ORWO Chrom UT-18 revisited

This post on ORWO UT-18 color reversal film was the first one on this blog. And the first “readable” image I proudly produced and shared here was this:


UT, as I mentioned before, stands for Umkehr Tageslicht — reversible daylight. Besides DIN 18 (ISO 50), UT had its great time as DIN 15, 16, 20, 21 and 23 (my experience with UT-21 is here). Produced from the ’60s in various sizes and formats, this film made it through the early ’90s. It also has an UK version, balanced for tungsten light.


Expiration dates of my stash vary from 1985 to 1992.


For the last 3 or so years I developed more than 60 rolls of this film in its original process, ORWO C-9165. About 20 others went to various cross processes like AGFA Process 41 and ORWO C-5168. I never developed this film in C-41 or E-6.

For this time I understood better C-9165 and have described most common mistakes and gaffes in a post here. Also, I used C-9165 to experiment in cross processing color negatives to get positive images.

But let me talk now about ORWO UT-18. And by talking I mean bragging about some good results I got during this time.

The photograph above depicts St. Ilia monastery in Ellen’s basilica. Built around IV century BC, its ruins still stand proud within a stone wall. This roll, in particular, was developed with 0.2 gr. of benzotriazole added to the first developer in an attempt to decrease the fog as much as possible. Normally, I wouldn’t overexpose this type of films too much — the picture above was taken at light meter reading for ISO 25. The rule of thumb  “one decade after expiration equals one stop of overexposure” I found not applicable to ORWO UT-18 (and the like). I have explained this here

If the film is nearly properly kept during the years, there is no need to overexpose heavily. If storage conditions have not been good — you can’t save the film. So overexposure doesn’t help in either case. You will probably get faint colors, low contrast and a lot of fog. Sometimes these defects will add nostalgic feeling, and if desired (I mean, if you know your film and expect the result) you may use it in a creative way.


Here are some of the best examples I got with ORWO UT-18. These two photos below are taken with Pentacon Six and a heavy, bulky Meyer-Optik Görlitz Orestegor 300 mm F/4 lens. The distance to the herds was about 800 m., but this great lens did its job:



In these days I was shooting with Pentacon Six a lot, with Carl Zeiss 80/2.8 or Flektogon 50/4.

Here is a picture from ancient city of Abritus.


Color rendition of ORWO UT-18 could be vivid…


… or sometimes unsaturated, as the examples below. That would, in most cases, depend on how this film has been travelling these 30+ years before our meeting, but also due to exhausted color developer. Yellow/green fog clearly means bad storing conditions.



ORWO UT-18 in 135/36 fromat

ORWO Chrom Process C-9165 is long and complicated at first glance, but I can assure you there is nothing difficult with it. If you manage to mix proper baths (I collect all chemicals fresh from stores and mix them myself) and maintain good control over temperatures of the first and second developer — you will most probably get good images.

The total cost of all chemicals to prepare a litter of all baths is about EUR 50 – 60. The problem is that some of the ingredients are only sold in large quantities that you probably would not utilize. Another thing is that some of them are not easy to find, like hydroquinone or CD1.

A hint for few tens of euros: don’t you ever go for old time sets of baths, especially the ones in liquid condition — I have used several of them, found on internet only to get additional source of disappointment and wasted my time and rolls. Liquids get bad easily and are not usable for good results.

Below photographs were taken at ISO 25 and 50 with rolls well kept. How the rolls have been kept, unfortunately, I found only after the development.

ORWO C-9165 is using a re-exposure step to reverse the image to get a slide. This is a pre-E-6 process, I think most closer to it would be process E-2 by Kodak from the ’50s. First, you develop the film with a b&w developer to produce fogged, latent image. Next is re-exposure, where one shall use strong light (I use 500 W lamp at about 80 cm. from the film) for a few minutes for each side of the film. Then comes color developer, bleach and fix.

Next images have been taken at ISO 50. This is what Black sea south coast looked like in spring of 2017.  

Cross processing of this film may be done for experiments, but bear in mind that this emulsion is constructed for temperatures up to 25° C — if you put it in standard E-6 process it will simply melt.

As a conclusion:

  • if rolls are well kept and you are using good set of C-9165 you will very likely get vivid, saturated colors;
  • do not overexpose this film more than 1 stop for good results. If you try to “pull” it, decrease the time of the first developer to avoid heavy fog;
  • ORWO C-9165 is not an impossible process, if you collect and mix all chemicals and have time to learn it;
  • this is obviously not a good choice of film for everyday shooting, but if you know its character it may be used for specific projects.

Here is a short video shot on ORWO UK-17 2x8mm film.


    1. Vesselin (admin) Author

      Thank you, J! Will have a look at my chemicals and will reply to you via e-mail. How many rolls do you have for development and how urgently you need them?


  1. J

    Hi Vesselin,

    Thanks so much for replying! I have 3 rolls: 2 X UT18 and 1 X UT21. I have been considering cross processing these rolls in E6 chemicals but it seems like such a waste. I’m in no rush to develop them so I can definitely work around your schedule, should you have a sufficient supply of chemicals.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *