LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400: Alien images

Flowers on LomoChrome
Flowers at Denver’s Inspiration Point Park on LomoChrome Purple at EI200. (Daniel J. Schneider)

I got a roll of LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400 from Jef Price as part of the first EMULSIVE Half-Baked Half Frame tour, and finally have some results.

In spite of its name, LomoChrome isn’t actually a chrome film. That’s another common term for reversal, or slide, film. LomoChrome Purple is a C-41 color negative stock, although it features an orange masking layer that causes colors to shift unpredictably and with a clear bias toward purple shades.

It was developed as a nod to Kodak’s famous Aerochrome color infrared slide film, which was originally created for the U.S. military. The Aerochrome III data sheet describes it as “False-color reversal film, high dimensional stability for vegetation surveys, camouflage detection and earth resources.”

Aerochrome has a characteristic look that would be nearly impossible to duplicate without recreating the film itself (it was discontinued at the beginning of 2010).

LomoChrome Inspiration Point Park
Inspiration Point Park in Denver features a hill covered in prairie grass and pine trees; a tiny sliver of wild Colorado in the heart of the city. (Daniel J. Schneider)

Because of LomoChrome Purple’s orange mask, the color shift is similar in concept to the effect achieved by shooting redscale film, though the actual color changes are in a different direction and are more subtle (but still not very subtle). You might even think of LomoChrome Purple as “purplescale,” although it’s important to remember that reversing film for redscale also reverses the order of the color-sensitive and masking layers.

LomoChrome Purple is not actually sensitive to infrared light, according to the Lomography announcement. Since releasing the Purple, Lomography has also brought to market LomoChrome Turquoise, which shifts colors even more dramatically with what I suspect to be a magenta masking layer.

As with redscale film, the intensity and character of the effect varies based on how you rate the film. Assuming normal development, you can expose the film at EI100, EI200 or EI400 (EI is short for “exposure index“), which is why the film’s rated speed is listed as “100-400.” The strength of the purple effect on your final images changes based on the exposure index you choose.

Decorative grasses on LomoChrome
Decorative grasses in the flower gardens at Inspiration Point Park in Denver. Green becomes purple handily with LomoChrome Purple. (Daniel J. Schneider)

Lomography Magazine published a how-to article that includes comparisons of LomoChrome Purple to regular color negative film you might find helpful, too.

At EI100, you’re essentially overexposing the film and you’ll overpower some of the orange mask and get slightly more natural colors. I say slightly because the mask is quite effective. At EI200 the natural colors are less present and the images appear to be more-or-less properly exposed. At EI400 the colors are very strong, but the exposures can be a little dark.

For more, Leslie Lazenby (of Film Photography Podcast fame) posted to Flickr a good set of examples from EI50 to EI800, including some with yellow and orange filters.

LomoChrome Plymouth Valiant
A 1965 Plymouth Valiant parked in Denver’s Baker neighborhood. (Daniel J. Schneider)

Based on the results I’ve seen and what I’ve read, my guess is that the base speed of the emulsion is probably either ASA 400 or ASA 800, assuming the orange mask layer reduces the effective speed by somewhere between 1 stop and 3 stops. The effect is strong enough that I’d guess it’s naturally an ASA 800 film, with a filter factor of 2.5 or 3 for the mask.

I set my Olympus XA to ASA 200 for this roll (the entire roll was shot at EI200, just to be clear) hoping for a moderate amount of color shift. At a price nearly 50 percent higher than Kodak Portra 160, I don’t expect to buy any more LomoChrome.

LomoChrome Baker
Historic homes in Denver’s Baker neighborhood. Note the variety of blues and purples resulting from the foliage. (Daniel J. Schneider)

I’m not doing a fancy review here, but I’ll show off some more of my results. For even further examples and opinions take a look at this review and this other review.

I will say this: It wasn’t a disappointing experience by any means. It’s definitely a special effects product, but it could definitely be fun in the right circumstances. Since it can be developed normally with C-41 chemicals, it shouldn’t be any extra trouble to get it processed, so have fun!

Note for Jef: If you’ve read this far, shoot me an email (or use my contact form) and give me your address so I can ship something back for you to play with!

LomoChrome Inspiration Point Park tree
A tree and rock in Denver’ Inspiration Point Park, which is a tiny sliver of wild Colorado in the heart of the city. (Daniel J. Schneider)
hi-dive sign
The dark orange neon hi-dive sign is brilliant near-white, and the bright red Westword paper box is subdued. The dark blue tile and light blue block walls, too, have shifted. (Daniel J. Schneider)
LomoChrome Mutiny
Part of the mural outside the anarchic alternative bookstore Mutiny Now! in Denver. Colors pretty accurate, but all blue-purple tinged. (Daniel J. Schneider)
LomoChrome flowers
These flowers in front of Fat Sully’s Pizza in Denver did wild things. None are remotely the color they were in actuality, I think. Pink turned yellow, blue turned pink, and I think the orange flowers were a much brighter orange. They’re all dead now, because this week is autumn in Denver, so I can’t verify… (Daniel J. Schneider)
LomoChrome Vespa 400s
A view through one Vespa 400 car and into another, both in rough shape. The tiny 400 was made from 1957 to 1961. (Daniel J. Schneider)
A rainbow after a rainstorm
A rainbow after a rainstorm arcs above a home in Denver’s Speer neighborhood. (Daniel J. Schneider)
LomoChrome Mercury Eight
A 1949 Mercury Eight sedan parked in front of Ingram Car Care Center near old town Arvada. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Review Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Lomography LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400 color negative film
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