Infra Red Film Reality : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

In this information age whenever I want to know something I simply go online and look it up. Unfortunately, when you ask the world its opinion, you get too many different answers. So, I put it to this group, I am interested in shooting infrared in large format and I would like to know what the practical precautions are. For instance, several things I read said you need to make sure that your bellows won't pass IR. Nobody mentioned how to do this without burning expensive film. Should I take any more precautions than I already do with normal film (keep it cool, covered, etc.). I am looking for working, practical experience. Also, anybody try IR film with PMK developer? Thanks folks, you are always a great help.

-- David N. VanMeter (, December 28, 2000



To check if your bellow is IR proof, you'll need to burn two sheets of film, or you could cut a sheet in half. With the film holder in place and the lens shutter closed, remove the dark slide (make sure IR light is hitting the bellows) then process this sheet along with an unexposed sheet. Any difference in fog will answer your question.

You should keep your film refrigerated. I can't say what will happen if you don't, but every place that I've seen selling IR film always keeps it frozen. I've carried IR film for 1 week in the South Western US without refrigeration and did not notice a change in density. When not in the field, I freeze/refrigerate mine.


-- Pete Caluori (, December 28, 2000.

There is a lot of info about IR at:

-- Larry Huppert (, December 29, 2000.

I used to use a fair amount of Kodak 4x5 infrared when it was available. First, I should mention that it's relatively unlikely that you will obtain quite the same "infrared look" as you do with Kodak 35 mm infrared film (if that's what you're used to). The look won't be as soft, nor will you get that same ghost like effect you sometimes get with 35 mm. A least I didn't. Many of my 4x5 infrareds looked a lot like normal photographs with very bright highlights. Again, this was just my experience, yours may differ. Second, I always keep infrared refrigerated until it's loaded and I always develop it as soon as possible, preferably the same day, after making the exposure. Third, I'm extra careful in the darkroom. I take off my watch with its illuminated dial, cover all of those "see in the dark" stickers, cover the face of my timer, etc. etc. Whether all of this is absolutely necessary or not I don't know but it seems like a good idea given the extra light senstivity of infrared film and its cost. Fortunately I've had no problems with either my bellows or my film holders - both have worked fine (Tachihara and Linhof cameras, Fidelity Elite film holders). However, I'm extra careful when pulling and replacing the dark slide - I hold the dark cloth over the film holder as I remove the darkslide and and then immediately cover the holder with the dark cloth, repeating that procedure when replacing the dark slide. By far the best book I found on infrared film is "Infrared Photography Handbook" by Laurie White. It tells you everything you conceivably could want to know and then some. The other book I bought was by Joseph Paduano. I have the first edition, which I thought was a rip off, but I've heard that the second edition is much better though I haven't seen it.

-- Brian Ellis (, December 29, 2000.

"Nobody mentioned how to do this without burning expensive film."

I never got 4x5 HIE to work with my camera. Film holders were no problem, but my images were faint at best because of the fog from my old Calumet 400 series. Graphic users report good success (a la Weegee) if you're obsessed enough to buy a camera based on its IR proofing.

The standard procedure is to buy a box of film -- the new Macophot (?) stuff I guess, as HIE is a goner -- try it, and curse mightily if things don't work out.

As far as handling the stuff went, my JOBO tank worked OK, no fog, no leaks. Same with Riteway and Fidelity 4x5 holders, new. Scratches on filmholder backs were effectively covered with flat black enamel. (I ended up using up my box of HIE testing the rest of my equipment for IR fogging.)

Compensating developers (PMK, Technidol, dilute Rodinal) are reputed to work wonders for HIE; check for some illustrated exampes for Technidol.

-- John O'Connell (, December 29, 2000.

Hi all, This is my first posting on this forum and hope I can contribute as much as I have gained from reading all the great info you guys put up. I do alot of 35mm and 6x7 IR shooting and have not had a problem. I have found Rodinal to be a better developer and is very reasonably priced. I was cautioned about loading and unloading in total darkness and it has proved to be a wise precaution. I have had no problem with the light emited from my timers or my watch during loading and developing. I just got a 4x5 field camera (in the mail) and I was real curious about the IR leakage spoken about. I will find out soon enough because I like the look of ir and not everyone is doing it. Have a happy new year all. Doug

-- Douglas P. Theall (, January 01, 2001.

Hi Dave, for IR film with PMK, I rate the film at 200 EI for 14 min @ 70F (if I am shooting in a hot climate). I adjust my EI and development time up and down according to the amount of IR i think is available. In the deserts of California I get very good negs with the settings I mentioned, but in Canada, it's a hit and miss sometimes.

-- Dave Anton (, January 02, 2001.

David, I'm not an HIE expert, nor an LF expert. In fact, I just purchased an LF camera a few months ago and have exposed only a few 4x5 sheets of HIE, but I've already learned some things that are different from my 35mm experience. (BTW, my camera is a Calumet Wood Field (aka Tachihara, et al) and I have no evidence of any fogging.) The thing I have seen seldom mentioned in such discussions, and that I wish I had read _before_ I loaded my first batch of holders, is that HIE is ruined by skin contact. I wash and dry my hands thoroughly before handling any film, yet every one of my HIE sheets have lovely clear fingerprints where I touched them. The Delta 100 sheets I loaded at the same time don't, of course. So, use gloves when you load and unload your HIE sheet film. I did get pretty strong IR effect in my Utah and Arizona landscapes, but note that I use an 89 filter, so that may be why. Anyway, don't touch that film! Jonathan

-- Jonathan Bingham (, January 05, 2001.

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