Silbersalz35 - an update!

As all you millions who read this will know, I’ve been quite excited with using Silbersalz35 film over the past few months. It is bloody awesome.

But my favourite emulsion from my early tests was the 50D. And Silbersalz recommend overexposing by a stop. Which makes that a 25ISO film. Eeek.

Now, I like my history when it comes to photography (in fact, anything creative - I didn’t spend all those years at art school for nowt) and know that the old masters didn’t have the luxury of our modern high speed films, but those long exposure times do leave me a little bit nervous. I dont mind a bit of motion blur but…. I’m exposing at 25ISO!!!

I don’t tend to use tripods so a slow speed film means I’m wanting good light. This is why I’ve held out on using the 50D film properly until the summer…. but who can rely on the weather, eh?

Anyway, I thought getting a batch of four 50D films for my holiday in Spain would be a good plan.

I decided to use this batch of Silbersalz in my Yashica Electro 35GT. I’m still getting to grips with this camera so was unsure about how experimenting with film and camera at the same time would work but…. I shoudn’t have been worried.. It worked out bloody awesome! And it’s been a good learning experience for both camera and film…

The film is gorgeous. I’ve never seen a film with so little grain. And with the exposure latitude it has, I can do whatever I want with it and it still doesn’t get grainy. It obviously helps with Silbersalz making such good high res scans - they are exceptional, but the film itself is second to none.

As far as the camera goes… well, this is the first proper test for the Electro 35. I’ve used it here and there since I got it a few months ago but decided to dedicate it to the Silbersalz this time. And it looks great. I played around with precise focussing and zone focussing and this camera is just awesome. I might have to write a proper review when I get time, but for now…… the Yashica Electro 35 is a great camera and everyone should have one!

Anyway…. Silbersalz35 50D with a fantastic camera. I shall leave you with some results…

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My first experience of Silbersalz35 film

I recently discovered a new colour film called Silbersalz35 (through one of my fave photography sites Thephoblogger). I say ‘new’ but it isn’t really new, technically speaking. Because it’s 35mm Kodak motion picture stock repackaged for stills cameras.

Now, this isn’t an original idea. Cinestill (and others) have been doing this for a while. But the difference is that Cinestill has certain elements removed so it can be processed in normal C-41 chemicals. Whereas this is just the pure film which has to be processed in ECN-2 chemicals. Does it make much of a difference? Well, I thought it was worth finding out…!

Silbersalz are a film production company in Germany. As far as I’m aware, they’re shooting on film and processing and scanning it all in-house. I’m guessing that somebody came up with the idea of repackaging the Kodak motion stock into stills film alongside the production company. And I’m rather glad they did.

You order the films in a batch of four, and they come in the following flavours (the D and T denoting Daylight or Tungsten balanced):
50D
200T
250D
500T

As it was my first test with the films, I thought I’d order one of each. There is also the possibility to order a batch which will be bleach-bypass processed. Silbersalz will process and scan the whole lot on a Cintel scanner and deliver the files via Dropbox as JPEGs and TIFFs.

First up was the 250D. The weather was still quite bright so I didn’t want to try out the 500 just yet, and the 50iso was much slower than I’m used to. Also, they recommend shooting one stop over; so rating the 50iso at 25iso is rather scary when I’m usually shooting at something between 100 and 400!

Now, I only have one shot from this whole roll. And I’m not sure what went wrong but I think there may have been some kind of operator error (ahem!). I have a lot of double exposures, sometimes triple exposures. I’m thinking that maybe I hadn’t loaded the film properly; it seems less forgiving with basic errors like that. But still, it looks pretty nice and the grain seems very good. I like the look. But having a bit of a ballsed up film, I’ll just park this one here and move on to the next…

Silbersalz35 250D, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 250D, Olympus OM10

Next up was the 50D. It’s slow. But the sun was out. So I thought, why not?
Now, this film is absolutely gorgeous. Exactly what I was hoping for… it’s got this stunning depth and glow to it that is almost three dimensional. The colours have fantastic saturation. It doesn’t look like any film I’ve shot on before - it really does look like stills that have been pulled from a movie. Which is what I wanted.

Even inside using natural light it looks great!

Silbersalz35 50D, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 50D, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 50D, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 50D, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 50D, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 50D, Olympus OM10

Next was the 200T. And first, the downside… I did have some problems with this one and it took me a while to work out what the problem was. Every time I wound on after a shot, the rewind crank didn’t turn. Was it winding on? Did I not load it properly? After opening up the back of the camera in a black bag, I could feel the film was wound on and there was tension, so I started to suspect that it wasn’t loaded in the canister properly.

But I also started to worry it was a camera issue. So, I carried on shooting but without having much confidence that I’d get any shots back!

At the end of the roll, it did turn out that the film was not loaded properly. However, I said to Silbersalz about this and they very kindly sent me out a fresh film all the way from Germany at their expense - so a big thumbs up for that. I’ve got that film loaded up at the moment, the below shots are from the problematic film.

As for the film itself, I once again loved the look. Understandably there was a little more grain than the 50D, but it was still nice and tight. It being tungsten balanced, I was unsure how blue it would be, but pushing the white balance back towards the yellows in Lightroom quickly popped it back into more natural colours.

Silbersalz35 200T, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 200T, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 200T, Olympus OM10

Silbersalz35 200T, Olympus OM10

Lastly, on to the 500T. This is the one closest in speed to my usual favourite colour film, Kodak Portra 400. For this film, I was still a bit unsure about my Olympus and whether it had a problem or not. So I loaded it up in my Yashica Electro 35. Most were shot in one day which was gloomy and rainy at times, therefore it was putting up a bit of a challenge when rating a tungsten film at 250. But I think this film held itself up very well.

It has noticeably more grain than the others. But not in a distracting way. What it does have is a lot of flexibility - I was able to pull out some good shots from some quite murky exposures.

Silbersalz35 500T, Yashica Electro 35

Silbersalz35 500T, Yashica Electro 35

Silbersalz35 500T, Yashica Electro 35

Silbersalz35 500T, Yashica Electro 35

Silbersalz35 500T, Yashica Electro 35

Silbersalz35 500T, Yashica Electro 35

Silbersalz35 500T, Yashica Electro 35

Silbersalz35 500T, Yashica Electro 35

I think Silbersalz have got an excellent thing going on with these films. Straight away it has given me a different look to my shots - I think it’s closer to what I’ve had in my head for a while. I still need to experiment a bit more but my first impression is that all of the films look great, and all of them are extremely flexible for post processing. I’ve even tried knocking a couple into monochrome, and working with them just tonally has been great too.

The scans are also very good. Hardly any dust or hairs - Silbersalz have really looked after this. But be warned - the TIFF files they provide are BIG. The download was about 7GB per film. But worth it for all that lovely filmic detail.

And it’s an excellent price too. They’re currently selling four rolls including processing and scanning for €40. OK, there are shipping costs both ways too, but this maxed out at €60 which is still great value for what I’m getting.

Out of the four films, I think I’d probably say the 50D is probably my favourite. It is silky smooth and I love the rich colours. However, it is currently winter in the UK and trying to shoot at 25iso is very restricting, so I think I’ll save that one for the summer. For now, I’ve ordered up four rolls of the 500T but with the bleach bypass option, and I’m really looking forward to how that turns out with some nice wintery light.

This isn’t an advert whatsoever, but you should really have a look at what they’re up to https://silbersalz35.com.

Scanning, holidays, and new films

For quite some time I've felt the need to have more control of what is going on with my film scans. I've used several labs over the years for processing and scanning, and whilst none of them have done a bad job, I've never been 100% sure if it could be better or not. It seems to be adding a variable into the process which I have no control over - is the exposure wrong because of me or is the scanner not set up properly? The same goes for the focus - is the lab's scanner out? Or am I just not getting things right when shooting?

So, I needed my own scanner. By doing it myself, I can not only be more sure of any variables, but I can also tweak each shot if I want. Because I know what I was shooting and what the scene looked like.

I'm a bit tight on space at home, which meant a flatbed scanner was out; which was a shame as a flatbed would do various formats. So I went for a Plustek Opticfilm 8100 35mm scanner.

I'd heard that there was quite a steep learning curve to the Silverfast software which comes with it. The first few scans I wasn't particularly pleased with at all - it was all looking a bit grungey. After looking at some tutorials, I then found what some of the tools were doing in the software and was on top of it pretty quickly.

It has multi exposure on it, which means I can do two scan passes. I'm scanning fairly flat without bumping up any contrast. So the resulting TIFF files are a bit washed out. However, when putting them through Lightroom then they really come to life. I've started saving presets for each one to speed up the post process.

The first scans I made where from a short break in Cornwall. I was trying out some Kodak ProImage 100, a film that is not readily available but is apparently being marketed more in Europe now. Which is a good thing, because I rather like it! It's very much like Kodak Portra - natural colours, nice saturation and renders skin tones nicely. It also has quite a bit of flexibility - I could push certain colours a bit if I wished. The film was apparently first released in 1997 and not been updated since; mixing that with my OM10 and old Zuiko glass gives it a feel of my youth in the 80s/90s.

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The next film which I'd not used before was Fomapan 400. I'd used Foma 100 and 200 before (see earlier journal entries) and liked the results - particularly the 200. So I thought I'd give the 400 a shot. I'd read that it wasn't quite as good and I think I'd have to agree. Tonally I found it quite flat and stubbornly didn't want to be pushed anywhere. Too much exposure made it break up quickly, too much shadow just crushed the blacks. I like a bit of grain with my black and white film, but the grain I found a bit crude. Unlike Foma 200, I don't think it will be high on my shopping list in the future....

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Next up was Ilford's Pan 400. And this was completely different - nice tight grain, a wide range of greys in the tone allowing me to play with it to my heart's content, and a gorgeous look which has an almost 1960s documentary look to it. I've got another roll in my camera at the moment and already excited to see how it turns out - really love this one!

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One thing that I didn't expect from using my own scanner was seeing the difference straight away between different emulsions. I could see a massive difference between Foma 400 and Pan 400  just by seeing the initial scans before I even put them into Lightroom. Even the physicality of the film is different - the Foma more prone to being damaged than the Ilford.

I have to say, the Plustek scanner is great. I've got scans from it that are just as good as I've been getting from pro labs. And I'll be tweaking the settings more to see what else I can get out of it.

And Kodak ProImage and Ilford Pan 400: big thumbs up! Now, I wonder what Pan 100 is like...!?

All shot on my Olympus OM10.
Kodak ProImage 100 rated at 80asa.
Fomapan 400 rated at 200asa.
Ilford Pan 400 rated at 200asa.