The following images are six of 30 that I took with my Mamiya M645 at an antique car show in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1980. I used ORWO NP22 film rated at ASA (ISO) 125 developed in D-76/ID-11 1:1. ORWO films were made in what was then East Germany and were supposedly based on pre-war Agfa formulations. There is a "new" ORWO film that is reportedly made using Ilford films but I read that it's no longer being marketed. The plant in the former East Germany still makes films but not in roll film sizes and likely not for sales to the general public. All I can do is present these images and let you judge for yourself if the old East German film was any good.
Thanks for posting these, I always enjoy well done photos of antique cars. I use B&W very little but can see not too much wrong with the original ORWO NP22. The photos show great tones and detail. I guess it helps that they are on med format and had skillful development.
Bob, Roy & Wayne - Thanks so much for the nice comments. It's been many years since I last looked at these negatives and they were so crisp that I thought many here would appreciate seeing them. The Mamiya M645 is a wonderful camera IMO and I need to use mine more. I bought it new about 1975 or 1976 on Okinawa. The 6v battery seems to last forever.
Roy, my father said the same thing about the V-16 Caddy. Interestingly, my grandfather bought a new Buick in 1934 and my father claimed that you could be standing beside of it and not realize the straight-8 engine was running. He also said he could balance a quarter on it's edge on the hood while it ran and the quarter wouldn't move. My father wasn't one to exagerate.
Wayne, I also wish they still made this film. I may have purchased 10 rolls or so at the time. The negatives are all I could ask of them.
Those B&W pictures of old cars really are beautiful, and there was certainly nothing wrong with the Orwo film you used nor, indeed with the development.
You're quite right when you say that Orwo film at that time was old Agfa technology though I fancy it was slightly later than pre-war, possibly 1943-44.
Originally Agfa's main film plant was in Wolfen, in the eastern part of Germany. After the 'Iron Curtain' clampdown, and the formation of the DDR, the film plant was nationalised and renamed ORWO, standing for ORiginal WOlfen, because Agfa in the west retained its trademark, and to distinguish it from the new Agfa films which were developed (I don't mean chemically) after the merger of Agfa and Gevaert.
Almost all Orwo's films were B&W because though it had quite a thriving export its main market was in the eastern bloc where users preferred B&W, mainly because the only colour print film available there was based on very old Agfa technology, far too pastel-like and unsaturated by later standards, or Russian colour print film which was, to be blunt, ancient technology rubbish.
When eastern Europe was opened up to western companies, Kodak and Ilford were quick to jump in. Kodak got the bulk of the colour market but Ilford got quite a large share of B&W. Orwo had been denationalised, but its market disappeared almost literally within a few months. The company went bust after sales dropped and the number of employees fell from several thousand to between 100 and 200.
The liquidators tried to keep it alive with the production of X-ray and industrial film, and later managed to get a west-German company to lease part of the factory and package consumer film under the Orwo brand. I have heard, and seen it stated on several websites and forums, that the cassettes were loaded with bulk film supplied by Ilford, basically FP4 and HP5, but I haven't seen any concrete evidence for this. All film manufacture stopped about 1989-90, but the repackaging side struggled on until Orwo finally locked its gates about 2003 or 2004. I don't know if it just couldn't compete with Ilford's share of the B&W market right across Europe or, if it was Ilford film, whether Ilford's own problems disrupted the supply of bulk film. I suppose the question's rather academic now that Orwo is no longer available.
I haven't tried Orwo for years, but I still have three 35mm rolls labelled Orwo Pan 125 which I hope to try fairly soon. The expiry date is October 2005 so, allowing a fairly generous time lag between manufacture and develop-by dates, I don't know if it's old Agfa which had been kept refrigerated because of slow sales or newer Ilford. I suspect Agfa, not FP4 or I think it would have been rated at 200 ASA.
Eventually I shall see what it's like. I just hope the blacks, whites and long greyscale turn out to be somewhere as good as your Orwo.
Peter, I also thank you for the excellent information. It's interesting that film technology dating to WW2 would still compete well with much newer formulas. IMO, the ORWO NP22 was better than Kodak's Verachromepan and could give Plus-X a run for the money.
When you give the film you have a try, I'd like to see some of the results.
I gave the ORWO a try after asking my father about it some time in the 1970's. He explained that it had a good reputation in Europe and when I had the chance to buy some, I did. Looking at the images I took with it, I now wish I could find it again!
Thanks for that link. I'm glad that the former Orwo factory is still in operation even if it no longer produces consumer film.
The Treuhandanstalt, the agency set up to privatise the former DDR VEBs, came in for heavy criticism for mismanagement, closing many companies that were profitable or at least viable, and misuse of funds. After four years of existence the Treuhandanstalt managed to end up making a loss of nearly 200 billion marks.
There has been speculation that maybe the Zeiss Stiftung, or Zeiss Foundation, could have stepped in and taken over the camera companies that had been merged into Pentacon VEB - a re-enactment of 1926 when it first formed Zeiss Ikon. But I suppose it had its own problems with Zeiss Ikon/ Voigtländer in the west.
I'll ditto the other comments. ORWO looks like a fantastic film. The middle values are spectacular!
----- Walker - thanks for the link...but the site doesn't seem to mention the film being made for anything other than the motion picture industry. A shame...I'd really like to find some and try it with some of my old folders.
ORWO was good and considerably cheaper than Agfa films and ADOX was a winner.
It would be nice to hear the cultivated roar of that V16 Cadillac
I agree That Adox was a winner and it's now being marketed again. Seems that EFKE was the old Adox formulas and now EFKE's name is being dropped in favor of Adox.... at least in the States. The EFKE I've used is excellent and my father always thought highly of Adox.