USING KODAK 2475 RECORDING FILM
FOR FIGURE PHOTOGRAPHY

By Rick Athearn

All photos are Copyrighted by Rick Athearn, and are for your viewing enjoyment only. They may not be copied or used in any form without the permission of the photographer. To see a larger version of each photo, click on its thumbnail.

THE FILM

Kodak 2475 Recording Film (RE 135), catalog number 163 2033, is described as an: "extremely high-speed, panchromatic film with extended red sensitivity. It is especially well suited for applications requiring low level illuminations or short-duration exposures such as law-enforcement photography". It is a black and white negative film with a nominal ISO of 1000. It is both fast and quite grainy.

Unfortunately, Kodak 2475 Recording film is available only in 35mm format, packaged in 36 exposure cassettes. It is usually found only in larger photo stores that stock considerable varieties of film. It may be possible for a Kodak dealer to special order this film, but minimum quantities would be required. Kodak 2475 is also not inexpensive. On the average, it retails for $7.50 per roll.

USING 2475 FILM

Other than using 2475 for high-speed photography, the film can also be manipulated to create unusual and interesting images. Because 2475 film is inherently very grainy (much more so than Tri-X, for example), it can be used to create artistic photographs. By varying development and printing, one can conjure up a grainy, soft, and flattering image. On the other hand, grainy, but "hard" photos are also possible with high contrast paper. This film can be exposed at various ISO's, but using the Kodak suggested 1000 speed seems to work quite well. Kodak notes that 2475 can be exposed at ISO 1600 assuming an average subject and normal development. I find that ISO 800 works better than 1000.

While 2475 film is good for any subject from landscapes to portraits, it really shines as a medium for figure, glamour, and portrait photography. Over 20 years ago, Peter Gowland described using 2475 for glamour photography. The beauty of 2475 is that it can be used under most any conditions, it does not require special equipment, lighting can be anything from natural sunlight to electronic flash, and it can be easily processed in a home darkroom.

EQUIPMENT

Kodak 2475 film can be used with virtually any kind of 35mm camera, old or new. Because it is naturally grainy and has fairly low resolution, the quality of a camera's lens is not overly important. You can shoot with a 40 year old camera with a less than outstanding lens, or you can use the very latest electronic whiz. It does not really matter. I have shot 2475 with a 1959 Kodak Retina Reflex to a Contax G-1 and about everything else in between. Shooting with 2475 is a pleasure thanks to its reduced resolution. You do not need a soft focus or diffusion filter to minimize blemishes or wrinkles when doing portrait or figure work.

When shooting figure work, for example, 2475 lends itself to either close ups or full length figures. By using filters such as yellow or orange, the film's contrast can also be increased. Generally, just using 2475 "straight" will result in a very acceptable image. Any focal length lens will work nicely with 2475. Wide angle lenses yield grainy full frame photos while telephoto lenses are great for portraits.

PROCESSING

This film is developed in ordinary chemicals like Agfa Rodinal or Kodak HC-110. Using HC-110 at Dilution B, takes 8 minutes at 70 degrees F. That ancient stand-by Rodinal also works well at 1:25 dilution at 70 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes at 70 degrees F. This film can be processed at temperatures up to 95 degrees F. Of course, you can increase (or decrease) contrast by manipulating the amount of time 2475 stays in the developer. I generally overdevelop by 20% or so because I like the contrast.

Grain structure can also be changed through increased temperatures. In some cases, reticulation could be used to enhance grain. This involves a high developer temperature with subsequently much colder washes and/or fixer temperatures. But with 2475, you really don't need to reticulate, it is already grainy. Fixing and washing 2575 is normal with standard times involved. One note of caution; 2475 takes a lot longer in the fixer than "normal" films. Washing is the usual process. The longer the wash, the more permanent the film.

One other note about 2475. When the film is dry it has an extremely pronounced curl to it. This is due to the thin estar film base. Because of the twisted film, cutting and placing it negative files is difficult. Proofing is equally challenging.

PRINTING

Printing 2475 is a simple matter. Like any black and white negative film, it can be printed at various contrast levels. Variable contrast papers provide a wide range of contrasts from very soft to hard. Depending on the image, 2475 can be printed to one's taste. Like any negative, the larger the print, the grainier the photograph gets. In the case of 2475 this is no detriment. In fact, the larger the print the heavier the grain and the better the effect. As grain gets bigger, the image tends to get softer which only enhances figure work, for example.

Despite some of its drawbacks, Kodak 2475 is a wonderful film for experimental photography. The film is also great for glamour, boudoir, and figure photography. For users who want the archival permanence of black and white, 2475 is usually well received. Viewers very often like the grainy, soft dream-like images that can be created. Many times, they actually prefer 2475 images to color photos with diffusion or soft-focus filters. Give 2475 a try! It is a nicely creative film that is easy to use.

Rick can be reached at fathearn@concentric.net