After seeing some gorgeous b&w infrared photographs taken by others, I was sold on the idea of trying this myself. The only IR film in stock was ORWO’s TC27, so that would be my guinea pig. Even though the IR magic didn’t show up in any of my shots, I still think the ORWO TC27 is a very lovely film for normal b&w photography.
From the first moment I noticed b&w infrared photography, I was immediately drawn to it. The so called Wood-effect is simply irresistible! I like these images even better than the colored versions of IR photography. So when I decided I would give IR a try myself, there was no doubt it would be in b&w. I ordered the only film Lomography had in stock at the time, which was the ORWO TC27. After my IR filters arrived, all the way from across the globe, I was ready to go. Or so I thought…
During the time I was waiting for everything to be shipped to my doorstep, I had searched the net quite extensively. I was looking for any useful information that would make this whole adventure a more pleasurable experience. Even though there is a lot of personal opinions out there on this particular film, mostly presenting very conflicting convictions regarding wavelength sensitivity and correct ISO rating, it is a lot harder to find hard data. With a little help I finally came across the technical data sheet from Filmotec.
The graph presenting the wavelength spectrum clearly shows this film is no IR film: after its peak at approx. 680nm sensitivity drops drastically. Actually, if I had read the data sheet starting from page one (which I didn’t as my German isn’t that great), I would have seen that Filmotec describes this film as follows: “The TC 27 is sensitive to the near infrared region”. So there you go, once and for all, the ORWO TC27 is no IR-film.
Even though I was a bit disappointed at first, at least I now knew not to use the 720nm IR filter I had ordered and end up with a black roll of film. Instead I decided to order a 680nm film, still convinced to try and get the most out of this film. While waiting for this next order to arrive I didn’t sit idly by. The first sunny day that came along I loaded the ORWO TC27 into a Praktica BMS, mounted a 1:1,8 50mm Pentacon lens with a Vivitar 25 red filter, and headed out to Ghent, one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium! The results of which you can find scattered all throughout this article.
Even though it isn’t a IR film, in some pictures I do get the impression light behaves differently than it would on a normal b&w film. Have a look at the photo below, and notice the huge difference between the left side of the building that is hit by straight sunlight, and the right side which isn’t hit by the sun. I haven’t really seen this before, not this distinct anyway.
Overall the ORWO TC27 behaves very nicely as a normal b&w film. It gives great detail and contrast, large range of gray tones and not too much grain. It could very well become a standard film in my arsenal.
It has one very nice feature, which is scanning the film without any exposure adjustment, not even autoexposure. The old-pink photos you end up with have a great nostalgic feel to them.
To wrap up I’ll show some of the results I got using the 680nm filter. Personally, I am not to fond of them, I prefer the ones taken with a simple red filter. But for those of you who have come this far, here they are.
Note: film was developed with Maco EcoLine Products.