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Russian film?
Old 04-18-2006   #1
BILLC
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Russian film?

Has anyone used Russian film? Do they make film? We can get film from China, the Balkens(sp), the UK, and the US, but the FSU? Do they put T MAX or pan f through their old Feds like I do?
Bill
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Old 04-18-2006   #2
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Hallo Bill - the Russian film industry (so to speak) is smaller that it was (surprise) but you can buy some of their products in the west - and many other interesting films - here: http://www.retrophotographic.com/tasma.htm

Cheers, Ian
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Old 04-18-2006   #3
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I hav wondered for some time just what film is used in Russia. I bet it's interesting, "old look" stuff, but the fact it's not available except for reloadable cassettes makes me lose interest. I bet if they decided to offer the film in standard cassettes they would have a market in the West.
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Old 04-18-2006   #4
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I agree Nick - although the 100 ISO film is available in cassettes. I'd really like to see some fast Russian film: I have visions of marvellously thumping grain and film noire grittiness.... Heaven!

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Old 04-18-2006   #5
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In the late 1980s, before the communist governments fell, my future wife visited Prague. I asked her to bring back a roll of film for me to put on my photo display shelf (just one shelf back then). She returned with a roll of Kodak Gold 100 and a small portfolio of several official-looking papers bearing multiple government stamps -- it had taken her the better part of a day to get permission from Communist authorities for a foreigner to buy film, then had to visit two separate administrative offices in the city to get the stamps and approval letters. This also garnered her surveillance by a plainclothes security detail for the rest of the day.
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Old 04-18-2006   #6
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Guys, FYI the only film manufacturer in Russia is TASMA plant. It produces the classic bw film, based on the "retro" technology. Although I didn't use TASMA film (because it's a bit difficult to buy it even in Russia itself), I've heard that this film can produce good pictures (sharp and with some kind of "retro" look).
BTW, another Russian pland still produces the photographic plates
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Old 04-18-2006   #7
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TASMA is in Tartarstan, and SVEMA is part of the SUMI OBLAST in Ukraine.

I have been trying very hard to get in touch with either of these to purchase some of their film for export to the USA. I understand that Retrophotographics in the UK sells Tasma, but I'm hoping to get a connection closer to the wholesale level.

I'm intensely curious about both of them. There is also a Russian company that I believe makes glass plates but not photographic film, but I forget the name at the moment.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks
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Old 04-18-2006   #8
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I bought some Svema 64 speed film(a whopping two rolls) from Alex[on ebay] the last time I got some other stuff from him just to put on the shelf with the FSU cameras. Cassettes look like the re-usable ones you can buy for bulk loading and are packed in foil in side the boxes.
Rob
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Old 04-18-2006   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbiemer
I bought some Svema 64 speed film(a whopping two rolls) from Alex[on ebay] the last time I got some other stuff from him just to put on the shelf with the FSU cameras. Cassettes look like the re-usable ones you can buy for bulk loading and are packed in foil in side the boxes.
Rob
How did you like it?

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Old 04-18-2006   #10
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Haven't actually used it. I couldn't resisit my curiosity and opened one of the boxes.
Don't think I'll be using the other--for the forseeable future I'm not processing my own--shoot mt a PM, Bill and I'll send it to you.
Rob
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Old 04-18-2006   #11
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A few years ago a Russian friend who works at an institute in St Petersberg emptied the cupboards of their old film stocks and gave me a few rolls of Svema 64 in 120 size. I have to say it was poor but it was out of date. Fuzzy, low contrast etc. Not a fair trial though.
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Old 04-18-2006   #12
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I hate sounding like an broken record (record? what's a record?) so I've been hesitant to join this discussion.
But: I shot one of my three rolls of very old Svemapan a while back. I posted the results here - somewhere (the thread had something to do with "logic", as I recall) - and on my photoblog.
The scanned images needed a fair bit of photoshopping, but I was happy.
I'm easy to please, though.
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Old 04-18-2006   #13
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Cool! I didn't know about it, and I'll look for it.

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Bill Mattocks
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Old 04-18-2006   #14
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Comparing to the TASMA film, any SVEMA film is a real bull**** now. SVEMA plant was practicaly "ruined" during the last 10 years. There are rumours (99% truly, because I've heard this from different photographers) that all they can do now is to cut bulk outdated (!) Forte film and put it into cassettes under SVEMA name.
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Svema found in a FED-1
Old 04-19-2006   #15
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Svema found in a FED-1

I once received a FED from the Ukraine with film still in it. The film developed well, save for fogged portions, likely caused by opening the camera's bottom plate when it changed hands. Film turned out to be Svema. I sent the seller scans of the negatives, asking her if she knew who these were, when these were from, and where from the Ukraine. She could only answer in the negative in all counts- plus saying that there were many places in her country that hardly changed in over a century, and it was quite hard to assess information from the costumes of the people seen there.

The pictures were snaps of children, pets, their Ded/Babushka, and some village scenes. These photos meant a lot to this people, and its so sad that they never got to see their snaps. There is a mark on the film strip which said "4 СВЕМА 01.92." which may well indicate its date of make. If so, the shots may have been from the 1990s.

Attached is a scan from a couple of strips from that Svema roll:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg svema-strips.jpg (107.4 KB, 226 views)
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Old 04-19-2006   #16
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Jay, that's amazing! One of the things which most intrigues me about our cameras is their "prehistoric" (pre-ebay) life: what things they must have seen! you are very lucky!

Ian
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Old 04-19-2006   #17
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Thanks for the link Ian, I will try some. Those shots found make me want to go there and use it there. My high school russian is 40 years rusty but it would be fun.
Bill
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Old 04-19-2006   #18
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This is the example of the TASMA Type-17 (400 ASA) film: picture. It's not mine, so I don't know which developer was used.
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Old 04-25-2006   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock
How did you like it?

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks
I am live in Russia and regular use TASMA and SVEMA B&W film. It quality such FOMAPAn - but it save temperature great 21C for FOMAPAN
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Old 04-25-2006   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock
TASMA is in Tartarstan, and SVEMA is part of the SUMI OBLAST in Ukraine.

I have been trying very hard to get in touch with either of these to purchase some of their film for export to the USA. I understand that Retrophotographics in the UK sells Tasma, but I'm hoping to get a connection closer to the wholesale level.

I'm intensely curious about both of them. There is also a Russian company that I believe makes glass plates but not photographic film, but I forget the name at the moment.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks
Bill,

www.tasma.ru is a web site of the Tasma company. This site is in Russian, so you need translator (maybe some on-line engine can do it sufficient to get understanding). They have warehouse in Moscow
www.lasso-centre.ru
[email protected]

Or you can contact directly [email protected]. Probably best language for communication is Russian anyway, I don't know. I'm interested to get a few rolls of FN-32 and Type 17 aerofilm (400 ISO). I hope some of my friends in Russia will pick it up for me and I will be able to play with it this fall. I'm not intersted to setup a business and sell this film in North America though.

Svema, according to my research, doesn't really make film anymore. In photo stores across the Ukraine one can still buy Svema brand, but it's expensive and you never know what's inside (rebrended Forte or something similar). 25 years ago, Svema was much better than Tasma to my taste.

Regards,
Eduard
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Old 04-26-2006   #21
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Svema definitely has some form of relationship with Forte: one bulk of Fortepan 400 I got was packed in a tin canister with Svema logo engaved at the bottom.

Overall I don't find FSU film particularly outstanding. Some of it is OK but I'll take Tri-X over it any day
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Old 04-26-2006   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BILLC
Has anyone used Russian film? Do they make film? We can get film from China, the Balkens(sp), the UK, and the US, but the FSU? Do they put T MAX or pan f through their old Feds like I do?
Bill
Answering this question I have to say I definetely used Soviet film as I lived here (Kharkov - motherland of FEDs). I used Svema brand, so I will describe this film if anyone's really interested. Here is a brief info on available for average amateur Soviet film. This is a history - I am referring to films produced between 1978 and 1991... and BTW our Feds and Zorkijs were new then ;^)

Foto-32. Blue box. 32 ISO. Very wide latitude and relatively fine grain. I can't directly compare this film to western brands as I didn't have western film then and I don't have Foto brand now. It was my favourite film, but I tryied and failed a couple of times with this film before I got development process right.

Foto-65. Green box. 65 ISO. It was most widely used film. Every newbie usually used this film, including me. This was the only film with some special measures to the emulsion resulted in keeping constant contrast. What I mean this was very forgiving film for inacurate processing time/temperature. Also, it was probably good film for pushing. Increasing development time one could get more dense negatives and normal contrast. Talking in curves terminology - over development shifts curve but angle is the same. Probably it's common property for most western film, but AFAIK that was the only film with this characteristics. It was good and bad - I realized that I usually overdevelop my film too late, when failed with Foto-32 and got too contrasty and grainy negatives. In mid of 80s soviet standard (GOST) was changed, standard contrast adjusted to western standards (I believe gamma was changed to 0.62 instead of old soviet norm 0.8) and as a result effective sensitivity was also changed. They started to mark this film as Foto-64.

Foto-130. Orange box. 130 ISO. Fast film which I never liked. It was not that fast but it was grainy. Maybe I didn't use it often because it wasn't my speed and can't say much about this film; maybe it was excellent film for someone who used it regularly. Later it was changed to Foto-125 as a result of changing standards (not emulsion).

Foto-250. Red box. 250 ISO. Really fast film for that time. Sometimes I used this film for available light. More often I used A2SH which was not available in retail stores, but professional only. A2SH was produced in bulk rolls only. It had better sensitivity in yellowish spectrum of traditional bulbs - around 380 ISO. I heard that Foto-250 was also more sensitive for bulb light, but I can't say anything about it. Foto-250 was grainy film... but you have to pay for speed.

In the end of 80s when Kodak, Ilford and others reported incredible results out of their new silver-save technologies, Svema also announced new plain crystall emulsions. I think, I read this in "Soviet Foto" magazine, and new film was supposed to be marked as FN instead of Foto. I never tried this FN stuff using old stock from my fridge. Someone told me nothing was changed, just a name on the box. Someone was in hunt for old Foto because didn't like results from new FN. Can't comment on it... really, that was time when USSR collapsed and I was a student at university... didn't spend much time shooting.

There were also colour films, really ****y ones. I remember DS-4 (day light) and CLN-90 (bulb light). Much better was East German Orwocolor films. I got just excellent slides out of Orwochrome. This imported film was expensive but probably the only way to get good results in colour photography.

I never saw Kodak or Ilford film while soviet union existed. I heard someone was able to get Fomapan stuff... but it was not available for an average Ivan like me.

Cheers,
Eduard
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Old 04-26-2006   #23
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Thanks for the great perspective on the films available at the time. I always wondered about colour film in FSU cameras, and how commonly it was used.
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Old 04-27-2006   #24
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Thanks for the look back Eduard. What kind of cameras were you useing? I see so many FSU cameras for sale that we don't use, they must be common over there. I have at least a dozen cameras from a Fed 1 to a Zorki 6, Kiev, and a Zenit but I have never heard anyone talk about their Smena or Tchaika. They must have been everywhere and maybe still are. Does anyone still use the old rangefinders that we enjoy so much?
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Old 04-27-2006   #25
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Smena, Vilia and such were in the niche of inexpensive point and shoots. Smena-8M though enjoyed somewhat "bohemian" reputation long before lomographs noticed its existence. Small camera that operated well in severe cold, it was commonly found in alpiners' or wilderness explorers backpacks, even at polar expeditions, although most samples were just used for family snaps.
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Old 04-27-2006   #26
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My first camera was Smena 8m - (not a surprise as I was an 8 years old boy). It was a cheap viewfinder camera, it was excellent camera for that price (15 roubles). My second camera was Zenit 11 SLR, I still use it sometimes for my m42 lenses. I never had Tchaika, but it was a great camera giving 72 exposures out of standard roll. In 80s Tchaika was not so popular and out of production, I think. All kind of Feds I usually rented from my friends and relatives. In mid of 80s when I got some money I was looking to buy Kiev-4 with Jupiter lens, but Arsenal stopped production of them and I didn't go to used market then. 80s was time of SLR - all kind of Zenits (two production plants built them - KMZ and Vileika in Belarussia), Arsenal established production of Nikon F mount Kiev-19 etc. There was a lot of different P&S like Viliya-Auto, I don't remember them all. My dream about Kiev-4 and jupiter lens materialized when I moved to Canada; now I can afford to but it on used market and an unfortunate loss of 30-40 bucks wouldn't be so dramatic for me.
In the middle of 90s FSU got a tonn of different P&S cameras; as well as colour consumer grade film and minilabs at every corner in big cities. Market didn't look very different from any other country. I remember the first digital Sony cameras with floppy drive I saw in a store :-) Consumer didn't want b&w anymore and now they didn't want film. So, there are people there shooting film and even using old rangefinders like we here. But many of my friends prefered convinience of digital. I don't think situation there is somewhat very different than in US.

comp_wiz101, yeah colour film was expensive and lab service was not cheap nor available in small towns. So, colour film was for professionals and amateurs with passion to colour But for soviet lens there was parameter as colour formula and one could guess tonality of different lens.

Eduard.
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Old 04-27-2006   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ed1k
Foto-250. Red box. 250 ISO. Really fast film for that time. Sometimes I used this film for available light. More often I used A2SH which was not available in retail stores, but professional only. A2SH was produced in bulk rolls only. It had better sensitivity in yellowish spectrum of traditional bulbs - around 380 ISO. I heard that Foto-250 was also more sensitive for bulb light, but I can't say anything about it. Foto-250 was grainy film... but you have to pay for speed.


There were also colour films, really ****y ones. I remember DS-4 (day light) and CLN-90 (bulb light). Much better was East German Orwocolor films. I got just excellent slides out of Orwochrome. This imported film was expensive but probably the only way to get good results in colour photography.

I never saw Kodak or Ilford film while soviet union existed. I heard someone was able to get Fomapan stuff... but it was not available for an average Ivan like me.

Cheers,
Eduard

Hi Eduard

Excellent comments on Soviet film!

Most of the fast panchromatic emulsions had "extended red sensitivity"- meaning they were faster in tungsten/artificial light than in blue daylight. The reason for doing this was that it was assumed that these films were going to be used indoors where lighting is mostly from yellow/red-rich lamps. There used to be different grades of panchromatic sensitivity amongst Western films- there had been type A, B, and C ratings, each rating corresponded to the amount of sensitivity to the red end of the spectrum. For a time Kodak Tri-X was type C (not too sure about this) and had more sensitivity to red.

As for Soviet colour film, I'm really interested in knowing how good/bad they were.
A Russian friend gave me a book, "Физические И Химические Основы Цветной Фотографии" which contains all sorts of data about Soviet Colour films for still cameras, motion pictures, and their processing. There is a lot about colour theory there as well. Even bourgeois films like Kodak, Sakura(nee Konica), Fuji, as well as comrades like Fortecolor, Fomacolor, and Efkecolor are there.

In one 1980s Soviet movie I saw recently on DVD, ("Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears"), the end credits stated that it was shot in Svemacolor and Tasmacolor.
The colours looked fine and resembled European movies shot on 1970s Agfacolor. Hues were a bit pastel, but nonetheless looked fine. Perhaps I saw a 'restored' version where digital took over where the original Svemacolor faltered? Or was there an 'Industrial' grade Svemacolor which was reserved for special features and for movies meant for international release?

Jay
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Old 04-27-2006   #28
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Color Svema was usable for motion picture production but often suffered from quality control issues. It's shelf life was also really short. Film directors tried to secure Kodak if possible: it was purchased for hard currency in limited amounts and distributed for high-profile projects. Tarkovski was able to film Solaris on Kodak, but even he was provided with really tight amount: his operators had to get the scenes right at first attempt most of the time.

Same for still color production. In 1970s-1980s pro photographers were issued Kodachrome on allowance of 1.5 frames per scene, meaning that you couldn't even bracket. Soviet color transparency (DO-32 I think) was considered unsuitable to requirements of professional still photography.
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Old 04-27-2006   #29
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Jay,
Soviet colour film was really bad. I can't tell you much as I shot just few rolls to understand I don't need all kinds of hassles with development and printing colour at home; I don't need colour at all because it was rather obstacle for me to get a good picture... Sometimes I was so exited with colour spots that missed shapes, idea or expression myself, if you want. German ORWO was significantly better, and it was not always on the shelves in photo stores. I never saw western or Japanese film in photo stores, though Kharkov is not as big city as Kiev or Moscow where it could be different (I doubt though). I'm giving a picture from amateur's point of view. I didn't contact much with pros and never been in that business. Varjag already gave some valuable input (BTW, welcome Varjag to the western world).
What I missed from my review, there was also reversible b&w film which I never tried and sometimes there was MZ-3L (fast as good photopapier) film in stores. I don't know if amateurs really used this film; it was designated for microfilming.

Eduard.
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Old 04-27-2006   #30
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Hi Eugene & Eduard

I've read Andrej Tarkovski's "Solaris" story somewhere before. He had said that Soviet colour motion picture films were often unreliable that they sometimes had to paint grass green to make it appear right when seen on the screen. I've seen some excellent BW Soviet films like "Cranes are Flying" and "A Soldier's Ballad". One series on Discovery showed a 1940s Soviet parade which was shot on the first Soviet colour film- commissioned by Stalin. And there was also
a short dream sequence in "Ivan the Terrible, part II" in colour- shot supposedly on captured Agfacolor.

When I was still in school, we used to borrow some information reels from the Soviet cultural mission here (it ceased to exist when the USSR dissolved). In one reel about "Izvestia", the 16mm film had "Kodak" and "ORWO" markings on its edges- Kodak for the negative, and ORWO for the release print. That conforms with what Eugene said about professionals using imported film stocks.

One of my school mates was able to get a grant from the USSR embassy to study cinematography in Moscow. Too bad I missed that . He said that the only film they could get for colour snapshots were ORWOcolor- and it took about 2 weeks to have their pictures developed and printed.

Jay
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Old 11-24-2018   #31
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Just adding to this old thread as I was researching old Soviet films and the GOST scale.
From Wikipedia entry on Svema:
Quote:
Before 1987
Svema 65 film
▪ Svema Foto 32; 32 GOST, ISO 40/17
▪ Svema Foto 65; 65 GOST, ISO 80/20; sheet films 6.59*cm - 3040*cm, KB, 69", bulk
▪ Svema Foto 130; 130 GOST, ISO 160/23; KB, bulk
▪ Svema Foto 250; 250 GOST, ISO 320/26 (Daylight); 350 GOST, ISO 400/27 (Tungsten); KB, bulk
1987-1990
(new GOST speed scale, same as ASA)
Black-and-white 135 film, GOST/ISO 64.
▪ Svema Foto 32; ISO 32/16
▪ Svema Foto 64; ISO 64/19
▪ Svema Foto 125; ISO 125/22
▪ Svema Foto 250; ISO 250/25 (Daylight); ISO 320/26 (Tungsten)
▪ Svema Reporter; 200 GOST, ISO 200/24 (actually cinematographic filmstock); KB, bulk
After 1990
(ISO speed scale)
▪ Svema Foto 50; ISO 50/18
▪ Svema Foto 100; ISO 100/21; KB, 69", bulk
▪ Svema Foto 200; ISO 200/24; KB, bulk
▪ Svema Foto 400; ISO 400/27; KB, bulk
The plant's production of photographic products slowed through the 1990s and ceased entirely in 2000. Svema shut down completely in 2006, having served only as a district heating source for the town of Shostka in the intervening years.
Additionally, when Svema shut down, their equipment was taken over by the Ukrainian company Astrum:
Quote:
Astrum is a photographic supplies company located in Ukraine and established in 1995. It operates equipment once used by Svema to produce similar product lines.

Black and White film
* ФН-64 (FN-64), ISO 64/19
* Фoto-100 (Foto-100), ISO 100/21
* Фoto-200 (Foto-200), ISO 200/24
* Фoto-400 (Foto-400), ISO 400/27
* МЗ-3 (MZ-3), ISO 3/6
* А-2Ш (A-2SH), ISO 400/27
* НК-2Ш (NK-2), ISO 100/21
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Old 11-25-2018   #32
Brambling
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some illustrations -

wicked smile restructuring (perestroika, gorby)


soviet slide ЦО (1990)




Svema DS100 - perhaps watering with fuji components or repacking 2002 (2015-2016)


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Old 11-25-2018   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VinceC View Post
In the late 1980s, before the communist governments fell, my future wife visited Prague. I asked her to bring back a roll of film for me to put on my photo display shelf (just one shelf back then). She returned with a roll of Kodak Gold 100 and a small portfolio of several official-looking papers bearing multiple government stamps -- it had taken her the better part of a day to get permission from Communist authorities for a foreigner to buy film, then had to visit two separate administrative offices in the city to get the stamps and approval letters. This also garnered her surveillance by a plainclothes security detail for the rest of the day.
Wow! They must have been afraid she was going to steal Russian nuclear secrets by taking Russian Panatomic-X out of the country!
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Old 11-25-2018   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
Wow! They must have been afraid she was going to steal Russian nuclear secrets by taking Russian Panatomic-X out of the country!
You've cracked the code!!
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Old 02-01-2019   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msandersen View Post
Additionally, when Svema shut down, their equipment was taken over by the Ukrainian company Astrum:
Astrum repackages aerophotofilm from elsewhere, could be Agfa, or Kodak but chinese Luckyfilm is more like it. They have no production at all
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Old 02-01-2019   #36
vnukov_pk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob-F View Post
Wow! They must have been afraid she was going to steal Russian nuclear secrets by taking Russian Panatomic-X out of the country!
*menacing voice* you know our secret now, so we will send out some komrades with licenze to kill
Joking.
Anyway, we never had panatomic film. We had codes like FN64, meaning mundane film negative asa 64.
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Old 07-04-2019   #37
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nominal value - 16 ISO, residual at the moment - 16 ISO


nominal value - 90 ISO, residual at the moment - 50 ISO


residual at the moment - 0 ISO


residual at the moment - 8 ISO ortohrom


nominal value - 250 ISO, residual at the moment - 0 ISO


nominal value - 250 ISO, residual at the moment - 8 ISO


residual at the moment - 0 ISO


nominal value - 35 ISO, residual at the moment - 11-16 ISO


residual at the moment - 16 ISO
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Old 07-04-2019   #38
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Has short loads of all kinds of esoteric emulsions, including Svema and Tasma. Haven't shot the Tasma 100 yet but Svema has a very thin base and I had a bit of trouble getting it in to the spiral. Always fun to try something different. Check in on them, they also once had Plus-X from who knows where. It didn't last very long.
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Old 07-06-2019   #39
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No Svema as businesses, as organizations it's not on the site of the former location. What is sold under the guise of Svema - aerial film of unknown origin, a slim base - type as avifot.
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