In 2019 Lomography announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to fund a brand new film emulsion: LomoChrome Metropolis XR100-400. The campaign was successful and to everyone’s surprise, began shipping a full two months ahead of schedule in December 2019. The film is now available for purchase by anyone.
In their Kickstarter campaign, Lomography showed off a wonderfully desaturated and grungy film that seemed like it came straight out of the 1990s. The videos showed its versatility both for street and portraiture. The reaction to this announcement was incredible and resulted in the project being funded in only a few days to the film community’s delight.
For the more technically minded readers, LomoChrome Metropolis is similar to the LomoChrome Purple, Turquoise and Redscale films — those which carry the “XR” in their name. It stands for “eXtended Range” and means that the films can be exposed at different speeds to get different results without changing the development process. The box for LomoChrome Metropolis indicates a film speed ranging from ISO 100 to 400.
Also, don’t let the “Chrome” suffix disturb you: LomoChrome Metropolis is as a color negative film and uses the regular C-41 process. Some people have developed LomoChrome Purple using E6 chemistry so maybe it is possible with the metropolis film as well. I have not tried it myself and will not speak of this in this article but if this experience intrigues you, I’m sure EM would be glad to get your feedback! 😉
As both a 90s kid and a film photography enthusiast I was ecstatic to see Lomography’s announcement. However, at the time, I did not have the money to back the project so I had to wait for its official release to get hold of it. Luckily for me, this was earlier than expected. Fast forward a few months to December 2019, when I bought a couple of rolls and started trying it out as soon as it was on general release.
For this review, I shot three rolls of Metropolis, two in 120 format using my Bronica ETRSI and one roll of 35mm in my Leica M3. In this article you’ll see examples of the film shot at EI 100, 200 and 400, plus bracketed frames at all three speeds, comparisons with a “normal” 35mm color negative film (Fuji Superia X-TRA 400) and my iPhone 7.
Here’s what I cover:
Table of contents
1st Roll: 35mm format, EI 200
For my first roll, I loaded it my trustworthy Pentax Spotmatic II, mounted a Helios 44 lens and went out with a plan to shoot this film under various conditions… It didn’t go 100% to plan as the weather was mostly grey but I did my best with what I had.
During the holidays I shot various street and landscape scenes to see how this emulsion reacted. I shot this first roll at the middle value of EI 200 simply because people had told me to do so for the LomoChrome Purple. I think it is a logical way of proceeding because that way you can see what the middle value gives and then you can adapt to other situations.
My first impression was that what I obtained was not really like what I saw on the Kickstarter video. The dramatic/grungy/grainy aspect was much more subtle than initially advertised, and I thought that this was great! It makes the film much more versatile, and makes it less extravagant, less like LomoChrome Purple which some people don’t shoot regularly because it is too special.
From this first roll, I got some very different results depending on the lighting conditions (which would definitely make sense). Indeed, if the effect is similar to LomoChrome Purple, it reacts depending on the light coming in not only exposure. This would explain the grungy aspect of grey images and the more contrasted shots of the sunlit pictures.
Here is an overview of the whole roll:
I really appreciated shooting this stock in low light conditions because as it is desaturated, I find that the results are more interesting than normal color negative film. Indeed the desaturation is limited by the lack of color but the high contrast remains giving very moody images, sometimes giving an eerie look that I appreciate greatly.
I also tried one portrait shot of my brother inside a shopping mall with a Christmas tree in the background. The bright lights are rendered in a really interesting way with the film. It seems that the light is exaggerated compared to the desaturated image. The swirly bokeh from the helios lens also helps and I love shooting this lens at F2 for this feature but I digress.
Finally, even in sunlight, it gives this warm desaturated image. As you can see from these shots taken on the Clermont Ferrand airport runway, the images look very dramatic. Not too grungy but just enough to catch your attention.
2nd Roll: 120 format, EI 400
For the second roll, I decided to shoot 120 format in my Bronica ETRSi, mainly to see what differences there were with the 35mm film. I also chose to shoot it at EI 400 so that it would be easier to shoot the bulky Bronica without any tripod. This time I did not shoot it in France but in Vienna, Austria. I also tried to get comparison shots of the same scenes taken with Metropolis and my iPhone 7 but I may not have been as disciplined as I hoped. I have some comparisons but not one for each shot. For this roll, I also captured one bracketed shot for which I will go into more detail in the next part.
The results under harsh sunlight at EI 400 gave much more desaturated images, almost sepia looking. A result which I found much different then what I had shot on the first try at EI 200. I found that most images were over-exposed but that the result was definitely interesting.
This film really goes into the Lomography way of shooting in the sense that it does require some experimenting to find the sweet spot at which you personally like to expose the stock. However, I find the results to be less on the experimental photography side of things.
Here are a few side-by-side comparisons between my iPhone and the Metropolis film:
You can clearly see the desaturation, and the almost sepia look the roll gives when shot at EI 400.
I also did a comparison between my iPhone, Superia X-TRA 400 and Metropolis:
As you can see the three images are very different. The Superia having a high saturation with bright blues and greens whereas the Metropolis shot is desaturated with muted colors, which gives a Sepia look to the image. The phone image (far left) is the “closest to reality”.
Bracketing at EI 100, 200, 400
No Lomography specialty film is complete without bracketing the roll at different speeds. I went the easy way and exposed the same scene at EI 100, 200 and 400 (left to right respectively in the gallery below). The day I shot the bracket the sun was clear blue and there was harsh sunlight coming down on the scene.
Surprisingly, I much prefer the EI 400 shot because of the grungier contrast and colors. You do not seem to lose much in the shadows and the highlights are not blown out. On the other end, EI 100 seems to be blown out and overexposed, which I don’t like as much. It does, however, give this kind of faded sepia look which can definitely be interesting. EI 200 is a perfect middle ground between the two other measurements.
Although I loved the results of my first roll of Metropolis at EI200, with this bracket in mind, I may think of exposing to a middle ground between EI 200 and EI 400, to get the look I want. With these three images in mind you can choose what iso you want to shoot and, thanks to its versatility, change mid-roll to adapt to the situation.
For comparison, I also took the same image with my phone:
Having said all this, what I am about to say might seem obvious but I think this film needs to be overexposed when in low light conditions to get the most out of it. This would explain why my cloudy shots at EI 200 look good to me, but shooting EI 200 on a sunny day seems overexposed.
Compared to LomoChrome Purple the ISO setting does not seem to affect the “Metropolis effect”. To state this clearer, I have found that exposing LomoChrome Purple at EI 100, 200 or 400 changes the amount of purple and the effect you get on your image, for metropolis it seems to be more like a regular color negative film and the exposure doesn’t change the effect but just the…well…exposure of your image.
3rd Roll: 35mm format, Sunny 16 (multiple ISOs)
For this last roll, I went overboard and basically said “fixed speed ratings are overrated”. I decided to shoot it in an approximate Sunny 16 way during a trip to the Netherlands, taking advantage of the exposure latitude of this stock. Having done this I can’t really tell you the exposure I chose for each shot but here are some of the shots from this roll.
As you can probably tell, these shots there were taken in multiple conditions ranging from high overcast to harsh sunlight. The variable rating definitely helped my shooting experience with this type of changing weather and location.
I was extremely pleased with the results I got from this “no brainer” type of shooting experience, confirming Metropolis as one of my favorite color negative films.
At first, I was not sure what to think. The Kickstarter sparked my curiosity to shoot this film but I was afraid that the effect would be “too much” and that, like LomoChrome Purple, I wouldn’t want to shoot it very often.
It turns out I was wrong!
I really have fallen for this film. The aspect, the colors, the atmosphere it creates really connect with me. I find it extremely beautiful and I believe it can definitely be seen as a “normal” color negative film rather than a specialty Lomography (film if you don’t consider the price point(. Obviously the desaturated aspect contrasts really well with the very saturated look from other color negative films such as Fuji Superia. I personally find that the best results are obtained in low light or grey conditions because I look to get that dramatic effect more than the sepia effect I discovered. This is, of course, my own point of view. You should go out and test it to find your sweet spot with the film.
To put summarize this film in a few bullet points:
- Good contrast
- Desaturated effect
- Performs in all conditions
- Versatile: Can be shot anywhere between EI 100 and 400
I have yet to try a full portrait session with the film and to try shooting it at EI100 but it could well become my go-to color negative film in the future. I’ll report back with my results!
Thanks for reading,
LomoChrome Metropolis XR 100-400 technical specifications
|Name||LomoChrome Metropolis XR 100-400|
|Type||Color negative (daylight balanced)|
|Formats||110, 120, 35mm, 16mm|
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