Infrared Photography with Ilford SFX 200 Film

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So, from what I understand, Ilford SFX 200 film is not strictly an infrared film. It is black and while film, which is also sensitive to light in the infrared spectrum. So, technically, you could shoot with this film, and develop it to display standard black and white images. It is still sensitive to the normal spectrum of visible light, but also sensitive to light in the 700 nm to 900 nm wavelengths – which is considered infrared. I will be shooting with a very dark infrared filter (Hoya R72 – which, I believe, attempts to block light below 720 nm). I hope my tests will show the differing results from shooting with the different filters.

The other complexity in shooting infrared, is focusing. Since infrared light wavelengths differ from visual light, infrared doesn’t focus the same as visible. Most old, manual focus, lenses have a small red line or dot just to the left of the standard focusing mark – so once you focus visually, you simply rotate the lens, so your current distance is aligned with the infrared dot or line. Just one more manual step, so if you’re focusing on a specific object, it will actually be in focus on the infrared image. This probably becomes less and less of an issue for landscapes and distant scenes.

If you have a digital camera, you can still shoot infrared images – but you generally need to get the camera fixed to shoot only infrared. Most digital cameras come with a filter built in that eliminates most infrared light. This filter would need to be removed – and then you could shoot with an infrared filter to capture infrared images. I haven’t done this, but I’m tempted to get one of my DSLR bodies adjusted to shoot infrared. We’ll see.

So, here are a couple of my images. I focused and set my exposure, then adjusted the focus (via the infrared mark on the lens), put my dark filter on, and adjusted my exposure by 4 stops. I bracketed exposures after that, but was not happy with my results. I need to find better subject matter – and only shoot subjects in more direct sunlight. I’ll try again, but for now these are the only 2 images I’m at all satisfied with.

Let me know what you think. I know some of you have tried Ilford SFX 200, and I’ve seen some of your results – which seemed nicer than mine.

3 Replies to “Infrared Photography with Ilford SFX 200 Film”

  1. Hello Vince, I’ve used SFX200 a few times mainly with a Red 25A filter so that I could still compose with the filter on the lens. The infrared effect did vary a bit, my best images were taken on holiday in the USA many years ago, bright sunlight and rocks and the wonderful clouds you can get in the south west. It was a lot easier when I used my old Rolleiflex tlr. What developer was used for your film ?

    1. I remember seeing some of your photos with SFX 200 (I think I recall that). I used HC-110 1:31 for 9 minutes (69F). I was wondering how much difference it would make to develop it differently – but I don’t think this film will show the dramatic results I’ve seen from some of the infrared films. I may shoot one more roll to see if I can get some different (better) results. What I’ve been thinking about is getting one of my older digital cameras converted to be able to shoot infrared. I’d love to see some color!

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