When I first started playing around with vintage cameras, I wasn’t sure what kind of film to order, and just for fun, ordered a roll of Rollei Crossbird, without really knowing what it was. It turns out this is slide film – i.e. “positive” or “color reversal” film you would use for old-fashioned slides, rather than “negative” film commonly used in film photography. It’s called “crossbird” because of the popularity of using slide film in “cross processing”. Slide film is commonly processed using the E-6 process, in all its variants; while negative film is processed using the C-41 process. “Cross processing” is taking one type of film and applying the other film process to develop it. This can either involve processing slide film using the C-41 process, or negative film using the E-6 process – with the former being more popular.
Why cross process? Doesn’t this ruin the photos? Well, it seems that cross processing results in unpredictable color shifts that people find pleasing and/or interesting. Nowadays, it seems that the people who continue to insist on using film photography tend to be an experimental bunch – there’s a lot of, “I wonder what would happen if…”
So I put this one roll of 127 film into an old camera – a 1940-ish Agfa A8 Cadet, pictured below:
It’s a tiny little thing, about 2/3 the size (in all dimensions) of the usual box cameras of this era, with an f/11 aperture and a shutter speed of about 1/40 of a second, with a small tab you can pull to keep the shutter open for timed exposures. I walked around Windhoek for an hour or so and only sent the film in eons later.
Out of the eight shots, only one was really any good, in my opinion. I have since tried developing a few rolls of “found” slide film in C-41 chemicals (now that I have figured out how to do this myself) and have come up with zilch.
It turns out that this particular roll may have been one of the last Rollei Crossbird rolls produced – everywhere I look appears to be out of stock, and Rollei itself does not appear to sell the film. But ultimately it’s just slide film – but larger, of course. I have a couple of rolls of 35mm slide film I may try this with in the future as well. But for now, I honestly fail to see what the fuss is all about!