That’s right I said it, stop cross-processing lovely slide film. Slide film was designed to produce lovely true striking colours, with great contrast, sharpness and fine grain. It allowed photographers, artists and printers to see exactly what they were getting. Yet you want to xpro it to make it grainy, blurry and a complete smorgasbord of washed-out colours that you totally knew you were going to get. What is wrong with you?
I might be getting ahead of myself here. Let’s start at the beginning.
This is an article to put across my, ahem, subjective thoughts on the processing of slide film. My view if you haven’t guessed it already is it should be processed in E6 as designed, to bring out the rich tapestry of colour and feeling that makes it the soul-enriching colour goodness it was designed for. It should not be cross-processed in C-41 chemicals that were designed for negative film (see the word negative, NEGATIVE). Xpro is the equivalent of watching Toy Story 4 on one of those old Seiko TV watches in black and white. Also to be clear my thoughts on xpro only cover slide film, I have no thoughts on any other types of film you want to process in different to advised chemistry. Go nuts with those.
Now obviously, I need to try and evidence for you all why xpro is the work of the devil. So let’s start with some images of slide film correctly processed in E6 and bask in their glory, you might need to turn down the glare on you screen and wear sunglasses now.
Just look at new Kodak EKTACHROME E100.
Some lovely Fujifilm Provia 100F.
Fujifilm Velvia 50, one of the best and you get a real colour pop if you stick a circular polariser on the lens.
See what I mean? If you project these as actual slides, the colours would be even better than on your screen. There is a reason our parents/grandparents have boxes of slides. It was not just to bore you with holiday snaps, it’s because they knew to #SayNoToXpro.
So in the interest of balance here is some cross processed slide film. The nasty all green one is Lomo xpro slide and the flat, boring building one is Provia 100F.
I know right, what an awful mess. Even Lomography in this guide to cross-processing say “Every roll of film you develop is like a box of rabid hamsters. You never know what you’re gonna get!“
I can already guess your next point *yawns* if it’s expired slide film it’s probably bad so you may as well xpro it. Nope, I’m still going to #SayNoToXpro. These are many years expired Kodak slide film, shot at box speed. E100GX for the beach and extremely expired Ektachrome 64 for the sunset.
I’m sensing you are not yet convinced and think I might be a tad bit biased and selective here with my choice of images. Tough crowd!
Alrighty then, do you know what I did in anticipation of this. I went and did an experiment. I purchased two rolls of expired Agfa Prescia CT E6 film. These had been well kept BUT advised by the store to be cross-processed. Well, I was not going to have any of that nonsense and I would prove that pesky Paul from Analogue Wonderland wrong…..again.
So this was the set-up. I knew I had two days of fantastic and consistent weather coming up. My only time out of the house due to Covid-19 lockdown was early morning 7:30/8:00am when I would walk the dog around the local park. Thus I would shoot one roll one day and the same scenes again the next day on the other roll. Thus I had consistent weather, light, time of day and a standard subject.
Next up I decided to load the film in my Nikon 35Ti on auto mode. That way I had no influence on the exposure settings. Finally when I sent the film to the lab I randomly picked one for E6 and one for the dirty xpro. So no influence on which I thought might be the better day. The scientific amongst you (or Just the Mr Pedantic folk, and it’s always a Mr) no this is not a controlled tightly run experiment, it’s just me doing my best with a camera.
So here are the results as a side by side comparison.
Already you can see the difference here. The beautiful lush green in the E6 compared to the horribly blown out mess that is the Xpro. Yes yes sometimes if you know you are going to sin and shoot for xpro you should maybe compensate your exposure in advance as this is a thing. So much more stress to shot xpro.
Lush green and lovely blue for E6 and what only a 12 year old would think is a cool poster by some one hit wonder college grunge band.
Wow just look at the lovely E6 compared to the Xpro that has turned a Nikon 35Ti from a premium camera to a Holga and not even a good one. Just shoot a Holga if you want that look
Now c’mon are you really going to tell me you like zero detail in your shadow, really!
Rich deep colours of E6 compared to washed out, too contrasty xpro. No no no xpro absolutely does not make it more of a cool sc-fi vibe with great shadows
Well umm Iet us move on past that one , composition was better on the Xpro and that’s all and I’m sticking with that story
Lush greens and blues people, just focus on the lush E6 greens and blues.
Having now reviewed the images I have to state the following. Mr Pedantic was obviously right and this was not a tightly enough controlled experiment and combined with the limited choice of scenes may, just may, have given the appearance in one maybe even two photos that Xpro worked better in this limited poorly run small sample test. But I totally and utterly refute this proves anything other than #SayNoToXpro.
There is nothing like when you shoot your first roll of slide film and you see those slides in your hand for the first time, it is mind-blowing. Velvia 50, Kodak E100VS and the new Ektachrome are favourites of mine. So heed my many years of photography experience, a whole 5 years now, I’m practically Ansel Adams experience level and #SayNoToXpro except for Rollei VarioChrome you can Xpro the crap out of that pile of garbage.
Share your knowledge, story or project
At the heart of EMULSIVE is the concept of helping promote the transfer of knowledge across the film photography community. You can support this goal by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.
If you like what you're reading you can also help this personal passion project by heading on over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and giving as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.