The Whole Roll

38 Frames / A Whole Roll of Rollei Retro 400S – #FullRollFriday – by Simon King

December 18, 2020

I recently decided to add something different to my regular film-stock replenishment order, and went for a selection of Rollei branded films – not something I’ve ever shot before, and not really something I know very much about. I exposed one of these rolls, a Retro 400S, at box speed across a few days in early November, mostly street photography. I used my Nikon F2, and a 50mm lens for the majority of these images.

When it came to development I used rodinal, my regular stand development methodology – but had a surprise during the pre-wash stage when I poured out a coal-black liquid. After some frantic googling I learned that this was the anti-halation layer, and after a couple more soaks in water it washed clean, and I moved on with the rest of the development.

Pulling the roll from the tank I found that the base was entirely transparent, not something I’m used to, but apparently excellent for a scan workflow, as there’s no residual information where there shouldn’t be. In the tank along with this roll was some Fomapan – I’d worried that the halation layer I’d washed out might cause some issues, but there didn’t seem to be anything wrong. While they both hung to dry I took this shot to show a comparison between the regular, foggy-by-comparison, base of the Fomapan, and the transparentness of the Rollei (I realise the Rollei negatives are out of focus, I wasn’t able to get them on the same plane to make a decent comparison, but I think it’s still pretty clear to see what I’m getting at).

I read that this film has a sensitivity to reds, and that shooting it with a filter can result in almost infrared photographs – not something I’m interested in, and not a filter I would use. Shot normally as I did you can expect rich blacks, and excellent contrast. I found it to have low grain and excellent detail. Considering the low price this is definitely a film I’ll use again – I shot in quite a few different conditions, and wasn’t let down by any of the results, even in flat lighting.

Aside from some slight gamma tweaks, which is part of my regular scan workflow, I haven’t made any adjustments to the digital files.


Thanks for checking out the results from this roll! If you like my work here, consider following me on Instagram! While stocks last, you can also check out the debut publication from my collective, New Exit Group, at this link here.

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  • Reply
    Chris Ledda
    December 19, 2020 at 2:05 am

    Excellent shots, really fond of that high angle of the person on the bike with the long shadow! I’ve been interested in trying some new film stocks so I think I’ll be adding this one to my list as well, after reading this and seeing the images. The grain is quite pleasing as well! Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      December 19, 2020 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks Chris, glad you liked them! Definitely give it a go!

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Nice results!
    “Considering the low price this is definitely a film I’ll use again”

    Interesting, here in the US it is more expensive than TriX, HP5, Tmax etc

    • Reply
      December 19, 2020 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks – and sorry! UK centric price perspective 🙁

  • Reply
    December 19, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    Shout out to Sean Tucker cameo

  • Reply
    Alexander Seidler
    December 21, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Good photos and a litte story !

  • Reply
    Holly Gilman
    December 24, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    Ive got a roll of this in my stash to try – your images make me keen to get it out!

    • Reply
      December 24, 2020 at 9:20 pm

      Thank you Holly! 🙂

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