The Last Chance for Color Infrared

You used to be able to buy color infrared film.  Kodak produced a line in sizes from 35mm to large sheets – I think the original purpose was for some sort of agricultural surveying.  Living things reflect infrared light differently.  This is color infrared film – specifically, Kodak Aerochrome EIR.

When the film is fresh and you do it right, the results can be amazing.  Trees and gress in full sun are rendered red or orange.  Human skin is pale, almost white, and sometimes you can see blood in the veins beneath.  Unfortunately, you just can’t get it anymore.  Well… mostly.

Kodak stopped producing the 35mm version around 2002 or so.  They stopped producing the 120 version around 2006, and I believe they stopped producing the large roll format in 2011.  Some enterprising folks stockpiled massive amounts of it.  Even at 12 shots per roll using my Rollei, like above, those rolls still cost $25 each (from here, which has since sold out).  Not only that but you have to load and process them in complete darkness in a processor that doesn’t use an infrared counter.  Even in photo-happy Seattle, there is nowhere I can get these things processed anymore, so I had to ship it to Portland (which to its credit, boasts at least two places that can do this for you).

At the end of the day, it’s a great lesson in what happens if you even semi-successfully stack together a bunch of old technologies.  Medium-format, color infrared, TLR – they’re all there.  I’ve got two rolls left and they stay in my freezer, waiting for something momentous enough to justify thawing them out.

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4 Responses to “The Last Chance for Color Infrared”

  1. [...] the way back in July, but catches the maples of Volunteer Park in full red glory.  Yeah – Aerochrome EIR will do [...]

  2. [...] think I’ve made it pretty obvious that the one thing I can no longer get but really wish I could is Kodak’s [...]

  3. dean bennici says:

    kodak never ever released 120 EIR or aerochrome as a consumer product. every single 120 color infrared roll out there was hand cut and hand rolled by me. i rolled over 60,000 rolls of 120 and many 1000s of sheets. kodak only ever released a 35mm version of the film. if you have aerochrome, it came from me. many thanks, dean bennici

    • kap0w says:

      Thanks Dean – I know I personally got it from you. I used to shoot (and love) the 35mm version, but I stopped paying attention for a few years and it was all gone! Definitely a shame that they don’t still make it, whether it’s 35mm or hand-rolled by you!

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