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Last summer Lomography released its new LomoChrome Color ’92 film stock.
While I’m always excited for a new film stock, I was particularly eager to try Lomo ’92. Designed to have a nostalgic 90s feel, Lomography describes this film as full of retro charm with a unique color emulsion. I was a 90s teen through and through, so this was 100% speaking my language.
Lomography sent us a roll to try out, and I jumped at the chance to see if this film lived up to the hype, fully ready to break out the flannel and crank up some Nirvana.
While LomoChrome Color ’92 isn’t as experimental as some of Lomography’s other films, like LomoChrome Purple or Turquoise or even Metropolis, it’s colors still have some interesting characteristics.
The tones are meant to have a nostalgic 90s feel, and the images almost feel as if they were taken with a point-and-shoot camera. The colors have a medium saturation with blues in the shadows and a lot of green/yellow in the mid-tones and highlights.
I actually find these colors pretty difficult to describe. In some images, it feels like the tones are distinctly cool, with more of a blue color cast. But in others, it feels much richer and warmer, with a green or yellow cast. The colors play a trick on you a little bit. Even when reading about this film online, people are split on how to describe it, some say it’s cool and some feel that it is really warm, and you can see that duality reflected in the images.
If you’re shooting on a cloudier day or in the shade, I would expect those blue tones to come out, and if you’re shooting in bright sun, you’ll get more of those green/yellow tones.
The look is subtle, though, with close to true-to-life colors. The tones add a hint of a retro look, especially with the greens and blues, but it’s not so strong to overpower the image.
Besides the unique colors, the heavy grain is what gives Lomo ’92 its retro look. Lomography wasn’t kidding when they named this film ’92. The grain and color profile really mimic what it was like to use a point-and-shoot camera in the 90s and drop your film off at a one-hour photo.
The grain will be noticeable in all of your images, creating a softer, low-fi look. When I exposed my images correctly or overexposed a little, I found the grain to be really pleasing. Just enough to look vintage, but not too distracting. But with underexposed images, the grain overwhelmed the image pretty quickly.
So be prepared for a lot of grain, and if grain isn’t really your thing, this film is probably not the best fit for you.
How Versatile is LomoChrome ’92?
Lomography touts this film as being highly versatile and suitable for all lighting conditions, and I think this is the one area where I really struggled with this film.
I found this film to need a lot of good light to shine and that it doesn’t like underexposure at all.
I wanted to see how it did pairing a Lomography film with a Lomography camera, and to say it went rough is an understatement.
The Diana has its quirks. It’s a plastic camera with limited controls. You can’t dial in exposures, and you kind of just have to let the camera do its thing. But since Lomo ’92 is a 400 speed film, I thought it might do pretty well.
Lomo ’92 really struggled in the Diana. I shot mostly in sun or open shade and used the appropriate settings on the Diana. When I got the film back, everything looked underexposed, maybe up to a stop, and most of the images were unusable. Muddy, blah colors, and the grain was completely overwhelming. A few in bright sun were okay, but even those took a lot of tweaking in post to be usable.
So I ran another roll through my Nikon to make sure I could dial in exposures and give the film a fair go. This roll went much more smoothly (thank goodness!). As long as I rated at box speed or gave it a little bit of overexposure, the film looked great. Beautiful tones, nice grain, and full of that retro charm you want from this film. I metered between the mid-tones and shadows, so even at box speed, it could be considered a bit overexposed.
I still had a couple of underexposed images on that roll, and I found the same thing to be true. This film does not like to be underexposed. The images were lackluster, muddy, and hard to salvage through editing. They lost all of the nostalgic charm that makes the film special.
I would be cautious about using this film in cameras where you don’t have a lot of control, like point-and-shoots, or in situations with tricky/low lighting.
Lomography has been bringing some really interesting films to the market, and I love the space that LomoChrome ’92 fills. The colors are close enough to real life to make this film really usable, but unique enough that you get some fun experimentation, too.
If you want to add a little extra dose of nostalgia to your film photography, LomoChrome ’92 is such a great option. It has a few quirks but delivers really beautiful results and completely captures the vibe of the 90s.