Film review: Lomography Color Negative 400 in 120 format – by Phil Harrison
I noticed a 3 roll box of 120 Lomography Color Negative 400 film in my local Boots Pharmacist some time ago. This box of film had been sitting lonely on the shelf for some time and something was nagging at me to go and buy it, finally I did and for less than £10!
About Lomography Color Negative 400
There has been much forum chatter about who makes this film for Lomography and the general opinion is that it is Kodak Alaris and the film may be Kodacolor VR400. VR400 was originally sold between 1982 and 1986. The film is of modern manufacture with an old emulsion formula and finished in China. The forums also mention problems with the paper backing. My rolls had a thick strong paper with clear writing and wide self adhesive bands to secure the rolls when out of the camera. All of this has yet to be confirmed however, so take that assumption with a bit of salt!
Lomography state that: “Lomography Color Negative 400 120 film will dazzle you with bold colors and stunning sharpness. Whether you are shooting under sunny or cloudy conditions, you’ll get great results. Try this film with your favorite Lomography 120 camera and see for yourself!”
The films were exposed in my Voigtlander Brilliant TLR, made in 1938. This has a Voigtar 75mm f/4.5 uncoated lens, so I was carefully to shield the lens from bright cross lighting. I exposed the film for the shadow detail at EI 400.
The Brilliant’s max shutter speed is 1/175 which meant that most of the sunny exteriors used f/11 and the dull ones at f/8. Focusing distance was checked with a Voigtlander rangefinder, normally used in the flash shoe on top of my Vito B.
My usual lab processed and scanned the rolls.
So, what did Lomography Color Negative 400 look like through an 80 year-old lens and with a (possibly) 36 year old film formula?
In a word, brilliant!
The backing paper worked fine with no print. My images are virtually what came back from the lab with some slight crops and a reduction in brightness, if necessary. The density of the negatives was mostly good, one or two slightly less dense than I would like to see (my fault) but it didn’t seem to have much, if any, effect on the image.
The film was sharp with a coarser grain than modern film but only obvious on prints over 12” in size. The colour palette was definitely from the 1980’s, I remember it well, muted colours with a slight sort of brownish hue. There were no film faults visible.
The film handled contrast surprisingly well. You can see from these photos just how well, particularly the cathedral interiors and the pub exterior. The cathedral photos were exposed for 1 second at f/8.
The organ negative (below), is lacking density in the lower part of the image but still has retained detail and isn’t apparently any grainier, this was a very high contrast shot. The chapel photo was the last on the film and part of the image is missing due to an uneven wind-on.
I found Lomography’s claims to be mostly accurate, sharpness was excellent and under sunny or cloudy conditions I did get great results. The muted colours were pleasing and may be partly due to my old uncoated lens, perhaps a more up to date lens would give more contrast and richer colours as Lomography suggest.
The main takeaway points are:
- Can be bought cheaply, for the budget conscious.
- Nice grain.
- Good contrast.
- Excellent definition.
- Muted colours with a 1980’s palette.
I can recommend this film. I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed using Lomography Color Negative 400 in my Voigtlander Brilliant camera, it put a smile on my face, especially when the scans popped through the letter box!
~ Phil Harrison
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