3.18.2016

Fun with Film: [kromiǝm] 500

Those like myself who really enjoy shooting analog color slides have little in the way of options as 2016 starts off.  At present, three emulsions are being made by Fuji, while one other by Agfa is reportedly being discontinued.  Meanwhile, delays in the Ferrania project to restart the Ferraniachrome 100 emulsion mean that this product is not ready for consumption.  Expired stocks are growing increasingly limited, and competition on auction sites can mean paying a scary premium for Ektachrome.  Fortunately, there are a few other options, one of which is called [kromiǝm] 500!



This film is the product of Lance Rothstein's "labeauratoire," and is a hand rolled film of somewhat mystical origins.  A true color reversal film rated at EI400 to 500, [kromiǝm] 500 is a rather interesting bird in that it has no advice markings, and is thus alternatively promoted for those who want to run 35mm film through 120 cameras for sprocket prints. Alternatively, I can see where this may come in handy for adapting the film to other formats as well, though my main interest in it was to be a potential 35mm fast chrome film for me.

I ordered three rolls of this film to try out, and ran the first through the Exakta VX around the beginning of the year.  Clad in an iridescent sparkling label, the presentation is top notch from the onset, but the true test would be how it rendered scenes.  Typically I like to stick with slower films with finer grains, so a film rated around 500 was a bit of a challenge to my comfort zone. Still, I managed to shoot a variety of scenes and lighting situations with this film, and here are some of the results.


A night time scene renders with an expected graininess, and good color balance, but admittedly has some washed out hues that make it look more like the product of print film to me.

Taken around dawn, this shot fares better for its color rendition, and the speed allows for hand held use, though there remains a washed out appearance to the results. 

Under rainy skies, the film speed again allows for easy hand held use, and the rendering here pretty well portrays the conditions as they were, but the contrast level and blown out sky still make me feel like I am looking at a scan of a print rather than a transparency.


As a slow speed film user, colorful sunlit scenes are admittedly my bread and butter.  In a scene bathed in sun, the results from [kromiǝm] were really washed out and sickly looking.  I took to Photoshop to try to remedy this, with the results seen below.  The truck still has some blown areas, but the results are far more acceptable than the initial scan above.


Taken at dusk, this neon sign shot didn't quite deliver the "snap" I hoped it would, though I'm sure I could do some similar reworking in Photoshop to get a better result. 

Perfect day for ice cream?  Taken on a overcast afternoon, this scene, already awash in light tones, presents a challenge for any film to render, and admittedly, the film did OK with this.  

What was a lovely sunset didn't quite get conveyed by the film in this shot.  I did try to bracket, but the one with less exposure left the details of the house rendered in a sickly shadow without doing a whole lot to improve the colors of the sunset. 

Under mostly sunny skies with a gentle swath of thin clouds, the results were similar to the full sun shot above.  I didn't try to see what I could resurrect from this image in post processing.

So far, [kromiǝm] doesn't quite seem like an ideal fit for me.  As someone who likes to shoot shots under full to partial sun and get colorful transparencies, the results were admittedly a letdown.  True, I could, without too much work, tweak the results into more acceptable images using post processing software, but I'd certainly rather have nicely exposed and colorful images as my starting point than a destination that I have to work towards.

That said, my experiences with [kromiǝm] haven't been curtailed.  After some consideration, I'm going to try a multi-tiered experiment with this film unlike any I have tried before, one that plays into some of the suggestions made for using it.  There may be hope yet.