Friday, February 28, 2014

Updated News: (was Coming soon) New55 FILM IS LIVE ON KICKSTARTER

UPDATED ON MARCH 22, 2014, and again on MARCH 23, 2014

Monday Today is the day! The link to Kickstarter will be  is here and, I hope, everywhere you place it. We are counting on you to spread the news of this exciting, complex, incredibly interesting, and risky endeavor. Some things to keep in mind:

We expect that some people will not immediately understand that the shipped price of the Kickstarter funded reward includes the same dollar amount (about $240,000) that we have talked about for tooling and material development.

This leads to the inevitable question about the price-per-shot once the Kickstarter-funded phase is over. Won't that be unfair to those who paid a big premium during the startup? "No" is the answer, since the assumption is that those who are interested in assisting the creation of New55 FILM as a going business will do that specifically because they want to be able to order New55 FILM and use it in the future.  So the post-Kickstarter price-per-shot will be less than during the Kickstarter period, assuming things go as planned.

Also keep in mind that New55 FILM is doubly valued because it produces a print, which is worth something, AND a negative, which has its price.

People ask if I think that we will raise the needed money, and I have to tell them I just don't know. We have done a lot of polling and market research, and in summary, it appears the older users of T55 have a lower cost-per-sheet pain point than those who are discovering large format, darkroomless photography for the first time. Also, there is a large price perception gap between the US and Europe, with Europeans much better shielded from the dollar price we infer. On the other hand, our support from Europe could be less than we would like because Paypal is not accepted by Kickstarter: This is something that project CEO Sam Hiser is understandably concerned about as it does cut off one available purchase avenue that I and millions of others prefer.

So wish us luck and please send this pre-Kickstarter news around. Monday March 24 at 8pm EST is the likely "go" time, and we'll run it for about a month.

Bob Crowley

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Kickstarter Video

Yesterday John Reuter, Nafis Azad, and Ted McClelland from 20x24 recorded the kickstarter video segment with Sam Hiser interviewing me. Our approach was to get sound bites that address the important and frequent questions potential kickstarter participants might have.  But in the minute or two that we got, there isn't much about what could be beyond a successful New55 FILM introduction, which I see as just the hoped-for  start of a new photographic industrial capability that might, if we are very lucky, extend into single sheet direct positive photography, color, and perhaps more.  The infrastructure, business and general cultural pressures are against film photography and instant photography, for the moment. If we can change that and fully enter into the post-digital photographic era, same as post-indie music has done, it will only be due to demand, strong sales, and some profit.

Monday, February 10, 2014

FOMA 200 with New55

Nafis Azad, Bob Crowley, John Reuter, Ted McClelland
It was bad news when we learned that EFKE was going out of business. After the long and expensive trials of that emulsion with New55 it seemed we had to start again, but since that time we have qualified at least two potential 4x5 negative materials which consist of cubic-grained single layer emulsions in the 200 to 400 speed range.  Some decent results were obtained with the Shanghai 100: This gave us a result not far off the rated speed and a thin but very scannable negative.  Tri-X was next, expensive as it is, and produced a sharp, high contrast result and a speed of about ISO 200.  In this photograph, shot by Sam Hiser at New55 HQ in Ashland, MA, FOMA 200 was used. It works but is very sensitive to exposure seen here and on some other negatives that I have looked at, and the curve is a very strange one. Two minutes of development time at room temperature still results in a lot of solarization.  FOMA 200 is a T grain emulsion with a fairly soft gelatin, and for that reason the positive print (not shown) is darker than it ought to be. It might be possible to re-balance the positive and the negative by tweaking the developing reagent.  We had previously tried other T grain emulsions and found the positives to be far too dark. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014


We're still in the planning stages as we circle around with older suppliers of the necessary materials needed to make New55 FILM.  Many people wonder about machinery and equipment, but machines are not the limiting factor in a film product: The biggest expense and effort have to go into the materials sourcing and testing, as this involves the planning and purchase of custom runs of materials. For example, the receiver sheet is something that is toll coated using available processes. The machines are found in many countries. What is needed however are things such as the substrate, which has to have the right chemical, physical and dimensional properties, the base and barrier layers, the active coatings, and more.  There is no off-the-shelf material that has everything we need, so it will have to be produced from a complex formula, coated, tested, cut into pieces, before it ever gets to the "machine" stage of assembly.

By the way we have worked out a very practical medium volume assembly scheme that appears to require a more modest "machine" so that we can focus on the all-important materials.

Sam Hiser has been working hard on the numbers needed to make this all go and there have been few surprises, save the scale that is needed for a sustainable product. I don't think anyone wants this to be a one-off.