Tag Archives: ORWO

Doubts no doubt

9 Feb

Sorry the photography photoroobit blog has migrated to its own domain and is now at www.photoroobit.com

 There is a new post today. Please check it out.


Foundry Avenue

18 Jun

Foundry Avenue

Liteiny Prospekt
St. Petersburg
Horizon panoramic camera

Film test Svema DS – 4 / Свема ДС -4, beautiful pastel colors of the Soviet film

2 Feb

Svema DS 4 – a test

click image for larger view, huge scans are of course available.

Soviet Svema Russian DS-4 pears and red wine
Soviet Svema Russian DS-4 pears and red wine

I am going to copy what I wrote in the flickr post although I will add a few more images of the packaging.

Here is the look of Svema DS 4 scan (as is) – developed in related Orwocolor chemistry.

The experiment began in an improvised manner, I made a Communist salad (meaning I made it without any intent of selling it or leasing it to other human beings who can’t afford it at a usurious rate) which was something of a deficient  salade niçoise to begin with  that suffered a Mongol or a Germanic invasion or, worse,  was liberated and democratized . Messy. The salad  was deficient as I had no capers, no olives, and no anchovies to put into as I was supposed to. Non tuna either. Total flop. But there were enough colors on the pallet to test this ancient film.

Communist salad on Svema DS 4 a Communist crime

Communist salad on Svema DS 4 a Communist crime

This Soviet film (I won’t call it Russian or worse Ukrainian as the only films produced there nowadays are of pornographic variety) was much abused, physically and verbally, in the by gone age when it was made (available to the ungrateful masses which had since then defected to digital en masse).

Svema DS 4, a frontal view

Svema DS 4, a frontal view

A test of Svema DS-4 film, made in the glorious Soviet Union.
A blog post comes soon as a follow up to its relative the Orwocolor.

This was the first occasion I shot old Soviet negative film – not that I remember that I had any before.
I only have seven 120 rolls in my possession, all at different places, but perhaps would buy a few “bricks” as I happen to like the film quite a lot though not as much as Orwocolor NC19 – though Svema DS-4 could be used for different artistic purposes. It is an unusual film.

another view of the Svema DS4 packaging

another view of the Svema DS4 packaging

As I know in Russia before Russia,  Svema color film was considered somewhat inferior (though it was cheapest, not that you get what you pay for, you usually don’t)

DS-4 was made from late 1950s until 1990 without changes.
Mine expired in 1992 / made in 1989/1990 – likely the very last batch ever made
The film cost 95 kopecks per roll  (that is less than a rouble) versus – if you were lucky to get – Orwocolor that cost four or five times as much.

Свема ДС 4 / Svema DS 4

Свема ДС 4 / Svema DS 4

It is essentially the first generation Agfacolor but re-developed in the Soviet Union to work with locally produced dyes.

It has had a 1950s predecessor, a Russian version of the Agfacolor transformed to a negative film use (the original proto Agfacolor was a  transparency film), that species was called DS-2 but I never saw a specimen alive (in fact I never saw an empty box). .

colors are not natural
not saturated
a bit water color-ish or water color-ly look
watery is the word

Experiment conducted  – Kiev 60 camera
Developed in Orwocolor chemistry (described here <a href=”https://photoroobit.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/orwocolor-nc-19-an-historic-test-sacrifice-of-a-historical-film/&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>photoroobit.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/orwocolor-nc-19-an-h…</a>)

Svema DS 4 atop of a camera used in the test

Svema DS 4 and a Kiev 60

Scanned as Agfa Optima – actual scan is 6000 x 6000, and I reduce it for the web but not to 1000, so the actual scan can well be seen.

A good scan
Software – Lasersoft light version that came together with my cheapo Canon scanner.

ORWOCOLOR NC 19 – a historic test of a historical film

26 Jan


Old tangerines, well past their prime

Old tangerines, well past their prime

Orwocolor was made by ORWO at Wolfen in Germany (in the part that was free of American imperialism and Nazism) and is related to Orwochrom and original Agfacolor which was also developed at Wolfen. Wolfen, now a place abandoned and more or less vandalized. I think that destruction of ORWO after Anschlüß was deliberate. Ironically ORWO might have outlived Agfa in film format.

A block of ORWO color film

A block of ORWO color NC19 film

I ran a field “test” on ORWOchrom already and in it I wrote about the origins of this color process.

Below are scans from a roll of Absolutely no post processing was done on the first three. No curves tweaking. No colors added. No burn or dodge. Just actual scan with no processing. This is how it came out. I would assume that’s how it would print in a lab. I have all those images in my flickr stream but I deleted the vegetable supernova (the last photo) because it is so dissonant.

Orwocolor package - the film canister made of metal (!) , instructions insert, the film itself

ORWO color package - the film canister made of metal (!) , instructions insert, the film itself

Scanned as Agfa Optima (Agfa being closest relative and of course the scanner does not have an option for Orwocolor).

German Orwocolor NC19 is a negative film. Although ORWO made   C-41 film in the 135 format before it was destroyed by the enemy the NC19  ctually uses old Agfa and own ORWO technology (I mixed the chemicals and developed the film according to ORWO’s formula). This film was made in 1987 or 1988 and expired in 1991 (that’s the expiration date).

Box from Orwocolor NC 19

Box from Orwocolor NC 19

The film was amazing, it is astounding film – and it is easy and forgiving to use, has enormous latitude and apparently – if this picture can serve as evidence.

Three Apples. I’ll be posting a few more stills – I shot only one roll of this fabulous film.

Three apples, a still life in ORWOCOLOR

Three apples, a still life in ORWOCOLOR

The actual scan is 84 mb, and the detail is just dramatic. These are tiny scans for the web (click on the image to see it larger but they are still very small).

ORWO Orwocolor NC 19
Chinese close-up lens 1 to 2
Rollei SLX
self-made chemical solutions (raw chemicals bought from Calbe Chemie, in its past an ORWO enterprise).

Results above

A little hooliganism with Orwocolor, vegetable are rioting

or Vegetable supernova. I might delete it later.

Vegetable super nova

Vegetable super nova

Kodachrome – in Memoriam – St. Petersburg and Kronstadt, post 2

4 Jan

The story of how and why I started shooting Kodachrome – belatedly, in the last months or rather in the month before its demise is in my previous post.  That post also contains pictures of St. Petersburg taken on Kodachrome while I’ll move on. Below are a few more very last pictures of a locale in Russia taken on Kodachrome, late October 2010.  Needless to say that I also took pictures of my kids and friends on Kodachrome (that was the point) but being a private person i don’t of course post those never mind I can’t see how they can be of anyone’s interest. Click any image for larger view;.


Russia on last Kodachrome, continued:

Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street - the street where I live in St. Petersburg  St Petersburg Saint Petersburg Russia

Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street - the street where I live in St. Petersburg St Petersburg Saint Petersburg Russia

Kirochanya 25

Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street - - building 24, a nice Art Nouveau building constructed for a Jewish rentier Back in 1904, has a few surviving Art Nouveau mosaics, stained glass - rare for the city that saw so much barbarism within a century - and decor elements, St Petersburg Saint Petersburg Russia



(phonetically Americanized mutilation Chernyshevskaya, Чернышевская). entrance too, close to midnight-.


Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street

Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street


Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street , nighttime - fairly long exposure, the Kodachrome recorded all three states of the traffic light - red, yellow and green

Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street , nighttime - fairly long exposure, the Kodachrome recorded all three states of the traffic light - red, yellow and green


Domes of the Smolny Cathedral from afar, Kodachrome

Domes of the Smolny Cathedral from afar, Kodachrome, officially the Cathedral of Our Savior, a baroque beauty of rare quality by any standard, is popularly called Smolny or Tar Cathedral though there is not tar-like about it, the origin of the name is toponymical, it was built next to the works that produced pitch pine tar for shipbuilding purpose in the age when ship used to have sails and were made of wood.



Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street -

Кирочная - Kiročnaä Ulica - Kirochnaya or Kirche Street -night


St. Vladmir Church St Petersburg

The church dates from 1746 but its current late neoclassical appearance with numerous baroque elements is from the late 18 century (foundation laid in 1761, completed 1768) . The Cathedral and the separate Belfry is a collective work of several architects - Giacomo Quarenghi (the belfry) and the Bartholomeo Rastrelli (the main building) shared with later additions by Abraam Melnikov, Alexander Holm and Luigi Rusca. Behind the Cathedral is an ambulance station - my grandmother was born in Petrograd in 1918 and worked first as a nurse during the Leningrad Siege and after getting her doctor's diploma in 1945 as an ambulance doctor well past her retirement until 1990.



Somewhere in Kronstadt

Somewhere in Kronstadt (evil Americans and their helpful Russian idiots spell it phonetically as KronsHdadt), anyway these are ruins of apparently 19th century buildings that probably belonged to the navy.


Kronstadt fountain autumn scene

Kronstadt fountain autumn (fall scene) - a compact camera loaded with Kodachrome 200 that i took up to Umbria. Kodachrome 200 is a different film that acts differently and has ir rather had as Kodachrome is dead atrocious grain unlike smooth and silky Kodachrome 25 and 64


Kronstadt / Kronshtadt - a Soviet monument of some kind

Kronstadt / Kronshtadt - a Soviet monument of some kind


Kronstadt Kronshtadt

Kronstadt Kronshtadt on Kodachrome - 18th century warehouses or packhouses and old navy canals where tall ships were repaired equipped or rigged (not like American elections though) and there are ammunition, rope, ship pine tar and other stores. In state of beautiful decay.

Kronstadt / Kronshtadt

Kronstadt / Kronshtadt - Гостинный двор - Gostinny dvor - Merchant yard


lada 2105

lada 2105 on Kodachrome, Kronstadt

Film test: Orwochrom UT – 18 – at the ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein)

30 Nov

Color or Colour Reversal or Reversible Film

DIN 18 / ISO 50

Made in Germany (German Democratic Republic)

Estimated year of manufacture 1981

Expired 1985

Used in 2011

Camera used – Rollei SLX


Orwochrome UT 18

I shot (in cold blood) a trial roll of Orwochrom UT-18. UT doesn’t stand for Unfinished Thought, of which I have  many, but for Umkehrtageslicht or Reversible, Daylight. The roll out of this batch expired in 1985 and was better preserved that the totally antique stuff from the 1970s which is however still useable for the purpose of faking art.
Film was developed strictly per instructions from the Orwo’s Holy Book (Psalm C 9165) though one heresy slipped through though – the first developer was intended for Fomachrom (a competing Agfacolor-derived film stock that was made at the time in the Czech and Slovak Socialist Republic),  and not the Orwo’s original.  The difference between the two is subtle – whilst Orwo uses phenidone and hydroquinone its Slavic sibling employs a mentol-hydroquinone combination.  I had to use the latter because I did not have phenidone for the former.  I developed the film together with (well, pretty much dead) Soviet Co-32D  (Tso-32D) – that entry describes the process perhaps in a greater detail.

Orwochrom UT 18

Orwochrom UT 18 120 format

I like the results. I wouldn’t have guessed off hand that those photographs were taken in the year 2011. The look is aged and reminds me of  delectable, original Agfacolor.
The setting.
The setting is Falkenstein in Lower Austria’s Weinviertel. A smallish though magic town of some 470 odd inhabitants that has one of Lower Austria’s most beautiful wine cellar streets.  In the Middle Ages Falkenstein was the site of a commercial court that dealt with disputes of all sorts with a geographically impressive extent of jurisdiction stretching from Vienna to Brünn (Czech name Brno).

Falkenstein has its own castle or rather ruins of one (Burgruine Falkenstein).  Fortified castle Falkenstein dates from the 11th century or from the time of original settlement of this part of Lower Austria – by primarily settlers from Bavaria – who also became the ancestors of the main group in the neighboring Southern Moravia until “democratic” Czech State under Benesch (Beneš), with American blessing, ethnically cleansed so-called German population of Czechoslovakia (mainly of Bohemia, Sudetenland and Southern Moravia) in a genocidal campaign of terror, murder and expulsion that was something even by the somewhat low humanitarian standards of the 1940s.  The Southern Moravia dialect was similar to that spoken in Lower Austria’s Weinviertel and was rooted in the Bavarian (Bayerisch), which is though nominally called German is all but.

Ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein) at Dusk, Orwochrom UT-18

Ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein) at Dusk, Orwochrom UT-18

The Lords of Falkenstein were vassals of the Babenbergs, the Ducal dynasty that founded Austria (as the term Ostaricchi became later transformed into Österreich) and predecessors of the House of Habsburg.  In the late Middle Ages the Burg Falkenstein was a site of knightly tournaments, pageants,  and feasts and it was probably very picturesque.  During the time of Reformation the Burg was used a prison for heretics,  mainly for Anabaptists.  I took a course in the history of Reformation at the University of Rhode Island under late professor Daniel and I still remember the Anabaptism  part of the course.  Only after I moved to Nikolsburg (now Czech Mikulov) I realized that I landed in what once was the hotbed of Anabaptist heresy and to an extent the place where North American evangelical sects (indirectly of Baptists, directly Mennonites)  spiritually originate. This is roughly the area from Lundenburg (Břeclav) to Nicolsburg (then Nikolsburg was spelled as Nicolsburg) and further deeper into Moravia and border lands of the Lower Austria. Nikolsburg was not a center of Anabaptism per se, but a refuge of sort – Adam von Dietrichstein, the owner of Nicolsburg (Mikulov) and then his son Franz allowed Anabaptists to settle in town because of their economic activities.  When the time was up, the trap closed.  Leaders of Anabaptists were  brought to Falkenstein castle, and this story deserves an entry on its own as well.  Anabaptists were chained in the dungeon of the castle – and there are still marks of iron in the cave that served as dungeon underneath the castle ruins where Anabaptists were imprisoned and were they sang their hymns before being dragged out and then marched on foot to Trieste, 600 km away. In Trieste, now Italy, Anabaptists were used as galley slaves, then a death sentence.  Austrian Emperors were waging wars – wars of defense really – against Turkey and Habsburg fleet under Admiral Andrea Doria was based at Trieste.  The galley based fleet was essential for the war effort. Two things that came to my mind there. Anabaptists were pacifists and did not fight even in self-defense, the sentence of forced labor in the navy must have been worse than death for them. The second thought was that although few people realize Peter I transplanted Italian and Greek warfare techniques, from the Adriatic to the Baltic,  andthose were based upoon a strategy of fighting galley fleets operating in fog covered bays and lagoons in Eastern Baltic . There is Galernaja or Galley Streets in St. Petersburg where Mediterranean and Adriatic style galleys were built during Great Northern War.

Path to the entrance to the Ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein) at Dusk, Orwochrom UT-18

Path to the entrance to the Ruins of Falkenstein Castle (Burgruine Falkenstein) at Dusk, Orwochrom UT-18

In the Northern War this Mediterranean technology and strategy ultimately defeated Swedish navy in the eastern parts of the gulf of Finland and then allowed Russian operations almost without opposition even along coast of Sweden itself.  It was about asymmetrical warfare at its best (or worst if you were at the receiving end) and its essence was that of breaking all rules,  something that kids get punished form but an art form in itself that Peter I, also known as the Great, became  great master of.   This somehow linked Falkenstein in Lower Austria to St. Petersburg on the Baltic.  As did the next stage in its history.  In the Thirty Years War civilized part of Europe became the target or rather the victim of what amounted to Swedish invasion which probably was worse than anything this part of the Continent had seen from the times of the Huns. The geographic scale of Swedish aggression was vast – from Novgorod in Russia to Vienna in the midst of Lower Austria and almost up to Swiss border; it was barbarous and savage, it was multinational as Sweden conscripted people from its old and newly acquired colonies like Finland, and it was semi-religious. Like the 2oth century was marked by the wars of ideology this was the era of the wars of religion – the idea of crusading Protestant power (in that respect both Nazi Germany and today’s United States meet the model of largely Protestant and ideological murderous empire bound on overseas contest, though of course Sweden in the 1600s was neither as bad nor as savage nor as mindessly murderous nor ideologically-motivated as the 20th century United States while the Nazi Germany, though evil enough, was not explicitly Protestant though it was in many respects,   at least in what was Austria before the Anschlüß,  distinctly anti-Catholic).  The Swedes (or rather a multinational Protestant horde under  Swedish guidance) destroyed almost all  castles and burgs in Southern Moravia and Lower Austria. In the immediate vicinity I can think of and drive daily around are  Nicolsburg itself (looted, rebuilt, though the Kozí hrádek / Ziegenburg was not restored in any way), the castle at Staatz (which I suspect was at one point owned by the Mozart’s employer or a member of that family),  Dívčí hrád  (Maidenburg – look here, the Lower Austrian or Bavarian word  for  Maiden is exactly the same as in English  and not at all like Hochdeutsch words  Jungfrau or perhaps Mädchen though there are of course Maid and Magd and even Mädel like in the Bund Deutscher Mädel , then  the smaller fortified castle Rassenstein, also known  Waisenstein (rather cheerily named Orphan’s Stone) in Klentnitz (Sirotčí hrádek in Klentice).   Falkenstein was also besieged and ransacked but it was apparently not destroyed.   When I first saw the ruins from afar a few years back I dated the destruction of the fortified Burg at the Thirty Years War , early 1600s that is, but I was wrong.  Swedes just looted it and proceeded onward with their pillaging business.  The castle was destroyed in peace time.  It was literally demolished. Its owners used it as a commercial stone quarry in the 18th century.   Living in fortified castle was no longer considered fashionable.

Bergfried / tower of the Falkenstein castle, Orwochrom UT18

Bergfried / tower of the Falkenstein castle, Orwochrom UT18

Austrians (or rather Europe’s Catholics) defeated the bad guys at Lutzen in Saxony, though it took Peter I and Sweden’s reckless war with Russia to put the end to that menace (from the Central European perspective and that’s the one I am writing from).  For over a century   Falkenstein  castle stood damaged by war but still pretty much intact though empty.  Bats, ghosts of Anabaptists and other heretics, this sort of thing. By then living in fortified castles was considered archaic. You were perceived as a dinosaur if you lived in one.   The burg’s owners – and the castle was and still is in private possession – decided to use the complex of structures as a source of income by converting it to a man-made repository of building stone.  So they broke the castle for construction materials but the structure was big and well-built like early medieval castles tended to be and so probably over a half of it survived to this day.  Some 200 years later, in  the 1990s the owners – helped by a local initiative – began cleaning the place up and then opened it museum-like to the public.  It is a beautiful and considering its history both an inspiring and a haunting place, which   certainly is  worth a visit.

When you enter the ruins you’ll see  is a real Mediterranean galley in the the court yard.   It was put there to commemorate the Anabaptists (Mennonites) who against their will were shipped off as galley slaves to the Adriatic to fight the Turks .

Because I shot more than one roll of Orwochrom at the Falkenstein ruins, I am going to post more images of the castle remnants at some point later and will make a separate entry  about the fortified castle and the town below.  One entry might not be enough, so perhaps I’ll split it into two illustrated chapters.

Burgruine Falkenstein - ORWOchrom UT 18

Burgruine Falkenstein - ORWOchrom UT 18

A final Orwochrom note – I am about to buy 200 rolls of supposedly properly stored Orwochrom (exactly like this one but in 135 format) from a dealer in Moscow. If stuff is still workable, then I’ll be prepared to share this historic film, exchange and sell to those who can afford to buy it and are willing to experiment.

Links: Burgruine Falkenstein, Falkenstein Commune, Lower Austria , Niederösterreich, Austria

Orwochrome, Orwochrom

slide film

Film test: Свема ЦО-32д – Svema CO-32D from the year 1986

20 Nov

Color or Colour Reversal or Reversible Film

Svema CO-32D color reversible film from the old Soviet Union

Svema CO-32D color reversible film from the old Soviet Union

DIN 16 / ISO 32

Made in Russia (Soviet Union) by Svema

Estimated year of manufacture 1986

Expired 1990

Used in 2011

Camera used – Rollei SLX

Old Russian Svema CO-32D color reversible film that was manufactured per old prewar Agfacolor process

Old Russian Svema CO-32D color reversible film that was manufactured per old prewar Agfacolor process

ЦО-32Д or CO-32D
Nowadays would probably be transliterated into English by most people semi-phonetically in the as TsO-32D though it stands CO-32D right there on the box.

CO is an abbreviation that means (in Russian) Color Reversible (Film), 32 is the film’s speed according to GOST (which is same ASA or ISO) and the letter D at the end denotes in Russian (abbreviation) as it would in English D means here means  ” daylight”.

Old Russian Svema CO-32D color reversible film that was manufactured per old prewar Agfacolor process

Old Russian Svema CO-32D color reversible film that was manufactured per old prewar Agfacolor process

So basically it is color reversible daylight film, 32 ISO film. If the name were to be translated as opposed to being transliterated into English, then it would be CR-32D or CRF-32D.   Creativity in approach to naming products was not the Soviet’s strongest point.

The film was made in 1986. Because it expired in 1990 and the ЦО-32Д (TsO-32D) film was discontinued in  early 1987, I assume it could only be made in 1985.

Svema CO 32 d also known as TsO-32d / ЦО 32д

Svema CO 32 d also known as TsO-32d / ЦО 32д

The film was baked in some window because the colors faded quite a bit and was tossed around because the state of the packaging is far from pristine.  Also the film was not packed in an individual canister – either made plastic like in cheapo countries or in beautiful aluminum canisters that ORWO / Orwochrom films used to come in.  The roll of film was just wrapped in a piece of waxed foil-like paper, 1930s style.

sacrificial lambs - old Svema CO-32d /TsO-32d, Orwochrom UT-18 in two flavors and an Orwochrom UK-17

sacrificial lambs - old Svema CO-32d /TsO-32d, Orwochrom UT-18 in two flavors and an Orwochrom UK-17

I bought the film on Ebay though I don’t remember how much did I pay for.

The film is dead for the purposes of practical photography though was quite usable when it was new. That alone is amazing because if you were to read through numerous Russian photography forums the impression you would get is that Soviet color film was useless.

There are quite a few though not many examples of old photos from the Soviet Union taken on the Svema CO-32d film stock.  http://images.yandex.ru/yandsearch?text=%D0%A6%D0%9E-32%D0%B4

What is this film? It is original Agfacolor slide film from the year 1936 with improved dyes. Soviet CO-1 (ЦО-1) film was the real Agfacolor and I would like to get my hands on one of those, better on a batch.

I bought my CO-32d – six rolls I think – through Ebay from a place like Bulgaria.

The test

Svema CO-32d / Свема ЦО-32д - my fiats in Nikolsburg - Panda, Croma and Punto

Svema CO-32d / Свема ЦО-32д - my fiats in Nikolsburg - Panda, Croma and Punto

I used two rolls for test though sadly I killed one during development – I promise it won’t happen again. Instead of second developer I put the film into the bleach. Amazingly the image did not disappear in an instant but during fixing stage the pictures were gone. There is perhaps a way to restore them, pull them out of there, chemically and that will be another, a different project altogether.

Exposure – I exposed originally ISO 32 film as ISO 12 which was apparently not enough. Now I think that ISO 6 would have been more appropriate.

Loading the developing tank. When I was loading the film into the tank I discovered that the backing paper grew into the film. It merged with it. The place where the film was stored all those years (shop window?) must have been pretty hot for the film and the backing paper to bake together. I had to wash the backing paper off the film.  Not everything came out.

Svema CO-32d / Свема ЦО-32д - a Panda in yellow
Svema CO-32d / Свема ЦО-32д – a Panda in yellow

Developing. I mixed all chemicals myself according to the ORWO 9165C procedure which is used for Orwochrom (Orwochrome) processing except three major or minor elements.

The first or the so-called black and white developer.  Soviet GOST (Svema and Tasma color reversible films) prescribes first developer with Amidol. This was probably the original Agfacolor developer. Because I haven’t found Amidol so far I had to skip that and replace the chemical with something else. Now the  ORWO 9165C process asks for a combination of phenidone and hydroquinone – I did not find phenidone either. Instead I used a developer from Bohemian Foma cookbook, originally Agfacolor 67 prescribed for Fomachrom film stock.

Here is the “recipe”

Metol     3,0 g

Sodium sulfate, dehydrated   50.0 g

Hydroquinone    6,0 g

Sodium carbonate (CAS 497-19-8)   40,0 g (I used baking soda)

Potassium thiocyanate (CAS No: 333-20-0)    2 g

Potassium bromide (CAS 7758-02-3).     2    g

Potassium Iodide (CAS No.7681-11-0(  0.1% solution   6    ml

I skipped the potassium iodide part for the reason that I don’t have it either.

At the edge of a forest between Stützenhofen and Poysbrunn, Weinviertel, Lower Austria

At the edge of a forest between Stützenhofen and Poysbrunn, Weinviertel, Lower Austria

That means that developed the Russian Svema CO-32d according to German ORWO reversible film process but for the first developer used one from Czech Foma (stolen Agfacolor) without one ingredient.  Potassium iodide is a fogging reducing agent and could be replaced with a pinch of benzotriazole but I did not bother.

The second short cut the was stop bath which I made from regular vinegar and tap water as opposed to a mixure of 99%  ethanoic acid, sodium acetate and water.  Vinegar and water dressing works as well.

Besides these two the entire process was more or less according to the sacred book of Orwo.

I developed five rolls of film altogether (two Svema CO-32d and three test rolls of ORWO reversible films – an ancient Orwochrom UT-18, an even more ancient ORWO UT-18 and an Orwochrom UK-17  (test reports are coming later).

A hint on developing Orwochrom, Fomachrom,  Soviet / Russian Tasma and Svema CO films as well as similar oddities that I never encountered but would love to get my hands on like Sakurachrome, Ferraniachrome, Revuechrome, Anscochrome, which all use Hitlerite Agfacolor technology.  I will develop those films in batches of 10 because 1 liter is the minimum quantity of ready chemical solutions I would make or I can weigh and pre-mix chemicals at the price or rather cost of about 15 euros plus shipping for 1 liter solution mix that would include everything except stop bath (get your vinegar at a local grocery store).  I would develop 1  roll of such film free of charge but you’d have to wait until there is a batch ready – I’d reckon the next Orwochrom-Agfacolor cookout will take place in about three months time.

“Raw” chemicals. I bought mine from the good people at the Calbe Chemie (http://www.calbe-chemie.de) in Germany which also used to make ORWO processing kits. Their minimum quantity is normally 1 kilo of stuff which is obviously a lot unless you plan on testing and developing Agfacolor-like films like I do.

A panda at the end of a long road

A panda at the end of a long road

The summary here though not quite yet the verdict.  When it was fresh the Svema CO-32d like the ORWO UT and UK products was a forgiving, usable film that had soft watercolor sort of quality. If one is fortunate enough to get hold of a refrigerated or at least unbaked batch today then he or she will come into a possession of a veritable treasure – Svema CO films produce is capable of producing unusual painterly effects and is easy to handle and process.

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 (www.adox.de) – 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?

Film test: ORWO NP 20 from the year 1970 or 1971

1 Oct

Film Test – ORWO NP 20

Orthochromatic Black and White Film

DIN 20 / ISO 80

Made in Germany by  ORWO

(German Democratic Republic)

Estimated year of manufacture 1970 or 1971

Expired 1974

Used in 2011 (at the time of improvised test the film was 41 to 42 years old).

Test camera – Zenit E

Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

This test – if one can dignify the wanton and indiscriminate wastage of film with the almost scientific sounding appelation “test”. This destruction of a roll of Orwo NP 20  occured  concurrently with the mindless sactifce of a NP 27, which 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 thoughts I jumbled together in the Orwo NP 27 entry, I’ll just stick with the images ORWO NP 20.

Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

The film comes from the same batch of the late 1960s, early 1970s stock I got from a German old junk dealer. This film is by one year newer or younger than the NP27 and was probably made in the year 1970. It is also a slower film, rated by its manufacturer as DIN 20 or ISO 80.

Sad Monster - Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

Lower sensitivity, slower films are supposed to last longer than older high speed emulsions which, as the common wisdom goes, should become pretty much unusable by the throw-away date that is stamped or printed on their retail packaging. In this case, though the film was procured from the same source and dates from the same era (and it is beautiful, the packages are gorgeous, shiny, with a few exceptions the whole batch looksand smells like new though even by standards of human life never mind the expected longevity of photographic emulsions this stuff is firmly in its middle age zone and approaching just aged. Ancient in fact.

Nikolai is painting - Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

Nikolai is painting (1) Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

Anyway, the NP 20 film did not keep as well as NP 27 from the same source (which was older and faster at its inception), which is surprising. The film was shot at ISO 25, is usable but barely – in a sense that the images it produces have the look of  old worn out  newspaper illustrationsrather than of real black and white photographs.

Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011

Orwo NP 20 black and white film test year 1970, expired 1974 and used in 2011