A few months back I was shopping for some film in Les Ateliers de Marinette, a great film store in Lyon France which has a massive choice of film and which also sells some rare expired film. I was originally looking for some Kosmofoto Mono 100 but couldn’t find any. I asked the seller and he told me they didn’t sell this stock but that they had a Ukranian film stock: Astrum Svema BW FOTO, that looked similar and that they were the only ones in France selling it. As I am a film nut, I obviously had to try this new and enticing film! It exists in both 400 and 200 but I only got one roll of 200 for the summer.
As I opened the carton to load it, was surprised to find an unlabeled plastic cannister with the film hanging out the middle, a very weird setup. I decided to shoot it with my Pentax Spotmatic SP II and Helios 44M-4 lens. I supposed that shooting Ukranian film with a Soviet lens would definitely work out, so without further ado here, are 5 frames from this roll.
I tried shooting this film in various situations, always at box speed, to test it out and I found the results very pleasing. The contrast is beautiful under harsh sunlight in my opinion, even though it may lose a lot of information in the darker areas and the light is very bright I found the harmony excellent. I also tried it out with an overcast and the results are very different, much more similar to more neutral film. Even though the results are very different, it handles both situations fairly well in my opinion.
I also tried it for different ends, landscape, street, and portraits. Even though the contrast is amazing for street, I found that portraits shot with Astrum Svema 200 are the best! The contrast really brings out the highlights and creates a very dramatic shot. On the other hand, I found that it did not handle landscapes as well. The fine grain is also a great bonus to this film stock.
I have to say that with only one roll this stock has definitely sparked my attention, I will definitely be buying some more, and will be trying out the Astrum Svema 400 soon.
If, like me, you really appreciate fine grain and very contrasty film than you should definitely try this one out.
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This series is being produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories there.
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