I first came across ORWO when I purchased a few rolls of Silberra 54UN from Russia. I liked the film that much and knew Silberra wasn’t the manufacturing the film so it didn’t take me long to find out I had been shooting ORWO UN54.
The only place I could find that supplied the film was Nik & Trick in Folkestone.
ORWO UN54 is a motion picture film manufactured by OWRO in Germany and the company has a long history of making emulsions for various uses in the motion picture industry. So needless to say the film comes in feet reels encased in a tin. That was no good to me as I, at the time, did not have a bulk loader or the confidence to do so! And ORWO do not sell individual rolled cassettes. Nik & Trick were rolling these for sale and I purchased some more.
I use a lot of different films especially for a mix of variety on the channel. One particular film I started to like was Lomo’s Potsdam 100. No wonder I liked it. It is ORWO UN54!
Recently Luca on Instagram sent me a various mix of ORWO Films to try, one being the UN54. Luca sent me a 35mm and also a 120. I was surprised at seeing the 120, however, turns out ORWO release a 120 reel now and again and folk like Luca snap it up and load it onto 120 reels for medium format work.
So recently I took the 35mm roll to an airfield and used a 1950s WERA Camera.
It was a bright sunny day and with this camera there is no internal light meter or rangefinder or through the lens focusing. So I used the Sunny 16 shooting 1/250th and F/11 and used Zone Focusing for simplicity.
I developed the ORWO UN54 in XTOL at 1:1 at 25° for 5 minutes. Why 25°? It’s a heatwave here and my tap water was not as cold as it usually is and even though the XTOL was sitting in a cupboard, that too was not as cool. I could have chilled it down to 20° but I’m always up for a challenge.
The negatives came out really nice as expected. I made a few prints and under the focus finder the grain was very fine and even printing 14×9 inch the prints came out with a pleasing fine grain and sharp too.
Some of the planes were tricky to shoot in the sun as they were white, however, one plane was Yellow and from that I could see the tonality of the ORWO UN54 Film.
So here are some of the negatives I scanned using my DSLR. You can see on the Yellow plane there is loads of tonality with nice deep rich blacks. Even some of the highlights on the planes engine where the sun was bright seemed to handle very well. Relatively sharp too baring in mind I was using Zone Focusing.
When you look at the spectrum scale of this film, as seen on the data sheet, it has a sharp dip in the blue area. The scale starts high in the purples showing that purples render lighter on the film.
When we look at the 2nd plane, which had a blue tail and body you can see how the film rendered the blue quite dark. I like that!
I am starting to like this film, a lot and shall soon be bulk loading my own cassettes for more tests with scenes and developers and videos for the channel.
Here is the video from this shoot.