Monday, September 21, 2015

Mind the Gap!

Mottled negatives are a sign of a tight gap.

Some negatives produced with New55 PN can be seen to have a mottled look. This mottling is usually caused by too tight a gap in the 545 holder. The reason for this tight gap can be stiffening caused by age, or old, dried reagent in any of the rollers, or in the journals the rollers roll in.  Too wide a gap and the positive image will be blurry. The balance is achievable and over time we will get this more under control.  In the meantime, and going forward the 545 holder needs to be cleaned thoroughly.
Mottling. The gap is tight.

I have found a few decades-old 545s with very tight rollers. Make sure your rollers are free.  If you suspect that you have a tight gap, you can compensate for it by running a layer of thin masking tape down each side of the sleeve.  In the foreground is a taped sleeve to illustrate the point. You can see that an added edge of black masking tape has been added. It can be any color, of course.  You might do this if you suspect a too-tight 545 until we find a way to compensate for the variation of these somewhat elderly 545 holders.

The top sleeve has edge tape to increase the gap

Thursday, August 13, 2015

We must sell products to survive and grow

As most of you know, the sale of just a few New55 PNs does help the project and is consistent with the kickstarter goal to create an ongoing enterprise that would sustain 4x5 instant photography. The whole idea of New55's kickstarter is to get a sustainable thing going, not just a one-time project. How do we better communicate this ongoing goal again to those who are just becoming aware of the project? Maybe the larger question is about how well we understand the economics of small-scale products and how they might survive in the midst of a mass market culture that knows little about where the products come from?

Recently, a few supporters and onlookers have talked online about the project and asked why, for instance, their reward hasn't shipped yet when others have and some sales have been made. Like building a house, the roof can't go on first, there has to be a foundation and walls to support it. The analogy is clear when you look at how things are made. It is the capacity of manufacture, the know-how, and the money flow that make any sustainable business, project or crowd-funded effort move forward. A one-time project, like a book for instance, is written, goes to press, ships, and then is done.

Film, especially instant film, is just not like that. It would be a waste to apply the effort to assemble a finite number of units and then not be able to continue. One of the most explicit goals of the project (seen on this blog since 2010) is to find where the economic center - if there is one - can balance a sales price with a real world cost to manufacture.

Ladies and gentlemen, that time has come. New55 FILM is officially, though not yet robustly, commercialized. A substantial goal of the kickstarter effort has been met. No icing on the cake though, at least not yet. We produced well for two weeks before the shocking news of the coating failure stopped everything, and now we are at a crawl. But there are other things happening, too.

We are seeing the first reactions to the initial high prices as expected. We are seeing some impatience, as expected. We experienced more than the expected share of problems, but these have become interesting in themselves, and though daunting and still extremely risky, that is not something new either. Many people have found our several disasters to be instructive and even entertaining. They are, and we've all learned much.

New55 is at a very critical stage of commercial infancy and could be discontinued if the motives and money cannot continue to be aligned. That requires continued product sales and the support of the community, which I personally thank the many for. I would not have gone into this if that was not the case, and as many of you know, kickstarter only supports about half of the cost to get going. The other half comes from substantial six figure cash amounts, huge chunks of unpaid volunteer time, and sales of stuff.

So buy the stuff, Use it. Show us what it can do. It has warts and the recent failure of the coatings (which cost over $100,000) really threatened to end the project. Yet, as of today, we coated again, by hand. We made some full boxes. We made new pods, we did a lot of things, just a lot more slowly. And speaking of things to buy, the unexpected success of the Monobath Developer phenomenon has shown a lot of people how big the demand is for easy black and white processing. Something quick and easy that takes the same amount of time as instant PN is appealing. We've been experimenting in the background and have an even better formula that might reduce some of the shortcomings and make it even easier to use.

Rewards, when available, are shipped in the order of the pledge.  There may be a few minor exceptions based on logistics and timing of available materials, and of course a supporter poll went out and some people elected to have their rewards changed, which may accelerate the shipment of some. If you haven't responded to that poll, and have a moment, it would be helpful if you would. But you don't have to - it's optional and was put up in response to supporter suggestions, and sent out to all kickstarter supporters. We get a lot of good suggestions and the poll was one.

About 11% of all film rewards have shipped, and the non film containing rewards will have shipped fairly soon. That is real progress.  In the meantime we are going to try - within constraints of very limited available cash - continue to do what we said we would do - establish the means to produce instant 4x5 film into the future.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On the Cusp

Here is the recent Kickstarter update dated June 9, 2015.

The key points:

Progress is being made and a few full assemblies will probably be ready this month.

The characteristics of New55 PN will require people to learn something new.

Old timers might want to look to new users for guidance.

There will likely be direct sales of New55 PN alongside award shipments.

Dear supporters,

Today we have some news for you that has been long awaited and cause for optimism but not yet celebration. New55 FILM will very likely have the first units of New55 PN built, in the box, and in regular production within three weeks. The first pieces will be a start and will likely need adjustments that will happen as we go through the first tranche of some 20,000 units over the coming months. Those of you who have been patiently waiting and encouraging us all along will already know that the road is just beginning and that what we do -- together -- to make New55 FILM YOUR success will depend on how we proceed to use it, show what it can do, learn it, and tell others who will have to follow.

There will be new things to learn: The balance of reagent to receiver to negative that we sometimes call “the wicked triangle” is OK and certainly good enough for artistic purposes, but the look, handling and results that you will get are unknown. If you are an old hand at T55, you will have to do some things differently. Unlearning can be almost as hard as new learning, something those of you who have never shot any 4x5 will probably learn faster than the old timers.

In the past we have discussed the need to continue to finance the project. That has not changed and we find ourselves with very limited operating cash. The many suggestions from you to raise funds resulted in 1SHOT and R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER and it is very encouraging and telling to read the reaction to these two new products on the various boards. Something new is happening in film photography -- real photography -- and you caused it to happen. Now we are likely to take your suggestion to fold in sales of some of the early New55 PN assemblies with the Kickstarter rewards in order to raise some cash, an idea that was quite enthusiastically received by supporters and newcomers, too.

OK enough for now. We are fatigued but optimistic about this new and counterintuitive business we are forging with your help. As always, you are the first to know.

Bob & Sam

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New55 Releases New 4x5 Film Product

Just when you thought that all the film manufacturers were cutting back film production because of lower demand, along comes New55 and its "1SHOT" product aimed at the growing interest in large format film photography. The New55 Kickstarter project, which is directed toward producing a new instant film, released this non-instant product recently and found it could not keep up with demand. "We were surprised as anyone that 1SHOT was so enthusiastically received, given its "fundraiser edition" price" said Bob Crowley, founder of New55. The group recently announced the fundraiser to help the effort to make instant film that it started in 2010.

New55's 1SHOT film can be bought at

 *** YELLOW DOT FUNDRAISER EDITION *** READY LOADED 4x5 SHEET FILM IS FINALLY HERE! YOU ASKED FOR IT! Many supporters who have followed the New55 INSTANT FILM project have ALSO asked for a ready loaded 4x5 film pack like we enjoyed so much in the heydays of “quick loads” and “ready loads”. The New55 Team needs to raise funds to continue their excellent progress. Now, more than ever, the field of large format photography depends on you. 1SHOT comes from The Skunkworks, and while not funded by New55 FILM’s Kickstarter program, it does make great use of our capability! Won’t you help us bridge the funding gap by buying and enjoying this surprise from The Skunkworks, all for the benefit of New55 FILM, and you? The clock is ticking. New55 FILM project supporters will have the first shot at 1SHOT. With every box of 1SHOT you buy, $25 is contributed to the development of New55 FILM. THANK YOU!!! 1SHOT YELLOW DOT EDITION WILL BE SOLD IN LIMITED QUANTITIES TO New55 FILM SUPPORTERS We will produce 1SHOT with New55 FILM’s selected Atomic-X, cubic grained standard weight 4x5 sheet film that we rate at ISO 100. You can develop 1SHOT any way you like: monobath, conventional tray, or even send it out to your favorite lab. 1SHOT is not an instant film! But it is fast, and convenient. SPECIFICATIONS: 1 box contains 5 single-sheet packs 4x5 negative only works in the Polaroid 545 series holders for monobath or regular darkroom development Film negative: New55 FILM's Atomic-X cubic-grained black and white emulsion on a 4x5 standard weight polyester base Recommended film speed: ISO 100 Use 1SHOT with any Polaroid 545 holder in any 4x5 camera, pinhole camera, home made camera, or studio view camera! This offering is a test of the demand by serious photographers for an easy way to make large-format photographs, without having to load film holders. Many people have asked. Now it is up to you. 1SHOT IS NOT INSTANT FILM, OF COURSE! SPECIAL YELLOW DOT FUNDRAISER EDITION - LIMITED QUANTITIES The famous yellow dot of the Aero Ektar, and other dots like Gold Dots, Red Dots, evoke a special quality. It's here for the generosity of supporters, and those who believe that large format photography - real photography - is worth our every effort. The yellow dot also helps us commemorate and keep track of the first series of film products ever made at the new New55 FILM factory. Like “ready loads” or “quick loads” that are no longer produced, each pack contains one, single high quality 4x5 black and white sheet film negative. The premium price reflects the fundraising power of 1SHOT! Order 1SHOT NOW!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Silver prices affect the price of all film products

Here is a historical chart of the price of silver that shows the more recent spike in prices, and then the collapse.  Although plastics and sensitizing dyes can be as costly as the silver used, all film is subject to price spikes when and if the price of silver spikes. As you can see, it did that. Like oil, the price of the final product is quick to rise, and very slow to fall.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tilting Xenotar - still available to support New55 funding

The 150mm f2.8 Schneider Xenotar is still available for sale. Without the mount, in this condition, the lens alone would cost you at least $2000. It really is perfect. The custom machined tilt mount that I made would set you back, if you could find someone to design and make it. This is the only one. Since we need money to continue New55, I will consider a strong offer for this lens and mount for the Pentax 67.  Imagine having such a lens on your 67! Also, with an adapter, you can mount it to your Nikon or Canon full frame camera, or to a Mamiya 645, and others.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1SHOT - Lower shipping prices outside the US

After a lot of looking around we found a way to configure shipping so that European and Asian customers can usually pay a more reasonable price for shipping from Massachusetts. Several potential customers for 1SHOT abandoned their carts when shipping prices of $50 or more came up. That was the right thing to do. The reward for waiting are more 1SHOT packages available in the Shop (we've sold out three groups) and a lower shipping price.

So buy 1SHOT here. $25 of the price goes to fund New55 PN FILM development.

Thank you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Interesting finding after the 1SHOT letter to supporters

Some of you will know that an email letter went out early this morning to supporters of the New55 Kickstarter effort, with a link to the New55 Shop where a limited quantity of 1SHOT ready loaded sheet film was offered for sale.  All of the 1SHOT boxes were sold in almost no time, and this is very encouraging. Another finding was the distribution of visits into the site this morning, heavy on the European side at about 11am Boston time.

Below is a screen shot of hits to the web store. Most web stores use things like this to see where people come in from. Ours does not collect personal information and we are interested in the location and time of visit.

What does it mean? Californians were still in bed, the East Coast of the US was up, and so was Europe. If you are from California and missed the offer, don't worry, there will be another batch in the Shop soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Image collection for coating team access 3

Double layer delamination. Multiple layers tend to crack
and separate. Here two layers are widely apart.

Double layer dimensions and delamination. The layers
are thicker than we thought they would be.

Stripe artifact, with and without release layer over it. The stripe
is a wrinkle in the image layer and can easily be seen with a magnifier.
The image layer looks like it was dried very fast. The release
layer is so thin we cannot measure it.

Single layer adhesion is excellent. No place on the single
layer sample has any flaking at all.

Single layer worst case adhesion is excellent even
when it is flexed. It does crack, but stays in place. The single layer
thickness is 5 microns or more, which is plenty.
8 Layer top view showing severe delamination. Multi image
layers in the sample set all have this problem.
8 Layer side view showing adhesion and strata. There is
some adhesion between layers and some splitting. The
bulk multilayer separates from the ABV at the bottom. The release layer
is apparently too thin.
Lots of holes produce the deepest blacks.