What Special Handling Considerations for 4x5 Infrared Sheet Film?

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Plan to dive into it infrared photography sometime soon with the new MACO PHOTO IR 820c infrared sheet film. There's some useful info on the web about this film (and the Kodak Infrared film it's molded after). Nevertheless I still have a few handling questions as it relates to 4x5 use, that hopefully experienced users can help answer:

1) Dose this film have to be put into film holders under vigilant conditions ie, in a completely dark room, and at night time? Can one use all plastic film holders such as Fidelity Elite, or must the holder's dark slide material need be made of metal to prevent fogging?

2)Is it necessary to wrap my new Toyo bellows, for example, with aluminum foil to prevent fogging during in camera work (exposure)?

3) Can this film be tray processed (say at night in darkroom) or must one use sealed tanks?

4) When/if tank processing with sealed Jobo 2500 series tank for example, must tank be wrapped in aluminum foil? Or processed in darkness? Or both?

5) Is this MACO IR 820c a film that you can travel with? ie, possible damage from airport x-ray machines, or degraded image due to delayed time from processing to time of development, etc.

I thank you in advance for help with as many of these points as possible. Andre

-- Andre Noble (andrenoble@usa.net), June 24, 2001



I used Kodak infrared 4x5 a couple of times during the mid 90's and never had any serious problems using standard filmholders with a Calumet Woodfield camera. I used trays to process the film in a darkroom under normal conditions. I was careful to keep the filmholders out of direct sunlight and did not expose them to a great deal of heat, etc. Before experimenting with the film, I read a number of warnings and horror stories concerning 4x5 infrared. I suppose I was lucky but I encountered few if any problems. At any rate, I would suggest that you test your equipment first before exposing too many sheets of film. Also, take a look at WJ's IR links located at http://www.a1.nl/phomepag/markerink/mainpage.htm. This seems to be place to access IR related information. In addition, if you can find the articles, Photo Techniques ran a two part series on using IR sheet film. I can't remember the exact dates but they were published sometime in the mid 1990's. The series has a number of specific cautions about IR film handling and it's worth the cost of reprints. I hope this helps.


-- Dave Willison (dwillisart@aol.com), June 24, 2001.

Hi Andre

1.It has really to be total darkness and you should wait for 1-2 minutes otherwise a very hot lamp could also create some foging on the neg.I had not a problem with plastic darkslides.

2.A new bellows should be okay!

4. Jobo 2500 should be very fine if he is lighttight!

5. X-ray would be deadly as far as I know! Maco is not as critical like the Kodak Hie but you are on the better and safer side if you hold him not to long in warm conditions!

Good luck and good light!

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), June 24, 2001.

Dave, Armin, thanks for the helpful info. I shall try to get that photo techniques reprint too. Andre

-- Andre Noble (andrenoble@usa.net), June 24, 2001.

My experience is that modern Fidelity/Lisco filmholders are ok. Unless you use a visually opaque filter, IR film has a spectral sensitivity more extended than normal panchromatic film. Just like a panchromatic film, IR film must be loaded into the holders in total darkness.

My experience is that the most likely problem is the bellows. Some are IR opaque while others are IR transparent. The only way to tell is to make some test exposures (or to make real exposures and risk their loss to a transparent bellows!).

-- Michael Briggs (MichaelBriggs@EarthLink.net), June 24, 2001.

Greetings Andre,

I use MACO IR in 120 roll sizes and I'm still shooting 4x5 Kodak HIE that I have stored in the freezer. In answer to your questions:

1. All film should be loaded in a light tight room, IR is no exception.

2. Never having used a Toyo, I don't know if the bellows is IR proof, but it's easy to test. Place the camera in direct sunlight, leave the shutter closed and pull the dark slide 1/2 way out for 20 seconds. Develop the sheet and compare the the two halves of film; any change in density indicated fogging.

3. You can tray process the film and don't have to do it at night as long as your darkroom is indeed, dark.

4. JOBO drums are IR proof and can safely process Kodak and MACO IR films.

5. You can travel safely with 820c, but any film is subject to fogging by x-ray; I would guard against it. I've let 2-4 weeks pass before processing and have not detected any difference.

One additional note on using roll film 820c. This film does have an antihalation coating and though MACO does recommend loading in total darkness, I have successfully loaded a roll in a Hassy back at 3:00 PM on a sunny day in the shade of a car trunk - without fogging. I don't recommend this, but I had no other options at the time.


-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), June 25, 2001.

Don't forget to shift your focus prior to making your exposure!!!

-- David Godwin (wdgodwin@aol.com), June 25, 2001.

I forgot to add, Fidelity film holders are IR proof too.


-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), June 25, 2001.

Thanks Dave and Pete. From the feedback i've gotten on this post, this Infra Red thing doesn't seem as imposing as I was led to believe. You answered alot of questions I had. BTW, I found a nice toy at a clearance sale at a local camera supply store - a nice, new 77mm B+W 092 (89B) Dark Red UV filter at 1/2 price (~$85US). This filter is not completely opaque to visible light, so I'm going to first try it on some normal B&W film (Ilford HP5+) and rate it at ~10ASA. looking forward to the Maco Photo Infrared film too, at such time as I can actually afford it (after spending the paycheck on this gorgeous filter. :>) Andre

-- Andre Noble (andrenoble@usa.net), June 26, 2001.

Regarding the focus correction, I've used IR (though not MACO) for 20 years and I would *not* advise correcting for the longer infrared wavelength unless you are only exposing infrared, i.e. using a visually opaque filter. The medium red filters most people use are also admitting visible light. If you correct for the IR, the focus of the visible wavelengths might be off. Just use a smallish aperture and both will be as much in focus as possible. Remember, some softness is desirable, that's one of the qualities of IR photographs.

-- Sandy Sorlien (sand44@mindspring.com), June 28, 2001.

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