ORWO Wolfen NC500 Colour Negative Film 135
ORWO Wolfen NC500 Colour Negative Film
Analog Film Review
ORWO Wolfen NC500 Colour Negative Film 135
ORWO Wolfen NC500
I’d like to share a recent adventure I embarked on with a new type of film stock. If you’re like me and you love exploring new territories in the realm of film photography, then keep reading because this one’s for you.
A while back, I picked up a roll of ORWO Wolfen NC500, a new analogue film stock from the legendary German manufacturer ORWO Wolfen. It’s a ISO400 Colour Negative Film. It’s based on Agfa XT320, which immediately piqued my curiosity. If you’ve got a thing for nostalgia and the cinema of Andrei Tarkovsky, this film might serve you a generous dose of both.
ORWO is a brand that was established in East Germany in 1964, known for making photographic film and magnetic tape. The first modern colour film was developed at their factory in 1936. After World War II, ORWO was born out of a split from its parent company, AGFA. However, film production at ORWO stopped in 1994.
In 1998, a new company called FilmoTec revived the ORWO brand, focusing on making high-quality black and white cinema films. Today, ORWO offers a variety of films for movie production, printing, and sound recording. In 2020, FilmoTec joined forces with another company, InovisCoat GmbH, to continue making films under the ORWO brand.
Before we enter into the nitty-gritty of the review, it’s worth shedding some light on the history of this film. Back in May 2022, the German film manufacturer ORWO launched their first new film in over fifty years, the ORWO Wolfen NP100, a fine-grained 100 ISO black-and-white 35mm film. This move was warmly received by the film photography community, but we were all eagerly awaiting some new options in the colour film segment. And it seems like ORWO listened. They followed up with another new product, the ORWO Wolfen NC500, a colour film that has stirred up quite some interest.
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Naming of NC500
Here’s a fun fact to start with: despite being christened NC500, it’s actually an ISO400 film. It’s a colour negative film, suitable for processing anywhere that handles standard C-41 colour film. The absence of a remjet layer, despite its cinematic roots, is a convenient feature. In this post, I have rated this film at ISO 400.
Now, let’s look at the visual aesthetics of this film. The colour palette of the Wolfen NC500 leans heavily towards a washed-out, desaturated look with a cool tone (adjust correction). The predominant colours are greens and oranges, which lend a unique and intriguing look to the images. If you’re expecting the vibrant hues of Kodak or Fuji, you might be in for a surprise. But hey, who doesn’t love surprises, right? With its muted colour, I find it best to capture landscape and sunset.
Grain and Latitude
The grain of this film stock is quite noticeable, especially when compared to other ISO 400 films such as Kodak Ultramax 400. It’s a characteristic that might appeal to some and feel excessive to others. Personally, I found it adds to the nostalgic, retro vibe of the images.
Now, I’m all for a little challenge with new film stocks, but I must admit, the latitude of the Wolfen NC500 was a tough nut to crack. It’s not the most forgiving film I’ve worked with, and it’s easy to blow the highlight details. I guess it’s just part of its charm.
My overall feelings toward this film are mixed, probably because I’ve been spoiled by the crisp and sharp results of other film stocks. But, I have to say, the Wolfen NC500 offers a completely different experience, and it’s not meant to replace the likes of Kodak or Fuji. It’s a unique beast of its own.
Due to its lack of non-orange and clear film mask. In terms of post-processing, I used Lightroom to adjust the scans from the lab, which uses Noritsu scanning. It required some white balance adjustment, but nothing too strenuous.
It’s an unusual cinematic film stock that presents a different view of the world. It may not be for everyone, but it’s definitely an experience worth trying for all you film experimenters out there!
Until next time, keep exploring and keep shooting. Who knows what surprises the next roll of film will bring? Stay tuned to my next ORWO NC400 review.