Initial thoughts on: Retrochrome 400

I’ll be honest, I did very little research when I purchased this roll of Retrochrome.  I just saw the name and thought it sounded pretty cool.

I didn’t realise that it was slide film and nor did I know the backstory behind it, until after I shot and developed the roll.

Had I done that, I’d probably taken some photos in more urban setting, than a National Trust landmark in the middle of leafy Surrey.

​So what is Retrochrome

According to the Film Photography Project, Retrochrome is government surplus Kodak Ektachrome, that was original made for industrial use and expired in 2004. Kept in cold storage and sold via auction in 2015, the Film Photography Project, took the film and respooled it in rolls of 24 and 36.

It is believed that by keeping the film in cold storage for all those years, that when developed, it produces images with a somewhat subdued colour and a warm tone.

The results

Now, as I said, I knew nothing about this film when I got it.  So I didn’t consider anything about it – the type of photos I took, the settings I used, nothing.  I just loaded it in my Nikon FM2n, set the camera to 400ISO and went out one day.

A very sunny day, possibly the brightest day of the year judging from the images – so yeah, not the best day to go out and shoot a roll of film with a speed of 400ISO.

So, as you can probably see from these photos, for 400ISO, this film is incredibly grainy.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, if that’s the look you are going for – but considering the film speed, I wasn’t expecting this.

Another thing that took me by surprise was the tone – it’s very warm.  I can imagine that with in environment such as a city street, this stuff would look quite amazing – but I’m not necessarily convinced it works here.

Naturally, being slide film, it appears to be quite unforgiving with the shady areas of images and doesn’t have much latitude here.  So as a result, photographs taken in bright sunshine have a high amount of contrast.  Of course the bright conditions in which I took these images, didn’t help here – so this observation could be way off here!

That said, I did manage to take a few shots indoors – using a window as the only source of light – and in these conditions, the film performed a lot better than I expected.

Whether I’d shoot another roll of Retrochrome, I’m not sure. It’s certainly produces interesting results and I’d be curious to see how it performs in both a studio environment and in a more urban setting.

That all said, there is no denying that Retrochrome does have a vintage tone to it, that not only lives up to its name, but brings a certain charm to your photos.

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