Sunday, February 19, 2012

Got film, comrade?

Earlier this year, I received a small package from my Flickr contact, Larry Dressler. Larry's into trying out all sorts of odd b&w films, and he had sent me a few rolls of Kodak Varicath microfilm to try out. Also in the package was a roll of Svema film. It was Svema 65, which expired the year I graduated from High School -- 1975! I figured that I might as well give it a try, seeing as how I have shot so many rolls of other long-expired films. Larry suggested shooting it at an ISO rating of 25, which made sense seeing as how old it was. I decided that the best choice of a camera to shoot it with than my Soviet-era Fed 5 rangefinder!

Heroes of the Revolution. Well, one of them is. That is a small pin honoring Yuri Gagarin next to the film box.

If you have never seen a roll of 35mm Svema film before, it's a best to make sure that you DO NOT open the box in daylight and most importantly, do not open the foil package unless you are in the darkroom or using a changing bag. The film is not in a canister! You need to load the film into a 35mm cassette to use it. Either the Svema folks were incredibly "green" in making you reuse 35mm cassettes, or they were incredibly cheap.

Check out the expiration date!

I shot some of the film at Toledo at the Toledo Art Museum, and about a month later finished it up at Parker Mill park off Geddes Road. After looking up some information on the web, I decided to develop the Svema film in Rodinal at 1:25 for 6.5 minutes.


The film's information on the rebate developed normally, and there is a lot of base fog. Shooting at an ISO of 30 was actually way off. I should have tried shooting at an ISO of about 10! The film's sensitivity was way down, and the negatives that I scanned were mostly quite faint. Some time exposures that I guesstimated were actually pretty good (probably 8 seconds at f/11). The shots from Toledo were quite faint, but scanning them in worked pretty well. Without further ado, here are some samples...

It was fun trying a film that had withstood the latter part of the cold war, Perestroika, and the fall of the USSR. The Svema factory was located in the Ukraine, but it became a victim of opening up to the West. Kodak and Fuji films became available and the factory closed by the turn of the century.


Jim said...

Wow, how inconvenient to have to load the film into a cartridge! How did people come by cartridges in the first place?

s.c said...

Nice story and great to see that just such an old film still can deliver negatives.

Steve G said...

great pictures and a very good post thought your images were fanmtastic