A Review of the Efke IR820 AURA 400 120 Film


After Kodak announced that they stopped production of its classic black and white HIE film, the Efke IR820 became the most sensitive black and white IR film that is still produced.

Credits: rater

To understand infrared photography, a bit of explanation on the light spectrum is needed. The visible light, to which most films are sensitive, range from wavelengths of 390 to 750 nanometers (nm), is the 390 nm the wavelengths of violet-blues and 700 the wavelengths of reds. Shorter wavelengths than 390 nm correspond to ultra-violet, x-rays and gamma rays. Longer wavelengths than 700 nm correspond to infrared, microwaves and radio waves. True infrared films will be sensitive to wavelengths beyond 700 nm. Actually, infrared films are only sensitive to the near infrared. The classic Kodak HIE film was sensitive to wavelengths near 900 nm. The Efke IR820, as its name says, is sensitive to wavelengths of 820 nm.

Having said that, if you are a bit familiar with black and white infrared photography you will have noticed that it is recommended to use red filters with this kind of films. The most recommended filter is the Hoya R72, a red filter near black, which will cut off most of all visible light. The reason is that IR films are also sensitive to the visible light, as a normal film. If you shoot with an Efke IR820 without a filter you will get pretty much a conventional black and white image. The use of the filter will only let the longer wavelengths expose the film, getting thus an image that has been obtained from the infrared spectrum. The use of a filter also means that your film will need longer exposure times.

The Efke IR820 used without a filter has an iso speed of 400; when used in combination with the Hoya R72 filter you have to shoot considering an iso speed of 1-2. That means that on a sunny day with your Holga you will have to expose for 1 second (more or less).

Efke makes two versions of the IR820 film, one with an antihalation layer and another one without it. The latter is known as IR820 AURA, which is the one I am reviewing. With this film, Efke is trying to achieve a “blooming” or glow effect that was obtained with the Kodak HIE film. This glow effect happens around the highly exposed zones of the film because of a scattering of the photons around this zone. You can imagine this scattering as photons splashing around the exposed zone, giving a halo or aura around. In other films, the antihalation layer prevents that, but the Kodak HIE and Efke IR820 AURA do not have it, so you can get this glow effect. Sincerely, when I see images taken with the two versions of the film, with and without the antihalation layer, I do not see much difference.

So, what results can you expect from this film? What you will discover with this film is that not all objects reflect the same way the infrared. You get dreamy images, with foliage from trees glowing white while the trunks are dark. The people skin will look creamy though eyes will look darker. Skies will look dark, though clouds will pop out clear.

White foliage, dark sky.

I use this film with my Holga. It is recommended to load/unload the film in total darkness, as it fogs easily. I normally do that in my bathroom. Also, I cover the red window of the Holga’s back with black tape (remember, it has high sensitivity to reds!), so to pass frames you have to do it by instinct (between 1 turn and 1 turn and a half; or you can use @stouf’s counter). When shooting I use a Hoya R72 filter with a diameter of 55mm. This will perfectly fit the universal Holga mount (fisheye adaptor). Also, I use the Holga cable release adaptor and a tripod, as you need exposures of 1 second in sunny days. I develop this film easily at home with Rodinal (dilution 1:25, at 20 °C for 9 minutes).

Between 1 and 2 seconds exposure with Holga and Hoya R72.

I also have used this film with the wide pinhole Holga. And here I am going to throw in a little tipster when doing pinhole with infrared films, as the exposure time is a bit tricky. Of course, you still need to attach somehow the R72 filter to your pinhole camera. Myself, I carefully taped it in front of the pinhole. And then for the exposure, you cannot trust any reciprocity table. So imagine a day with sun, a camera at f/16 with an iso 2 film would need some ½ second to have a photo well exposed. At f/135, which is the aperture of the Holga WPC, you would need according to a reciprocity table to do an exposure between half a minute and minute and a half. Well, you have to increase this time for IR pinhole photography. I did exposures of 10 minutes and the results were fine on a really sunny day. So if you are shooting this film with a pinhole camera, duplicate, triplicate or quadruplicate the time of exposure if you want to get some result!

10-minute exposure on a sunny day with Holga WPC and Hoya R72.

What is the conclusion for this film? I always wanted to shoot IR film, but I was a bit afraid because it looked like some complicated stuff… not sure of exposure time, not sure of focus, possible fogging of the film… but I tried and I love the effects you get. The first roll I shot was already a keeper. If you are thinking of trying IR photography I encourage you to go ahead and try this nice film, the images you get have a magical touch that will embellish your LomoHome!

This tipster was written by Lomographer rater. Make sure to follow more of their tips by creating your own LomoHome!

written by rater on 2010-07-04 #gear #pinhole #medium-format #black-and-white #infrared #cable-release #tripod #review #long-exposure #glow #blooming #fisheye-adaptor #b-w #holga #ir #holga-wpc #hoya-r72 #aura #efke-ir820-aura #universal-holga-mount #antihalation #near-infrared #black-tape


  1. cubilas
    cubilas ·

    nice! I've got a 35mm roll lying around, but don't have a filter...
    anyone has some tips for homemade/diy filters? I've heard you can use a piece of unexposed film...

  2. dogtanian
    dogtanian ·

    Great review! i did some with my holga with the normal efke ir820, feel free to check them out :D www.lomography.com/homes/dogtanian/albums/1177266-holga-efk…

  3. paramir
    paramir ·

    wow. great galleries! beautiful images and great b&w subtle psychedelic effect... now i'd like to try it as well.. great review!

  4. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Wonderful gallery, wonderful review!!

  5. stijn_b
    stijn_b ·

    Eager to try this film! I've got ten rolls of it but I still have to buy that filter.
    Exceptional shots!

  6. lawypop
    lawypop ·

    WOW! i got a 35mm roll from @stijn and yet to use it!! thanks for the tip and fantastic album :)

  7. shoujoai
    shoujoai ·

    I tried one with Diana and an exposure time of around one second, but the pictures was not exposed at all... only three turned out (that ones, that I took without filter). Next time, I'll try to expose it longer...

  8. jeabzz
    jeabzz ·

    great review ! the pinhole gallery is amazing !! :D

  9. rater
    rater ·

    Thanks a lot for the comments! I sent this 3 months ago and I already though it would not get published... glad to see it online!

  10. stouf
    stouf ·

    Amazing review hermano !!! And I'm glad to know that you can develop it in Rodinal !

  11. hewzay
    hewzay ·

    Great article. I've got some sitting on the shelf but was wary of the exposure times and how to develop. Now I know. Thanks!!!!

  12. maaikel
    maaikel ·

    Just got one of these films!

  13. b2377
    b2377 ·

    @rater Some photos seem to have gone missing since the reboot...

More Interesting Articles