Enter Silbersalz film: a true cinematic 35mm film with 4 different varieties! I take a pack of this new film stock with me on a family trip to Armenia. Join me for an insight into Armenian life and read my review of Silbersalz film.
I organized an extended family trip to Armenia back in June (my surname gives away the Armenian influence) and decided to take a 4-pack of Silbersalz film with me that I was keeping for a special occasion. I’ve had these photos for a while, but been busy moving back to London over the summer, and have finally been able to write this review. Please note this is not a sponsored review.
About Silbersalz film
I came across this Stuttgart based advertising and film production company a while ago, when they started to offer a 35mm 4-pack of Kodak cinema film bundle. These included a choice of 4 different films, development, and scanning in one package - oh and a pretty cool film case too! I have enjoyed shooting cinema style film before from the likes of original Kodak Vision film or more recently with Cinestill film. It is a look that is extremely unique and really cinematic. What was different about Silbersalz was the overall bundle including development and scanning for a very decent price. Whilst I have a scanner at home, it is nice to just send the films away and receive a download link.
The film stocks they offer are (numbers are for ISO values):
50D (D for daylight)
200T (T for Tungsten)
According to Silbersalz: “SILBERSALZ35 are the actual, unchanged motion picture stocks used for films like ‘Dunkirk’,’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ or ‘Wonder Woman’, with true cinefilm chemical processing (ECN2). For scanning we are also using state-of-the-art cine equipment. For digital post processing we only use our own unique color science.”
I have seen quite a few reviews and photos of Silbersalz film around the internet, but I figured there was a good chance I would be the only one taking this film to Armenia!
About the photos
Our group of 25 was in Armenia for about 6 days, enjoying the sights and sounds of the capital city Yerevan and travelling to Lake Sevan and beyond. Given the time of year (end of June) it was very bright and very hot, so suitable for most of the film I brought, except for the 500T, which is more suitable to bright city neon lights.
I didn’t have a specific theme or plan with my photos, just looking for interesting themes. I did have to plan a bit around the 500T film, which I tried for the most part to shoot in low light or at night. All shots were taken with my Leica M2 and either a 35mm Voigtlander 1.4f lens or Leica Summicron 50mm f2 lens.
Oh and this will be quite a long review as I picked the best shots of 4 rolls of film (remember 36 shots per film!).
I don’t shoot ISO 50 film often (although one of my favourite films is black & white Ilford 50 film) as it requires lots of light and I tend to avoid shooting in the middle of the day as I find the light too harsh and not overly interesting. However, an ISO 50 film is perfect for a bright Yerevan city scene.
One of the key art installations at the ‘Cascades’ - an open air modern art museum set on a city hillside (Cafesjian Museum of Art).
Looking up the staircase of the Cascades. The original construction dates back to the Soviet era.
View of Yerevan city from about half way up the staircase. At the top there is a really great panoramic view of the city with Mount Ararat in the background.
Armenian street photography.
I really like this shot, with the colourful flowers and the older Yerevan architecture in the background, including
This was actually the first frame of the roll, which sometimes leads to light leaks. This is Geghard Monastery, one of the most visited sights in Armenia.
The entrance to the monastery. I like how busy the scene is with the bright colours of the stalls, it is a nice frozen shot in time.
A different angle of the monastery, also has some slight like leaks at the bottom of the frame.
Sevanavank monastery on the shores of Lake Sevan.
We arrived just as an enormous storm rolled in and created a fantastic and very moody atmosphere. Of course, about 5 mins after I took this shot the heavens opened! I like the strong contrasts in this shot.
This is one of my favourite shots of the trip - talk about a ‘big’ sky! Scary stuff!
Looking out onto Lake Sevan.
Interestingly, Lake Sevan is very large, over 1,200 sq km. It is also very high (situated at 1900m above sea level) and is one of the largest freshwater alpine lakes in Europe and Asia.
It was actually very hot (despite what the menacing clouds would lead you to think), and I guess this little guy just wanted to have a rest.
Many tourist stalls at the bottom of the monastery.
Armenia fisherman (part-time as this was the local policeman), with the monastery in the very far background.
I love the strong shadows in this shot and the overall symmetry.
Outside the Megerian Armenian carpet factory in Yerevan. Another of my favourite shots!
Mother Armenia statue.
This ISO 200 daylight film was perfect for all day use and into the evening times where there was less light. There is a tungsten version of this film (reviewed later on in this post), which supposedly works well for tungsten lighting. It was hard to test that where I was and I would probably try it again in a cityscape in a lower light scenario.
Yerevan Republic Square. One of my favourite shots, look how timeless it looks - that is the cinematic quality of this film!
The Matenadaran - Manuscripts museum - entrance. This is a statue of Mesrop Mashtots (inventor of the Armenian alphabet in c.405 AD).
Candy floss anyone?
Yerevan street signs.
I really like the entrance to this building, which I believe is a bank. Really nice soft afternoon lighting too.
One of the newer parks in Yerevan, plenty of ourdoor play space and loads of fountains!
You can see all the people in the distance enjoying the park and outdoors - Yerevan evenings are full of people as it cools down from the intense daytime heat.
I love the lighting in this shot - I took one look at the bench and snapped the shot as the lighting was so stunning.
Yerevan Opera building - opened in 1933. I have never been inside but it is a stunning architectural masterpiece on the outside.
Yerevan street scene.
Another shot of the Republic Square - this time with the History Museum of Armenia in the frame.
Republic square - I liked how the colourful flowers fit into the overall frame.
The tungsten version of the ISO 200 film - I am not sure if I could see any clear differences with the 200D as these were shot during the daytime also.
A very typical Armenian scene.
I managed a quick snap of the street vendor just as he looked at me.
Easily my favourite shot of the trip, shot inside Geghard monastery.
The amazing Garni gorge: Symphony of the Stones
Around 25km outside of Yerevan is the town of Garni, that has a first century temple that sits right above a very large basalt column formation. What is striking about this formation is how large it is and relatively unknown. When someone thinks about basalt columns what tends to come to mind is the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland or various formations in Iceland.
The only way to access the bottom of the Gorge is by 4x4 along a very precarious and unfinished road. The trip down and along the columns is spectacular and you also have the place pretty much to yourself. I put all these shots together below.
A view of Garni temple, the basalt columns are directly underneath this in the gorge.
Shooting ISO 500 in an Armenian summer was always going to be difficult to get the full effect. In some ways it is similar to the CInestill 500T film, which requires a filter for daytime use. I shot this film without any filter. Unfortunately I did not have that many “keepers” with this film, many of the night shots were out of focus and there was not enough neon / street lighting to get some interesting shots.
A Lada and a street market - welcome to Yerevan.
Armenian street photography in action.
Where better to lay a carpet for sale than over a car?!
A local street martet.
Armenian carpets made painstakingly by hand.
Shot inside the Megerian carpet factory, I was glad for a fast film in low light.
The Republic Square towards sunset.
Probably the best shot taken with the 500T film. I managed to rest the camera on a ledge overlooking the Republic Square. I love how this shot came out, with just streetlighting to make up the image.
I really enjoyed shooting the special 4-pack of Silbersalz film - I love the cinematic feel to the shots and I am always happy to support new film stocks (even if they are re-branded from older film stocks). It was a bit hard to get the proper variety of lighting I wanted for the different films on this trip, and I feel like a city trip to New York or Hong Kong might be a better choice for a future post of the entire Silbersalz film set, in particular wanting to get good use out of the 500T film roll.
I think my favourite shots came from the 50D roll, which probably makes some sense as this would be the best choice for really bright summer days in Armenia. I did not see a huge difference between the 200D and 200T, largely down to the fact that the lighting was very similar. I wasn’t able to use the 500T in an environment it was designed for, but the shots I did like came out really well (in particular the last shot of the post - nighttime in the Republic Square).
Overall a really great experience with this special cinematic film, and the overall package of film + processing + scanning (+ case!) is hard to beat at a really reasonable cost. I can’t recommend this film set enough and it is a pity they don’t have a 120 film variety. There is a small wait to receive the final scanned images, but I am OK with that as it means I don’t have to scan the negatives at home!
A really great film stock - try it out here.
I hope you enjoyed my review of Silbersalz film and an insight into Armenia and some of its key sights - also a country well worth visiting!
See you next time,