Lomochrome Color ’92 Film Preview

Inc. Exclusive Interview With Lomography + Home Development/Scanning Tips

9 min read by Dmitri ☕️, with images by Betty.

Lomography Lomochrome Color’92 is the latest emulsive release this summer — and it’s hot🔥.

The first few batches sold out within hours, and the initial reviews poured in almost instantly. Everything I’ve read and watched about Color’92 has been positive; I am not surprised this film became an instant success, given the feedback it has received so far.

I was lucky to receive a test roll from Birgit Buchart. She was also kind to answer a few questions about this film’s origins, package design, and preferred colour compositions for this article.

TL;DR: Lomochrome Color’92 is an anniversary edition film from Lomography in 135, 120, and 110 formats for C-41 development. Expect low-contrast, natural saturation, chunky grain, tinted shadows, and colour fidelity/sensitivity improvements over the earlier new-generation independent true-colour films (Metropolis, NC400/NC500).

About the sample images.

Colour negative film can be edited to look a certain way. For most films, including Color’92, some colour correction is recommended, and it is often performed without the photographer’s knowledge by the scanning software. Even in a dark room, colour negative film requires the printer to make choices about balance and exposure.

This does not mean that you can make ColorPlus look like Portra 400. Colour sensitivity and medium fidelity can not be increased or easily altered. This is why each new emulsion still brings a unique range of “looks,” regardless of how it was processed after exposure. In this article, I’ll show you what I was able to do with this film and share some thoughts on where else it can be taken creatively.

Note: I use this method to scan all film for my reviews, including Color’92. It provides consistent results that make understanding and comparing the emulsion’s attributes possible.

My process of exposing and developing the test roll was probably very different from the norm. As Color’92 has no DX code, I re-spooled it into another canister for use in the camera I wanted. I also kept the roll out in the bright sun for a few minutes to take a photo for the article. This may have caused fogging on the edges, as you’ll see in my photos below.

There are also slight variations between batches, so your roll may behave differently from mine:

“No two productions can ever be the same due to the handcrafted process. But rest assured, we will keep experimenting with film production”Birgit.

Lomography Lomochrome Color’92 with Kyocera T-Proof and fill-flash.

Developing and scanning Lomochrome Color’92 at home.

I developed my film at home in a freshly mixed batch of C-41 chemicals along with a roll of Portra 800 that came out looking normal. Color’92 negatives looked exceptionally dark from the tank (both the images and the edges). The emulsion did not become any lighter after drying. There were no edge markings, but I could tell which way is up for scanning by the direction the film curled.

The scanned images turned out comparable in contrast and fidelity to the samples Lomography distributed (other than some fogging in the edges — a possible reason for which I explained above). I used PrimeFilm XAs to create digital negatives for this article, which I then inverted in Photoshop.

Grain structure, sharpness, resolution, and dynamic range.

Lomochrome Color’92 is noticeably grainer than Ultramax, Portra 400, 400D and Superia X-Tra 400. It’s about as grainy as Lomochrome Metropolis and maybe a little smoother than ORWO NC500.

On 35mm, the grain is noticeable on all prints and screens if it’s in the shadows — much less in the highlights, where it appears to be packed tighter, and there’s less variation in colour between the granules.

The grain on Color’92 appears less harsh and more “organic” than on Metropolis and NC500. In other words, while the granules are about the same size, their shape and colouring blend into the image visuals better.

Despite the chunkiness and its “organic” appearance, Color’92’s grain renders plenty of micro contrast (sharpness) that helps resolve a good amount of detail. There’s no need to sharpen your images after scanning, which some of you may find helpful.

As mentioned, the grain is more prominent in the shadows; however, this is where Color’92 also shows an improvement in its dynamic range of Metropolis and NC500. Whereas the other films would show no information in the particularly dark areas, ‘92 draws at least some details that may often appear tinted a shade of brown or green (depending on the colour balance you set on your film scan).

Lomochrome Color’92 colours, and editing.

Color’92 is Lomography’s own emulsion recipe, which is a “top secret” — as Birgit patiently reminded me each time I’ve asked about technical specifications.

Unfortunately, no spectral sensitivity, PGI/RMS, or film characteristic curves are available for this film. Nevertheless, the improvements in colour rendering over their previous internally-designed films (i.e., Metropolis) seem clear from the samples they sent and the images I developed at home.

The delicate pastel undertones and blue hues create a beautiful unique mood, which can be charming in any situation really — we’ve seen wonderful results outdoors, at golden hour as well as in a studio setting. Red colors really pop and the rich grain gives it its nostalgic vibe.

— (All quote blocks in this article are Birgit’s responses to my questions about the film; light edits to grammar and spelling are mine.)

Lomography Lomochrome Color’92 with Kyocera T-Proof.

The new Lomochrome film appears to render more nuance in skin tones than Metropolis, which is very useful for portraits. It won’t be as detailed as any of the Portra films, but it’s at least as good as ColorPlus at drawing the minute transitions between the whites, yellows, browns, and reds while separating them from the inorganic objects.

Skin colours also appear stable across various exposure zones. As you can see in Betty’s portrait of me wearing the new “Blend 35” hat, the transition from the lit-up part of my face to the shaded one maintains a consistent hue. This would not work on all colour films — even the pricey ones (i.e., Ektar may add red or purple casts in one of these areas).

However, to keep your portraits looking natural and warm, you may be forced to retain a bit of a brown tint in the shadows. It’s certainly possible to make your images look cooler, but that may affect your subjects’ faces, whom you may not want to look blue — even if that improves the colour of your shadows.

Having developed my test roll, I spent a lot of time trying various adjustments and have stopped on minimal colour balance changes as that meant retaining more details and keeping better colour transitions.

Lomography Lomochrome Color’92 with Kyocera T-Proof under mixed lighting.
Our testers tried out the films in many shooting situations, ranging from bright outdoors to studio or night photography. The new LomoChrome Color ‘92 is very flexible and able to retain a good amount of information in shadows and highlights.

Exposing Lomochrome Color’92.

Color’92 is a medium-low contrast film. It tends to lack saturation when compared to the actual scenes. But increasing the contrast (either by choosing a strongly-lit scene or in post-production) can come at the cost of increased graininess. You can soften the grain’s effect by using larger apertures with narrower depths of field.

Strong light with minimal shadows will saturate the film’s colours and hide most of the grain; I find the film looks closer to actual in this setup.

Softer light, low-contrast scenes can also work well with Color’92 — this combination can create “melancholic” and “nostalgic” looks, which I think this film does exceptionally well.

Color’92 works well with flash photography and can be used to take photos at night. It doesn’t seem to have issues with reciprocity failure at one-second exposures, though I didn’t push it any further during my tests. However, this is a daylight-balanced film, so watch out for mixed lighting (which can make colour correction difficult), consider shooting with a blue filter, and prepare to make some adjustments after scanning.

Even though this film appears to have a wide dynamic range, Color’92 has a sweet spot between zones IV-X (mids to highlights) where the grain recedes, colour casts are easier to control, and colour accuracy improves. I would aim to have as much of that as possible in my images.

Color’92 does not come with a DX code on the canister; thus, it won’t work in point-and-shoot cameras that don’t let you set your film’s ISO. However, for this article, I’ve re-spooled mine into a used CineStill 400D canister, so that I could use it with my “new” Kyocera T-Proof (a.k.a., Yashica T5).

A photo by Naphattanun Phetariyawong (courtesy of Lomography USA), which is featured on all the Lomochrome Color’92 boxes.
It's been 4 years since our last completely new Color Negative Film (the LomoChrome Metropolis), so this is an exciting milestone. Everyone is super excited and the community’s response on day 1 was incredible: The feedback was overwhelming and positive and we sold through our first batch we had in stock within a few hours! Naturally, everyone here as well as at HQ is over the moon.

A bit about the people behind Lomography’s Lomochrome Color’92.

Birgit Buchart  filled me in as much as she could on the mood in Lomography offices days after the launch. The company has been in business for over thirty years; they survived the digital revolution (when everyone switched to sensors from film), released the first new colour emulsion in over a decade (Metropolis), and launched a new film (almost) in time for their big three-o.

[Color’92] is a reference to the year Lomography started off — 1992. We’re still celebrating our 30th Anniversary; a new film stock is always a big milestone, plus the look of the film is so retro and it kind of reminded us of the aesthetic of the early 90s, so it all just made sense.

Of course, a project of this magnitude isn’t created in the vacuum of manufacturing floors and corporate offices. Lomography has an excellent rapport with its community of creative consumers whose works they feature prominently across the products, including this new film:

We’re incredibly lucky to have a wonderful, talented and supportive community of photographers who are always down to test our prototypes and first test rolls to create the first sample images, from which we have the very difficult task of picking which images go onto the film box. The [Color’92] box features images by Meay, Naphattanun Phetariyawong, and Rafael Hernandez-Ispache.

How much does Lomochrome Color’92 cost, and where to buy it.

Lomography Lomochrome Color’92 sells for $12.90 per roll of 35mm/36exp. at Lomography.com. 120 and 110 formats will be available soon.