Rollei CR200 is a color reversal film, but, yep: but! This film as very few of the attributes we generally associate with color reversal films, namely: fine grain and beautifully balanced vibrant colors.
When developed in E6, first the grain is quite noticeable: it stands no comparison to any of the Fuji chrome line. Second it is quite a warm emulsion for a slide film that is supposed to be daylight balanced.
So all in all it’s an ideal film to develop in E6 chems when looking for an old vintage or even quite a passé look. Now aside from this no one chooses slide film for increased grain or to deal with color shifts. Numerous negative films and the C41 process are vastly superior for this purpose.
But one has to admit that to get even wonkier color imbalances compounded with fat grain we need to go beyond the negative emulsion in C-41 recipe. The most obvious route for that is cross-processing slide film into C-41 chemistry. The other way around does not lend itself to the same wide array of results.
Cross-processing beautiful scarce slide film such as the Fujifilm chromes is hard to justify on a pure playing field basis. But this film: Rollei CR200 almost demands it to really shine. Actually the proof is in the pudding as Rollei announced Q4 last year they’d cease offering this film under the CR200 name, and as far as I know they still do offer it under a C41 label (crossbird). So I don’t think I’m that much out the beaten track on this whole “don’t ruin my slide emulsion” debate.
Once cross-processed the CR200 emulsion turns an intense blue-violet negative which yields to crazy warm positive tones, which in their turn dwarf other colors. So much that once “balanced” cyan blues turn to turquoise hues and the deepest greens turn to warm greens. Being able to color balance these to get “proper” (not too wacky) skin tones depends a lot on adequate exposure and proper lighting (color temperature, blue light being the best). Color differentiation disappears upon to much exposure, and is evanescent/murky upon too less.
For those interested all of these are the exact same emulsion (same film different names)
- Rollei Crossbird: currently marketed as a C-41 creative film
- Rollei Digibase CR200: discontinued Q4 2016 (can still be sourced) marketed as an E-6 film
- Agfa Aviphot Chrome 200 which was the Agfa RSX II 200 emulsion but on polyester, all discountinued ages ago
It is very likely to be found under the Lomography stamp with yet another name on it… I would not venture into taking a wild guess, similar features should be enough clues…
So all in all it is now easier to source the cheapest film knowing it’s all the same emulsion, without hurting those who turn red at the X-PRO label…
The five frames below were taken wth my Zeiss Ikon ZM and Zeiss 35mm F/2 Biogon.
Side note: Someone, one day, with time on their hands, or better someone with no time but with enough Chinese “work-your-a**e-off-blood” flowing in their veins should attempt to put down in a clear equivalence table all those rebranding games so we know who’s fooling the newbies (including myself sometimes). This repackaging game is tiring to decipher.
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Finally, don't forget that this series is being produced in conjunction with Hamish Gill's excellent 35mmc.com. Head on over to read the other half of these stories.