Film Review: Rollei Paul & Reinhold
A 100 year anniversary is quite the achievement and Rollei celebrated with a limited film release giving a nod to its history, Rollei Paul & Reinhold. Rollei was once one of the venerable, iconic names in analog photography but have in recent years spiraled to lending their brand to cheap gimmicks. Though they don’t produce legendary cameras anymore, the Rollei name is still alive and relevant in the film scene with a decent range of film, paper and chemistry.
I love the Rollei brand. My Rolleiflex SL66 with the Zeiss Planar is *chef’s kisses*. A Rolleiflex 2.8f K7F with the Xenotar is photo boner inducing and one of my grail cameras, still something I hope to own one day. I shoot a lot of Rollei-branded Retro 400s; to me it strikes a nice balance for ISO 400 B&W somewhere between HP5 and Streetpan 400. So when I spotted this hard-to-find-in-Japan case of Rollei Paul & Reinhold, I had to give it a go.
In 1920, Paul Franke and Reinhold Heidecke founded Rollei. They enjoyed decades of being at the top of the totem pole and long story short, the Thanos digital onslaught and mismanagement lead to Rollei pulling out of camera manufacturing and the brand becoming a licensed trademark of Hans O. Mahn GmbH & Co. KG in 2004. Since then, they have pivoted to producing a brand of Rollei films, photo papers and photo chemicals.
This limited edition 100th anniversary twin pack is dedicated its founders with two identical B&W negative films after their namesake founders. It’s a nice touch and the extra roll of film is meant to share with a loved one.
As always, there have been various conspiracy theories as to what this film really is. A couple conjectured candidates are Agfa Isopan or Tasma T42. I’ve also heard it’s just Fomapan 400 but the label on the package says “Made in Italy” so perhaps Maco contracted Ferrania to produce it. Or maybe it is Fomapan and Ferrania just cut and packaged it. Rollei has been tight-lipped about the film’s source so like how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
Rollei Paul & Reinhold Tech Specs
- Two black and white negative films with 36 exposures each
- Nominal sensitivity: ISO 640/29°
- Fine-grain & natural contrasts
- Exposure latitude from ISO 320/26° – ISO 1600/33
- Including transport container for two 35mm films
- Excellent for available light, action & street photography
I’ve always loved and appreciated rolls that have markers on the label for pushing and pulling which is why I designed one for the SP400 canister. Glad to see the designer for Paul & Reinhold agrees.
Rollei Paul & Reinhold Sample Images
I decided to go with a Leica M6 and the new MS Optics 50mm Sonnetar f1.3 and shot at box speed of iso 640. After shooting the first roll, I developed it with Cinestill df96 in an Ars-Imago Lab Box. Unfortunately it did not play well with Rollei Paul & Reinhold. It makes the images look like they were shot in the 1800’s which is kinda cool in some contexts but definitely not the intended look.
So I had to look up development instructions ( yeah, prolly shoulda done that first) and Maco’s site suggests as follows:
Agitation: During the first 30 seconds continuously, then once every 30 seconds.
Process temperature: 20°C/68°F
Rollei SUPERGRAIN | at dilution 1+9 for 8 min / at dilution 1+12 for 9½ min
R09 | at dilution 1+25 for 13½ min / at dilution 1+50 for 23½ min
For the second attempt, I stuck at the same speed of iso 640. Without any of said developers on hand, I took the second roll to Oosawa Camera in Ebisu to get developed then scanned at home with a Plustek Opticfilm 8200i.
Well that’s more like it. When developed properly, Rollei P&R 640 is quite the versatile and forgiving emulsion with some punchy contrast. I can understand the Fomapan claims; it does have that feel but to me seems the grain is more reigned in. To me it’s closer to P30 vibes and being made in Italy, it could very well be some high speed derivative of that.
I really dig it and would love to shoot it at different speeds. P&R seems to be able to push well. My eyes will be peeled and on the lookout for more. Personally, there’s a tinge of sadness that the legendary name of Rollei doesn’t manufacture anymore and has lost the luster it once had. But at least they are still dedicated to analog photography aside from the cash grab branding tactics.
What are your experiences with Rollei Paul & Reinhold? Would love to hear your thoughts and if anyone else ran into similar issues with development.