ORWO, short for "Original Wolfen," is the trademark of ORWO Net GmbH, a company based in Wolfen. They're well-known for their black and white film products, crafted in Germany and sold under the ORWO brand.
ORWO recently introduced a color-negative film called Wolfen NC500, an ISO 400 film. This film lacks a remjet layer, which can be processed in any standard C-41 colour film processing lab and is available in 35mm canisters of 36 exposures.
I wish I'd come across James Tocchio's experience report on ORWO Wolfen NC 500 before I used it. Sadly, I stumbled upon James' post several months after I had already loaded this film stock into my Nikon N2020. James' thoughts on his ORWO Wolfen NC 500 experience closely align with mine, so I'll let his words do the talking.
... let’s look at the grain structure. It’s heavy and exaggerated, and it does tend to diminish some of the detail of the film. Color films from Kodak’s Pro line certainly render sharper and cleaner images, and even ORWO’s own Wolfen NC400 has finer grain. Recall, however, that sharpness and cleanliness are not the intended goals for Wolfen NC500. Wolfen NC500 is not a true-to-life film. Not even close.
The de-saturation is certainly a "vibe". Colors are muted across the range, but especially so in the blue tones. Believe me when I say that the skies of Florida and the waters of the Gulf are all far bluer than images from this film indicate. Plants are greener, too. For those seeking to simply document the colors of the world as it is, Kodak’s color films are much better in this regard.
I'm with James on this one. I scanned the negative myself. I thought I'd messed up somewhere when I first saw the scans. So, I went back to Vuescan to check my settings. I also tinkered with the white balance for the images I brought into Adobe Lightroom. The images were not to my liking.
But it finally hit me after I checked out some sample photographs on the Lomography website. I had had a bit of a misconception about how this film stock would turn out. Personally, I'm a fan of the fine grain and more true-to-life colours you get with the Kodak Porta 400 film stock. ORWO Wolfen NC 500 doesn't do it for me.
Lastly, ORWO’s new color film is not cheap. Pricing ranges from shop to shop, but NC500 typically costs in the area of $17 per 36 exposure roll. Compared with some other color films, ORWO is pricey.
I burnt through the whole roll in just one day. Most of the shots were taken outside at the local farmers' market on a sunny July day.
Over at Analogue.Cafe, Dimitri thinks that if you're willing to put in extra work, you can find a use for this 35mm film. ORWO Wolfen NC 500 is pricier than Kodak Portra 400 film stock, and honestly, it doesn't look as good. Why bother?
ORWO is gearing up to release a new 200-ISO color negative film called NC 200. Hopefully this will be better than ORWO Wolfen Color NC 500. I can't recommend the ORWO Wolfen Color NC 500. I have zero plans to use it again.