Often times when I’m shooting different black and white negative film stocks, I feel like I don’t notice a huge difference. Ilford SFX 200 on the other hand, is a whole other story. Although Ilford SFX 200 is a black and white negative film stock, it’s unique because it is a special effects, infrared black and white film stock.
I, being the curious George that I am, decided to pick up a few rolls of Ilford SFX 200 awhile back when I was visiting Japan and stumbled across them in a camera store. I had never seen it, or even heard of it before, and thought it looked cool. I ended up shooting the two rolls that I got and loved how they turned out, but I didn’t notice the infrared tint, nor did I understand what it meant.
After coming back to it a second time, I decided I needed to learn a little bit more about it. Continue below for our full Ilford SFX 200 film stock review below, PLUS check out our video to see more as well. :)
Ilford SFX 200
SFX 200, unlike most black and white film stocks, is an infrared, special effects film. When I looked to learn more about this film stock online, I couldn’t find too much, but when I went to Ilford’s data sheet for this film stock I found that the reason it’s different from other film stocks is because “it has extended red sensitivity (up to 740nm) and is especially suited for use with a red filter to create special effects. For example, by using a very deep red filter, skies can be rendered almost black, and most green vegetation almost white. Its unusual tonal rendition ensures interesting results for a range of subjects, including portraits, landscapes, townscapes and architecture.”
Learning this got me excited, but at the same time discouraged. I’ve shot ~10 rolls of SFX 200 so far – I loved it. However…. I never used a red filter when I was shooting with it. Needless to say, I still loved how the photos came out, but I don’t think they came out as Ilford is intending them to.
For me though, I was curious before I did the research to find out why it was different, and when I first shot the rolls, I scanned some of them as color negatives instead of black and white negatives, which gave them their own unique red-tone to them (see below). I think this is a simple work around, and I loved how the photos turned out.
I think this one is pretty self explanatory, but I still think it’s important to know the main features of a film whenever you’re looking into it more.
First and foremost, the Special FX, infrared technology is the key component that sets this film apart from other black and white negative film stocks. You can already see in the photos that this looks and feels different than say, Ilford HP5. For me, that alone is a feature and a valuable trait.
Next, another really great feature of this film is that it can be used with or without a red filter. Some other infrared film stocks will not work without a red filter, so this is another bonus for Ilford SFX 200.
One down side; however, of Ilford SFX 200 is that it does not have a super wide exposure latitude. I’ve only shot a few rolls of this film, but it’s already quite evident that it’s really easy to under- or overexpose frames with this film stock. Not that it is a bad thing, because that means when you get your exposure perfect, it will be crisp, but it will take a little more practice and getting used to.
More Photos & Examples
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and that you learned something from it! If you have any questions at all feel free to leave a comment below, or dm me on Instagram and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.