Rollei Redbird Redscale 400
The Rollei Redbird is a Redscale film from the “Creative Edition” of the German manufacturer Rollei. From the name we can guess that this film is not aiming for realistic colors or pleasant skin tones. So, what makes this film special? This film follows the redscale process, for those not familiar with this familiar with this project, basically is a normal film exposed on the wrong side (backwards), this means the light you let through the shutter must first make its way through several layers until it reaches the light-sensitive one. Therefore, this film is specially designed to shoot backwards creating crazy red tones.
|Name||Rollei Redbird Redscale 400|
|Available formats||35mm, 120mm|
On-line in the major distributors
Something that call my attention is that the manufacturer states on their site “real 400 ISO film”, however, in every review I saw on-line, every reviewer and comment says the same: OVEREXPOSE!, it seems that the film even in sunny days or with flash will underexpose every single frame, creating underexposed, grainy and ugly images. Other crazy thing about this film is the possibility to change the effect by working with the exposure times, getting more yellow hue images in faster speeds and more red under 1/30. It might be related to the exposure that the film receives. It’s my first time shooting redscale and being aware of that, I will try to shoot this film at 400,200 and 100
Normally, I like to divide my reviews into small sections and try to analyze or just separate how different colors work. However, with this redscale film there is few room to analyze that, and even I took the normal photographies of subjects with lighter and darker skin tones and the color chart… As the name indicates we will see some kind of black and red.
Shooting at the stated 400ISO, we get really rich red color, this picture of the dog was taken in bright sunlight. We can see all the detail in the white fur of the dog, however, when we get in slightly darker tones, for example the bag in the scooter, or the bottom part of the bike. We totally lose every detail, obviously noticing that the picture is underexposed. What a pity, I really enjoy shooting high ISO film… however shooting the Rollei Redbird you will either be forced to shoot at a lower speed or either push in develop. But, this film is grainy enough to push in develop….
If we try to overexpose the film in one step (a way to overexpose this film one step for example, is setting the ISO of our camera to 200), we get very rich red tones, in the first picture, the bicycle was in the shade and we can see it very clearly in the picture. The sidewalk still retains detail with very rich yellow~orange tones.
Overexposing one stop, definitely will give us much more detail allover the picture.
Finally, Overexposing two steps (shooting the film like it were ISO 100) we totally fade the bright red that we had in the other previous photos. The photos are less contrasty, more brown(ish) than red(ish). They look like that “Sepia” filter from our old cellphones, definitely not my piece of cake this style, but if you are looking for a vintage feeling for your prints, is not a bad idea.
By the end of the roll, I took the camera to the countryside and set my tripod to compare the different ISO shots with similar scenarios
In this side by side comparison is summarized what I mentioned before, at a normal exposition dark reds in the sky losing all detail in the bushes. Overexposing one step we obtain bright reds and some details in the shade, and finally overexposing two steps, full detail in the dark tones and a bright yellow.
Color chart and measurement of the colors.
RED Average Colour R:233.0 G:104.0 B:47.0
GREEN Average Colour R:238.0 G:148.0 B:54.0
BLUE Average Colour R:153.0 G:46.0 B:23.0
YELLOW Average Colour R:234.0 G:130.0 B:48.0
See also: How do I measure the colors?
Lastly, I used the Redbird in different portrait situations, with a lighter skin tone subject (Maggie), darker skin tone (Ailton), with and without direct flash.
The film gave really inconsistent results in the portraits, so It would be difficult to actually review it… again with the same old song. Brighter situations will give more yellow tones like the outdoors picture of Ailton, while darker ones like for example the one of Maggie with the flash on and a pretty low aperture will give really dark reds.
In conclusion, It’s an interesting film, full of possibilities for that kind of people experimenting with film, I’m sure this kind of film will give also lot of room for creativity while developing and processing. Maybe indoors with a circular diffuser on your flash will give really a really cool dramatic effect, shooting a band or for some creative project. Definitely not my style, but worth the try. I wish we could get those bright reds shooting like an 800 film instead of a 200…
- If you want to try something new and different
- If you develop by yourself and can fully experiment with it
- If you want a creative effect and you plan to shoot outdoors or under bright light
- Good for “lomographers” however, be aware of the slow speed of the film to get clear results.
- If you want consistency on your work
- If you look for clean, grainless and detailed photos.
- If you are on a budget. You can do your own redscale film yourself with some expired film. Check this link to know how:How to redscale?
Just for fun
I took a picture of that same landscape of the tree and the cloudy ski, at ISO 200 but with a gradual filter, top being dark orange and transparent in the bottom. The result would be more interesting if I would have underexposed a couple of stops more, but it was an interesting idea actually, because initially I didn’t like the red mess that I got in the scan. However I kind of like the picture after I converted it to black and white.
Check out the gallery for more fullscreen results of this film
2 thoughts on “Rollei Redbird Redscale 400 Review”
Thanks for the review and reference pictures! If you don’t mind sharing further, what is your scanning / inversion process? I’ve shot some redscale, but havent found a great method for inverting the film correctly. There’s no Color Perfect film profile for redscale, so my process tends to be to invert the frames manually in photoshop, using levels to black and white sample, and then adjusting white, black and gamma levels on individual R, G and B channels according to the histogram. But that seems a bit subjective, and I’m curious if there’s a better, more consistent way.
I actually use the “color negative” setting in the Epson V600 scanner software, is giving me great results. It can be tweaked before the final scan, since it has a histogram and grading tools. However, most of the times the “Auto” settings nails the color that I was looking for.