Monday, December 27, 2010

We need clips

We need a reasonable amount of them. None have come in recently. Urgent plea.

Clips can be salvaged from Fujifil Quickloads, Kodak Readyloads, and any Polaroid 4x5 sheet films. Send the whole sleeve if you can, with the clip. Labs, don't throw these out please! Send them to us.

Readers, please tweet this, FB it, and send this message to any labs you use for 4x5.

72 Nickerson Rd
Ashland MA 01721

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Fujifilm Darkless

Here is yet another cute and innovative do-it-yourself product from the very creative Fujifilm that apparently never made it to the English-speaking world.  Like the Brooks Pixmat, Fujifilm's Darkless developed a roll of 35mm film in the can, with expected irregularities.

But, the fun is not lost on the Japanese author of this link, translated in google translate from Japanese. Or this one (warning, nudity) Why not color?

Anyone have an idea of the date of this product?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fujifilm Pinhole camera

Interesting evidence of Fujifilm's instant group exploring ways to use the excellent Instax integral film they make. The Instax Wide is superb and can be exposed in any camera you might cobble it into (I have not been very successful but others have). Because the Instax film exposes through the back, and not the front like Old Pol and TIP, the image comes out without being reversed.

The beginning minutes of this video don't seem as on topic as the pinhole demonstration at the end.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

DTR on PP400 with EFKE 25

This is an excellent result. It might not look pretty, but it shows near perfect DTR onto the 20x24 PP400 material using the EFKE 25.  As you can see where I wrote "OK" there is a small margin where the image is good. That's where the reagent was thick enough. Where it was too thin, an incomplete DTR reaction took place. However, zoom in on the sepia toned portions, and see how the thinness of the reagent restricted the lateral diffusion, or point spread function (PSF) producing quite a sharp positive.

Even so, the thicker reagent portions are still plenty sharp.  That same margin on the corresponding negative also showed a good density, perhaps a little too high, but good enough for this experiment.
There it is at the top. Notice that the negative also developed outside of the border, proving that a negative can be developed without contact with the receiver material (again).

Below that is a negative produced by a spread on some Kodak premium glossy inkjet paper, which fell apart and produced a texture that you can see if you zoom in. You can also see some very good spots where the reagent spread is near the "right" thickness.

Look at how sharp this stuff is!

Thanks to 20X24 for supplying some receiver material for this experiment. There is no doubt that the PP400 receiver surface could be used for New55, if the stock it was on could be made thinner. Right now it is very appropriately thick, just right for a 20X24 print, but twice as thick as what we'd want for 4x5. 

Monday, December 20, 2010


Today after meetings I tried to produce a receiver sheet by adding lead acetate to Kodak glossy premium photo inkjet paper.  Not only did the negative stick to the surface and rip off the entire top layer after spreading the reagent, but nothing at all seemed to be produced on the negative.  I had hoped for at least a faint image on the negative, but a silvery mess instead.

Loading, exposing and unloading sheet film holders reminded me why this project might be worth the effort, as it is a pain and a bother. Wish I had some Efke 25 readyloads ready.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Results: How Old Are You?

Under 35
  58 (47%)
Over 60
  7 (5%)
None of the above
  56 (46%)

Responses: 121
Duplicates: 4
Poll closed on December 19

Thank you for participating!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ketchup Pods

Liquid Packaging Machine - StickPack from Apack Machinery on Vimeo.

The music in this video will kill you, but the subject is very interesting to us.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reader Poll

I know a lot of people don't like to tell their age, and I have to admit I have in the past said I was older to get a job, or younger for reasons of vanity.

We'd like to get an idea of the age of visitors to this blog. It's important enough because we are seriously thinking of raising real money to produce a number of new products relating to the general subject of 4x5 photography, and well, we need to know who is interested.

You can see there are only three very broad ranges and we know one of them should apply to you. Getting some info here will help us decide the mix and type of products to be developed.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kodak's BIMAT System

Here's the best diagram I can find of Kodak's BIMAT P/N system used on early moon probes. The system used two lenses, a long focal length, and a wide angle (a Schneider Xenotar!) and two spools, one with film, the other with a "web". The web was damp with processing chemicals, and processed the film, which would also if desired produce a DTR positive onto the web.

The system shown in the diagram scanned just the negative with a flying spot scanner, a precursor to the drum scanner.  A flying spot scanner uses a CRT-like electron beam to illuminate a spot that moves in a predictable way, and the intensity of the transmitted light can then be recorded or transmitted to a distant location.

Check out this shot.

Here is a link to the website discussing it, and if you look around you can see striped pictures of the moon shot with this system, which might have used Pan-X. 

Key question - long answer

Comments and further explanations welcome. This is a reposted response to a question in the Fuji Reclamation thread:

Anon wrote: I sincerly do not understand the target of this project, maybe because i do not speak english, but what does it mean " The goal is to enable the supply of a very high quality negative" ?? is maybe you mean to say "The goal is develop high quality negative in a different way" Please do not consider me as a troll but I really find not clear the title best regards Mike Nardini

Bob replied: No problem. The goal is to provide a high quality negative that can be obtained without going back to the darkroom, or using a cumbersome changing bag. T55 spoiled us. It produced an exceptionally sharp and detailed negative and was pretty easy to process in the field, but not perfect. Now that is gone. Even Quickloads/Readyloads are gone!

That puts us back with double dark slides and grafmatic backs. These are OK and we know how to use them, but they are not light, they are hard for new users to get the hang of, and they take a lot of time. You can still buy boxes of sheet film and process them in the normal way with developer, fixer and wash. Great! But, that takes time.

We have tested a monobath/reagent that works with EFKE 25 to produce a high resolution, quality negative. It is a much sharper negative than the reclaimed Fuji instant negatives. Much sharper. Now we have to put it all together into a field usable system.

If it processes "instantly" like 55 did, that would be great! We might be able to do that. Even if we cannot, we can STILL use the monobath/reagent with a standard sheet film, if we make it easy to use. We definitely can do that.

The goal is to enable the supply of a high (very high) quality negative material, that can be field-processed. No darkroom. Fast, results in a couple of minutes. Most people (not all) are using a hybrid workflow for some of their work. Capturing the best possible image for that means, for some of us, getting a great negative. Not only that, but young people in art schools, and all over, still have access to one of the millions of 4x5 cameras that were designed to last 100 years.

I want to see them used, easily, by newcomers as well as pros, as tools for artistic expression. If that is too expensive or too difficult, it won't happen. If we make it easy, accessible, and fun, it can happen. It will be many years yet before digital cameras can compete with a sharp 4x5 negative.

Does this answer your question? We've already done the legwork. All the info is here in this blog and you can go out and start doing it yourself now by using monobaths with EFKE 4x5 or 120 Ilford Pan-F (great results we got still astound us). I will post more on a new thread, but that is the answer:

Make it easy, fast, accessible to young people, and very high quality for pros, without going back to the darkroom.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Response from Kickstarter

Well I think you have done it.  I sent along some of your positive comments to Cindy that were copied and pasted from the comments section.  Who was it who suggested I try Kickstarter?  - special kudos to you, and to everyone who helped make the case.  Step one, right?

Anyway, here is the response - let's prepare, and make the most of this opportunity.  I have already signed up for a "creator account" and I have a log in. Give me a day or so to look into that a little more to see how we can connect Kickstarter to here, or on another site, in a way that we can all define and share this project easily online.

Meanwhile, please take a look at for examples of successful projects, and some that have not been.  Creativity is obviously a prerequisite - while we're at it, let's innovate too, not just mimic the past, but make something new and valuable that belongs in our future.


"Hi Bob,

Wow -- what a great community you've got! I think you've definitely picked out
some of the best suggestions :)

Congratulations -- you’re in! In just a moment, you’ll be able to start getting
your project ready. Yay!

Take as much time as you need to prepare. There’s no deadline to launch. Check
out some of our Recommended projects, browse the FAQ, and read the project
guidelines. They'll give you a feel for what works and help you shape your
project into a great one.

Some of the things you’ll learn:

1) A video is a must. It makes an emotional connection and shows you care. Plus,
projects with video succeed at a much higher rate!

2) Cool rewards make a big difference. Not every reward has to be special, but
they’re a great opportunity to share what’s unique to you and your project.

3) Spreading the word pays off. You provide the experience and the idea, your
network helps fund and promote it.

Also, when considering your funding goal, remember that it's an all-or-nothing
deal -- you can always raise more, but never less!"

Ready? Let’s get started!

To begin building your project, log-in to Kickstarter and then click the green
"Start Your Project" button on the start page.

All best,

Clips, Clips, Clips

Polaroid 4x5 single sheet film clips

Fujifilm Quickload clips

Kodak Readyload clips

We can use them all!

Bob Crowley
72 Nickerson Rd
Ashland MA 01721

If you have a bulk quantity and would like to sell these to us, please contact me.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Goal of the project

The goal is to enable the supply of a very high quality 4x5 (and possibly 8X10) negative material, for artistic purposes, that can be easily field processed, such as so-called "instant film" of discontinued Polaroid type 55, and get this to happen any way we can! We will need your help to make it happen.

It is not the goal to "resurrect" Polaroid 55. T55 has gone the way of Kodachrome. If successful, we will have a new material or system, likely with its own characteristics. If receiver chemistry and costs goals can be met, a P/N product will be attempted. If that is impractical, a the goal will still be to supply a very high quality negative material that can easily be field processed.

There have been over 500 page views today! I am grateful and humbled by the generosity of people who have expressed their support, and are telling others.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

More Clips, Please

We need some more (a lot more) of the little black metal clips like the one shown here.
You can send them to our address

Bob Crowley
72 Nickerson Rd
Ashland MA 01721

It might be a while before we can have these made commercially so salvage and re-use is in order.  The clips come right off old Pol sheet films with the application of heat - like a very hot hair dryer or a heat gun. Be careful if you do this so you don't get burned. Otherwise the entire sheet after processing can be sent. Old, expired, dried-out, exposed, surplus or just lying around, we need them now!

And thanks to those who have already sent some.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Diffusion Transfer Reversal

Diffusion Transfer Reversal, or DTR, is possibly the most important photographic process developed in the 20th Century, and almost certainly an important technology that few have ever heard of, but nearly everyone knows something about.

DTR is the basic process that enables instant photography as practiced by Polaroid, Kodak, Fuji, 20X24, and was a key step in the development of integral films such as now made by The Impossible Project.

Here is a link to more posts about DTR, which was invented before WWII.  And here is a link to the Rott patent. Weyde invented DTR.

Type 55 was just one of many products that depended upon the use of DTR to produce a negative that is processed in such a way as to rapidly produce a transfer of metallic salts onto a receiver, bridged by a developer. The action of DTR is battery-like and DTR kinetics are complex and still being studied today.

I wanted to show some results of DTR that we have produced here. They are early and crude, but show definite ability to use existing films - in this case EFKE 25 - as an emulsion capable of generating a sharp, high tonal gradient DTR image onto suitable receiver paper.

Below is a DTR image produced using EFKE 25, in our own sleeve, and employing 17 year old T55 reagents and paper that was ruined by humidity, which in itself is very instructive. I shot this today in a Speed Graphic with a 545 holder to point out where we need to buy tooling and obtain materials for a new product.

 We know how to make new, fresh reagent, and we now have a very tonally rich emulsion.  We do not now have a supply of receiver paper.  We do have a source of pod-making equipment, and the ability to mass-produce sleeves, inserts, stops, clips and other parts if we can obtain the tooling at a reasonable price.
Here's the scanned EFKE 25 negative, showing less DTR failure, but with very uneven (slightly exaggerated in the scan) development. Note however, that the cleared portions have a tonality that is not too different than the print, which is good. Perhaps this defect is similar to what we saw with Reagent III and the sponge, but with a spread out appearance.
Here's a shot of the sleeve used for the above, and some of the EFKE (here shown in lower case_ PL 25 M.

Monday, November 29, 2010

First response from Kickstarter and a question to followers

Here is a copy of the first response from Kickstarter - one that I think asks the right questions. Now I would like to get comments from our little community of 75 following on blogger and others who come in often or occasionally.

This first response is from Cindy

Cindy commented on your Kickstarter submission:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for writing. Interesting idea -- I'm curious as to how you plan to bring
it to Kickstarter. Kickstarter projects succeed thanks to built-in communities
and creative, tangible rewards. Projects often receive pledges from complete
strangers, but this is usually due to the momentum that their friends and fans
help create.

How would you present your project? Kickstarter projects are those focused
around a singular, creatively-based aim. What rewards would you offer backers?
Take a look around the site for some ideas and how you would structure.


What do you think of Cindy's question, and how should we answer it? Do we have some momentum and built in support, and how do we explain how a film might accomplish a creative mission? What should the rewards and levels be, and how should we structure it? Can anyone think of some creative and interesting awards in addition to a "New55" product?  Can we make a strong case, and what will it have to do to be considered successful?  Who might benefit besides instant film users, and will this make artistic expression better, broader, easier, more accessible, more powerful?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Film, Pod and Clip Construction

We've been pondering over this part for a while and have come to the conclusion that to make this assembly, we should make one continuous backing sheet and then lay the Efke on top of that.  There is a concern that doing this will lead to a too-thick assembly though, but I think that can be made up for (or subtracted actually) at the receiver sheet, which can be thinner.  Also it might not matter much: the rollers should, if used this way, compensate for thickness, the only limit being the rails (not shown) on each side of the receiver sheet. These rails regulate the distance between the receiver and the negative, essentially the space where the viscous, spreadable reagent can flow.

Putting the film over a prepared surface makes hand-assembly of that part possible in total darkness without a lot of tooling or fixturing.

At the bottom you can see the double-chambered pod, very similar to that still used by Fuji in FP100C45.  We would leave out the "holes" at the top which are a reservoir for excess reagent and instead have some kind of light sealing cap with some space under it.

This is a color negative but the same dimensions as 55, reposted here in higher resolution.  Kodak Readyloads and Fuji Quickloads look almost the same, except no pod is present.

Friday, November 26, 2010


On suggestion of a reader, I just signed up for Kickstarter, filled out their forms, (very convincingly, I thought) and hit "enter".

Kickstarter is a non-investment funding source for various projects that you can see here.  It is quite interesting, and I believe a great, early idea for "angel" funding without the conventional corporate involvement. Some of the funded Kickstart projects appear to be preselling awards, like a camera strap and clip shown here. Pretty neat product!

Apparently after filling out the form, Kickstarter staff review it and see if it meets certain criteria.  Even though Kickstarter gathers smaller funding pledges it might be enough to move our project forward to a working prototype demonstration that could help show evidence of commercial and artistic viability.

submitted by Bob Crowley on Friday Nov 26, 5:48pm EST



Funding Goal


Project Description

With the news that there are no plans to produce any more Polaroid Type 55 P/N film a small group of dedicated photographers are starting to plan their own instant negative films and processes.
The goal is to enable the supply of a very high quality 4X5 negative material, for artistic purposes, that can easily be field processed, like so-called "instant" film once sold as Polaroid Type 55.
A feasibility study has been conducted, a budget has been developed, and now we are looking for support, distribution, and commitments for a production effort with ship to stock within 8 months of funding.

Project Rewards

Photographers who still have one or more of the millions of Speed Graphics, and other 4X5 cameras, will have available a new, reasonably priced super high quality, high resolution instant monochrome film that is much sharper and more detailed than any digital image, and can produce very fine art photographs.
Our group has a track record of new product commercialization and success in developing new products and processes. This particular product has a limited marketplace, but a very devoted one, and success in a small way could lead to wider and more profitable product offerings.


Home page for the project
Outline of the plan
Supporting company with other products that will provide the facility and has funded the feasibility study

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wide Weekend

This weekend I plan to give my shortened Speed Graphic a try with the little 65mm Super Angulon.  The trick to making this work was 1. shortening the body so the film plane was as close as possible to the rail and 2. getting the complete range of focus, from infinity to about 24 inches, accommodated with the front standard clamped on the internal portion of the moving rails.

The nice thing about the Anniversary Speed Graphic is the way the front standard tilts far out of the field of view of even this fairly short lens.  This is my attempt to show you in one shot the leather covered lens cap and matching leather covered baseboard. Moving the baseboard wiggled the front standard a bit, so the words Speed Graphic have ghosts.

Here is a link to some other views of this same camera.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

9" f3 portrait lens

Today this portrait lens was cobbled together out of a Zeiss condenser and a B&L negative meniscus lens - both recovered finds from the Sudbury dump.  These lenses are fairly big, and when stacked closely result in a nine inch focal length with a big aperture.  Put together with gaffer's tape, it is a temporary test, and it just fit on an Anniversary Speed Graphic lensboard with no room to spare. The negative lens is just placed on top of the condenser lens, and the two are set on a wood lens board and then taped into place.

Here's the result on Fuji FP100C45.

9 inch lenses with f 3 apertures aren't too common. This one easily covers 8X10.  I don't know why, but smaller images online and thumbnails from this Epson scanner appear different when enlarged, and you can see the effect when you click on the image of the man with the glasses in his hand, or the two ladies, below, in their beachwear.  What causes this? Somebody has to know.

To make it even more of a mystery, this effect is only seen on my macbook running OSX, and not on a desktop running XP Pro. Both on Firefox. What's up with that - some kind of hidden color profile maybe?

All Hail the Speed Graphic for making this kind of experiment so easy! Pity the poor Linhofs, and their inability to turn light on and off when needed.

Resuts: Do You Have a 4X5 Camera?

I have one!
  21 (48%)
I have more than one!
  13 (30%)
Soon I will have one
  4 (9%)
Nope, not for me
  5 (11%)

Total number of votes 43

78% f respondents have at least one 4x5 camera, and another 10% plan to, leaving just over 10% who do not have an interest in 4X5.

Thank you for participating. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Last of the Kodachrome

One in the can, another in the camera with just two exposures left, then that's it.

Off to Dwayne's they go. But not the E4 you see - that was processed as a B&W negative here - not much of interest on it.

Many old timers shot their first color on Kodachrome. Certain people think that Velvia beat it, but I don't think so, because Kodachrome could produce vivid saturation AND excellent skin tones, and it lasts a long time too. This was shot in 1966 with my Yashica Penta J. Also, this is a good example of an artifact in blogger - when you click on this image, on many monitors the enlarged image has a different and much more saturated color profile - certainly different than the thumbnail. Try it and see.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Aero Ektar on a Graflex

One of the nice things about the Aero Ektar is its easy compatibility with the common Graflex Speed Graphic cameras.  Speed Graphics have a very useful focal plane shutter that allows just about any lens with or without a shutter, or a pinhole, to be easily used for medium to large format shooting, and at a very low cost.  A lot of people don't think that the Speed Graphic has any real movements such as the ability to swing, tilt and shift, but that is debatable. While in stock form "The Speed" isn't a shapely circus contortionist bent like an extreme pretzel, it does have a drop bed, a useful rise, and plenty of tilt back on the front standard. Extreme swing and forward tilt can be added by modifying the front standard, like this example linked here.

Shown on a Slick (Not Slik) tripod with a large knuckle type head that is so easy to position and use.

About the famous Yellow Dot. Some Aero Ektars you see have a mysterious and apparently cult-inducing Yellow Dot on the lens shade.  The origin and meaning of the Yellow Dot has been much discussed on several websites and in forums, but as far as I know the real meaning of the dot, if any, is not known.  I have had three Aero Ektar lenses in here, with and without dots, and I can say that as far as I can tell, there is not any difference between dotted and not, none at all, except at least a hundred dollar premium on ebay for those lucky enough to be marked that way.  Keep in mind that thousands  of these lenses were produced and are very common, and although the auction prices have risen to the $300 level recently, good examples can be bought for less, if you shop around.

If you get an Aero Ektar, I recommend you visit this site for an excellent mount and shade. I have both!

The Aero Ektar is the poor sister in a sense to the much more expensive and luxurious Schneider Xenotar 150mm f2.8 lens, which can be fitted, at even greater cost, to a Compur No. 2 or Copal No. 3 shutter, for those unfortunates who are stuck with mere Linhofs.  I have that lens on our primary test camera, here. 

The Xenotar is cool, but not a very great lens unless you need f2.8, and they are way too expensive on ebay.  The Aero Ektar and its war surplus connotation is appealing, and the extra inch of focal length and f2.5 aperture make it very good for those who want selective focus.

Kodak Aero Ektar and Fuji FP100C

A while back I was playing with mounts to attach the 7" focal length Kodak Aero Ektar f2.5 lens on different cameras such as Anniversary and Pacemaker Speed Graphics, and shot this image of a broken truck across the street from the lab.  I liked the way the little bare maple tree with its white bark worked against the black and red of the truck.

There is a certain look to this lens and many other character lenses, as I call them, have a specific and identifiable visual appearance they impart on the image.  Aperture, glass type, glass design, aberration, coatings, age, color and other factors contribute to this effect, affecting the final image in an artistically pleasing or useful way, if all goes well.

The Aero Ektar has a cult following especially for those wanting a good lens to tilt to bring certain areas in or out of focus. The effect of tilt-shift in certain television productions has become a little too common lately, and is becoming cliche.  As we get used to looking at these pseudo-miniature landscapes our perception of minification is itself minimized, and might be lost, but visual languages change and evolve with use the same way spoken languages are, so we have to expect this.

Friday, November 5, 2010

FP100C stereo pair

Here, finally, are the cross-eyed pair of apples. Shot with the Byron on the kitchen counter, then eaten. Click to enlarge. These are not hyper stereo, just angled at approximate eye space.

The Byron is an amazing camera based on a Polaroid 110B that requires no adapter for the Fuji PA-45, a Grafmatic, or a standard 4X5 film holder.  It's truly an ingenious design that totally departs from the "graft" or "adapter" system used on many converted 110 and similar cameras.

Cross-eyed stereo is hard for some people, but very easy once you get used to it. Sit well back, relax, cross and wait, as the eyes will naturally fuse and focus the images, if you are patient. It helps to tilt your head a little to fuse the images in the vertical plane. Start with small images from a distance and work your way up. You will then have the secret ability to compare two similar objects or pictures, such as the side-by-side puzzles in which you are asked to find what parts are missing from one. They appear instantly, and are obvious, when viewed together like this. Also any two time separated image frames will produce a third visually different, often stereo appearing frame.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Buy some PZ-600

Impossible has some even better 600 speed monochrome film for the various SX-70 cameras and derivatives.  Here is a link to this improved stuff, which I recommend very highly.

There is frequent mention of Land on the Impossible site, but nothing there that I can find about Howard Rogers, who is the person who actually invented integral film. All this doting worship of Land is starting to get old - how about some credit to the guy who invented instant color film, and then integral film? Howard Rogers is now gone, but his many inventions remain. I talked not long ago with a scientist who worked directly under Rogers, who reported to Land, and he described him as "the real genius behind Polaroid film technology" and he added "Land was like P.T Barnum, obviously very smart, and great at promoting".

Anyway I've been a fan of Rogers since the 60s when I first got my adapter for my J66 to shoot color, which was a challenge to use, and then ran out and bought the original SX70, output of which is seen here, and am still using it in 2010.
is a link to a Life Magazine article that mentions and shows Rogers.

Fuji FP-100C Exposure, Reciprocity and Color Shift

Like most color films, the spectral characteristics of Fuji's FP-100C instant color packfilm vary with longer exposures.

Once you get past a quarter of a second, you had better beware and lengthen the exposure or open up the lens to compensate. Today I made 30 second exposures of a little table top setup of fruit that I am using for a stereo demo, at f32. If you extrapolate the chart, you can see that a 30 second exposure is only half again more exposure than at 16 seconds, not double. Alas, the uncertainties of color films. But, I am told there is almost no reciprocity failure with Fuji's Provia color transparency film, which I also have a stash of.

Don't be afraid to try a long exposure with Fuji's color packfilm, but double or triple what your light meter says once you get in the 5 to 30 second range, and expect some color shift.  Actually, if they didn't mention it, I might not have noticed the color shift.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Kodak reports that sales of films are INCREASING

Hard to believe, but believe it - EKC's US marketing person for their pro films Scott DiSabato has reported that film sales are up, and that EVEN BLACK AND WHITE FILM SALES HAVE INCREASED.

How can this be? I was just about to ditch my entire film camera collection so I could afford a new D700. Wait a minute - I don't have to, because EKC has just come out with an even more scanner-friendly film called Portra 400.

Is that a 4X5 box I see?

Here's more on that.

Also, interesting mention is made of Canham who are known to us for their ability to aggregate large format film orders, and get them filled!

With  a PE of less than 4, and trading at about five bucks, could Kodak be a sleeper?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

F2.8 150mm Xenotar

A lot of these Schneider Xenotars have come on ebay recently, and many of them are recovered from high speed ballistics cameras, so the lenses have been up close to explosions, blasts, flying debris, and very rough handling. The selling prices are low and the supply may be exceeding the demand. Despite this, the somewhat marked-up front element of this Xenotar, which is now mounted in a Compur 2 shutter, seems to not matter at all. And why should it, considering that big aperture?

The dented rim was a fair amount of work to straighten out, but now it takes a 77mm filter without too much trouble.

If you look at the specs you'd think it wouldn't cover 4X5, but it does, with some to spare. Here is an example on a reclaimed negative FP-100C45 negative, which shows little if any vignetting.  These are cool and relatively inexpensive lenses, a little shorter and less fast and glamorous as an Aero Ektar by the numbers, but probably faster in terms of light throughput, since there are apparently no thorium-stained elements in the rear group like those found in the Aero Ektar lenses.  And they are just small enough for handheld use too. Check out this amazing array of Xenotars.

You can see on mounted in the primary test camera here, except that one is mounted in a Copal No 3.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Plan Outline

  • 20-40K units/yr at $6
  • Commercial Professionals  15%
  • Artists 50%
  • Advanced Amateurs 20%
  • Others 15%

Product Specification
Single sheet positive/negative self processing 4X5 unit. ISO 25 monochrome. Used with Polaroid 545 holder in 4X5 and larger cameras with backs that accept this film holder. Ten sheets per box, with packet of sodium sulfite, and instructions-for-use. MSDS enclosed. Labeled for commercial and industrial sales.

  • EFKE PL 25 M or equivalent
  • Double pod, pH buffered monobath reagent with methyl cellulose thickener.
  • Aluminized plastic with side burst adhesive
  • Single sheet, folded and seamed opaque black paper. Channels to hold film at edges, adhesive strips at outer edges, and flap for receiver sheet
  • Diffusion Transfer Reversal, 4X5, glossy
  • 10 ready to use sheets per box, with sodium sulfite packet included
Cost Analysis (COGS)
  • Materials 2.09
  • Labor 0.38
  • GM 50% (target)
  • Paper dies
  • Sleeve folding and heat seal
  • End cap crimper
  • End cap mold
  • Printing screen
  • Pod dies
  • Pod machine
Commercialization requirements
  • Requires committed in-place distribution partner
  • 8 months from funding to first sale
  • Commitment of 10K units (1000 boxes) required from distributor
Alternative or adjacent Products
  • Single sheet in-holder processing kit for use with 4X5 film holders
  • Clearing tank
  • Drying holder
Line Extensions
  • Other BW emulsions
Intellectual Property
  • RTP (clearance) and 3 new filings (done)  (US only) on improved mfg process, and two other key material aspects.
  • $210K(USD) ship to stock
  • or
  • $25K(USD) Prototypes only for evaluation, further financing, and process development that would supply limited amounts of film to supporters and key photographers, and show the results.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kodachrome 4X5 at the Library of Congress in the US

The US Library of Congress has a huge collection of writings, artwork, artifacts and photographs mainly pertaining to the US.  The curators have even put up a lot of color images from World War II on Flickr, including this image - a very interesting image from "wartime production".

Out of the dozens of related images showing the wartime woman workforce busy with airframes, engines, cockpits and other aviation, is this one, which is different than the others. The others all have images of workers cleaned up, in nice dresses, makeup, and good shoes.

They are all great, but they are staged. Except this one, at least not as much: This woman in the yellow hat has a certain posture, and her hand on the turret wheel of the Warner and Swaysey No 4 turret lathe isn't staged. That's the fist of a machinist, fingers safely tucked, elbow out, a firm grip balanced by the other arm - a practiced motion like Tai Chi.  Warner and Swaysey build a solid machine and here is a link to one still in use.

I see a bruised knuckle, which happens if you set up and operate this machine.

You can't really fake this, even though the machine isn't set up at the moment this image was taken, which can be seen as the turret appears to be empty, and the faceplate has no workpiece on it.  Also, there are open ended wrenches and other tools on the ram (that's the part behind the turret to the right of the turret wheel) that would not be sitting there in normal use while actually machining some part.

It's posed, but real enough, I think. Probably taken with a light or two, and a Speed Graphic, this worker didn't dress up for the photograph. I'm a little suspicious of the grease on her right forearm, as this might have been added to, but it is very typical of handling and carrying greasy machined parts. It's a great shot, and apparently Kodachrome 4X5. Perhaps she didn't know in advance like the others, or maybe she didn't care to be anything else.

Setting up a turret lathe or any manually operated machine like this is a greasy job, something I know because I set up and ran a similar machine at Scholz X-ray of Needham MA for several years during college. Scholz had a lot of war production machinery that had been installed in the 1940s, 35 years earlier.

You can tell a lot by looking at a photograph.  No safety glasses back then. The bill of that yellow hat looks a little too clean.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Howard Rogers' Genius

Although Land gets much of the credit, it apparently was Howard Rogers who refined the chemistry for DTR prior to his invention of color instant photography.

Here is a link to the patent on the right. 

Now re-reading it carefully after a few months of study and experimentation, the true innovative genius of Rogers seems apparent.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Listen to this: inside analog photo radio

Wonder what Aaron Muderick, Polly Chandler, Zoe Wiseman and other innovative artists have to say about what they do?  Inside analog photo radio is the place to go to "listen about photography".

Analog photographers are the primary guests on the program, which is sponsored by FujiFilm, DR5, Eastman House, and some others.

I particularly enjoyed Aaron's more recent interview on stereo imaging - enough to get me motivated to set up a pair of old but identical 645 cameras on a bar, to make some 3D chromes.

Here is the link to inside analog photo radio.

More from Donald Qualls

I've mentioned this person several times - and grabbed this image from his website. Something tells me this is an older shot from another era - nonetheless, Donald is a brilliant researcher into telescope making, lathes and all sorts of things, including the genesis of the HC-110-derived monobath, linked here, and that led to our own Reagent III which has been so successful for us.

You can make these yourself in just a few minutes and get images like "Ash" without a darkroom. 

Here is a link to one of his pages containing further photo formulas. At the bottom is a link to his homepage, but there is no link back.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reagent III on TMX

Interesting result using Reagent III on TMX 120.  This portrait of "Ash" appears as a thin, 55ish like negative - the kind "you can read a newspaper through". Old timers will know what this means.

Shot with the M645, 80mm F1.9 wide open, and scanned with an Epson V750 at base settings without any further processing.

Photo credit DF. Click on the image for a bigger cat.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Methyl Cellulose

The reagents used in all of the Old Pol and Fuji instant films have a thickening agent in them to help control the spread of the reagent as it bursts from its pod and is then rolled between negative and positive.

Methyl Cellulose is the material, and here is a convenient, readymixed source, though we have bags of powder that can be mixed up to make many gallons of the same material.  It is amazing how little methyl cellulose powder is needed in water to make a gel. Another interesting property is the mixing of the methyl cellulose, which occurs readily in cold water, but very poorly in hot water.

I've been concocting reagents using powdered methyl cellulose as seen here.  But there are times when a ready to go gel is handy for spread rate experiments.

Viscosity of the gel in the image you see above is similar to that found in pods, but perhaps a little more jelly like.  The reagent mustn't run, nor should it fail to flow.  It is tempting to simply mix reagent III into some of the jelly, but it would be too thin and runny that way. Still, if you need to experiment with flow, this is far more convenient, and probably much more consistent.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Speed Graphic shutter on 8X10

Being frugal and scrounging for solutions often results in combinations of things on hand. This chimerical camera is a good example: I have several barrel lenses with no shutters, such as the Aero Ektar shown here, a Symmar 240 convertible, and others with focal lengths and image circles big enough to consider for the first 8x10 experiments with Reagent III.

What you see here is a Speed Graphic body, without bellows, grafted onto an old and very heavy Calumet view camera that was provided at a very modest cost for the benefit of our cause.  The focal plane shutter of the Speed is quick to use, has a lot of available speeds, and is larger than the average Packard shutter.  Here is more on the Speed Graphic shutter.

Except it is no longer a "focal plane" shutter, way up front like that. The better terms might be "behind-the-lens", or "in camera".  A shutter can be placed anywhere in the light path, even in front of a lens, and some old ones are.

The use of an  in-camera shutter allows us to use all kinds of lenses - even simple lenses, pinholes, eyeglass lenses, plastic lenses etc. which are in the spirit of experimentation in analog photography these days, a trend especially noticeable in the Lomography  movement.

The Aero Ektar is too short to use on this camera, but was just the first lens that came to hand after grafting the modified back and lensboard adapter onto the Calumet.

 Seen supporting all of this is the very luxurious and mechanical Saltzman tripod, one of the heaviest and most robust tripods made. One would think this is a very solid setup, but unfortunately, it is not at all.  The top plate of the Saltzman flexes very easily even with just a little camera on it.  This particular Calumet Montclair, for all its weight, is a wiggly device on its own. Together they vibrate and oscillate in an almost surreal and agitated manner, taking several seconds for the most obvious motions to stop. It is going to be a challenge to use this out-of-doors, if there is any wind.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

20 X 24 makes new reagent for PP400 monochrome film

20X24 Holdings announced that it has completed the development of a new reagent for its super sized black and white instant film used in giant 20" by 24" cameras.  20X24 announced it has started spooling film and filling pods with the new reagent.

The reagent is being produced in nearby Dudley Massachusetts.  Here is a link to the announcement.

Congratulations to John Reuter and crew for this latest accomplishment.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Tominon 105 on a FujiFilm Instax 210

Aha!  What have we here? Possibly an important upgrade to the one and only camera that takes the incredibly sharp, fast and colorful Instax Wide film made by Fujifilm?

The Instax does not exactly lend itself well to an easy modification, and has a lot of parts, so I opted to simply graft this self-cocking Old Pol scope camera lens and shutter on the front after removing the plastic optic and native shutter - they come out with a few screws. But, the internal baffling I fear may vignette the image.  Also, the lens to film plane distance isn't that easy to control. There may be light leaks. The hot melt glue that holds that wooden Graflex black tripod mount won't fall off, though.

Results: Nothing to show from it. This lens is too long, and the internal baffles are in the way. I will have to find a smaller lens that can be recessed into the tube/snout of the 210.  Looks nice though.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Old Photo Album Cover

I've been foraging in junk stores again, this time finding an old canvas-covered book of photos from around 1910.

Some of them are amazing, and I will post a few here and there.  This image is just from screwing around with photoshop. It's a monochrome digi, with difference clouds, then with tint, then invert applied. This is an interesting font, quite Art Nouveau, which was in style around 1900.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Wollensak Veritar

Shown here on a Cambo view, this rather long focal length (10") Veritar is an interesting and large lens.  Look closely and see the dots in the section of the aperture between wide open and one stop below it. These are "sharpness" indicators, as the Veritar is intended as a soft focus portrait lens with spherical  aberration that changes as a function of aperture.  The difference is big, as wide open at f6 it is really soft, and yet about one stop closed and the lens is actually reasonably sharp. Another quirk is the plane of focus, which shifts as you stop it down, so you have to be aware of that.

I found this one at a garage sale several years ago. The lens is mounted in a large Alphax shutter that is so big that its top speed is only 1/50th of a second. But it is self-cocking, and works nicely.  The white ring is an addition done by me - a machined Delrin ring, to cover up some corrosion, and to make the cap slip on and off very smoothly.

Posting this to cheer myself up, after hearing that FP100B45 is indeed off the air. If you want this wonderful stuff, you better get it now. It is hard to believe how quickly Fuji reversed itself on that one (or did that batch simply run out - they do make batches) . Of course we can't dislike them for making what was the best 4X5 instant positive in the first place! It blew Old Pol away in my opinion.

Now today we hear that TIP is planning to start up their 8X10 line next year. That's great news indeed, and one would have to imagine that if TIP grows, it might offer a 4X5 material too, to fill the looming gap. And what about packfilm? Can we expect more of that in the future, or none? Hard to say. With Phase One backs still costing $40K (for the full frame) we have a long way to go before we can make the jump, and those little sensors - they just don't cut it in the world of selective focus, image planes, Sheimpflug,


and so forth.

Now there is an inkling that the FP-3000B45 may make its way to the US soon!  Yes, I have heard that, and if it does, I will get a case or two and use it for handheld shooting.  A nice big negative like that might scan in well, though it will still have some grain. If you look at the hands below, especially the second image, you can see that I found a reasonable curve, and it does have a nice quality.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Fine Light Brew

Hops are one of the main flavoring ingredients in beer, giving that distinctive taste and aroma that only beer has.  There are various types of beers: pilsners, ales, stouts etc. and so many varieties of each that have their own special qualities and flavors.

The "head" of beer indicates some film retaining or wetting quality in the solution. Same with Reagent III, shown here in freshly mixed up form, with the soapy form of ammonia used as the pH buffer, thereby providing some of that soapy "head" you see.

The formula for Reagent III, adapted from the brilliant Donald Quaills recipe and tuned to the pH we use, consists merely of a standard developer, a fixer, and some ammonia.  The soapy suds that are in the ammonia as purchased from the local grocery store seems to produce a nice wetting action, so no streaks, spots or stains are produced as the processed film dries. And just look at the results!

  HC-110, Ilford Rapid Fixer, and household ammonia - all have their hazards, so if you are not totally familiar with the handling of soaps, detergents and other chemicals, do not do film processing until you are set up with the proper tools for your safety, such as gloves, a clean work area, and proper containers and eye protection.  Ammonia in the eyes is bad and can damage them as can household lye (used for making soaps and lutefisk, the latter which should be avoided).

Do not drink this. This is a developer for film, not a beer or a drink of any sort. It only superficially appears to resemble beer, or another substance.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Large Format Lenses Being Snatched Up

Lots of Symmars and Xenotars, Dagors and Ektars are out there - presumably for large format film photography. One might think that prices would drop, now that "film" users are on the decline. But are they?  Recently, a Schneider 150mm F2.8 Xenotar in a Copal 3 sold on ebay for over $30,000.  That's unusual of course, and many large format lenses, capable of covering 8X10 or more, are selling for more realistic figures.

But don't expect any real bargains soon. The prices seem to be holding on fine lenses. Shown here: A 240mm Symmar, in a Compur shutter, image shot with an old Polaroid Close-up attachment on a model 180 packfilm camera, with a +3 close up lens, on Fuji FP-3000 processed for about 25 seconds or maybe 2X as long as usual since it was warm. This is the scanned-in and inverted negative. Notice that there is a little "emulsion lift" on the right, caused by less than perfectly careful removal of the paper border just prior to scanning.  The top image is a linear presentation of the as-scanned negative, and the bottom is a long toe version but otherwise linear scale presentation. If you look at the right edge of the lens you can definitely see solarization, and there is also evidence of it in the deep shadows in the lower left.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Severe case of blocked highlights with Reagent III

Occasionally, on older roll film, I have found that Reagent III produces quite blocked up highlights. This is an old 120 roll of Kodak "special" film. That's all it says so I am not sure really what emulsion it is. If you compare it with another old roll, this one Verichrome Pan, from England posted here, you will see the familiar super white highlights = blocked, dense portions of the negative. Something not seen with the Efke, but seen a little with TMX, and not at all with the Pan F.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Impossible! PX70 in Stereo

L-R pair shot today, August 10, 2010. Get your stereo viewers out and see.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Comment Spam

Wow the amount of comment spam has really picked up. I wonder if it is because of the widget, below, with links to twitter, FB. You might try using those to comment on Twitter. hmmm, maybe if you click on the follow me on twitter box in the column to the right, then I will see them and won't have to delete a whole page full of spam. Just an idea. Obviously only good for a short comment.


Valhalla, NY, September 29, 2009 – FUJIIFLM U.S.A., Inc today announced the availability of Fujifilm FP-100B 4x5 black and white peel-apart sheet film to the US market. Used by many professional and commercial large format photographers, the availability of FP-100B 4x5 instant film provides a practical proofing and testing solution to check light, depth and overall composition when shooting.
“Fujifilm recognizes that there is a need for black and white instant 4x5 film in niche markets such as large format imaging,” said Kayce Baker, director of marketing, Pro Markets, Imaging Division, FUJIFILM U.S.A, Inc. “As long as there is a need in the U.S. marketplace for instant film, Fujifilm hopes to supply it.”
For more information, please contact:

Lauren Restuccia

Article continues here

example of our test of this film here

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Report from a reader

Hi Bob,

I shot some new test photos with the Efke 25. Here is a result:

Got some flare in the center on my 65mm Super Angulon, but I am pleased overall.

I took four shots and developed as follows:

1. Traditional HC-110 1:50. Neg seems rather dense, something may be off with my old spotmeter.

2. Reagent 3 as documented in your blog, stand developed in a ziplok bag (in the dark.) Seems to have a decent result but some unevenness due in part I think to wrinkles in the bag touching the film.

3. Reagent 3 as above, but developed in rotary processor. Basically the same as #2, so I think you are correct that agitation makes little difference.

4. Reagent 3 with 33% extra HC-110. Slightly denser negative but not significantly different from 2-3.

My results with Reagent 3 and Efke seem to be slightly "foggy", it seems like the entire film base is not as transparent as it should be. Extended soak in sod. sulfite and refixing doesn't seem to have any effect. Any ideas about this?

With both the Efke and the FP4 the negs have a tan color rather than a blue-gray/blue-black. It is a stark contrast with the conventional HC-110 results. Similar to differences between sepia and selenium toning. Don't know if that is just a characteristic of this process.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

tobiasfeltus - cameratech: Why I like the Aero Ektar.

tobiasfeltus - cameratech: Why I like the Aero Ektar.: "I know that the Aero Ektar is not the most ductile lens, but so far it seems to be the biggest piece of opitcal magic that I have ever playe..."

More on "Polanegs" from Fuji FP-100C

Tobias Feltus has yet another refinement of the reclaiming of a color negative from the Fuji FP-100C color pack film material, which he has posted here.

Someone from Fuji has reported that their sales of this and the black and white materials are up, sharply.  Surprisingly, this has apparently caused a problem for Fujifilm - too much demand for the FP-100B and FP-100B45 materials, so they say they might not be able to produce it. 

No comment on the economic arguments posed by this report.

Go see Tobias here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

PX70 Color Shade now shipping

The intrepid folks at The Impossible Project have released an all new color film for the SX-70 and other cameras that format fits in.

Here is the link to order. I've put my order in and cannot wait to try it.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Of Mice and Roots

Would Steinbeck mind? Something WPA about these two, if only Dorothea had Reagent III with her.

Click to see the furry critters up close!

Photo credit DF

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Further results with Reagent III

Well!  TMX seems to have done nicely with Reagent III here.

A long process time was used by photog DF who exposed this roll in the Spring and processed it this week at about 75f for perhaps 12 minutes.  What you are looking at is in as-scanned condition, M645 and the F1.9.

Film photography has never been easier, and just look at the quality when you click and zoom in.  It may not be "instant" but it is quick, and easy, and the results defy old notions about "monobaths" completely.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

We will return on August 1

Or thereabouts. Plenty of other things to do in hot July than play with reagents and lenses. Internet traffic and even car traffic has dropped in the past couple of days as the annual lull begins, leading up to September.

How about someone mixing up some reagent, and sending in a result? We'd like to see it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

More fun with reagents

The venerable South Bend Lathe, bought surplus, previously NASA property according to the brass tag, here shown again this time with a tangle of plastic chips from boring a mounting ring for a Kodak Aero Ektar lens.

Processed in Reagent 3, as described below. Ilford Pan F Plus (ISO 50) processed for about 5 minutes though, to make sure it has time to do its thing, and cropped severely enough (about a fourth) from the original 6 X 4.5 cm negative. Photo credit: DF

And just because I have them, here are the original production cards from South Bend for this particular machine, which is referred to as a 10" Heavy, by persons in the field.  This unit has an X meaning hardened bed, which was a special order item. The lathe is also marked, or labeled, with a metal NASA tag stating "NASA Property". It is hard to see the connection to Packard, but they were likely a NASA contractor in the 60s - many American industrial companies were.