Return to Film – Colour Reversal Slide Film
The second installment of the Film series as promised is going to cover Slide Film processed E6 and C41.
Slide Film also called Colour Reversal is correctly processed with different chemicals to Colour Negative and the process is called E6. The end result obviously does not produce negatives like ordinary colour film and because the film in slide for is back lit – you will get fantastic dynamic range to your photographs and some of the sharpest grain possible.
For the purist in reproduction photography this would be the film you would arguably choose over the professional Colour Negative film from Kodak or Fuji and not that long ago you would find magazines asking for slide submissions rather than colour negatives (although now they only talk about the size of the file).
The only off putting part for many people is that Slide film tends to be more expensive than Colour Negative and E6 processing is markedly more expensive than C41.
I know I don’t generally use Slide Film in E6 but it was only in preparation for this article that I reviewed my photos and saw that there are less than a dozen slide films correctly processed; yet I have put through a couple of hundred films in C41 or Cross Processed as it is more commonly known.
The most stunning part of Cross Processing is that each film type will cross differently to give a specific colour shift. You will get some films that cross to be mainly red and some to green or blue – but universally they will become quite grainy and almost as if the film has been printed with too much colour.
The film will also come out as Colour Negative when crossed and not positive.
So what I am going to cover in this article is much more about the effect of crossing film and less the quality of the film in the correct chemistry (apart from a particular film type that I love to both cross and E6).
Again I am not going to cover every single film available and will show the range of films as well as my favourites. For the sake of showing range I am going to start with some really extremely red film – which although it isn’t my choice of film – it does demonstrate the massive changes in cross processing.
Fuji Astia 100F and Velvia 100
There are three Reversal films from Fuji at differing speeds – Velvia, Provia and Astia and when processed correctly they vary in the amount of saturation; from Velvia being the strongest to Provia and then Astia as the blandest.
The best for grain size in correct chemistry is Astia 100F with the colour rendition being best for skin tones out of the three types.
In C41 however, both Astia and Velvia turn extremely red with Velvia being the strongest red.
If you are a fan of Redscale film already then you will like this film (even though the Redscale and Extended Range Redscale films have more orange than the red/pink of these films).
I have found that Astia at night can give great results and the reasons for adding this film into this article is primarily for the night time shots in Mong Kok I got last year using my 6×9 camera, Astia 100F and neon lighting.
Day time is quite different on Astia 100F and doesn’t it really produce anything special.
In the next two shots from our flat in Hong Kong where you can see that Velvia goes redder than Astia (which has often tended towards extremes of pink) on comparative scenes.
Perhaps I haven’t experimented with these films enough yet to find where I can use them to the best results and I am dismissing them out of hand – but they are just too red for me and I can achieve this exact same result in photoshop.
What I can’t do in photoshop is replicate the following films that cross for me in a much more interesting and complex way.
So staying on Fuji – I mentioned above that they do the three films with Provia generally being seen as the middle between Velvia and Astia – but what is amazingly interesting about Provia is that is does not cross in the same way as the other two – irrespective of which speed you pick.
Fuji Provia 100F and 400X
I think Provia 100F was the first Slide film I used, initially in E6 before I started to try this out Crossed. It wasn’t the first film I crossed, as this was Astia where I was shocked by the extreme red/pink result and thought the lab must have done something wrong in processing.
In E6 chemistry this is a beautiful film giving tightly packed grains and stunning colour reproduction. The following image was taken on my Rolleiflex K4 with a lowish f stop.
The next image is from the same camera but crossed. This film and the 400X version both cross in the same direction with a green/blue shift in the colour and of course the grain size increasing.
The images I took in 100F and 400X and crossed were also before I realised that you had to make the settings a stop brighter as crossing will always darken your image.
The easiest way to do this is to set your films 1 stop slower on your camera or meter to make this something you don’t forget half way through the film.
Provia was where I stayed in both E6 and C41 for the next few months across my Rolleiflex, Kiev 60 and a Mamiya 35mm. I mistakenly thought that this green colour shift was the best result you would get in crossed film and so didn’t think of trying Kodak until the shop where I normally bought my films didn’t have any Provia left and I had to switch to Kodak E100VS.
I think I was initially confused by the name of the film and as it wasn’t common in the shops I was using at the time and so rather than try it, I had stayed with the films I knew.
E100VS however quickly became the film of choice for me on 120 format and especially on my newly acquired Kiev 60.
I think I have spoken about this camera continually for the last year as it still blows me away with the great images. It may not be the most portable camera to many people – but it still travelled the world with me being carried around whenever I had the chance.
The first image is the first crossed E100VS from my Rolleiflex again. I have posted this same picture so many times but am doing so again as it is such a great example of crossing this film.
This film has a tendency towards the green but unlike the Fuji Provia – this is not at the expense of other colours. Blues flourish in this film too as do yellows and reds – and being a slower film, the grain doesn’t clump as much as faster films or the more standard films from Kodak.
This one is from the Lubitel of a white and black building on Hollywood Road. Although the white shifts to green, the blue sky remains blue and increases in saturation.
On the Kiev 60 you can really see the effect of looking like too much colour has been used in printing the image. You get the lack of sharp edges that you would if you had used a rubber stamp to print this.
The next few are using the Hongmei hg-1 from our flat (that we left at the end of June).
The first image was using a yellow filter and the composite image was made from 9 out of 12 images taken simultaneously one evening.
Just to show the film on 135 as well as the 120’s – here are a couple using both the Voigtlander Bessa L of the fireworks over HK harbour and in the Golden Half from Chinese New Year 2011.
The cheaper Slide film from Kodak is called EliteChrome and like the UltraMax in Colour Negative, it can be found in most places that sell film in HK as well as occasionally in the supermarket.
Not an expensive film or one that is touted as being anything special – it crosses beautifully and I think this is probably one of my favourite films to cross.
Saturations increases whilst the colour shift is never too much to the green end of the spectrum. Grains increase and edges blur giving an almost cartoonish character.
I haven’t used this film on 120 as i don’t believe it is made in this format. Generally people will compare this too Sensia in E6 for the saturation – but obviously when crossed this is a very different film.
Before I go onto my favourite Slide film – here are a couple of examples of other films that have worked well for me or have given great results.
Lomo Xpro 200
I don’t like to review a Lomo film as it is just someone elses but repackaged with a higher price.
In this case the film is actually Agfa CT precisa 200 and it crosses in a similar way to EliteChrome but generally without the same level of saturation.
The reason for breaking my rule about Lomography films is completely due to the content of this picture – taken underwater in the pool at the Cricket Club of Lola with saturated blues.
Kodak Ektachrome Elite 200
This was sent to me by Darko as mentioned before here and is now a discontinued film. It is still available in many places that still have stock and is sold as E200. Kodak are suggesting E100G as an alternative to this film in normal chemistry.
The films that Darko sent to me were old films and I ran them at 100 ISO and crossed to get great results not too dissimilar to EliteChrome 100.
The final films are the real separate films and have produced for me some of my favourite effects.
Kodak and Fuji both make these films and the Fuji version now available on the market is designated as Type II.
Made for use in Tungsten light where yellow has to be reduced, these films are very blue in daylight giving a very specific look to them in E6.
I have used these films in E6 both with and without filters that have given some amazing results getting the stunning blue tone of the film in some and warm orange from the Kiev 88 when using a dark orange filter and low light.
Perhaps I should have given more time to Reversal film processed in E6 but as slides they give quite predictably good results – small grain and excellent colour reproduction.
Crossed however they give an added dimension that you can see if very sought after in digital as most applications tend towards trying to give you the same look.
Like so many things in the digital world of photography – the digital approximation is just that, an approximation.
The only way to really get the look is to use film.