Auferstanden aus Ruinen

20 Nov

Auferstanden aus Ruinen

It Is Risen

I got a comment which I would have normally classified as spam, but which in this specific case wasn’t because my previous post was about ORWO films – the message came  from someone apparently in the USA who did not introduce himself but might be the distributor of what calls itself resurrected … ORWO.

Here is their website

Apparently though the old ORWO is dead and its equipment was destroyed in the wake of annexation of the German Democratic Republic , a new company was formed that continues producing batches of photosensitive film in Wolfen.

and that’s theirs, ORWO’s, website

I will drop them an email (as an ORWO’s long-time fan and devotee) asking what is going on and perhaps ordering a canister of bulk film.

Judging by the  “new” ORWO’s  current repertoire, they do not make any films in the 120 format, this places  ORWO in the same category as more or less defunct Tasma, that now only makes specialty photosensitive products and black and white industrial films.

Most manufacturers of photographic film went bankrupt in the last decade (though the old ORWO perished even earlier, right after the Anschluß) and established brand names disappeared .  I do hope new ORWO stays around for a while.

So who is left:

Rollei / Maco – Germany, located in what was/is US/NATO protectorate called Federal Republic

Orwo (?) – Germany, located in what was the German Democratic Republic

Adox ( – boutique film manufacturer from the  Federal Republic

Foma Bohemia – Bohemia, Czech Republic, located in what was Holy Roman Empire, read Germany and then in Austria, in the city of Königgrätz, where the catastrophe of Austrian defeat by the bad guys probably led to what happened in Europe in the 20th century.

Efke – located in Croatia, an ethnic statelet with memories and roots in a Nazi protectorate, the company is run by Maco, Germany

Tasma, Russia – located in the city of Kazan,  Tatarstan, once Tataria,  on the Volga, besieged and taken by the Czar Ioann IV (better known as Ivan IV or John IV perhaps more appropriately known as Ivan the Terrible in English though not in Russian) in the year 1552 and Russian ever since.

Bergger, France – a boutique producer of sheet film only. I haven’t yet used large format camera but when I venture into this sort of admittedly scary endeavor, I will for sure buy Bergger film and I do hope the company stays around longer than its other compatriots that made traditional film.

and finally, and amazingly,  bucking the thread shines the bright star of (British)Ilford which survival is a mystery though I wish it well  as well and buy Ilford film just to support that company though am unsure if my contribution would be sufficient for to keeping afloat.

The picture we get resembles entire EU or rather Europe’s economy,  wounded by changes in technology, handicapped by fascistoid  ideology, wounded by so-called free trade (with Red China primarily, a very bad thing indeed, an economic and societal equivalent of suicide though self-infection with black plague),  something that is neither free nor is trade but an addiction to Far Eastern imports in exchange for paper money or a swap of cheap or almost free junk for consumption in return for progressing unemployment and rapid deindustrialization . Fine, I got carried away again.

Although the CIA-run Wikipedia has a grotesquely incomplete  list of film manufacturers  which is skewed toward America’s vassals, the more though not by any means complete list of film manufacturers in Europe would read like this (those are the few that come to mind)-

Svema –  Russia,  but separated from the main country ended up in an entity of so-called Ukraine  – bankrupt

Gevaert, Belgium,- part of Agfa, bankrupt, Agfa, Germany, is out of photography business, extinct

Lumiere – France, the photography pioneer, the company behind first commercial color process,  gone

Guilleminot – France, disappeared

Forte – Hungary, bankrupt

Revue Foto – Germany,  gone

Foton –  a manufacturer of photographic film in socialist Poland, new Polish Foton was supposedly using technology and equipment bought from Ilford. The company was bankrupted during 1990s forced deindustrialization but produced film at Bromberg or Bydgoszcz  (Bydgoskie Zaklady Fotochemiczne) probably from the 1920s onward. It is dead now.

Voigtländer film, Germany / Austria – whereabouts unknown

Tura film, Germany

Perutz, Germany, long bankrupt taken over by Agfa, also bankrupt.

Ferrania, Italy, bankrupt, film production stopped.

Out of 20 European manufacturers of film I counted off hand, which represent entire continent, including Southern Europe,  amazingly enough 8 are extant. Out of those 7,  three are in Germany and counting  historic Germany in the cultural sense, four are in Germany, and counting those controlled by Germans, then five are in Germany – of them

3 in Germany proper – Adox, Rollei/Maco, Orwo

2 in the German periphery – Foma Bohemia, Efke

1 in Russia – Tasma

1 in Britain – Ilford

1 in France – Bergger

the rest are gone

And here is another encouraging hint about future of Franco-Russo-German Europe so to say if geographical location of surviving film manufacturers could be used as a metaphor for anything.

Out of  dozens of world’s manufacturers – only 3 are outside of Europe – Lucky / Shanghai film in the People’s Republic of China, Fujifilm in Japan and Kodak in the EE although I am unsure either about Shanghai or Kodak while Fuji might still be making film for prestige reasons.  Even huge Hindustan film went extinct.

So the score for surviving film manufacturers as of the end 2011 is as follows:

3 in Germany proper – Adox, Rollei/Maco, Orwo

2 in the German periphery – Foma Bohemia, Efke

1 in Russia – Tasma

1 in Britain – Ilford

1 in France – Bergger

1 in Japan – Fujifilm

1 in China – Lucky Film

1 in the USA – Kodak

that’s the score for entire world, does it remind anything?

and the final, final note on the great Orwo news which wasn’t really the news, the so-called Cold War or the struggle between the Good and the Evil is not yet over if photographic film manufacturers longevity is of any use – who in the 1990s, the years of the evil triumphant all over the place, could have possibly foretold that ORWO would outlive then omnipotent Agfa?


5 Responses to “Auferstanden aus Ruinen”

  1. Paul Eustace December 5, 2011 at 21:58 #

    Excellent article and resume of the state of the current film industry……….Thanks! I’m a fellow ORWO devotee………thankfully, some of the late-80s produced ideologically-sound production is still very usable. Keep thinking about trying some modern stuff, but have resisted the temptation so far………..

    Thanks again,

    Paul, UK

  2. Peter January 11, 2012 at 23:43 #

    First, thank you for your article about film manufacturers. I have got some questions:

    1. Who said that Agfa-Belgium (Gevaert) is dead? As far as I know, they do make aerial films in Belgium even by now, see

    2. in Germany, there are two firms apparently making film material – Filmotec (although, I suppose but I am not sure if they really make film by their own) and Inoviscoat (a new firm founded by people from Agfa) – and . Adox is trying to start their own production in Bad Saarow (which is in Ex-GDR, actually), but it seems is too expensive for them, so they don’t do the film coating in Saarow, as far as I know. They are cutting film from efke (Zagreb, Croatia) and making small amounts of photographic paper.
    Maco/Rollei doesn’t make own film, they are just relabeling and reselling other materials (Agfa-Belgium, Inoviscoat, Foma,…)

    3. Why is Foma and efke within the German periphery? It’s quite far to Zagreb. It’s Austrian periphery 🙂

    Best regards,

    • photoroobit January 12, 2012 at 02:57 #

      Lieber Petka! Jawohl,

      1) Gevaert – Gevaert facility in Belgium makes film – allegedly RPX 100 and RPX 400 marketed by Rollei are in reality Agfa APX 100 and APX 400 made by Gevaert. However I hadn’t seen any film marked as Gevaert – as far as I know the Gevaert brand went extinct in the early 70s. I would like to see both Gevaert resurrected and I want to try Agfa Aviphot, which must be a spectacular film.

      2) Filmotec sells film under ORWO brand and I would love to bring that film in “cut for retail” format for the amateur market – I want to go into film and chemicals distribution as a hobby project. I haven’t heard anything about Inoviscoat films but it is great that someone is doing something if anything.

      3). I guess even today’s Austria is in German periphery.

      Foma is in Bohemia, which has been a part of the Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation – unlike say most of France or Denmark or England and to astonishment of today’s Czechs was always a part of Germany, Czechs are peasants for whom a tribal state was created in the aftermath of WWI but I was reading Hans Christian Andresen, of fairy tale fame, and he calls Prague the liveliest German city after Frankfurt. Hitler created protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia which was supposed to be merged within Reich. Bohemian Czechs, although are guilty of most terrific ethnic cleansing of their fellow German speaking citizens, claim they are Slavic “Germans” – well I’ve heard that. So I would call them historically to be in the landscape of greater Germany even before Germany appeared.

      Efke is an all union Yugoslav company that happened to end up in Croatia. I think Croatia is very much in the German “sphere” historically – it was the most loyal and brutal most Nazi vassal, far outdoing its German masters in the art of barbarity,.and from what I know like ethnic Esths in the ethnofascist statelet of Estonia most of its inhabitants are proud of their Nazi heritage. During the happy years of Yugoslavia Croatia was very much German-oriented, that’s where Yugoslav Gastarbeiter went to work. When Poles saved US dollars, Croatians squirreled away the DM. Federal Republic did not forget its glorious Nazi past while it bore grudge against Yugoslavia as the FRG was the first – to the astonishment of the good French and even of moderately evil George Bush Sr. – to recognize “independent” Croatia, a destructive act that guaranteed bloodshed and civil war in Yugoslavia. So I’d say that German influence exists and both Bohemia and Croatia are within it even though most Croatians would be complimented to hear that and would blush all over from this form of flattery and most modern Czechs would deny it vehemently. On the other hand, having said that Austria is within German sphere, I’d add that a parallel Austrian “zone” exists as well – Slovenia is in the Austrian zone and so is most of Moravia including Brünn, and possibly Southern Bohemia (Südböhmen) but in greater terms I think entire post-expansion former socialist part of Central and Eastern Europe – or let’s call them phony tribal states that appeared in 1918 and in 1991 – are in the Greater Germany’s, in the Reich’s sphere of influence – countries like France or Italy benefited very little from EU expansion.

    • photoroobit January 12, 2012 at 03:45 #

      Lieber Peter,

      A fellow Flickronite Daniil Monakhov told me that there were at least two more film manufacturing companies
      Azo – from Romania, they made Azopan –
      and one company in Russia that made film until late 1960s but can still make film because they’ve got the equipment
      There were other manufacturers like Grafton in the UK, Anglo-French Dufay and a few manufacturers in the states, like Kryptair, all of them short lived however.

      One curious thing that although we have enough manufacturers of 120 and sheet BW film, there is a problem with color film. If Kodak does not survive the bankruptcy, then Fuji will remain the only (!) manufacturer of color 120 film .


  1. Film test: ORWO NP 20 from the year 1970 or 1971 « photoroobit - November 26, 2011

    […] I’ve depicted and described here along with a longish story about ORWO , its now (not yet) extinct manufacturer. Oh I worship ORWO.   Everyone should.  Because I am not going to repeat all the incoherent […]

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