• Johnny Wilson

First Impressions of Lomography Lomochrome Metropolis

In July 2019, Lomography raised eyebrows in the film shooter community, and maybe a few eyebrows in the photography community as a whole, when it announced it was developing it's own, BRAND NEW, from scratch; film colour emulsion. "The first new color negative film in over 5 years" was the tagline coupled with example images showing desaturated colours and sharp, dramatic contrast. It certainly looked interesting, and whilst traditionally I tend to steer clear of cracking open my wallet and smacking down a sizeable down payment on a big batch of films (anything more than x3 is big by my measurements!) I genuinely wanted to be amongst some of the first people to give this film a shot. So I pledged. And by December of the same year, after successfully reaching their funding goal, the rewards shipped and I got a nice little cardboard box in the post containing x5 rolls of 35mm Lomochrome Metropolis.

I made it the first roll I was going to shoot in 2020, loading it up in my stalwart, 8 year old Lomo LC-A+ and was looking forward to seeing how it turned out. I've shot all manner of Lomography specialist films in the past: Lomo X Tungsten 64 being my favourite and I'm fully aware of the 'pinch of salt' you have to take when shooting with Lomography brand cameras and film... you have to embrace the imperfections and I have a bit of a love hate relationship with them which I've posted about before now. However, not long after the films shipped Lomography's social media channels advertised "limited edition watermark" versions of the film which is a great way to try and market defective batches of your film... that made for slightly concerning reading and I hoped that these were not the ones the faithful Kickstarter backers had been supplied with... Unfortunately though, mine turned out to be even worse than the watermark edition. Every single frame had a scratch or some kind of damage. Some beyond even redemption through Photoshop (try as I might) which really was disappointing, and one image I really like, I've had to scrap. Check out some of the worst examples below:

Thankfully, although I'm not the most technically gifted with Photoshop I've managed to save a good portion of the film and although my experience is mega soured by the defect with my roll, I'm otherwise... satisfied... with how my first roll turned out. Here's my favourites:

Ok so I guess the defect with the film got me down a bit, they look alright I guess! I rated it at ISO 100 and asked my lab to dev as a ISO 100 film. I think, as a result, there is a good level of overexposure in most my shots, which is my fault really as I wanted to bring the colours out as much as possible so I shot it like I would Lomochrome Purple. I think if I was to shoot another roll I'd definitely dial it down to ISO 200. Here's the rest of the usable shots, including the ones I managed to fix, I got:

In fairness, it lived up to everything it was advertised to be. The colours are desaturated, but not so much that there isn't a distinguishable colour palette, the contrast is sharp and dramatic, which is how I like it, but not so much it blots out the highlights of your photos. There's a nice amount of grain to be visibly present, but not too much that it ruins the detail in your images. It's not de-throning Lomo X Tungsten 64 as my favourite Lomography branded emulsion any time soon, and it's not about to pip Lomochrome Purple from the top spot of Lomochrome branded films either, but I do like how it turned out. Aside from the horrible scratches on every photo it otherwise worked out as I anticipated. I think to really get the best out of this film you are going to want to shoot through glass, and with a camera with a low aperture that you can dial wide open with, either automatically like my LC-A+ or manually. Otherwise you are going to struggle to bring the colour palette through and the heightened contrast is going to blot out and murk your photos, but be careful to not overexpose it like I did! Since drafting this post, I contacted Lomography who agreed to exchange my remaining defective films for new, fresh films and have also promised to reimburse me the cost of shipping the defective films back to Austria. I'm looking forward to testing my second roll and giving this film a second chance!