Thank you Simon for taking this seriously! I really appreciate it. It is so refreshing to have a vendor that listens. At this point my biggest concern is that the know-how might disappear if Efke stops production. Once knowledge is gone, chances of it ever being recovered is close to zero since nobody would be interested in investing into R&D for such a small volume product.
Please keep in mind that IR film is much less price sensitive than regular film. If I'm planning to shoot IR, I'll buy the film no matter what the price is, as long as it is available. Check out HIE prices on e-bay. It's already $20-$30 per 35mm roll of a very questionable expired product.
It is a tripod-only film, so format does not matter much either, if it's only 120 film, I'll take the Mamiya, if it's 4x5 or 8x10, I'll take the LF camera, it really does not matter since I'm already lugging the tripod with me. I'd say for evaluation consider it a single format film.
Anyway, thank you for considering it. I really hope we could save the knowledge of how to make it, if not the product itself.
Efke may be a tripod only film because it needs an opaque #72 filter (or so I've read - still meaning to try it) plus is painfully slow with that, but HIE could and did get nice IR effects with a red #29 and was sensitive enough to shoot with that handheld in good light. Efke is making or has recently made "infrared" film but nothing is quite like HIE was.
I've mentioned the loss of Agfa pan 25 and Panatomic X so many times it sounds like a broken record. But to follow up here I know that they are history. We will never see them again, ever.
My one hope was that one day in my lifetime Ilford / Harmon would make a run of Pan F in sheet film sizes. Even in a yearly run. With Efke, when / if, it's announced it's over, Pan F would be the last emulsion in this speed range. If there is a god, he / she would surely listen to the voices in the forest.
Just curious, but why do you need such a slow film in sheets? The reason for tolerating a very slow film, for me, was to get very fine grain. I don't need that when a 16x20 is only a 4x enlargement. TMX has finer grain than Pan X did, not with the same look granted, but finer grain.
I was making some 11x14s the other night from 6x6 negs cropped to 6x4.5 or so to fit. You can only see any grain if you stick your nose right against them. I'm a severe myope so without my glasses I can do that. I dare so most people couldn't see it at all without a magnifier. That's over a 4x enlargement, and it's FP4+.
Maybe you print very, very large, say bigger than 20x24?
I like Pan F and shoot it in 120. I very much doubt I'd shoot it in 4x5 even if it were available.
The infrared film business always depended on the US Department of Defense keeping huge stocks of the stuff for aerial reconnaissance, with enough inventory to handle three simultaneous wars. They probably replaced the inventory every year. They don't do that anymore, they use digital systems for that now. Without that demand base, there's not enough volume.
Roger, I like slow films for long exposures, I am still working on a batch of 100 rolls of APX 25 in 120, I still use a 10 stop ND filter on that getting into exposures of several minutes in full sunlight, it's part of my style. But with 4x5, the best I can do is Delta 100 pulled a stop which is fine, because I can work at smaller apertures than with my Blad and not suffer from diffraction.
But I am right there with you on Pan-F, I suppose I would use it in 4x5 but I am doing just fine without it in large format for the moment. But IR film is another story, I use Rollei IR 400 a lot, fine grain and a cool, not over the top IR effect. If Ilford were to make an IR film that was more like Efke or HIE, I would use it in 4x5, but not as much as the Rollei stuff since it is my go to IR film. I have one box of IR820 I was going to give a try, I am probably going to get another three boxes as a matter of just in case...
But Ilford, we all need them to pull in nice profits every year, so I don't really push them for days gone by and instead, can not thank them enough for what are truly products I can use for the rest of my life and will...
If you want a low speed, fine grained film in sheet size, the ADOX CMS 20 II is available in 4x5 inch size. I think it is produced in ADOX own plant in Germany but I am not quite sure. I enclose a link to the web-site for ADOX/Fotoimpex .
ND filters. Plus I usually want very shallow depth of field only for portraits, and I don't shoot portraits in bright sun. If I find myself there and wanting to do so, I at least find some open shade. YMMV of course - but still not in 4x5. In 35mm you do have Pan F. It's a nice film, though I shoot it at 64 in Diafine.