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ORWO is a film brand. It is the abbreviation for "Original Wolfen" because it was made in the Filmfabrik Wolfen, once a plant of Agfa in the East-German town Wolfen. In addition to film for still photography, Wolfen made cine film and film and plates for radiography. After the war the plant was in the hands of the U.S. occupying troops. Some assets and documents, including the technical information about the Agfacolor negative film were claimed by the U.S. government as 'war indemnity',[1] and passed to American and other allied competitors, including Kodak and Ilford. Wolfen belonged to the Soviet sector of occupied Germany so when the Americans withdrew Wolfen became part of socialist East Germany. Some of the plant's equipment was taken in reparations by the Soviet Union, but the plant continued to work after both these losses, still producing Agfa-branded products. As with other German brands divided after the War (such as Zeiss and Balda) there was difficulty over the right to the brand. In the west, Agfa built a new film plant in Leverkusen. The Wolfen plant could continue to use the Agfa name in eastern Europe; however, use of the trademarks in the western market was problematic. Orwo was first adopted as the name of the organisation, and then (as late as 1964[2]) was registered as a trademark for the products to solve this problem.

In 1994, four years after German reunification, Orwo was liquidated by the Treuhandanstalt.[3] Heinrich Mandermann tried to privatise Orwo as one operation, Orwo AG but failed in 1998, and the organisation was instead privatised in several small parts.[4] The new company named FilmoTec was one of these; it took over the rights to make Orwo films, some made according to original recipes.

ORWO photographic film types

General purpose materials

  • NC (Negativfilm Color) - color negative (e.g. NC 16, NC 19, NC 20);
  • NI (Negativfilm Infrarot) - infra red black and white negative film (NI 750);
  • NP (Negativfilm Panchromatisch) - black and white panchromatic film (e.g. NP 15, NP 20, NP 22) or high speed superpanchromatic film (NP 27);
  • UK (Umkehrfilm für Kunstlicht) - color slides for tungsten light (e.g. UK 17, UK 20);
  • UP (Umkehrfilm Panchromatisch) - brack and white panchromatic slides (UP 15);
  • UT (Umkehrfilm für Tageslicht) - color slides for daylight (e.g. UT 16, UT 18, UT 20, UT 21);

Technical materials

The numbers in film designations indicated gamma value available for a given film (1 = soft, 5 = very hard) rather than sensitivity. F-type materials were available first as plates, then as sheet films from 9x12 cm to 29.7x42 cm, as well as 68 mm and 105 mm wide roll films.

  • DK (Dokumentenfilm) - hard black and white orthochromatic film for reproducing line drawings and text documents (e.g. DK 3, DK 5);
  • FO (Fototechnischer Film Orthochromatisch) - orthochromatic film for reproductions (e.g. FO 1, FO 4, FO 5);
  • FP (Fototechnischer Film Panchromatisch) - panchromatic film for reproductions (e.g. FP 1, FP 2, FP 3, FP 4);
  • FU (Fototechnischer Film Unsensibilisiert) - color blind film for reproductions (e.g. FU 1, FU 2, FU 3, FU 5);
  • PF (Positiv Feinkornfilm) - small grain color blind film for projection purposes (PF 1);


  1. Roalf, Peggy (2004) Picture Perfect In: Colorama: The World's Largest Photographs; Aperture Foundation, New York. ISBN 1-931788-44-8.
  2. About Us at ORWO North America
  3. Treuhandanstalt: 'Trust Agency': the body created by the German government to privatise East German state-owned industries. When created, it was effectively the largest industrial company in the world.
  4. Über FilmoTec (about FilmoTec) at Filmotec.


  • Göpel N.: Entwickeln; VEB Fotokinoverlag, Leipzig, 1974.
  • Wurst W.: Das Fotobuch für alle; VEB Fotokinoverlag, Leipzig, 1969.