Back in February I shot my first roll of LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400 while I was on holiday in Barcelona. Once I got back I eagerly despatched my films to the UK-based lab I’ve used for years and awaited their return. When I got my scans back they seemed very purple, but not really knowing what to expect I didn’t think much about it. Although they didn’t look as I’d expected them to, LomoChrome films have a reputation for varied results. I decided that while interesting, it wasn’t a film I was likely to use again.
I wrote a piece for my blog, and then I wrote a 5 Frames article for EMULSIVE, perhaps you saw it. Sometime after the 5 Frames went live, I received some interesting feedback. My pictures were very different from the results other people were getting.
Given this feedback, I decided to scan the negatives myself and discovered that my scans looked nothing like the images I’d received from the lab. Here’s a side-by-side of sorts:
My scans are as the scanner saw them, with a bump in saturation and vibrance in Lightroom. Not labour intensive to produce. To recreate the images that I received from the lab I had to toggle the magenta slider almost all the way over.
These are my rescans side-by-side with the original lab scans so you can see the difference for yourself. Click/tap and drag the sliders below:
The lab has this to say in their communication when sending film in for development –
“Important: Special Effect, boutique and re-manufactured films.
Lomo, Revlog, Dubble etc etc. and films that have been subjected to secondary processes, such as Cinestill. The results from these films vary very widely. Often they have been “made” from old and out of date stock and often do not live up to the sample images found online. With this in mind, we can offer no guarantees as to the results you will obtain, we can not subject scanned files to any more than our normal balancing procedures and we can only make our own judgment as to balance, and this judgment is FINAL. We can not be held responsible if the results do not match your expectations.“
I have had countless rolls of film developed and scanned by this lab over the years and never had an issue until now. When I approached them for a comment, I was concerned. While I have no interest in irritating them, this an interesting situation and one in which I might not be alone.
They had this to say,
“It’s really simple – the scan software is processing the image, whether you like it or not.
Although you say you have scanned them flat, with no adjustments – reality is, adjustments ARE being made because the image is still being processed by the scan software and the colour/contrast/density is determined by that processing. Every scanner and software combination will give differing results.
The results you have from us are what the Noritsu HS1800 scanner and EZ Controller software came up with, and with no input at all from us – we don’t try to balance these type of films other than very lightly, because, where do you go?
Without having the customer sat next to the technician saying, actually, they should be bluer or less blue or more cyan or a bit less yellow – you really can’t balance like you can with a normal image. I note you say that a lot of magenta must have been deliberately added – there is no reason for anyone to do this, and we wouldn’t have done so.“
I take their point…to a degree. My scanner is interpreting the negative as theirs is. Our scanners differ, as do our results. I should not have implied that their scans were manipulated — which I did in an article on my own website — merely that they were different from mine, and different enough from the norm for people to mention it here.
As it happens I’m much happier with my scans, the film seems more far more versatile and intriguing in this guise than in the purple wash I originally received. I’m both much more likely to shoot the film again, and much more likely to try other ’boutique’ film stocks.
I’ve vacillated as to whether I should name the lab in this post and have decided not to. This was never about who did what, but about what happened.
This all began when I shot a roll of film I was given at a photowalk, and has now become four blog posts, I’ve never written as much about a single roll of film in my life.
The lesson I’ve taken from this exercise is that missteps can be interesting, and that being in control of your process is really important. Having been on this adventure I’ve been developing and scanning all my film at home, ensuring that any results, good or bad, are mine.
I hope you enjoy my revisited, rescanned photos!
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