Films, Uncategorized

ORWO Chrom UT-21

“There’s no sense to develop ORWO Chrom UT-21 in its original process nowadays.”
—Person who’s about to be proven extremely wrong.

Here is a throwback to the ’80s, when this film was in steady production from ORWO to satisfy color aesthetic needs of those who had no access to Kodachrome (wink-wink). Manufactured in German Democratic Republic (a.k.a. East Germany) this film was not easily available even in the Soviet bloc countries. Even if you pull some connections to get a pack of rolls, the quality was so “variable” that photographers used to record the serial numbers of good batches and shared this information between themselves to avoid wasting hours only to get shifted colors.

But the good batches produced dense, vibrant colors, fine grain and filmtastic mementos. Here is a picture of me, taken by my father circa 1982 on ORWO Chrom UT-21 with his old Smena 8M.

me, ca. 1982 ORWO UT-21, Smena 8M

A lot happens in 30 years, if you look at my portrait now and then.

Other examples from this time you may find on LostBulgaria.com website — most of the color images there have been, I suspect, captured on ORWO UT-18 or similar films. Here are some examples from Sunny Beach resort. (all rights belong to lostbulgaria.com)

This film original developing process is ORWO C-9165. I have described it here with it processing steps, together with my experience with ORWO UT-18 here.  Now let me show you some examples of UT-21, all of these shot and developed between 2015 and 2018.

ORWO UT-21

This is one of my first rolls of ORWO UT-21 I shot and developed. I had no idea what to expect from the film, had a number of tests and disappointments, but at the end got the process fine-tuned and continue shooting this film even nowadays.

This particular roll produced colors similar to my portrait from the ’80s, though I find them not as sharp as I would like. But quality of these rolls vary, just as in the past, and from time to time I get lucky with nice tones and sharp results.

To avoid foggy edges I add benzotriazole to the first, black and white developer. In some cases I find the fog to even enhance the outlook and emotion of the photograph.

Color shifts are also inevitable with such old material that has been travelling these 30+ years on unknown circuits before its wedding with C-9165.

I have explained main mistakes with ORWO C-9165 in a post here. If you plan to play with ORWO UT-21 have in mind these.

Below images are not extreme long exposures, but intentional camera movements. I could not find reciprocity failure information about this film and given its unpredictable and non-repetitive performance I did not attempt very long exposures.

All these have been captured with Minolta X-300, 50mm and 28mm lenses. 

Besides ORWO C-9165, you may try carefully to cross process this film. Here are examples of ORWO UT-21 in Agfa Process 41. I have described this process here.

Another cross processing attempt was in ORWO C-5168. This is old color negative processing instruction that I have described here. Below image is one of the results.

ORWO UT-21 in ORWO C-5168, processed and scanned as negative

As a conclusion: you can develop ORWO UT-21 nowadays in its original chemistry and that is the good news. The better news is — the film is still available online.

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