Tried and Tested Thursday: Retro Feeling in La Spezia – Canon EOS 500n with Rollei Retro 400s (Yellow Filter)

For today’s Tried and Tested Thursday, I will be talking about shooting a Rollei Retro 400s on my Canon EOS 500n with a Yellow Filter.

To end the month, it’s another travel throwback post from April 2018. Last week, it was Cinque Terre, this week it’s La Spezia in Northern Italy.

I had been travelling through Nice in Southern France, heading towards Northern Italy before flying back home to London. I had been away for almost a week by the time I went to La Spezia.

The only main station in La Spezia, with most trains coming from and going to Genoa

I packed so much film with me for my travels, many various brands in both colour and black and white – ranging from Ilford, Kodak, Rollei to Lomography, even the famous Poundland Film, aka Agfaphoto Vista 200.

My time in La Spezia was short as I spent most of my time in Cinque Terre, so I didn’t really explore around the city that much. A missed opportunity not to have gone to the port or to go to any places of interest, such as museums or landmarks.

I did have the opportunity to photograph around the local streets in both colour and black and white; Kodak Colorplus and Rollei Retro 400s, respectively.

On my first afternoon in La Spezia, after spending hours of travelling and crossing the border, I decided to load my Canon SLR with a roll of Rollei Retro 400s film and explore the town centre for a while. I was interested in my temporary surroundings, which was close to where I was staying.

It was my second time shooting with Retro 400s, the first was in Monaco a few days earlier with the Jessops brand Orange Filter. For my Italian stay, I would use the Yellow Filter, from the Jessops brand. It was also my first time using colour filters for my photography. I was recommended to try them out, so I decided to put them to the test.

The results? What did I think of the film?

Sadly, a little bit of a hit and miss. I have to admit, Retro 400s was slightly underwhelming and flat, although the dark tones are brilliant as well as the grain’s smoothness. The film didn’t bring much to the table.

In my head, I would often consider Retro 400s as a cheaper alternative to Kodak Tri-x. As much as I love Tri-x, it is certainly not a film I would use for shooting the streets of La Spezia. Punchy – yes, plus great for darkroom printing. Possibly a similar film with a bounce in the same 400 ISO.

I feel like Ilford HP5 would have been more suited, or even the Rollei Superpan 200. Ilford HP5 worked fairly well in Cinque Terre, which I was overall impressed with after both scanning and producing some darkroom glossy prints. Would it do the same justice for La Spezia street shots? I could see some potential there.

Testing out unfamiliar film is a great way to identify what one is suited for you and your photographic preferences. For me, having tried and tested many rolls over the years, I often choose ones that I’m comfortable shooting with. On the odd occasion, I would take along a roll or two of unfamiliar film to try out. The only way I will find out whether I prefer the said film is after the development process.

Unfortunately, Rollei Retro 400s didn’t roll with me this time round. I haven’t shot or purchased another one since, despite having a single undeveloped Retro roll in the drawer. Highly unlikely it will be processed or ever see the light of day…

Take care and stay safe