Tag Archives: Svema

Don’t develop ORWOcolor (ORWO color) in C-41

3 Feb

ORWOcolor in C-41 is murder.

ORWO color destroyed

ORWO color destroyed in C-41

It is confirmed now.
Do not develop  ORWO or Svema films in C-41 chemistry.
It worse than a crime again humanity. I did it and feel sorry about destroying a film – but I did because I was deceived.

Orwo color developed in native chemistry

Orwo color developed in native chemistry

Orwocolor film test – the catastrophe and an official confirmation of long standing suspicions disproved or rather proved.

Four experiments were running concurrently
I sacrificed an ORWO Orwoclor NC 19 film for C-41 process.
I ran a test drive of Ihagee Exa (success, the Saxon photographic machine…. works, sounds like the name for a company Saxon Photographic Machine Works – )   Die Sächsische Fotografische Maschinenwerke , no does not sound good).
I test a Ferrania film (Solaris, 12 exposure roll)
and I put a strip of Tasma film to see how it behaves in Caffenol. Not bad.

I’ve been hearing fairy tales and stories of people developing ORWOcolor and Russian Svema film stock in C-41 chemistry.  What I saw were the scans of images that were grey, brownish and had almost no color in them, these were all ugly   monochromes or at best bichromes.  Colors looked weird but perhaps the film just went back, I thought, or who knows what happened to it. On the other hand intelligent people said in forums that the developer (CD1, CD2 and CD3 – CD is color developer, and the ORWO and Soviet Svema used the oldest one CD1 which is N,N-Diethy1-1,4-Phenylene Diamine Sulfate while C-41 has CD4 which is (3-Methy1-4-Amino-N-Ethyl-N-(2-Hydroxyethyl) Aniline Sulfate(Monohydrate) and should work similarly – or so I read.  They don’t. ORWOcolor and Svema films should be developed in their own chemistry and not in the C-41 soup.

DO NOT develop ORWOcolor or any pre CNS Agfacolor or Russian Svema color films or anything else that traces its origin from the old Agfa negative color films in C-41 chemistry.
Not just the emulsion might melt – it might – you will destroy the film.  You will get no colors but garbage. The film that those people develop in C-41 is just butchered, senselessly, the  deceived lomography herd is of course the most vicious sect committed to destroying good stuff with their guiding principle of the worse but really, really save the film either as a memento – keep it in refrigerator for future use – or process it in the “native chemistry”.

ORWOcolor (non C-41) would be compatible with a range of other films like all Soviet color Svema, British Ilfocolor, Japanese Sakulor (pre 1980s) and all Agfacolor films up to CNS.

Contact me if you want to process old film or want to do it on your own and need chemicals.  But please don’t butcher it in the C-41.


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.

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.

Film Test: Svema Foto 32

19 Aug

Film Test

Today is the Anniversary of the so-called anti-Gorbachev putsch or coup which failed because organizers of the coup were yokels or possibly did not want to win.  The coup to preserve the Soviet Union was followed by another constitutional coup of Elcin (Yeltsin as his name is spelled phonetically) and two other accomplices, that led to the dissolution of the USSR and in the words of Vladimir Putin to the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century.  I was even more catastrophic that conventionally assumed because the causes of the disaster were so foolish.

Svema Foto 32

Svema Foto 32 (Russian Soviet film, made in 1989 or 1990, expired in 1993

A few weeks ago I was lucky to buy not 30 rolls of Lucky but  of Svema Foto 32, Russian black and white film made in the old Soviet days. My batch was made probably sometime between 1989 or 1990 and expired in 1993 (after Soviet Union’s self-caused dissolution).

There is a strong sentiment in Russia, especially in two of its consumerist centers, Moscow and St. Petersburg (Leningrad in Soviet days though that  toponymic appears and sounds so awkward   to my eye and ear ) that can be expressed as “we cannot make anything”, what they mean that Russians cannot manufacture anything and whatever they make is vastly inferior to comparable foreign stuff.  And there is truth to that, as inhabitants of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Soviet Nomentlatura and the Thieving Classes indeed cannot produce anything of any value. So when they say “we cannot make anything”,  it’s true as they cannot make anything while other people can.

Svema Foto 32 (Russian Soviet film, made in 1989 or 1990, expired in 1993)

Svema Foto 32 (Russian Soviet film, made in 1989 or 1990, expired in 1993)

One discovery for me was the Kiev 60 camera which is an exquisite piece of photographic equipment but even now you hear from predominantly Muscovite human  garbage that the camera is not worth its weight in pig iron.  That it is totally worthless, unreliable,  incapable of producing any sorts of photos except for childish snapshots and even Pentacon Six is a better piece of equipment. As I discovered it is not. Pentacon Six is less reliable but the finish is a bit better while design is… I would rather stick with square-ish looks of a Kiev.

As of Soviet photographic film, the stories I hear was that the film was just awful. Horrible grain.  Cracks. Human hair sticking out of emulsion.

Enough of folklore.

Svema Foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

Svema Foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

Oh though wait a minute. The film is ASA/ISO 32 (odd Russian rating but it corresponds to the GOST value, so the film speed was supposedly ASA 32, not more conventional 25 or 50). It was made by two factories.  Svema and Tasma. One group of old timers say Tasma made somewhat better emulsion while others say that Svema produced film was superior though quite possibly the film was identical. While researching the history of black and white film production at Svema and Tasma, I discovered that they shared technical staff.  So engineers and chemists from Tasma would travel to Svema facility for production runs and emulsion cooking and vice-versa which tells me that the film they produced was more or less similar.

Svema Foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

A motorcycle rider, Svema Foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in tSvema Fotohe summer 2011

While Tasma survives in a zombie-like state by making chemicals and special application industrial films, the Svema factory is long dead as it went extinct together with the Soviet Union.  I found a small series of photos taken in the ruins of the Svema plant last year, though text is in Russian and is perhaps not accessible to those who neither read the language nor are capable of using translate.google.com, black and white images serve as a visual witness of what has become of this film manufacturer.

I shot two rolls of Foto 32.  This was not a scientific test. Far from it. I ran two rolls through a Kiev 60. There are no artistic merits to  those photos,  I just walked around and shot the Svema Foto 32 film to see what if anything comes out of it.

a sailboat -  Foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

a sailboat - Foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

Although 20 or 21 years passed since the film was manufactured the fogging is insignificant, the grain obviously increased as it should have had but  I can’t say it is all that horrible. In fact I am satisfied with the results and can well guess what this film was like when it was fresh.

a mask -  Foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

a mask - Foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

It was exquisite.

When the stuff was fresh it was beautiful black and white fine grain film that was probably comparable to Ilford PAN-F 50.

birds - foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

birds - foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

Very good stuff.


Developed in Tetenal Ultrafin and fixed with an old ORWO fixer.

sailboat 2  - foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011

sailboat 2 - foto 32 Soviet film made in 1989/90, expired 1993, film used in the summer 2011