5 Frames… With Silberra U400 (EI 1600 / 35mm format / Nikon F2) – by James Harris

As part of my EMULSIVE Secret Santa 2019 present, I got a roll of Silberra U400. Well, this is different, I thought. I had used Silberra film before (their Pan 160 looks very nice, if you’re interested) but not the U400, so I was intrigued.

In case you don’t know, Silberra is a Russian company based in St. Petersburg who first started making chemicals a decade ago before venturing into making their own photographic film. Their ‘U’ series of films are new and are a mix of flat grain and classic grain. They are also coated onto a thinner substrate. More on that later.

And so, onto the shoot. For the last shoot of the year, I thought something simple and laid-back would be perfect and decided to use my trusty Nikon F2 with the 50mm F/1.4 AI lens. I contacted the model and arranged the shoot. She warned me about her two cats. As a cat lover, I didn’t mind at all.

The shoot went easily enough but I spent most of it being climbed over by the two cats! The things you must endure as a photographer. Only when I got home did the problems start.

I had forgotten to write down what ISO I had pushed the film to. I had shot four rolls; some I had pushed, some I hadn’t. I knew I had pushed a roll of Kodak Tri-X 400 to 1600, what about the Silberra film? I took the plunge and went for that.

Like Ilford films, the Silberra boxes have developing details printed inside. Great, or so I thought. Just not my developer. Nor anywhere else for that matter. There are no details for pushing it to 1600 either.

The final problem was loading that film into the reel. It was a pig. This film does not like to be loaded into a plastic reel. It even states on their website that you must make sure that the reel is dry first. You also need to make sure it is clean as well. I mean spotless.

Anyway, I am pleased with the results. If they use the same emulsion on their thicker substrate, I will be using this film again.

~ James

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James Harrishttps://thedarkroomdeveloper.uk/
My first film camera was a 110 which was a present when I was 14. But I moved away from film when digital seemed to be the way forward. Then I got back into film photography in December 2017 when I bought my Nikon F2 and I love it. When doing street photography I will always take my Nikon F2 and the 50mm F/1.4 AI-S lens. Ilford's FP4 film is my favourite by far but I do like to experiment.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Dear god, who uses plastic developing reels? I jest, of course .. many people do. Its just that I’m a snob because I learned with stainless reels way “back in the day” when, umm, nobody made those convenient plastic reels. But there are a few situations, like this one, where they’re really really useful things to have about.
    Anyhow…
    Lovely images. Nice grain structure. Great shadow detail. Silberra, eh?

    • I had an opportunity to buy a stainless steel reel eighteen months ago. I decided against it as I already had the plastic one and thought, why bother? Here I am lamenting that decision. Ah well, such is life. And thank you very much. This film held up very well despite my handling.

  2. Great images !
    I’ve experienced similar problems using the earlier versions of StreetCandy ATM400. The supplier recommended taping a piece of thicker (conventional) film on to the start of the ATM400 to make loading easier. This certainly worked for me – it just means you have to be careful rewinding the film to ensure the start portion stays out of the cassette or use a film retriver gizmo to pull a few cm out of the cassette if the film is fully rewound. Later versions of ATM400 were thicker, so didn’t need this treatment. I’ve used Silberra 160 and that’s fine – and is very flat after developing, so scans very nicely.
    Hope this helps.

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