Analogue Adventures – Part 25: Wolfen Color NC500 ECN-2

Wolfen Color NC500

In early 2023 I managed to buy two rolls of the ORWO Wolfen NC 500 color negative film and it is something special for several reasons, so let’s have a closer look.
Processing (ECN-2) and scanning was done at Silbersalz35 in Germany.

wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/5.6 | Wolfen 500 NC
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/11 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/5.6 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/4.0 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/11 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2

This Wolfen NC 500 is an ISO400 color negative film and to be honest its heritage is a bit confusing, so here is what I gathered: this film is made in Bitterfeld-Wolfen, Germany in the old Agfa factory. The company behind it seems to be Filmotec, on the packaging of the box is an InovisCoat label though. InovisCoat seems to have originally been a part of Agfa Leverkusen. According to InovisCoat’s history InovisCoat and Filmotec are both part of the “Seal Group” since 2020.

wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/1.4 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2

As far as I know this is also a derivative of a motion picture film supposed to be developed in ECN-2, but this still version comes without a Remjet layer so is safe to be devloped in C-41. I had the first roll developed in ECN-2 though.

Like any color negative film in 2023 you cannot easily find this one in stock everywhere all the time, but it still seems to me this is actually in production and not just some old stock found somewhere. If this is actually the case this would be pretty spectacular news for all the fans of color negative film out there.

But is it a viable alternative to the Kodak films?

wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/1.4 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/1.4 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2

In the marketing material “desaturated shadows” and “enhanced grain” were mentioned and both are generally true. The amount of grain might even be the highest I have seen among all the color negative films I have shot so far.
In terms of colors there is a bit of a green/orange teint and when looking at the scans I got I have indeed been reminded of what I got out of the expired Agfa Vista 200.

wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/11 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/1.4 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2

If you are looking for a bit of color accuracy and low grain you are definitely better off using the Kodak Portra 400 or Ultramax 400.
But if you are after more of a “vintage” look, this Wolfen NC 500 might be for you.

Either way, I hope this NC 500 came to stay, as we would all benefit from someone else but Kodak producing color negative film of a constant quality.

wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/8.0 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/8.0 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/1.4 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/5.6 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/4.0 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2
wolfen nc500 orwo agfa iso400 asa review leica analogue film germany
Minolta CLE | Voigtländer VM 40mm 1.4 MC | f/2.8 | Wolfen 500 NC ECN-2

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My name is Bastian and I am your expert here when it comes to ultra wide angle lenses, super fast portrait lenses (ranging from a 50mm f/0.95 to a 200mm f/1.8) and I also have reviewed way too many 35mm lenses. Don't ask me anything about macro or wildlife shooting though.

15 thoughts on “Analogue Adventures – Part 25: Wolfen Color NC500 ECN-2”

  1. The second landscape colours with this film is very nice. Quite warm and vintage. It is a fine film depending on the situation.

  2. The colours aren’t true to life (which is something I rarely care about, personally, in most situations), but instead of accuracy they do seem to offer the element of creating or enhancing the certain mood and atmosphere; which is nice in some situations (I find the look really pleasant in some images, and neutral to non-destructive in others, a matter of taste anyway).
    Processing had to play some role too, like it did with other films, and there’s some consistency there that shows even across different emulsions. That lab does a very decent job for sure.
    I guess the warmth of this film can bring some interest to scenes with a bit duller light and colours that would otherwise look kinda meh on, say, Portra.
    In any case, nice little presentation of its capabilities!

  3. Great article/series and nice to see that analogue photography attracts again some more fans. It’s not economical (nor rational from an absolute quality point of view) but it’s fun. Recently decided to give medium format analogue a try; so a roll of 120 Ilford Delta 400 and Ektachrome 100 are waiting in the fridge.

    For anyone interested to do scanning themselves, I can highly recommend the Valoi 360 system (in the US, Negative Supply might be easier to get). When having a (well centered copy of a) 1:1 macro lens; with a decent set-up it will rival any Noritsu or Fuji Frontier scan. Did some scans of old negatives and slides from my parents. With one roll professionally scanned easily going for 15 euro, THAT might be economical in the longer run.

  4. I enjoy how this is slightly washed out, I think it would work well for a dystopian environment feel I will definitely be purchasing some.

  5. Interesting film indeed. It seems to have a lot of character and I enjoy that. I also like how films like these can alter colors in a way that still looks very natural still (unlike influencers using Lightroom)

  6. I’m also kind of amazed that you manage to remember the exact aperture of every single one of these shots. Did you write these down?

  7. Thanks for your review. Never heard about this film-stock, but any Color film still in production and not from Kodak is good news.
    The color rendering is very interesting, the grain is a but much for my taste. In the right conditions you can create a special look with this one.
    I prefer the (Kodak based) film-stock that Silbersalz35 is offering or Portra, but it’s great to have alternatives.

  8. Congratulations Bastian, these images look stunning. I was about to order two rolls when I stumbled upon another review with samples and they looked horrible.
    So, given that all your phtographs look always georgous, I’m hesitating…

  9. Dear Bastian,

    I shot my first container of Wolfen 500 NC during the last week. Now I gave it to the Lab for C41 development and scanning. I am expecting the result during the next days.

    Your ECN-2 developed Photos look great. Do you have some C41 experiences too?

    Regards
    Bruno

  10. Thanks, that was very insightful. I have been shooting a few rolls of NC-500 but had it developed with the C41 process. I do think the rendering was a bit off. Using ECN-2 could have addressed that. Another thing I noticed was that I got consistently underexposed images when shooting at the box value of ISO 400. I shot a roll and ISO 100 and found it much better. So what I might do next is to shoot at ISO 100 and then have it processed with ECN-2.

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