope you find this useful and thanks for looking.

p.s. found this from Martin Zimelka who’s done a similar comparison. His other film tests are pretty good too!


19 thoughts on “Replacing Efke 820 IR Film with Rollei IR 400

  1. I had just gotten interested in Efke when it was discontinued. I hadn’t used it enough to miss it but I enjoyed the results I got with the couple of rolls I used. The Rollei seems to be a fair substitute . Love your results.

      • You know I guess as there’s two of us on this blog, I should have signed my name. This is Joey and I’m going to be shooting the IR film, if the weather cooperates. My hubby is Marks.

        Have a great day.


      • Hello Joey and Marks! Let me know how you get on with the IR film – it’s difficult stuff to use (at least I found it so) but worth it even if it takes a roll or two to master.

      • Guess we’re going to have to buy another couple of rolls in that case. The weather is starting to get to the point that we might be able to shoot some IR. I’ve been looking at some of Wolfgang Moersch’ images as well as yours and I think I know what I want to capture. Now let’s see if I can do it. Not expecting any miracles as I’m always happy if I get just one or two good images per roll. Have a great day.


      • Just had a look at his work – very impressive.

        My favourite aspect of IR film shooting is just how insanely inconvenient it is – tripod, opaque filter, guessing exposure and focus. A world away from convenient modern digital and such hard work it must be good for the soul!

        Like you I’m more than happy with any result.

        Good luck and looking forward to seeing the results.


      • Thanks Rob. Fortunately, inconvenience, tripods etc are a way of life for us as we don’t shoot any digital – or should I say, we only shoot digital to have a record of something we want to put on film later. Will definitely let you know how it turns out.


  2. I’m so excited that you’re shooting Rollei IR! I shot a roll of 35mm Efke IR 820 and decided to make the leap to IR 4×5 film. Turns out the only IR in that size is made my Rollei – and the images and stories I’ve been hearing about this film are encouraging. Can I ask what your developer was? I just have some adjustments to make with my pinhole camera then I’m going to attempt my first IR sheet shoot.

    • Hi Janaobscura, the developer was just plain old Ilford ID11 but Rodinal can be used too (according to the BigDevChart almost any developer can be used).

      Using Rodinal at 20 C for sheet film, 1+25 is 7.5 mins and 1+50 is 12 mins.

      It seems the film may be based on the Rollei Retro 400 emulsion with extended IR sensitivity – hence the lack of special or odd dev requirements.

      I’m really looking forward to seeing your results from IR pinhole – will you be shooting through an R72? If so those exposure times are going to be epic!

  3. Oh man, this is just the thing I’ve been looking for. I’ve shot a few test rolls of Rollei 400 IR in 35mm and the results seem quite nice. Just got a 5-pack of the stuff in 120 — waiting for the spring to start and some greenery pop out after the long winter up north here. Anycase, lovely comparison. Can’t wait to try mine.

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