Ilford SFX 200 Film Stock Review by David Rose

Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
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Written by David Rose

I wrote a previous guide for Ilford’s lineup of film stocks, but if you’re observant you may have noticed that there was a notable film that was missing from this article: Ilford SFX 200.

Now, that I’ve had the chance to shoot several rolls of this film, I’m excited to be able to give you a write up with my thoughts and impressions so far.

Find Ilford SFX 200 on Amazon.

Ilford SFX 200 B&W Film Stock Review
Ilford SFX 200 B&W Film Stock Review
Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200

Ilford SFX 200 is probably one of the least-used films from Ilford, judging by the low number of images that show up on image-sharing platforms when searching for its hashtag, but undeservedly so.

This film packs a punch, opens creative doors that would otherwise be closed, and if you’re a fan of contrast in black and white images, you’re going to love shooting with it.

Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200
Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200
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Ilford SFX as a Near Infrared Film

There are various infrared films that exist which capture light beyond the visible spectrum and produce a dreamlike effect, but these can be difficult to find and require loading in complete darkness.

While it’s not a true infrared film, SFX 200 is sensitive to longer wavelengths off the bottom (red) end of the visible light spectrum.

The advantage here is that it still gives some infrared effects (turning blue skies deep black, and green vegetation white with the right conditions), but it does not need to be loaded in complete darkness like a true infrared film; subdued light will work.

Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Spectral sensitivity of Ilford SFX 200 compared to conventional films.
Source: Ilford SFX 200 Technical Information
Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200

A Great Film for Filters

Ilford markets SFX 200 as “medium speed black and white camera film for creative photography”, which means that it can be used as a conventional black and white film, but its extended sensitivity means that it excels when using filters for more creative effects.

There are many filters you can shoot this film with for varying levels of effect, ranging all the way from yellow to deep red.

I’ve found good results from using a red 25 filter since it enables access to some level of infrared effect, but it’s also practical in that it’s not too dark, and you can still see through it when composing a shot.

Some deeper red or infrared filters are nearly opaque, meaning that you need to use a tripod and compose/meter before installing the filter, and then compensate for your exposure by several stops.

Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, 55mm w/ red 25 filter, Ilford SFX 200
Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200

Focusing with Ilford SFX 200

Infrared light is a longer wavelength than what your eye can visibly interpret, and therefore the focus point will be different than what you see through your viewfinder when shooting with infrared filters.

Many lenses have a mark on the barrel that will enable you to adjust to the infrared spectrum after you’ve found the correct focus point using the visible light as a reference.

Here is what this commonly looks like:

Infrared focus mark on the Fujifilm GF670 - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film

A good example of what can happen if you don’t adjust for the focus can be found below.

While this image was tack sharp in-camera, the final image came out softer than anticipated:

Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200

Another tip with short to medium focal length lenses is to stop down to a smaller aperture which will help naturally sharpen the focus as the light is forced to pass through a smaller hole.

Final Thoughts

Ilford SFX 200 is self-identified as a creative film, so it is ripe for experimentation.

Best results will come from shooting it in bright sunlight, and it is very well suited for landscape photography.

Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200
Medium format black and white image of a cat - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200

For portraiture, another interesting facet of this film is how it will render lighter skin tones as a ghostly white when shot through a red filter:

Medium format black and white landscape - Ilford SFX 200 Film Review by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Pentax 67, Ilford SFX 200

As always, I hope you found this review helpful, and I’m happy to answer questions if you reach out to me via DM on Instagram!

Thank you so much, David! David is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out his other articles here, such as his Guide to Choosing a Color Film and Ilford Black and White Film Guide.

You can also find more of David’s work on Instagram!

Leave your questions about shooting Ilford SFX 200 below in the comments, and if you’d like to pick up some SFX 200 for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here!

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David Rose

David Rose is a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find his other articles here, such as Guide to Choosing a Color Film and 35mm vs 120: Choosing a Film Format.

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Blog Comments

Cool film, and good overview. It’s a film that I’ve been meaning to try.
It often reminds me of the older Tri-X formulation, and I wonder if anyone knows if Tri-X has (or did have) extended red sensitivity as well?

From a cursory read of Tri-X’s data sheet, it looks like the spectral sensitivity falls off around 650nm, whereas SFX 200 is closer to 750nm

(page 7: https://imaging.kodakalaris.com/sites/default/files/files/resources/f4017_TriX.pdf)

Very nice photos! They really show the varying uses of the film. I will give it a try.

Thanks, Ken! Go for it, it’s a fun stock to shoot.

Very interesting. And it can be developed with normal B&W developer, right? Might have some winter fun with this stock.

Yep. Functions much like a normal B&W film for all intents and purposes.

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