Testing 30 year old film

Testing 30 year old film

I recently took delivery of around 200 (8 boxes of 25) 6.5x9cm ORWO NP15, which expired in 1992 (this format is no longer produced).  As the ORWO comes from a basement in Bulgaria, on arrival I had no idea if it is still light sensitive at all.  It will be used sheet film holders for the Plaubel Makina 6×9 camera that I am very fond of shooting with.  I should point out this test was done under ‘curious’, not ‘scientific’ conditions.

Film Testing:

ORWO 6.5x9cm NP15 Plainfilm, expired ’92

Exposed at 1/100, f6, ISO 125 (native rating)

Developed in Kodak Tmax Dev, 1:9, 15mins 24•c

Scanned with Canon 8800f and silverfast software

Result! we have an image, grainy and the negative was a touch pale but it would seem the film still works.

I will rate this at 50iso next time out.

Spectral analysis:

The image above shows a detail of the colour chart (unknown origin, bought on a flea market for €2).  Top is the ORWO, below is a detail from a similar shot taken with a canon 5D2.  The top half has been desaturated and the bottom shows original colours, unedited with the white balance set to cloudy.  The reflection is present in both pictures and so no compensation was made.


A considerable amount of grain is visible in the detail, but that is to be expected!

Interestingly the Cyan and Yellow frequencies look lighter on the film image, however I know that the PS ‘convert to black and white’ command also shows this result.  This is typical of panchromatic films.

This film is similar to Ilford FP4, but not the same.  It can be developed under the same conditions.

A stop bath should not be used.

This film scratches very easily when wet, so a squeegee should be used sparingly.

Based on this test I would recommend an ISO rating of 80 or 64.


The bellow image was accidentally underexposed by two stops due to a polarizing filter that had not been accounted for when metering.  It was a high contrast scene with a clear blue sky, metered for the sunlight