Ten Reasons to Love Cross Processed Film


First of all, film is great. You guys are probably going to get sick of hearing about film from me over the next couple of months — I just bought two more film cameras (yes, both are Minoltas) and a gob of film to run through them.

I’m fairly new to film, but I’m already starting to set a few personal preferences. I’ve shot two rolls of color film: one roll of Ektachrome cross processed and one roll of Velvia not cross processed. I should’ve cross processed the Velvia too.

Don’t get me wrong, standard color film photos have their place and I’m not knocking them. But for my own artistic preferences, I find the cross processed photos to be more interesting and captivating. Here are some reasons why I love cross processed film — and I’m not talking about the Photoshop Cross Processing Technique — this is the real deal!


Combine cross processing with the quirks and character of an old camera and glass, and you’ve got a winning combination. These photos can have such a classic look to them, often appearing as if they came from a different era altogether.

kim cathers
Creative Commons License photo credit: kk+


Cross processing tends to darken the shadows of some photos while really pushing the saturation up. This results in a very rich image with deep shadows approaching pure black. A great way to add a dark mood to your photo.

Aiming high
Creative Commons License photo credit: bricolage.108


Colors become brighter and bolder than usual when cross processed. Blues, greens, and yellows tend to stand out the most. Additional color casts can also produce wild and unnatural results.

One sign fits all
Creative Commons License photo credit: neil-san


Not all cross processed photos have massive color shifts, huge amounts of contrast, or extreme colors. Sometimes they turn out very subtle. That’s the fun of cross processing — you never know exactly what you’re going to get.

Creative Commons License photo credit: auer1816


On the other hand, some cross processed photos turn out with extremely heavy color shifts and very obvious tints. Some even appear to be duotone in nature.

Creative Commons License photo credit: mentitore


The green shift is very common, and it’s a classic cross processed look.

Hell's Angel
Creative Commons License photo credit: Chick Dastardly


Blues are also pretty typical, giving a slightly different feel to the photo. Blues and greens can often be found together.

Calcio malato
Creative Commons License photo credit: boskizzi

8: RED

Reds are less typical, but can be produced by using the right films and chemicals. Magentas also usually tag along with the reds.

west pier sunrise
Creative Commons License photo credit: slimmer_jimmer


I see even fewer yellows than reds, but the effect can be brilliant.

Creative Commons License photo credit: johnnyalive


The coolest thing about cross processed film is that you can take a photo of something fairly ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. The new textures, colors, and contrasts bring a whole different view to the image.

What Happens In Boracay
Creative Commons License photo credit: bullish1974

So seriously, if you’re like me and you start shooting film after digital, grab a few rolls of different color films and have them cross processed. You’re not likely to be let down by the results!

40 thoughts on “Ten Reasons to Love Cross Processed Film

  1. Damien Franco

    Funny thing. I’m sending my old film camera to the camera store to get cleaned and looked at, and I just got a hold of my dad’s old Polaroid SX-70. Oh yeah, I’m getting excited about film again!

  2. the_wolf_brigade

    I started a revolution! hehehe

    Now, to get you interested in box cameras….I’m having great fun shooting on a Kodak Brownie box lately.

    I’m hoping to get to some more Xpro tomorrow.

  3. Brian Auer Post author

    @Antoine – It’s the film that’s expensive, not the equipment! I just bought a working camera for $35 — nice old rangefinder.

    @R.Kneschke – Almost? Dang, I guess I should have added a little more pizazz to this thing.

    @Damien – That’s really awesome! Take advantage of that Polaroid while you still can.

    @the_wolf_brigade – You certainly have, my friend! I did just buy a TLR, but I’ve been eying some of those Ensigns over at OzCamera.

    @Sean – That’s awesome man! I’m looking forward to seeing some of those photos — toss ’em into our Flickr pool when you do!

  4. cmiper

    Great post Brian.
    I may have mentioned it to you in the past, but I keep my cost down by bringing my film in to Target and asking for the “CD Only”. They’ll process the film and scan it to CD usually for $1.99, though the price is supposed to be $2.99 (processing + scans), they usually just charge for the CD scans when you put the specific directions on the envelope. I also tape over the canister with black tape and tell them to process it normally, they usually don’t question it. You can also upgrade to the high res scans on the Kodak(?) CD for a small amount more, though I find their CD to be find for my needs.

  5. Otto K.

    Well, I won’t get sick hearing about film since that’s all I shoot with anymore. 🙂 Agfa Precisa CT100 film is a really nice film to cross process as is Fuji Velvia.

  6. Jeff D


    I’ve yet to cross process but I have a friend who loves it and might give it a go in the near future.

    As someone who now owns three Minoltas (XD-11 SLR, Hi-Matic 9 and a Hi-Matic E) I’m curious as to what Minoltas you just picked up.

    Love the blog, keep up the good work,


  7. the_wolf_brigade

    You bought a TLR!? Time for some camera pr0n on your stream!

    I ended up shooting a roll of Ekatchrome on a Bronica (6×6) I’ve been borrowing. Used the fish eye too 😀 Got it Xpro’d….man I’m so glad I read this post! I was going to just do normal processing, but I’m glad I didn’t!

    I shot a roll of 4.5×6 slides just to make sure I didn’t miss anything, but the Xpro stuff is what’s got me excited….Time to through a roll of 35mm through I think.

  8. the_wolf_brigade

    Oh man, just checked out the links…I’m expecting great things now!

    I managed to score an extended loan of a Pentax 645 today while, my Pentax 6×7 also came back from repairs today. New cameras all round.

  9. Brian Auer Post author

    Yup, I totally bought a TLR! I couldn’t resist for $150. I just hope it’s fairly clean and in complete working order (it was an ebay purchase). I even got one with the original leather case and the booklet. I’ll toss up some photos when the new cameras arrive in the mail.

  10. Lexie Tolentino

    I love #2!

    I’ve tried cross processing Sensia 100, and those came out very yellow for me.

    I also tried cross processing a roll of Velvia 50 and they came out very blue. I have never tried Ektachrome, though. I can’t find any Elitechromes or Ektachromes here. 🙁

    And, yay for trying out film. 🙂 Honestly, film is really great. 🙂 Have you tried rangefinders?

  11. Brian Auer Post author

    @Lexie – I’ll have to try the Sensia… I think I even have an expired roll floating around. You can always look online for the Ektachrome (like on eBay) — they really do turn out nice cross processed. Oh, and I haven’t tried a rangefinder yet, but I’ve got one arriving in the mail very soon — I’m pretty excited to try it out.

    @Jeff – Great shots from those cameras! I particularly like the way the cat photos turned out on the Hi-Matic 9.

  12. Derek

    Hmm, I shot a roll of Velvia 100 this weekend through a Mayima 6×9. Maybe I’ll have it cross processed just to give it a go. The bummer of the weekend is the shutter froze on my 35mm SLR (an old Fujica) – have a) find a place that might fix it, and b) see if it is worth fixing.

  13. Lisa

    Funny that. I’m back on a film kick, too! I started out with film though. I miss the smell of the chemicals. Hehe. We’re slowly working on a darkroom of our own. And by slowly, I’m expecting it’ll take half a year to complete. We’re rushing the negative scanner purchase though.

    We just recently acquired two 35mm cameras (Jeff’s dad’s and mine – a Konica FC-1 and a Canon AE-1, but both are broken so we need to have them fixed), and we’re thinking of getting a TLR next month. $150 for a TLR sounds like a dream. It’s great that we’re going to be reading film articles of yours the same time we’re doing this. I’m considering crossing out the “digital” part of our blog. Haha.

  14. Jeff

    Hey, Brian. Have you ever tried lomography? I’m thinking you’d like the colors. An alternative to cross-processing would be using expired film. I know some people that hoard them here. Hard to come by some already even.

  15. Brian Auer Post author

    That’s awesome, Lisa! I’d be interested to hear about your scanner — I’m using a Canoscan 8400 and it works fine, but it’s a little tedious because I can only scan 12 frames in one shot. I might want to invest in something that can eat up a whole roll without my intervention. And I hope you don’t run into too many problems getting those cameras fixed!

    Jeff, I’ve never tried Lomography, but I’ve seen plenty of examples. I do love the look they produce, and it’s safe to say that I’ll probably try it out in the near future. I’ve looked into the expired film too — it’s not too hard to find on eBay, and you can usually find a grab bag of different films expired at different times.

  16. laanba

    I think I’m about to try out some cross processing. I’m excited. I stepped into film for the first time with my Holga which I love, but I just bought a Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim and have seen lots of really great cross processed photos from that little camera. Can’t wait! Hurry up postman!

  17. Dror

    Been getting some really nice colors out of my Yashica, seriously cheap entry into medium format film. I picked mine up for $15.

  18. Jeff D

    I have a lomo script in PS that does a good job imitating the effects. You can google it easily enough, it’s available for free.

    @dror: What model Yashica did you get that cheaply and where?

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  21. weedbreeder

    have you tried cross processing negatives and scan them as positives? if so, how do they look like? can you send some? i’m doing research on this but found all use slide films(which are expensive in our area)

  22. Brian Auer Post author

    This is what they look like when you xpro color negative film with slide film chemicals. But unless you have a readily available source to process slides, it’s probably cheaper and easier to xpro slide film in the c-41 process — the whole idea is that you can get it developed just about anywhere. Slide developing is usually harder to come by outside of professional labs.

  23. RH

    Brian — You’ve sold me on shooting film, but I was wondering: is there an online guide to what color shifts to expect for crossing different slide films? I know what kind of results I want, but I don’t know what kind of film when crossed will give me that result. Thanks for the great tips!

  24. Brian Auer Post author

    The colors are sometimes a mystery and a surprise. I’ve seen the same film turn out different colors based on the developer used. But most of the time, some films will follow a certain color shift. I’m actually writing up another article that goes more in-depth on these color shifts and what you might expect from various films.

    The two films that I commonly use are the Kodak Ektachrome (which turns green) and the Fujifilm Velvia 100 (which turns red) — while the Velvia 50 turns green/blue.

  25. RH

    Haven’t tried the Ektachrome, and I like the green shift so I’ll have to give that one a try. I look forward to the article!

  26. fiona

    You are right, film is great!
    I’m a big fan of tradtional photography and love all my manual cameras.
    I’m just trying out cross processing, as previously most of my work has been in black and white. I came across you’re site whilst researching. It’s always nice to see people enthuiastic about film!

  27. Chick Dastardly


    Thanks for using one of my photos to show cross processing! I’m really really chuffed!

    I totally adore doing cross processing, i love the fact that you can be blown away with the results so every time you develop a film it’s exciting! 🙂

    Here’s another fantastic xpro photo by another flickrite Slimmer Jimmer – it really sums up xpro for me

  28. Ed Stogdale

    Note! The colour film has to be a colour SLIDE film, (aka Transparency) and you develop this film in the negative chemicals (hence cross processing). If you develop negative film in a transparency (e-6) proces you get the opposite effect, bleached, low-contrast images.

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