What the hell is Cross-Processing?

A Lomography Guide

What it is...

Cross-processing (also known as 'x-pro') is the procedure of deliberately processing one type of film in a chemical solution intended for another type of film. As particular chemical solutions are optimized for specific kinds of film, you will get unpredictable and interesting results when they are combined differently.
Before anything else, let us tell you about the different chemicals used for the 2 most common types of consumer film.

Colour negative film

Colour negative film uses C-41 chemicals for processing. You will get negatives as a result of this type of processing. | Take a look at some Colour negative film in our online shop

Colour slide film

Colour slide film (also known as 'reversal' or 'transparency' film) uses E-6 chemicals for processing. You will get slides as a result of this type of processing. Think of slides as the slides that your grandparents used for slide projectors to bore everyone with their photos from their last vacation! | Take a look at some Colour slide film in our online shop


Now comes the fun part. When you cross-process, you use the chemicals for colour negative film with your colour slide films, and vice-versa. So, when you cross-process colour negative film you process it using E-6 chemicals. And when you cross-process Slide film you process it using C-41 chemicals.

How it works...

Cross-Processing Colour negative film

Cross-processing Colour negative film in slide film chemicals (E-6) generally yields soft, subtle and grainy results. A little art-house, a little lo-fi, it's the intimate face of cross-processing. Each particular film brand and emulsion will give different shifts in colour, alternate levels of contrast, and disparate proportions of sheer insanity. Browse through the dedicated film galleries on our website for a small glimpse at the signature looks and grand possibilities by brand. Here a few examples to give you an idea!

Cross-Processing Colour slide film

If you cross-process your slide film in C-41 chemicals, the results are shocking (in a good way!!). The entire colour balance and contrast level of your images is thrown out of whack. Photos turn out saturated or with high contrast and you might get all kinds of other unexpected results as well! Different slide films have different characteristics when cross-processed. Some turn out more yellow or more green while others turn purple or red. Here are a few examples of the results you can achieve with this kind of cross-processing.

Why do it...

The best thing about cross processing is THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE. Try as you may, it is nearly impossible to predict exactly what effect cross processing will have on your images. But this is where the fun lies. Every roll of film you develop is like a box of rabid hamsters. You never know what you're gonna get!

Where to get it done...

It's generally best to get your cross processing done at a good professional photo lab. For best results, avoid the corner supermarket or drug store. Go for the real deal. When you ask for cross processing, they'll know exactly what to do.

Remember that everything depends on how you process your film. The chemicals, the machine calibrations and the developing process (the order, the temperature, etc.) are responsible for what you get towards the end. So, when you have your film processed, you will get different results from different labs because they do not always use the same chemicals and calibrations.

Who we are...

Lomography is a Magazine, Shop and Community dedicated to analogue photography.


It all began with a fateful encounter in the early 1990s, when two students in Vienna, Austria, stumbled upon the Lomo Kompakt Automat - a small, enigmatic Russian camera. Mindlessly taking shots from the hip, and sometimes looking through the viewfinder, they were astounded by the mind-blowing photos it produced - the colours were vibrant, with deep saturation and vignettes that framed the shot - it was nothing like they had seen before! Upon returning home, friends wanted their own Lomo LC-A, igniting a new style of artistic analogue photography that we now know as Lomography!


To know more about the different films Lomography has to offer, visit the Lomography Film Shop.