Thursday, June 30, 2011

New55 Pricing

There are a lot of people who are new to the site who may have not looked at the comments on production costs and potential sales prices of a possible New55 PN product.  We estimate a best case retail price of $6 per sheet.

Just thought you needed to know. That's the reality of it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Black Hat

 Can P/N balance be achieved?

Not satisfied with mere negatives any longer, researchers at New55 have been intrigued that we might for the first time control the DTR positive, shown here, and the negative, below it, without having to choose between them.

Click on the images, especially the negative, as that is just a thumbnail, until you select it for a closer view.

A virtual display print from the negative can be seen by clicking here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

We need more clips

Kodak, Fuji or Polaroid - doesn't matter. The clips are all the same and we now find we need more, please! You can leave the paper on them. In fact if you leave an inch or so it makes it easy for us to reclaim them.


72 Nickerson Rd
Ashland MA 01721

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Projection Plane Photography Challenged

Digital and film are the same, at least as we know them today, and differ only in one small detail - the image capture device. Both use a lens to project an image on a planar surface and then that image is captured as a charge. In film, the charge is a precursor to a chemical reaction. In digital, the charge is a precursor to generating an electrical signal. Otherwise it's pretty much the same process, and very lens-dependent, which is why lens prices continue to climb.

And while this new technology still uses a lot of the language and technique, including lenses, that look like our familiar projection plane photography, it really has more in common with holography, or optical coherence domain reflectometry, confocal imaging, phased array imaging, synthetic aperture, and lenticular array imaging techniques brought together in a more conventional format so you can take "a picture" that is a file that can be read and reprocessed in many different ways, sometimes simultaneously.

Do not overlook this innovation, which will impact displays as well as capture devices on all of our appliances, and eventually back onto planes, such as paper. It's cool and frightening at the same time, as we enter a period of highly accelerated change, unprecedented in human history.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Rachel Rayns' Magi Trak E6 processor

I like magnetic drives, and Rachel Rayns has this new video showing her Magi Trak E6 processor that apparently uses magnets to propel the mechanism, probably to keep the dry parts dry and wet parts wet, once and for all. Watch this wonder object of photo-robotic geekdom of the highest kind get baptized, and make a nice noise while doing so. Some of Rachel's work can be found at If that isn't working, try this instead. Well worth a look!

Solarized, or not, it's a matter of time and balance

Pulling a negative - stopping short of complete development - is a common way to control density and contrast, at least in regular darkroom technique. Things were different in a P/N situation such as old T55, and also New55, of which two examples are shown.

The top negative was pulled before the reagent had a chance to run to completion, leaving as-yet undeveloped and fixed silver halide a chance to see the light as we pulled the negative from the positive in room light, providing enough exposure to seriously solarize it.  It's kind of fun to see both ends of the gray scale show as black here!

A more conventional result occurs when the reagent has time to complete the development to the point where a little room light has little effect. Actually, under the bill of the cap, there is that one very unexposed portion of the negative that still had a bit of development to go, and it did, as you can see if you look closely.  Both of these negative are denser than we might want in a finished product, but we think we can fix that.

None of that has much bearing on the tonality of the DTR image, except of course the scales slide up and down, but the tones don't completely reverse.

In designing a P/N product, one has to consider the need for a negative vs a positive and try to achieve a balance. Polaroid never did, as the correctly exposed and processed negative produced a print that was a stop, at least, lighter than it ought to have been. Today we have a chance to correct that, and produce both positive and negative with the right characteristics, if that matters much. I think the negative is far more important and would be content with a positive that was lighter or darker, same as before, but it is tantalizing to think we might solve the longstanding balance problem that T55 had.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yellow Dot Clue for Aero Ektar Aficionados

Put this post in the arcane category: You have to be one of the possessed people who have latched onto the Kodak Aero Ektar and other big eyes to appreciate the meaning of this. Here is a plate for a very large aero lens, a giant 48 inch f6.3 mass of glass too heavy to even lift.

But the label with its dot is interesting. If you read it normally, left to right, it almost looks like you could read it as "48 inch f/6.3 for 9 inch X 18 inch camera telephoto type I-class B DAY NIGHT temperature compensated USAF spec No..."

Notice that the dark dot is violet or purple. The two in this context seem to me to indicate the use of the lens, in this case day and night. Sunny/Cloudy? I don't think so, and cannot come up with another plausible interpretation of the dots.

Therefore, the famous yellow dot, so cherished by those who pay extra for it in their Aero Ektar hoods, might indicate "Daylight Use".  What would be different from night use? In darkness, the Aero Ektar was used with flash bombs to illuminate the scene of night bombings.

Do we now know that the yellow dot means? Comments please.

I grabbed this image and cropped it, taken from some other online post that I cannot find, to provide a proper attribution, at the moment. Here is another Aero Ektar and some earlier speculations about the meaning of the dot.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Great deal on FP100C45 on Amazon

I don't know how long this will last, but Amazon has FP100C45 for only $18 a pack. That's the cheapest I have ever seen it. Even if it is short dated, it will produce a good negative I think.

Here is the link. We don't get anything for this.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Price tag is biggest obstacle to New55 commercialization

While many of the technical hurdles for a new P/N material using an available emulsion have been overcome, the nagging problem of per-sheet price continues to be an obstacle to commercialization. We planned to introduce first a field processable negative material called DN-1, and a field processable direct positive material known as DP-1. If you have been following along you already know these are intended for rapid processing using monobaths and daylight tanks that accept a readyload format film. In the past, a readyload sheet cost about $3 each and today we expect it to be about $4, but with the added utility of insertion into a tank.

The price doubles with a P/N material. Plenty of pros insist this isn't really too much and is much less than one would pay to have a 4x5 negative developed and then contact printed.

Recent discontinuation of Fuji's FP100B material, which is (was) superb, was due to poor sales. That was only $3 a shot or less. Of course Fuji did a terrible job telling the potential market about their packfilms and then getting them into the hands of users in the US and Europe. Technical success does not mean market success and this is a perfect example. By the way, FP100B in the smaller size is still in stock just about everywhere but not moving. So go out and buy it!  Want to see what it looks like? Click here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Night Vision Assembly Station

Over in one corner of the lab, the night vision station sits, eerily dark and shrouded in black drape, its cascading arm sleeves falling lazily, and one blue eye peers back.

an experiment in perspective

John Chervinsky's an experiment in perspective is guaranteed to interest anyone attuned to the power of the singular point of view presented by lens and film, all the more fascinating in its use of Type 55 on technical but whimsical subjects that challenge the eye.

John has been a great supporter of New55 and provided us with critical scanning electron microscope images of vintage materials that added to our understanding of the Diffusion Transfer Reversal technology we expect to continue to apply to imaging and elsewhere. John's website is here.

Here is a link to a pdf - but not an ordinary pdf! This one fills your screen with the images from an experiment in perspective, and you must look at it.

An aside: The images presented in an experiment in perspective are highly characteristic of certain qualities we admire in Type 55, and in some ways John's images provide a benchmark for New55.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fine Arts in Maynard, MA

A nice little art theater in nearby Maynard, MA thrives because it has focused on a narrower audience.

Chemical focal plane photography is thriving by directing its resources toward those with the desire to create and not just document using lenses and capture media.

Along the way new techniques, tools and ways of working are being adopted. Like the music production field of the last decade, there are winners and losers, with many large studios (maybe all) failed, and closed, meanwhile, millions of "amateur" musicians can now afford their own studios that have sound quality as good as any large studio of the 20th Century. All they need is a PC and a converter to manipulate sounds. But to generate sounds, they still needed microphones and then preamps.  Companies with names like "Front End Audio" (they were one of our best microphone dealers when we made ribbon microphones) arose to fill the new market demand for that portion of the creative flow.The democratization of music-making obliterated the old mainstream and sent incumbents searching for new enterprises, and more, not less, music is being produced and delivered at an even greater rate by anyone with the inclination to do so.

A decade later we are witnessing the analogous replaying of that crash and rise in imaging, not just songs.The ubiquitous continuous instant connectivity-with-pictures we enjoy is a given even though it did not exist at all ten years ago. The document picture taking is done to fill Facebook and soon Twitter and of course those serious enough to consider the images as art go to Flickr to share and discuss them. One can expect this frenzy to accelerate since it is so easy to look at a picture, much easier than listening to a whole song, something we hardly do.  Meanwhile, sub groups have discovered the "Front End" makes all the difference, and variations are everywhere: Dianas, Aero Ektars, Lensbaby, and The Impossible Project's products, weird films, Lomography, and even the serious traditionalists with finely crafted mahogany boxes and little holes.  All seem destined to be delivered to the Epson, or the Canon scanner, then on to whatever and whoever suits us.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Making KODAK Film

 Just got my copy (barely, as the mailmauler folded it in half) of this very interesting book straight from the author, Robert L Shanebrook, and you can read it too, if you order it here.

After just touring two European photo film making plants I now have a greater appreciation of the immensity of the KODAK plant, and the pioneering process development that went on there over the course of a century. Much of the equipment reminds me of milk and cheese processing equipment. There is a certain agricultural quality to KODAK that I never noticed, but it is not surprising, as upstate NY is dairy rich, too.

Last week we heard that KODAK was mothballing its largest factory. Being over capacity isn't good for business and right-sizing is a necessary step to continued operation. It seems that there are other processes that might be well suited to the big Kodak coaters, such as making next generation high efficiency solar cells. Wouldn't that be appropriate! Let's hope business leaders and not bean counters make the decisions to retain some knowledge base and capability in the US. Apparently, Mr. Shanebrook isn't so confident so he has carefully documented the process equipment and flow charts for key components used to make photographic film.

Industrial archaeology will some day be a distinct profession as technology intensive industries come and go through inevitable growth and obsolescence cycles. Only when it is too late to salvage will other investors do what they can to dig up the past and look for any gems of knowledge they might newly employ.

Get this book!