It’s not for the faint-hearted, and it’s not for everyone, it’s cross-processing! It’s also the only option for people who don’t access to labs developing slide film.
If you don’t know what it is, you basically develop a roll of slide film (E6) in development liquids for color negative film (C41), or vice versa. I have never tried the vice versa though, it seems like a waste of film to me, because the results don’t look as nice as they can with cross-processing slide film. I can’t speak for developing C41 with E6, but the other way around you also need to be aware that cross-processing usually also pushes the exposure by one stop. This works nice with the Holga, especially with very low-speed film, but with other cameras you need to factor that in.
But even with slide film, I have mixed feelings about it. Most films get a very odd color tinge. Some films adopt the color that’s most present in the photo, others just turn purple. I’m not too fond of that. Sure, you could try to get a good share of different colors in your photo, but then again I might as well develop slide film as slide film, because some films are just plain awesome on their own. Plus, I’m not a fan of some people’s notion that slide film just has to cross-processed. Because it’s Lomo, because everyone else does it, who cares? Truth is that slide film can look nice just processed as slide film. Do whatever works for you.
Take Fuji’s Velvia series, for example. The Velvia 50 and the Velvia 100 (including F) result in awesome, saturated photos. The colors are almost insanely saturated, but to a point where it still makes for a nice combination, not as with HDR. Did I mention I’m not fond of HDR? Okay, there you have it.
Plus, there’s nothing like holding a stripe of 120 film in your hands where you can see the photo as it is. Screw those tiny slides with plastic casing your dad used to put on a show with, this is the real deal.
But, coming back to the original topic, there are two films that are just awesome for cross-processing, one of them is Agfa’s RSX-II 200, the other is Fuji Velvia 50. Unfortunately, production of the RSX-II has been stopped years back, and Agfa shut down altogether, but there’s hope. Rollei released a film called Digibase CR 200 which is based on the emulsion of the original RSX-II. I’m looking forward to trying it out, but until then, I still have ten rolls of the original in my fridge. An example of how it turns out cross-processed.
That’s an improvement I can get on board with. The colors are greatly saturated, but not yet to the point where it looks totally unnatural. But it’s not only great for cross-processing, it has amazing colors all by itself, especially with the added expired-ness.
Get your hands on a roll of that new Rollei film. Either way, you won’t regret it.
Now, just last weekend I put a roll of Velvia 50 in my Holga and had it cross-processed. The film stripes had a purple-ish tinge which made me suspicious, but when I scanned it, I was blown away. Sure, it has a slight shift to green, but it still looks awesome.
Velvia 50 has now officially taken the spot on being one of three slide films I would cross-process every once in a while. As a matter of fact, when shooting it with the Holga, I might just always get it cross-processed. If you’re wondering what the third is, it’s Fuji Provia 400X. It also mostly improves color saturation with a gentle touch of green.
There’s one other film people like getting cross-processed, it’s the infamous and now almost distinct Agfa Precisa CT 100. I think it was produced until some point last year, under license of good old Agfa Film. It’s cheap, and apparently it makes for amazing results. For me, I don’t care for it too much, because I prefer shooting roll film, but other people swear by it, so you could, no you should try that as well.
In the end, it’s all about experimenting with the medium film, and I prefer that over experimenting in Photoshop or with awful Holga or Polaroid filters anytime.