Film Review: Lomography Color Negative 400 (35mm and 120)

Lomography Color Negative 400 is one of those alternative color films that unfortunately isn’t spoken about enough. And for some of us, that’s perfectly fine. I’m okay with all the haters of Lomography refusing to understand what the company is doing and saving more film for me. Walking into the West Village store in NYC to be greeted warmly by the employees and always having the ability to buy some simply makes me happier. And all the folks who only shoot digital and only care about shooting digital can keep doing so. They’ll never understand the awesome secret that the rest of us know that is ironically being published on one of the biggest indie photo blogs on the web.

That’s all just fine.

In the right situations, there are times when I personally feel like it outdoes Kodak Portra 400 or at least proves to be a worthy alternative to both Kodak Portra 400 and Fujifilm Pro 400H. For those of you who consider yourselves to be penny pinchers, Lomography Lomography Color Negative 400 is often more affordable than the other two options on the market. And like the other options, it’s much more preferable to shoot it in 120 format vs 35mm.

With Lomography, you get Lomography Color Negative 400 in packages of three vs packages of five. You also get a look that is different from the others though probably not incredibly difficult to mimic in digital if you’ve got a great attention to detail.  It isn’t as unique as something like Lomography Lomochrome Purple 400; but it surely does look different. Where Kodak Portra 400 and Fujifilm Pro 400H deliver a look that very much is associated with VSCO these days, no one of merit has seriously tried to clone Lomography Color Negative 400’s characteristic look for a digital simulation yet. And for the moment, that’s a big advantage.

Gear Used

We tested Lomography Color Negative 400 with the Canon EOS 33, Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art, the Pentax 67, Pentax 45mm f4, Pentax 105mm f2.4, and the Mamiya RB67 with the 80mm f3.5. Additional work was done using the Lomo Simple Use Camera and the Interfit Honey Badger monolight.

Tech Specs

Tech specs for Lomography Color Negative 400 pulled from the company’s website.

Details

Lomography Color Negative 400 120 film will dazzle you with bold colors and stunning sharpness. Whether you are shooting under sunny or cloudy conditions, you’ll get great results. Try this film with your favorite Lomography 120 camera and see for yourself!

Technical Specifications

  • For use with medium format cameras
  • ISO 400
  • Color negative film

Additional Information

SKU f4120c3
Brand Lomography
Development C41 Color Negative Processing
Film Type Negative
ISO 400
Exposures 12
Pack Size 3
Categories FilmsLomography FilmLomography 120 Film120 Film120 Color NegativeColor Negative Film120 Color NegativeLomography Color Negative FilmsFilm Photography Day15% OFF on Lomography filmsThe Dreamy World of the Diana CameraLittle TreatsFestive Film Deal

Ease of Use

Lomography Color Negative 400 is a film that is pretty simple to use overall and for that reason I strongly recommend it for both those getting into film who understand how the basics of exposure work and for those who have a bit more polish to their work. Where some folks say that with Fujifilm Pro 400H that you should rate it at ISO 80 and develop it for 400, you don’t really need to do that with Lomo’s offering. Similarly, you don’t really need to shoot it at ISO 200 and develop it for 320 in the way that you do so with Kodak Portra 400.

In my tests I had no problems giving the film a bit of extra light to ISO 320 or 200 essentially and simply developing it for ISO 400. Of course, this is a negative film. So it won’t matter all too much unless you’re being a stickler for color. If that’s the case, then go medium format. In fact, I wish that this film came in large format sheet emulsions.

During one of my shooting sessions I was a bit afraid that I’d lose a whole lot of details in the shadows when shooting with the Pentax 67. The Pentax 67 has a 1/30th sync speed with a flash so I needed to shoot at a slower shutter speed. In this case, I found myself shooting at 1/30th, f4 to f6.3, and ISO 400. Fortunately, the film (and Lomography’s development) saved those details and balanced the studio strobe I was working with very well. At least in the case of Kodak Portra 160, I always felt like working with a flash wasn’t so simple. Lomography Color Negative 400 does a good job of creating a fairly flat and matte looking image. So with that said, it’s fantastic for skin tones. In fact, I’d rate it to be pretty perfect for it if you’re a person that likes going for skin tones that are only a tad more saturated.

Fujifilm Pro 400H I’ve always found to be a bit more pastel where Kodak Portra 400 is a bit more saturated (yes, really) and less matte looking. Lomography Color Negative 400 takes matte and saturation and sort of blends them.

Lomography Color Negative 400 is a pretty sharp film too–in fact I find it to be sharp enough to hold its own with other options on the market when looking at the images as a whole. When it comes to color, I feel that Lomography Color Negative 400 is fairly cool vs some other options on the market.

Image Quality and Sample Photos

Obviously, Lomography Color Negative 400 delivers better results with good lenses and at medium format sizes vs 35mm film sizes.

Lomography Simple Use Camera

Pentax 67

Canon EOS 33

Leica CL

Conclusions

I’ve been starting to have a change of heart recently with film. I like Kodak Portra 400 and Fujifilm Pro 400H has started to grow on me. But Lomography Color Negative 400 has done so even faster. It’s a gorgeous film and produces results that look awesome for skin tones and overall just in the look of the image. Like any other film though, you get the best results with it when you’re paying very careful attention to the light around you.

Want some? I strongly recommend picking some Lomography Color Negative 400 up!