Kodak HIE: The Undisputed King of Infared Film


Kodak HIE is recognized by pretty much every film photographer as the greatest infared film ever. Now discontinued, supply is very scarce and shooting a roll is a privilege. I was lucky enough to find a roll for very cheap, and I waited for the perfect day to shoot this perfect IR film.

As I usually do, I scavenge ebay looking for good deals on film, cameras, lenses and equipment. It was a Sunday night and after not finding anything, I found a listing, under the name “8 rolls of expired film.” The price was £6 so I was excepting the usual Truprint Color Negative or some old Kodak Colourplus. Anyway, I clicked on the listing and I was amazed at what the films were: 2 rolls of Kodak T-Max P3200, 2 rolls of Fuji Neopan 1600, a roll of Ilford SFX, 2 rolls of Fuji Superia, and a roll of Kodak HIE!! For £7, that’s less than a pound per roll.

I had heard of the legendary HIE before but had never shot with it. I searched the web and found out that I needed a deep red or r72 filter to get IR effects. I decided to go for the r72 filter as I would also use it with the Ilford SFX I have reviewed here.

I decided since I probably wont get enough chance to use this film again I would save it for summer when there is more sun, meaning there should be more IR around.

This film has to be loaded in complete darkness due to its extreme sensitivity to light, so I went under my quilts with the film and my Minolta X-700. I recomend that you shoot this film with an aperture-priority camera with TTL centre weighted metering, and use a lens with a small aperture at least f.16.

After loading my camera in the dark (which was surprisingly easy) and screwing the R72 filter onto my lens, I headed out for a walk. It was a lovely sunny day (for once). I put my camera in Aperture priority, rated the film at ISO 400 and set my aperture to f16. Surprisingly, I could actually hand hold my camera in some lighting situations even though the filter reduces exposure by 5 stops, making the camera meter at about ISO 12. For most shots, I bracketed my exposure just to be on the safe side. I didn’t have a tripod with me as I simply don’t own one, so I had to use tree trunks, posts, rocks—pretty much anything that would hold my camera still.

After shooting the entire roll, I rewound the film and left the leader out as I wanted to develop it straight away. I had to unload the film again in darkness, then put it straight into my developing tank. I was ready to develop the film, and I developed it in Rodinal 1:100.

Here are the results:

The first thing that you may notice is the grain, that is due to the fact that the film was 4 years expired. Also, Rodinal does increase grain and also HIE is quite grainy anyway. Despite the high amount of grain in some shots, I really like the images. In my opinion, the film gives results that are very unique even when compared to other IR films. I can really see why this film has legendary status as it’s regarded as the best IR film. Though one thing I can’t understand is why the hell Kodak discontinued.

All in all a fantastic film. If you’re lucky enough, definitely try out. Just remember you will need a r72 or deep red filter and you should use a tripod and a center weighted metering SLR, though you could use any camera and use a hand held light meter, just remember r72 filters reduce exposure by 5 stops.

Thanks for reading, keep shooting!

written by brandkow93 on 2012-07-03 #gear #review #film-review #minolta #hie #professional #lomography #kodak #infared #ir #r72-filter #user-review #x700-black-and-white


  1. alex34
    alex34 ·

    This is a good tipster as well as a good review.

  2. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    @alex34 I geuss it is a tipster, and thanks alot :)

  3. tomkiddo
    tomkiddo ·

    exactly what i need to know about infrared films :) thank you for the article! will it be okay if i shoot an infrared film using a holga? and is it really that sensitive to light? because i took out my infrared film from its canister once!

  4. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    glad i could help :) Yeah i have seen some lovely infared shots from a holga in fact some of the best, definetily tape up the back of your camera and probably the front too, IR film will show up light leaks you never knew you had. I think it should be fine, just make sure you load it in complete darkness or it will fog the film.

    If you do use your holga id definitely recommend a tripod and using it in bulb mode with the smallest aperture, the fixed shutter speed is probably too fast.

  5. kf4kco
    kf4kco ·

    This is a great article on IR film. I also liked that you had a building in one shot. I have been wondering how IR does in an urban setting.

  6. ihave2pillows
    ihave2pillows ·

    Thanks! I HIE works well with 25A red filter too. That way you can shoot handheld :)

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