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

Market
  • 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.

Film
  • EFKE PL 25 M or equivalent
Reagent
  • Double pod, pH buffered monobath reagent with methyl cellulose thickener.
Pod
  • Aluminized plastic with side burst adhesive
Sleeve
  • Single sheet, folded and seamed opaque black paper. Channels to hold film at edges, adhesive strips at outer edges, and flap for receiver sheet
Receiver
  • Diffusion Transfer Reversal, 4X5, glossy
Packaging
  • 10 ready to use sheets per box, with sodium sulfite packet included
Cost Analysis (COGS)
  • Materials 2.09
  • Labor 0.38
  • GM 50% (target)
Tooling
  • 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.
Investment
  • $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.