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Cross Processing - A Simple Must-Try Film Technique


You simply have to try this right now. Go down to your local photography shop, ebay, or anywhere that sells film. Buy a roll of 35mm color slide film. Go out and shoot it. Inside, outside (Sunny days are good), natural light, flash or artificial lighting. Then get the slide film to your lab and ask them to process it as normal colour film, which is the C-41 process. Get the prints and scans back, sit down with a coffee and enjoy the results. Cross processing, or Xpro as it is also known, is brilliant.

Matt from work was kind enough to let me have a roll of original Agfa Precisa 100 ISO Slide Film (which is also know as colour reversal film) so I popped it into my Olympus Stylus Mju II / Stylus Epic and shot it over the week-end. You'll probably either like or loathe the results, but I have been very impressed, and this is a simple technique that I'll be using again.


 To explain a little, Cross Processing is simply where you develop a film in the wrong type of chemicals. It could be ordinary colour negative film (C41) in colour reversal (slide / E6) chemicals, or colour film in black and white chemicals.

The most common form of X-Pro is what I've had a go at, because the film, and the developing are readily available and cheap. When you get the film developed it's worth checking with the lab technicians and be clear that you want the slide-film developed in the wrong process. You may find that some labs are reticent about cross-processing, or won't do it at all, but most will, or just find another lab.


 You may have heard of Cross-Processing already. Maybe as a pre-set for an effect in a digital photo editing programme or app, but real X-Pro is a completely different experience, not readily simulated.

The colour shifts and effects achieved vary tremendously between film types and brands, and the chemicals used in developing. The amount of light or exposure for each shot will also change the look of each frame, so you won't know what you'll get until you get the roll developed.


I've used my Olympus Mju II for these photographs. The Mju is a great little compact with an ultra sharp fixed focal-length f/2.8 35mm lens, but imagine what these shots would look like with a plastic-lensed toy camera, or an SLR, a viewfinder or a range-finder camera.

Cross-processing is almost shockingly different. It is analogue, but some of the photos have a HDR tone-mapped look, like the shot of the Lifeboat Station below.


 Check out Bryan's post over on Epic Edits for a guide on the colour shifts you can expect from different film stocks, and some advice on how you can play with exposure.


For me, I just love the look of these images. Grainy with weird colour shifts, halo's around objects, and the usual lens-flare. I will definitely be shooting more slide film and I'll be getting it cross processed! Please have a go - X-Pro is simple, cheap, and looks great.

Cheers, Rob.


Have You Tried Alternative Processes?

I've dabbled with X-Pro here, but what different techniques have you tried? Maybe developing colour film in B&W chemicals, or perhaps something a little more exotic? Please add your comments below.


Reader Comments (3)

Hiya Rob,

Some good results from your first plays with cross processing.

Something else you may want to have a go at is Redscale, basically reloading film backwards and shooting from the other side of the film. Need some fiddling in that 'changing' box but worth a play.

I always loved the 'bleach bypass' process, but unfortunately you don't have the facilities at work and the main lab won't do it either.

I know you can do many of these effects with post=processing software on digital but no where near as fun as playing around with film yourself. The unpredictability of it all adds to the excitement!

Good to see you having fun. Catch up with you soon,


January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterVictor

Hiya, Ive been reading your blog for a while, and must say its great stuff! Its been interesting hearing about your job at jessops.

Really intersting post, just recently I shot a roll of fuji sensia 200 and wanting it cross processed. Ive been reading different things about jessops and cross processing, where some labs do and some dont. Just wandering if theres a reason why some wont?


January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

Hi Victor,

Yeah, learning about the film processing has been a great experience, and you're right, there's no substitute for the real thing!

Hi Adam,

I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. Your best bet would be to pop into your local Jessops (or give them a ring) and speak to the person who runs the lab and see if they're willing to do cross-processing.

Cheers, Rob.

January 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterRob_Nunn

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