It was the first slide film I ever tried. Cross processing with slide film was just way too confusing and stressful, but then I came across Rollei Crossbird Creative Edition, which is made for X-pro. It even orders you on the packaging to process it in C-41 chemicals! This film soon converted me and that led me to discover its amazing history and awesome results.
If the Lomo LC-A is the heart of Lomography then surely cross processed slide film is the blood. Since shooting with slide is such an integral part of a lomo-sapien it’s often an area we sussed out a long time ago. Maybe we’ve become comfortable with our Fuji Velvia, Sensia and Provia, or our Kodak Ektachrome and Elitechrome. They give us reliability, precision and consistency, they’re tried and tested. Wait a second! That’s the last thing we want a film to give us. If you want thoughtless, boundless Lomography then you need Rollei Crossbird! (Fade in shot of happy family holding film canister.)
Okay bear with me, I’m gonna start talking about a whole lot of stuff, but it will come together!
Now this really isn’t a new film. In fact its existed under multiple pseudonyms. This same film can find itself known as Rollei Digibase CR200. Prior to that this film was a slide film produced by Agfa called Agfachrome RSX II 200. During the 90’s Agfa was as big of a player in the film world as Fuji and Kodak. Actually the first edition of Agfa slide, Agfachrome RSX, won the 95-96 European Photo Awards “Color Slide Film of the year”. Then in 1999 Agfa released Agfachrome RSX II in 50, 100 and 200 ISO.
Agfa basically went into receivership in 2005 but contrary to popular belief it wasn’t all over. The Belgium branch of Agfa survived and in 2006 Agfa revitalised its film manufacturing activities. Sadly 35mm and 120 film emulsions were discontinued. But Agfa continues to produce B/W, color negative and color reversal film for aerial photography. In particular a film for aerial photography called AVIPHOT CHROME 200 PE1 (The Agfa website mentions it features excellent contrast, sharpness and color saturation; everything you need of a high quality aerial photography film).
It is from this film that MACO, a Gerrman based supplier of photographic films, cuts and produces 35mm and 120 format slide film. This is in turn distributed under the Rollei brand name and is known as Rollei Digibase CR200.
The original version of this film, Agfachrome RSX II 200, developed a reputation underground as great for cross processing. It was enough of a reputation that not too long ago Rollei marketed a version of Rollei Digibase CR200 dedicated as a cross process specific film and it called it Rollei Creative Edition Crossbird!!!
This film is pure pedigree and is a serious alternative to Fuji and Kodak slide films. When you cross process you get strong, vibrant colors, with your blues and greens glowing. On top of the color saturation you also get deep blacks and strong contrast. Interestingly skin tones are reproduced accurately and warm.
For a slide film it has quite a broad latitude and with a ISO of 200 it suits alot of light conditions. I shot some Rollei Crossbird 200 ISO and some Kodak Elitechrome 400 ISO at the same time in slightly overcast conditions and after cross processing the Crossbird gave far greater color and contrast, showing its flexibility when it comes to light conditions. For the strongest results though, Rollei Crossbird really does love the sunshine.
This is seriously an amazing film to use and shouldn’t be seen as generic and inferior to the more popular Fuji and Kodak films used for cross processing. This film will honestly have you smiling from the time you shoot it all the way to the lab, when the difficult staff that work there take the film, read the instructions on the sleeve of the film canister which says “Process in C-41”, and X-pro your film without even knowing it.