Infrared with Efke IR 820c Aura

I’m not usually one for using obsolete films – in fact I’m trying to standardise on a small range of currently-available colour negative and B&W films. The colour choice is pretty fixed at Kodak Ektar and Kodak Portra 400 – at least in medium format. In 35mm, I’m not averse to using Agfa Vista 200, at £1 for 24 exposures, when the results aren’t critical.

For black and white I’m concentrating on Ilford FP4+ for the slow-medium speed range but still haven’t settled on a faster film. I like Tri-X in medium format but find it too grainy for my liking in 35mm. I’ve never used Ilford Hp5 but all the results I’ve seen online look too grainy for me.

Getting a little closer to the title of this post, I recently purchased 8 rolls of Rollei IR400 in 35mm together with one roll of the defunct Efke IR 820c Aura, second-hand for a very reasonable price.

I’ve blogged about Rollei IR400 before; in that post I developed the 35mm version in Rodinal and liked the film but found it a bit grainy. Since then I’ve used the medium format version in a Yashicamat 124G and other developers, which resolves the grain issues.

Having eight rolls of IR400 is enough to make it worthwhile doing some testing to determine a good base ISO and developing time, for my now favourite/only developer, Firstcall’s own brand B&W film developer. 

As well as using the film for infrared with a Hoya R72 filter, I also intend doing more tests without a filter, for use as a “normal” faster film. If that goes well, then the Rollei IR400 may take it’s place alongside FP4+ in my small range of chosen films, doubling up for infrared and those occasions when I need a little more speed than FP4+ can provide. We shall see.

So finally getting to the point – my single roll of Efke Aura. I shot the film with a base ISO,  allowing for Hoya R72 filter, of ISO3, but also shot additional shots with an extra stop on top of that reading. On the whole the shots with the extra stop were probably the more useable ones, but I didn’t take careful records as I only had one roll and didn’t expect to repeat the experience. The film was shot at two National Trust venues in the North East of England – Washington Old Hall and Gibside.

I couldn’t find a published development time for my chosen developer so followed a very unscientific route:

a) Looked at the Massive Dev Chart filtered for all developers and Efke IR film, then took a mid-range guess of 8 minutes at 20c.

b) I then used the Massive Dev Chart time and temperature convertor to take account of the actual temp of my chemicals (18.5c) and the reduction needed when using constant agitation in a Jobo processor. This gave a time of 7m 54s.

So here are selected results.


2016-8-14, Washington Old Hall, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,026

Washington Old Hall – the home of the ancestors of US President George Washington

2016-8-14, Washington Old Hall, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,0312016-8-14, Washington, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,023

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,001

The Column to British Liberty at Gibside, completed in 1756

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,002

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,015-Edit

The ruined Gibside Hall

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,016

The Hall has been deserted since 1920 and visitors cannot enter

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,019

The Orangery at Gibside

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,018

A view from the Orangery

2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,020

Sunflowers in the walled garden at Gibside


2016-8-21, Gibside, Canon FTb, Efke 820c Aura, Firstcall Dev 1+15,004

So how was the Efke Aura in comparison with Rollei IR400 ? Well of course it is impossible to say after using only one roll. I didn’t see much of the “bloom” that the Efke film is known for, and it probably needs even more exposure to bring out that feature. I certainly liked the results (or the ones that worked well, and the hit rate with IR film is always going to be lower than it is with normal film). But I didn’t like it three times better than Rollei IR400 – and the few rolls of Efke Aura for sale on eBay are going for 3 times the cost of the Rollei IR400 film.





Birthday pinholes on Skye

August 2016 saw me head to Scotland for a week’s family holiday, at Balmacara which is on the mainland not far from the Skye Bridge. Family holidays naturally mean less dedicated time for photography than, well, a dedicated photo trip, so I left behind the RZ67 and heavy tripod and took the Ondu Multi-format Pinhole camera with Fuji Acros.

2016-8-4, Fairy Pools, Ondu 6  6, Acros, Firstcall Dev 1+15, 3

One day in the week was my birthday so I got to choose where we went and to devote some time to photography. A trip over the bridge to Skye was my choice, specifically to Glen Sligachan and the Fairy Pools, which lie either side of end of the Black Cuillin mountains.

2016-8-4, Fairy Pools, Ondu 6  6, Acros, Firstcall Dev 1+15, 4

I had photographed at both these spots before so I wanted to do something different rather than replicate my previous approaches, so the pinhole camera was the obvious choice.

2016-8-4, Sligachan, Ondu 6  6, Acros, Firstcall Dev 1+15, 5

My previous visits to the Fairy Pools had been in May 2012 and October 2014, and there hadn’t been more than a dozen other visitors spread out over a mile of the stream bank. This time, in August, there were literally hundreds of visitors, with both car parks overflowing and cars parked on the verges, leading to struggles to get back up the crowded single-track road on the way home.

So quite a lot of effort was involved to try to minimise the number of people in the images; some were reduced to ghosts as they moved through a ten-second exposure.
2016-8-4, Sligachan, Ondu 6  12, Acros, Firstcall Dev 1+15, 2

All the above images were taken on Fuji Acros developed, as usual for me, in Firstcall B&W developer. After scanning they were imported into Lightroom where toning a large amount of clarity added.


Poundland film and Northumbria Bastles

Usually when I go for a walk in the countryside I’ll carry a medium format camera such as the Fujifilm GA645Zi but also tuck one of my two 35mm Olympus 35RC cameras in the bag. If there’s black and white loaded in the GA645 then I’ll take colour in the 35RC, or vice versa.

A few weeks ago I walked the Tarset Bastles Trail in Northumberland with the GA645 loaded with some expired 220-format FP4+ and the 35RC loaded with AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200. The Agfa film is re-badged Fujicolor 200, which can be purchased for £1.00 for 24 exposures at Poundland, a discount store in the UK.

I used to think of this “budget” film as being only of use for testing a camera in case of light leaks etc, but I am becoming more of a fan. It’s no Kodak Portra or Ektar but it is pretty accceptable. I usually turn down the vibrance in Lightroom when using this film because I prefer more muted colours.

On to the subject matter – bastles are medieval fortified dwellings which were built around the borders between England and Scotland at a time when “rieving”, ie cattle theft, murder, kidnap, etc, was fairly common. The best preserved example on the walk is Black Middens Bastle – I took a pinhole image of this site which unfortunately was ruined by some exhausted developer.


2016-7,  Oly 35RC, Agfa Vista 200, Fuji Chems, 006

Boghead bastle – unusual in that it’s built in a boggy depression rather than on a hill with a lookout view

2016-7,  Oly 35RC, Agfa Vista 200, Fuji Chems, 007



2016-7,  Oly 35RC, Agfa Vista 200, Fuji Chems, 008

Shilva Hill

2016-7,  Oly 35RC, Agfa Vista 200, Fuji Chems, 009

This one isn’t actually a bastle, it’s just a gatepost – but you can see that the same local stone has been used. The stones from bastles would often be re-used once they had been abandoned as habitations

The film was home developed in the Fuji Hunt X-Press C41 kit and I was fairly pleased with the image quality. ‘Tis a pity it’s only 35mm …

Thinking about Ilford FP4+ reciprocity failure

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I had made some pinhole images using Ilford FP4+ without accurately adjusting for reciprocity failure. My quick fix for pinholes has been to switch to Fuji Acros, which requires no adjustments for exposures of less than two minutes. However I then went off and shot two rolls of FP4+ in dark woodlands, with measured exposures of 1-2 seconds, and failed to take any account of reciprocity failure.

Many of the images also used a green filter, and my estimate of the required extra exposure may have been too low.

So I decided that to avoid forgetting to take account of reciprocity failure, I really needed a handy table which I could carry around to guide me. I went off to read the Ilford data sheet for FP4+ which can be found here

Here is the relevant section:


The problem with this table is that it is too small, and is lacking intermediate gridlines, to enable an accurate assessment to be made of the adjusted exposure time. This is particularly true in the <5 seconds range. We can see that a 5 second measured exposure requires an adjusted exposure time of somewhere in the range of 12 or 13 seconds, but measures of less than 5 seconds require a great deal of eyeballing and guessworking based on a very small chart.

So I used the Microsoft Clipping Tool ™ to capture the graph from a PDF, saved it to a JPEG, inserted the JPEG file into Word, and resized the image to fill a page, making sure to keep the original aspect ratio of the image. This enabled me to draw minor gridlines on a 1 second basis between 1 and 10 seconds and to estimate the following set of adjusted exposure times:


I graphed the resulting numbers to get this chart:


My chart allocates more space on the horizontal axis for the measured times up to 10 seconds, than for the times above ten seconds. My rationale for doing this was that I will frequently use exposures in, say, the 1-8 seconds range, whereas for me exposures of 10+ seconds are commonly only used for pinhole images.

As well as displaying as chart markers the adjusted exposure times for 0.5, 0.7, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 60 seconds, the graph includes minor grid lines on the horizontal axis at 1 second intervals, so that intermediate values can be read off the graph for a measured exposure time of, say, 12 seconds.

I should now give some caveats. First, although I think I have been able to display some information with a finer degree of granularity than the original chart, there are limitations to the process, based on issues such as the the quality of my eyesight ! In some cases my estimated interpolations give an adjusted exposure time in between a whole second, eg 6.5 seconds; I have rounded these up because I can’t directly enter these onto a camera. In fact with most of the cameras I use I would be relying on “bulb” mode above 8 seconds and there is no way I can accurately time a bulb exposure to half a second.

Therefore, these tables are nothing more than my initial starting point, which I will try out for a few months to see how they work. I make no guarantees whatsoever about their accuracy !

Now I don’t like to leave a blog post without showing some of my photos, so here are a few examples from the last couple of FP4+ rolls. The underexposure is not too obvious in these images, as the scanner has managed to make adjustments, but some of the images have very poor shadow details when viewed larger.

All images were taken with a Fujifilm GA645Zi and developed in Firstcall B&W film developer.

2016-6-11,  Wharfedale, GA645, FP4+, Firstcall Dev,  034



2016-6-11,  Wharfedale, GA645, FP4+, Firstcall Dev,  035


2016-6-11,  Wharfedale, GA645, FP4+, Firstcall Dev,  036


Looking down the dale

Nentdale viewed from the Nenthead mines

Nettled window

Ruined miners cottages in Rookehopedale

2016-6-11,  Wharfedale, GA645, FP4+, Firstcall Dev,  041


2016-6-11,  Wharfedale, GA645, FP4+, Firstcall Dev,  043


2016-7-4,  Nenthead, GA645, FP4+, Firstcall Dev,  007

Tributary of the Tarset Burn

2016-7-15,  Devils Water, GA645, FP4+, Firstcall Dev,  020

The Tarset Burn




More Ondu pinhole images – colour this time

I’ve just developed my first roll of colour film through the Ondu multi-format pinhole camera – Kodak Ektar to be precise. I set the frame spacing for 6*6.

The images were taken at Nenthead mines, which is a now quiet  part of Cumbria that was a busy lead mining centre in the 19th Century.

I messed something up as some parts of the film were not properly developed; most likely the film was touching other layers on the reel, as it had been difficult to load. However those frames that were not affected by this problem were fine, and seemed a little sharper than the previous Acros images.

2016-5-6, Nenthead mines, Ondu, Ektar, Fuji chems, 12016-7-4,  Nenthead mines, Ondu, Ektar, Fuji chems, 0022016-7-4,  Nenthead mines, Ondu, Ektar, Fuji chems, 0012016-5-6, Nenthead mines, Ondu, Ektar, Fuji chems, 4

I nearly forgot the other problem I had, which was really down to my eyesight. I left my reading spectacles in the car and struggled to see the frame numbers through the red window with my driving specs. So I missed some frames and used the ability to wind backwards, to get to the right frame number. But somehow I did manage my first accidental double-exposure:

2016-5-6, Nenthead mines, Ondu, Ektar, Fuji chems, 5



Ondu again – 6*12 pinholes


My second film through the Ondu multi-format pinhole was Acros again, but with the film back set to 6*12cm format.

The location was Rookhopedale in County Durham, which is a side dale off Weardale, much travelled by cyclists on the Coast to Coast route, and featuring some industrial relics such as Grove Rake flourspar mine

2016-6-27 Rookhope, Ondu, Across, Firstcall BW dev, 0012016-6-27 Rookhope, Ondu, Across, Firstcall BW dev, 0022016-6-27 Rookhope, Ondu, Across, Firstcall BW dev, 003Grove Rake mine pinhole 8-2


Grove Rake mine pinhole 6


I still haven’t quite got used to how wide an image the camera produces in the 6*12 setting, so I had some fairly empty space at the side of some of these images, so there has been some cropping. A fair bit of processing was done in Lightroom; whereas I wouldn’t normally use more than 20 points of Clarity, these images had almost the max amount on the Clarity slider, and of course toning was added in Lightroom.

I’ve now got some Ektar loaded in the Ondu for the next batch, in 6*6 format, and a few days off work, so should have some colour pinholes soon.



First results from the Ondu pinhole

Last weekend I took the new Ondu multi-format pinhole to the Bolton Abbey estate in Wharfedale, North Yorkshire, and set off on a walk to take in the Abbey, a side trip up the “Valley of Desolation” (it’s not really desolate at all) to Posforth Gill Force, cross the river by a former aquaduct, and back via The Strid and one of the several tea rooms.

I had last visited the area about 30 years ago and it was less wild and rugged than I remembered, and more, well, busy and commercialised. But it was pleasant and gave good opportunities to try out the pinhole.

Near Bolton Abbey

Near Bolton Abbey

The camera is supplied with an exposure card which allows you to translate an exposure metered for f/22 into the correct exposure for your pinhole camera. The actual aperture of the pinhole is not stated, but looking at the difference between the f/22 reading and the suggested reading, it seems to be about f/190.

For example, if you meter (or guess) an appropriate exposure for f/22 to be 1/4s, the card will advise a pinhole exposure of 10s – except that there is a further row of data on the card, which indicates 25s. The manual or card does not give any further comment on the meaning of the two readings. You could just take it that the appropriate reading will lie somewhere in the range 10s to 25s, or you could read it that 10s is the starting exposure but, depending upon the film you have loaded, you will need to allow for reciprocity failure and 25s should be long enough to take account of reciprocity.

Posforth Gill Force

Posforth Gill Force

I actually didn’t use the card, having invested in the past in a Sekonic L-758 spot meter, which as well as, obviously, having a spot metering capability, has three features of particular interest to me:

  • it can meter in light as low as -9.9 EV (in other words near darkness) which is good for night photography
  • it can use an ISO as low as 3, which is good for infrared photography
  • it can set an aperture value down to f/152, which is good for pinhole photography.

Well, the last feature was good for pinhole photography with the Holga WPC120, which had an aperture of f/133, but the Ondo has an aperture of, I think, around f190.

Tangled Tree in the Valley of Desolation

Tangled Tree in the Valley of Desolation

So the method I used to meter was:

  • Take an incident light reading
  • Set the aperture to f/152
  • Set the ISO to 50. Although the box speed of the film in use, Ilford FP4+, is ISO125, setting the ISO lower than box speed meant that the resulting time reading would be appropriate to the smaller camera aperture of f/190.
  • I then doubled the resulting time, in order to take account of reciprocity failure.

After the trip, I checked the reciprocity characterstics of FP4+ (using the data sheet), which of course I should have checked before the trip. According to the data sheet, for the readings I was getting in the range 15-30s, I should have allowed much more extra time – the correct reading for a metered reading of 30 seconds is just over 150 seconds !

The Strid

The Strid

Despite the apparent under-exposure, the resulting negatives were entirely usable after scanning and I have also printed a few in the darkroom. If the metering issue sounds very complex, just remember that film has a wide latitude and you stand a good chance of getting useable results even if your time is not “technically” correct.

I found the camera easy to use and it is very well finished. I have just one minor niggling doubt, which is that the wooden shutter release presents a theoretical possibility of shaking the camera when opening or closing the shutter. My old Holga pinhole is threaded for a cable release and I prefer this method. On the first outing I took my “medium weight” tripod which provided enough stability but I might prefer to avoid using my most lightweight tripod with the Ondu, to avoid camera shake.

I also managed to ruin two frames by playing with the shutter after the film was loaded, but that comes into the category of idiotic user error !

The film transport worked fine, the spacing between images was fine, and there were no light leaks – all big advantages over the Holga.

On this occasion I used the 6*6 setting which involves inserting two wooden pieces into grooves inside the camera. The 6*9 setting has another pair of grooves further apart, whilst the 6*12 setting does not require the wood inserts.

So far so good. I have a few rolls of Fuji Across which I will probably use next in the Ondu, since Acros does not require any compensation for recprocity failure at exposures up to two minutes.

I will be hanging onto the Holga WPC120 pinhole, because it can do something the Ondu can’t – take a filter for Infra-red. It doesn’t actually have a filter thread but it is possible to put a filter in front of the pinhole, perhaps assisted by Blu-tack; however the wooden shutter design of the Ondu means that using a filter is impossible. I might also want to carry colour film in one pinhole camera and black-and-white in the other.