Film Review: SILBERSALZ35 (A Game Changer for Film Photographers)

SILBERSALZ35’s 35mm cine film makes authentic Kodak cinefilm for analog photographers looking to give their work a cinematic look.

We first learned about Silbersalz35 during 2018’s Photokina, and it was one of the most exciting developments we’ve seen in the analog photography space. While CineStill has made cinefilm accessible to stills shooters for some time, what Silbersalz35 is offering with their various cine film emulsions are fundamentally different. Although CineStill and Silbersalz emulsions are cut from the same Kodak Vision3 motion picture film stock, one fundamental difference separates the two. The Silbersalz35 emulsions are unmodified Kodak Vision3 film stock that retain the remjet layer and are cut down to 35mm, while CineStill has the remjet layer native to the Vision3 film stock removed in order to make it possible to develop the film using the popular C-41 process. Traditionally, Kodak Vision3 required the use of the expensive ECN2 development process that was not readily available to still photographers.

What Silbersalz has opted to do with their various Silbersalz35 emulsions is more than just make cine film available to stills shooters. With Silbersalz35, not only are you getting true cine film cut down to 35mm, but Silbersalz is also including the ECN2 motion picture development process as well as high-resolution scanning as part of the whole package. Silbersalz35 is more than just repackaging cine film as a 35mm product, they are offering an entire service. For the first time, photographers can shoot and develop cine films without the need for any modifications or alternative development processes. Silbersalz kindly sent all four of the available Silbersalz35 emulsions for us to test.

Gear Used

We tested the four available Silbersalz35 film emulsions with a Fujifilm Natura S, Leica M4, and Minolta Maxxum 7.

  • Silbersalz35 50D was shot with the Fujifilm Natura S
  • Silbersalz35 200T was shot with the Leica M4
  • Silbersalz35 250D and Silbersalz35 500T were shot with the Minolta Maxxum 7
  • A Gitzo Mini Traveler tripod and MeFOTO Roadtrip Leather Edition tripod were also used when shooting long exposures

Tech Specs

Tech specs for Silbersalz35 35mm Cine Film taken from the official Silbersalz35 website:

  • Real Professional cinefilm ECN2 processing
  • 21.4 Megapixel digital scanning and JPG/JP2 delivery included!

OUR STOCKS

  • Is a true motion picture film stock for use as still photography film.
  • Each package comes in a set of four cartridges with 36 exposures each.

SHOOTING

  • Use any analog 35mm camera. We recommend to overexpose by plus one stop.
  • For best results your film should be stored in the fridge and shot within 6 months.
  • Please send in exposed film promptly for processing to preserve latent image quality.

PROCESSING

  • SILBERSALZ35 is designed to be processed in true cinefilm ECN-2 chemicals only.
  • Test results show dramatically decreased picture quality if processed using C-41.
  • Each pack of 4 films includes one True Cinefilm ECN2 processing voucher.
  • Choose special processing instructions on your processing voucher (Bleach Bypass etc).

SCANNING

  • Each pack of SILBERSALZ35 includes true cinefilm digital image scanning.
  • JPG previews and JP2 images in RAW quality will be shared within 2 weeks after delivery.
  • We scan pictures up to 20-perf. So we can easily supply x-pan scans and even more.

NEGATIVE

  • Use the negative-return option if you like to get your processed film negative back.
  • Otherwise your negative will be securely destroyed within 2 weeks.

Ease of Use

Unedited/Unretouched Silbersalz35 200T scan, shot using a Leica M4

If you haven’t shot with cinefilm before, you may find a slight learning curve involved when shooting with the Silbersalz35 emulsions. As long as you remain cognizant of your lighting conditions and subject matter while selecting the appropriate emulsion, you should be fine. It’s recommended you overexpose by a stop when shooting with Silbersalz35 film, so just shoot at half box speed and you’re golden. What sets Silbersalz35 film apart from other emulsions is that each pack includes ECN2 cinema film processing and high-resolution scanning upon shipping to the company’s Germany headquarters. Kodak Vision3 motion picture film stock is not compatible with C-41 processing, requiring instead to be developed using ECN2 which has been a prohibitively costly process not readily available to average photographers. Silbersalz35 film keeps the remjet layer from the original Kodak Vision3 motion picture film stock intact (unlike CineStill, which removes this layer in order to make the film compatible with C-41 processing). The included ECN2 processing makes Silbersalz35 stand out from the rest. Simply load your camera with Silbersalz35 film, shoot to your heart’s content, and send the exposed film back to Silbersalz for development. Within two weeks, Silbersalz35 will send you high-resolution scans of your film in color graded JPEGs and 8-bit TIFFs, along with ungraded 16-bit TIFFs should you prefer to do your own color grading in post. For the most part, we found the color graded JPEGs more than adequate.

Image Quality

Editor’s Note: These images were not edited by us.

Silbersalz35 emulsions are ideal for photographers looking to emulate the cinematic look and feel we’ve grown accustomed to seeing in motion pictures. When used properly, images shot on the various Silbersalz35 emulsions look like screengrabs from old movies. All of the sample images included in this review are scansreceived directly from Silbersalz after they developed the film in-house using ECN-2. Aside from the default color grading Silbersalz applied to all of the scans, no additional retouching or editing was done to any of the sample images. Silbersalz includes color graded JPEG and 8-bit TIFF files as well as flat, 16-bit TIFF files for photographers who opt to do their own color grading during post-processing.

Silbersalz35 50D (Shot with Fujifilm Natura S)

As the “D” in Silbersalz35 50D suggests, this is a daylight-balanced (5500k) film emulsion rated at ISO 50. Silbersalz35 50D is the lowest ISO color negative film emulsion currently available on the market aside from CineStill 50D. Both the Silbersalz35 50D and CineStill 50D are cut from the same Kodak Vision3 motion picture film stock, but Silbersalz35 50D retains the remjet layer found on the original Vision3 stock while CineStill 50D has the remjet layer removed so that it can be processed using C-41. Silbersalz35 50D is best suited when photographing stationary subjects in plenty of light. Ideal use cases for Silbersalz35 50D include landscapes, architecture, and portraits of slow-moving subjects or when shooting with a flash.

Silbersalz35 200T (Shot with Leica M4)

Moving onto Silbersalz35 200T, this is a faster emulsion compared to the 50D that’s rated at ISO 200 and balanced for tungsten (3200K) lighting. By virtue of being a tungsten-balanced film, Silbersalz35 is ideal when photographing indoors under warmer lighting conditions. While you’ll still want a good amount of light in the scene when shooting with Silbersalz35, we’ve produced some pleasing results when shooting with this emulsion at night as well. Just make sure you’ve got a tripod with you to dial down your shutter speed enough.

Silbersalz35 250D (Shot with Minolta Maxxum 7)

Like the 50D, Silbersalz35 250D is another daylight-balanced emulsion. It’s arguably an easier film to use when compared to the 50D: it is faster and more light-sensitive at ISO 250. This allows you to shoot sans tripod more often. Naturally, you’ll see the best results when shooting Silbersalz35 250D in daylight, but we were able to create some moody images when shooting with it in low light indoor situations as well. If you’re trying to replicate a vintage cinematic look in your images, this is the emulsion to reach for.

Silbersalz35 500T (Shot with Minolta Maxxum 7)

Silbersalz35 500T is the fastest of the four available Silbersalz35 emulsions. Rated at ISO 500 and balanced for tungsten lighting, Silbersalz35 500T is a natural choice when photographing in dimly lit situations, particularly indoors. Compared to the 250D, images shot on Silbersalz35 500T tend to be a bit flatter, so you may want to do some contrast adjustments during post-processing if you prefer more contrast to your images.

Conclusions

If you’re a fan of the way classic Hollywood movies look and want to replicate it in your stills photography work, you can’t go wrong with one of the four Silbersalz35 cine film emulsions. While the term “game-changer” gets thrown around often when describing new products, it is honestly the best descriptor of the way Silbersalz is making true motion picture film along with the ECN2 development process available to photographers. Until now, the only other way for photographers to shoot with motion picture film was through offerings from CineStill, and that required the Kodak Vision3 stock to be modified so that it could be developed using the conventional C-41 process. With Silbersalz35, the same film and development process available to Hollywood is finally accessible to photographers.

The various Silbersalz35 emulsions offer a great deal of versatility for photographers shooting in different lighting conditions. When used properly, the Silversalz35 emulsions produce images with colors and grain that contribute to the vintage cinematic look many photographers often attempt to replicate in their work. Instead of having to do a ton of post-processing, you’re getting that look directly from the color graded high-resolution scans you receive from Silbersalz. Ungraded, 16-Bit flat TIFF files are included as well for photographers who want to do their own color grading and additional post-processing.

Silbersalz35 is available in both daylight and tungsten white balances. Daylight variants include the 50D and 250D, rated at ISO 50 and ISO 250, respectively. Tungsten variants include the 200T and 500T, rated at ISO 200 and ISO 500, respectively. Each roll of Silbersalz35 film contains 36 exposures and is available in packs of four via their website. A mixed pack containing all four variants is also available and is the best way to test the different emulsions to see which one best suits your workflow.

Pauleth Ip

Paul is a New York City based photographer, creative, and writer. His body of work includes headshots and commercial editorials for professionals, in-demand actors/performers, high net worth individuals, and corporate clients, as well as intimate lifestyle/boudoir photography with an emphasis on body positivity and empowerment. Paul also has a background in technology and higher education, and regularly teaches private photography seminars. When not working on reviews and features for The Phoblographer or shooting client work, Paul can be seen photographing personal projects around NYC, or traveling the world with his cameras in tow. You can find Paul’s latest work on his Instagram over at @thepicreative.