I've been using my Olympus OM20 for about 2 years now, and today I got 3 processed rolls (Ultramax 400) back, and the photos have come out in very cold colours, almost blue.

So far, all photos in 2 rolls have come back like this. For reference, I fairly consistently take photos outside.

Photo 2 Photo 1 photo 3 photo 4

I've always used Ultramax 400 in this camera, with these same settings, so I'm very confused. I've attached a typical (brightly coloured) photo from a previously developed roll for comparison.

Comparison picture

As a side note (not sure if relevant), I'm typically not the best at getting my subjects totally in focus, but I'd say more photos than normal are out of focus. The final photo here, for example, shows how my subjects' faces look almost ghostly and lacking in features.

photo to show focus issue

I am so gutted to have my vacation pictures looking so awful so any help would be hugely appreciated!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Was there any difference in how the film was stored this time, compared to previous rolls? Or where it was sourced? On the pictures themselves - it may be possible to "rescue" them to some extent in Photoshop or similar. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 17:35
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Are these scans from the negatives or from paper prints? Did you scan yourself or have the lab scan the film? Do the negatives look properly exposed (if you compare them to other negatives you have gotten good pictures from)? \$\endgroup\$
    – jarnbjo
    Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 15:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hello, sorry I just saw these replies, thanks for the tips! These are scans from negatives, scanned by the lab. I couldn't notice any huge difference on the negatives from previous times but will check again properly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tash
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 10:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Regarding the storage of the film, it was the same as always and sourced from a reliable source. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tash
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 10:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ About the "focussing" issue shown in your last photo, I doubt it's (fully) caused because you've set the focus incorrectly. The shorts of the middle guy (with the cap on) is more in focus than his face, while both are more or less in the same focus plane. The grass on the right shows something similar. My completely naive guess would be that the negative was mishandled before scanning and that someone touched it by accident, leaving some smudges. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 11:50

3 Answers 3


It appears that what is going on here is that the blue photos are over exposed, note the highlights are washed out (not much detail in them). They also rather grainy, also indicative of over exposure.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your reply, I had thought about over-exposure but I wondered how likely it is that I've over-exposed 3 rolls of film, even when taking photos inside and outside? And I've never had the same issue before, when using the camera on the exact same settings. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tash
    Commented Mar 18, 2022 at 9:24
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Tash If you are getting a lot of images that are all overexposed, check to be sure your lens is stopping down as it should when you take a picture. Back in the late 1980s I had a lens that seemed fine when examining it off the camera. I was convinced the camera's light meter had gone bad. Then I noticed that shots taken with the lens wide open were fine, it was only shots taken with the lens set to be stopped down that were grossly overexposed. I tried a different lens and the problem was gone. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 6:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Michael, thanks for the advice. An interesting point, and good to know for the future! In this instance, I'm not sure that's the problem, as I was using two lenses and the photos from both have come out looking the same. I'll examine my lenses just in case anyway! thanks again \$\endgroup\$
    – Tash
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 10:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ If overexposure occurs between multiple lenses, perhaps the shutter is sticky? That could result in overexposure as the actual shutter speed becomes longer than the desired shutter speed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 11:40

It looks to me like the white balance is off, as it's a film camera there is nothing you did or could have done in-camera to alter this.

So one of 3 scenarios seem the culprit to me:

  • The lab got something wrong when scanning the negatives.
  • The lab got something wrong when developing the film.
  • The negative film itself was "iffy"

I can think of one way to try to narrow this down, if you can scan one of the negatives and invert to positive without tweaking colour balance and see if it's still got a blue tint, it could be the negs and therefore the film/developing was bad, otherwise their scanner is to blame.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi, really appreciate your reply. I'll try to investigate these things. The only thing I'm still confused about is why my subjects' faces look so odd, almost like they're lacking in features (I've added a final photo in my original photo above to demonstrate). That photo is a little less 'blue' but still very strange. Could this also be linked to white balance? \$\endgroup\$
    – Tash
    Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 11:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tash - I would say that's more than likely just over-exposure of their faces, which has blown out the detail. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 25, 2022 at 14:28

Your camera seems prone to over-exposing.

But the particular issue with this reel seems quite clearly to be a problem with how the film was stored or how it was processed. Or in how the lab scanned the negatives.

The good news is that there's still quite a lot of retrievable information in those shots. This is the result of 'Equalise' then some adjustment of 'Levels' in the free photo-manipulating program GIMP. They're almost as good as the camera on your phone would do now! And, to be fair, your phone-camera might not be able to do the differential focus.

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