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Rollei Retro 400S Review

Posted on September 28 2020

We wrap up our September films included in the Analogue WonderBox Film Subscription with a Rollei Retro 400S review! As before we've combined the community feedback, sample images and opinions with some technical information from Rollei to provide a rounded and informative overview.

Aerial Surveillance?

Rollei Retro 400S is a hidden gem within our store. At the time of writing it has only 6 reviews from the community but all of them are 5*!

And the features of the film that are repeatedly mentioned - 'deep blacks' 'fantastic detail' 'well contained grains, especially for a 400-speed film' - can be traced back to its origin as an aerial surveillance film i.e. taking photos from the sky. It has special emulsion properties that give it a particularly strong edge sharpness and therefore high resolving power.

Rollei Retro 400S Sample Image

'Super' Panchromatic

Rollei Retro 400S is sometimes known as a 'SuperPanchromatic film' - in that its sensitivity increases outside the visible spectrum of light. This means that it reacts to infrared light with two benefits:

1) you can use an infrared filter on your lens and shoot the iconic striking landscapes that infrared gives you

2) shooting it as a normal B&W film you will still notice that the film can cut through atmospheric interference and 'see' further than other films over a long distance in good weather

This makes for a wonderful landscape film - and if you pop on a light orange or yellow filter your photos will sing!

Rollei Retro 400S Sample Image - landscape

(c) David

Transparent Base

It's also worth noting that the base of the Rollei 400S is transparent PET. This means that scanning can be easier as there is no latent shade or colour in the highlights.

It also means that - with some chemistry wizardry - you can develop your photos as black and white slide film, and then project the images for a truly unique viewing experience!

Rollei Retro 400S Sample Image - church

(c) David

Technical Data

Here you can download the official Rollei Retro 400S data sheet with developer recommendations and technical detail.

Rollei Retro 400S Sample Image - chair

(c) Gary

In Summary

Rollei Retro 400S is a really interesting 35mm film, with a clear bias towards detailed landscapes and street shots. For more creative results experiment with its infrared sensitivity or push the ability to 'see' through haze!

If you found this article informative then check out our other WonderBox film reviews here: