An Efke Swansong

Well it had to happen one day – my final roll of Efke 820 ‘Aura’ has been hiding in the fridge for a few years, but it’s day has finally come. The ‘Aura’ bit of the name is due to the film not having an anti-halation layer, producing a soft glow around highlights something like the ‘diffuse glow’ filter in Photoshop.

Efke 820 Aura

A bridge on the river Stour in Dorset.

The equipment used was minimal – an Olympus OM1N, a Vivitar 17mm f3.5 lens, an R72 filter, a tripod and a cable release. Exposure bracketing between one and eight seconds at f8 usually produced a decent result. The use of a wide-angle lens helps avoid the infrared focus adjustments required on longer lenses – at f8 pretty much everything is in focus and it’s possible to just use the depth of field scale on the lens to make sure everything is sharp.

Developed in ID11 for eight minutes at 20 degrees centigrade.

Efke 820 Aura

And from further down the river. There are some internal reflections going on which add a certain something.

This style of shooting is really relaxed – plonk the tripod down, take off the filter (it’s opaque), compose, replace the filter and shoot. With bracketing your only going to get around twenty images from a roll so you really take your time. It’s all a bit like fishing and as far removed from blasting away with a DSLR as it’s possible to get.

Efke 820 Aura

Even further down the river there’s this pedestrian bridge. For mid November there are a surprising amount of leaves still left reflecting IR light on those trees.

As always the resulting negatives can be rather dusty, so a quick clean with a soft cloth is worthwhile before putting them in the scanner. I still needed a pass with the ‘dust and scratches’ photoshop filter to remove some of the remaining dust.

Efke 820 Aura

Even more odd internal reflections inside the 17mm lens. I’ve never seen these using conventional film.

Even with the post processing the use of the clone stamp tool to remove the larger dust particles is needed (something I didn’t do for these as you can see).

Efke 820 Aura

The final location and something a bit ‘gothic’ – this film really makes the most of these locations, and the ‘aura’ effect is very noticeable in the distant trees.

I remember this as extremely grainy film, but giving it longer exposures seems to help – I must have been underexposing it in the past.

Efke 820 Aura

Finally a recreation of a shot taken thirty years ago on Kodak HIE speed infrared film – a suitable last shot for the roll! Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

Amazingly it’s still available (for a high price!) on some websites – Lomogaphy being one of them – but as the Efke factory in Croatia has apparently closed this must be quite old stock. Either that or someone is making it again which seems unlikely.

A pleasing last roll of a film I’d grown to like over the years. From now on it will have to be Rollei’s IR film (£6 a roll) which is better behaved and less grainy but doesn’t get as near to look of the best IR film ever – discontinued in 2007 – Kodak HIE Infrared. Ilford also make an IR film (SFX 200) but at £13 a roll in the UK it’s an expensive option.

Thanks for looking!

p.s. There a reviews of lots of other films on the film, camera and lens review index tab.

A Roll of Efke 820 IR Film (found in the film box in the fridge!)

I was sorting through the tupperware box of film in the fridge last weekend and found a bit of a treasure – a roll of Efke 820 IR film ordered last year and completely forgotten about!

efke3sAll fired up with enthusiasm I waited for a sunny day, and for a bit of fun, loaded up the OM2N and shot off the roll inbetween some other photo business . Exposures were bracketed at  at 2/4/8 seconds at f8 and gently developed in ID11 stock for 8.5  minutes (rolling the liquid in the developing tank rather than inverting it) – these are the results. Much grainier than I’d remembered – almost reticulated, but the temperatures of dev, stop, fix and wash were all 20 degrees centigrade. Maybe it was a dodgy last batch of film, these not being made any more, but in an odd sort of way I like it.


What’s better is that there’s another roll left! As it’s the last one I’m not sure whether to treat it reverently and take immense care, or just have some fun with it. Rollei IR film – at least judging by these results – produces better images so not many regrets at it’s demise.

Hope you like them – thanks for looking!

p.s. apologies for the repetition of subject – I’m spending a lot of time at Knowlton lately!

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!

As it’s Friday – a Couple of Infrareds

No other reason really, and not much text – much to everyone’s relief!

First one of Efke 820 IR film in an OM1, lightly textured and toned.


Next one from an Olympus 8080 (which was quite good at IR) on some nearby heathland. A very slight touch of  ‘diffuse glow’ just lifted it –  trying to mimic the ‘aura’ effect of IR films like the much missed Kodak Hi Speed.


Hope you like them – have a good weekend!