Thursday, March 26, 2015

R5 and R3 Monobath Developer Resource Page

Tri-X processed in R3
Note that R5 replaces R3 and is a new formula that permits agitation. Otherwise it is very similar to R3, and it looks the same in our tests.

This is the page for information, tips, links and results of New55's R5 and R3 Monobath Developer. Please help support New55 by buying and using R5! R5 replaces R3 with a more agitation friendly formula for more even development. Your purchase goes to the continued development of instant film and other interesting new photographic tools and materials.

Click here to buy R5 Monobath Developer in a ready-to-use bottle.

Click here for some great examples of black and white films processed in R3

Introduction to R5 Monobath

Quick summary

1. no dilution needed
2. warm to 80f/27C
3. load film in complete darkness
4. warm your film and film holder, and add R5, agitate for 30 seconds and occasionally for 6 minutes
5. pour used R3 back into bottle
5. wash film for at least 10 minutes and hang to dry

Q: What is R5 Monobath?
A: R5 is a ready-to-use black and white film developer that allows anyone to process their own black and white film in about 6 minutes, using just one solution.

Q: What is a monobath?
A: A monobath is a developer that does the developing and fixing process in one step.

Q: Why use a monobath?
A: Because it is easy! It is also fast. And, R5 produces a unique look that can be very appealing.

Q: What precautions should I take?
A: We recommend you wear ordinary rubber gloves if you think you might want to handle films or containers wet with R5. Otherwise you should not get your nose close to the ammonia, which is irritating. Obviously, do not ingest R5, and if you do, call a doctor.

Temperature, and Time

Q: At what temperature should R5 be used?
A: 80F is the standard temperature. R5 must be warm. That's 27 degrees Celsius. Your tank and film must also be warm! If you cool R5 when filling, you will get streaks.

Q: How long does processing take?
A: About 6 minutes.

Films that work with R5

Q: What films can I process?
A: Most black and white films, probably. We have tested it with Efke, Ilford, Kodak and New55's Atomic X films, and achieved good to excellent results with all. An exception is Ilford ISO 3200 high speed film, which is intended for push processing. If you expose for ISO 800, R3 works fine.

Ilford Pan-F processed in R3

Is R5 a universal monobath?

Yes, with a very few exceptions, as mentioned above.

Household ammonia smell

Q: Why does R5 use ammonia? Doesn't it smell horrible?
A: No not really. The ammonia is less concentrated than household ammonia but you still don't want to stick your nose in it.  The ammonia controls the pH of the solution and that makes it work fast and controls the balance between the developer and the fixer.  The use of ammonia compounds to develop films was not accepted until several years of successful R5 use proved it worked.

Q: How can I keep ammonia smell to a minimum?
A: Easy. Process in a closed container. In a tray, cover it. I use sandwich containers made by Glad which have a lid that snaps on. I put about a half inch of R5 in the bottom and loosely cover it before going into the dark bag. Once the film is in, snap the lid and you'll have no smell at all.

Archival qualities of monobaths

Q: Will R5 produce an archival negative?
A: As long as the negative is washed well then it should last a long time.

Color casts and base fog

Q: My Tri-X processed in R3 was a funny color. It scanned well though.
A: Yes, Tri-X at first has a brownish tint, but this goes away after a while. R5 is the same.

Q: I see base fog in some of my negatives
A: The presence of a small amount of base fog is a characteristic of monobaths and instant films, too. Scanners have little trouble with this, by the way.

Capacity of R5 for continued use

Q: Can I use R5 again?
A: Yes, depending on how much film you process, you can reuse R5. Stop reuse when you start to see degradation of the negative. It comes on slowly.

Processing kinetics, and push processing

Q: Why can't I process the film at room temperature?
A: R5 requires that it be warm! This allows the develop and fix process to produce a properly developed negative. If the solution is colder than recommended, you will pull the development and lose speed. If the temperature is hotter than recommended, it can be used to push process and increase speed. This can be very handy at times!

Q: Do I have to hold the temperature exactly?
A: No. It isn't very critical, but do try to keep it to 80 or aboce while you use it.

Tray Processing

Q: Can I process sheet films in a tray?
A: Yes, use a cover to hold the temperature, and keep the ammonia smell to a minimum. Plastic sandwich containers work exceptionally well and need very little R5 to cover sheet film. Start off warmer because trays cool quickly

EFKE 25 4x5, tray processed

Q: Can I process in a dark bag/changing bag?
A: Definitely! This is what I do all the time. The sandwich container and my sheet film holder take up little space, the the sandwich container is left a bit loose until the film is put in. Then I snap it shut.

Processing roll films

Q:What about rollfilm?
A: You can use a daylight processing tank with a reel.  Be sure to use enough solution to cover the negative.

Q: Should I agitate the film?
A: Yes, gently agitate WARM film for 30 seconds or so.

Q: I use a roller tank. How about that?
A: Sure, go for it. You should be fine, but remember to keep the solution warm, and the film covered.

Shelf life of tightly capped unopened R5

Q: How long will R5 keep?
A: Unopened R5 should keep for at least a year, which is a long time. It may even keep longer than

Scanning negatives

Q: I saw the fantastic and superb photography you and your crew did with R3. What scanner did you use?
A: This is the kind of question I wish I actually would get, but is just a self serving fantasy.  It is an Epson V750 Pro. I think the results are actually quite nice. R5 scans look similar.

Historic fact about monobaths

Q: I read that if monobath were any good, everybody would already be using them.
A: They have been, since instant photography began. Instant photographs all depend on a monobath.

Anonymous yet invaluable advice from a reader:

Anonymous said...
I've recently returned to LF after a 30 year absence and purchased a nice 3 lens Sinar F2 setup that obviously needed to be tested - alas, no more type 55. I stumbled apron this mono bath and wanted to share some success I've had through trial and error which have given me the results I was looking for.

The "Tupperware" sandwich box was a great starting point but temperature control was a bit of an issue. I've found that certainly you need to be in the 75-80 degree range but the falloff in temp, especially since there's such a small amount of solution being used was fairly quick. I also found the sandwich boxes were somewhat translucent and I wanted to be able to load them in a changing bag and let the film develop in daylight.

I found that by spraying the Tupperware with one of the "spray on rubber" products solved 2 problems. The rubberized coating acts as a great insulator and with a 10 minute development time I lose between .5 -1 degree. The second is that it makes the boxes light tight. I've sprayed 2 light coats over the box (with the lid on) and used a razor blade to cut along the top's seam which gives me a pretty much perfect light tight seal.

I also found that by straining the solution through a coffee filter after use removes almost all of the solids and I'm getting 9 or 10 uses from each batch (so basically 3 batches 1/2 inch deep in the box will handle a 25 sheet box of film.

I'm praying that the New55 project is a success but in the short term, using the posted formula and a few of the boxes I've made up gives me a 10 minute solution for test exposures - actually, the negs are of such good quality I can and do use them for either projection printing or scans.

Hope this helps someone.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reagent Mixer arrives at 20X24 in Ashland

Our neighbors at New55 are 20x24 Studio which is an amazing thing because together we have concentrated all US instant film development under one roof.  Ted McLelland runs their engineering and contributes to New55, and one of his key areas of responsibility involves the making of reagents - also known as processing developer, goo, jelly or paste - for both black and white and color products.  Yesterday, one of 20X24's large units arrived in Ashland and was quickly set up by the experienced ex-Polaroid riggers who still move large things around New England.

In this series, Ted inspects the newly-arrived Big Mixer that uses heat, pressure, vacuum, large stirring vanes and lots of valves and gages interconnected in such a way as to produce about 30 litres of reagent a day.  That translates into enough reagent to fill a few thousand pods. This mixer was installed and run in Connecticut for the past several years, but now is under the same roof as the Pod Machine, which it feeds.

Ted McLelland and the equipment used to make reagents
newly arrived at 20x24

Inspection of the heat exchanger, which
controls the process temperature

The vessel in which the reagent is mixed
under heat and pressure

A large motor and gearbox turn the mixer.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gallery of photographs processed in New55's Monobath

Here is a gallery with just a few of the excellent examples we have by using the Monobath.  All were scanned on an Epson V750 in automatic mode. Large files have been uploaded and you really should click on them once or twice to view them full size. Enjoy.

And you can buy R5 here.  

R3 processed TMY 

Efke 25 4x5. Ted McLelland

Ilford Pan F Plus  D Fyler

Ilford Pan F Plus R Crowley

TMX 120 D Fyler

TMX 120 D Fyler

TMX 120 D Fyler

TMX 120 D Fyler

TMX 120 D Fyler

TMX 120 (crop)

TMX 120 

TMY 135 R Crowley This was a lost roll, unprocessed for 20 years.

Tri X 6x7 R Crowley

A very old roll of Pan X 120 found in a flea market TLR and processed in R3

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Good example of how the spread has improved, and what still needs to be done.

The spread, or how the reagent - that thick, viscous processing semi-fluid paste - travels in between the negative and the positive sheet, is not an easy thing to control.

Several factors contribute to the success or failure of the spread.

  1. The stack up of the layers. How thick each part is.
  2. The flexibility of each part. Negatives are stiff, paper can be stiff, the outer sleeve and the tongue have different, designed-in stiffnesses. Nothing about them is an accident which is what makes it difficult to source the materials.
  3. How that stack up sits evenly or not under the high sides of the rollers. The rollers aren't flat. Look next time you open a 545 and you will see that one of the rollers has higher areas. This was intentional and done precisely to accomodate the Polaroid process. New55 is different and yet still has to work in these same rollers.
  4. The rate of pull. A user can ruin the spread by pulling too quickly.
  5. Temperature. If it is cold, the reagent is stiffer, and spreads poorly. Better to go indoors and warm up.
  6. Condition of the holder. Rarely, these are damaged or worn.
  7. The pod contents. Is it filled with exactly the right amount of reagent?
  8. The pod seal. Does the seal burst in just the right way?
All of these have to be just right or the system won't work. Here are some effects and causes when things aren't right:

Spread too thick: The reagent won't cover the entire surface. This is caused by improper stack up distances, but an incomplete spread can also be caused by a bad pod. A too-thick spread can be identified on the positive print because the image will have poor sharpness.

Spread too thin: Usually perfect coverage, but the negative won't fully process and will be mottled. The positive print will be extra sharp, but a too sharp positive means a very tight gap which does not allow the full cycle of developing and fixing to occur on the negative side.

Below are examples of a spread that was almost right, but too tight for a perfect negative. Note the mottling in the mid tones of the chart. The positive print looks OK. This is considered close but not good enough. A wider gap might cause the spread to be incomplete, which would affect the pod fill. 

 Positive print. Looks OK, decent spread, and
 excellent sharpness. Very slight mottling can be seen
in the mid tones. Coated Jan. 15. '15 and shot Mar. 20, '15.

The negative. Despite good coverage, the mids
are seriously mottled. Not enough goop. Mar. 20, 2015.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Link to the Donate Button

This is the link to the donate button.  A sincere thanks to all who have used it! Every little bit counts.


Friday, March 13, 2015

New55: Progress update March 13 2015

Most New55 supporters already know of the program's continuing need for time and money.  The Kickstarter funds were crucial to doing so much of the work to establish an industrial capacity for New55 FILM and so other new film-related products could be manufactured in the future. Here are some key areas:

The Receiver Sheet

Like any project with unknown variables, New55 has had its share of false starts, delays, design changes, flops and successes. One big flop was the old receiver sheet coating that was found to be too complex, too environmentally unsound, and too expensive - if made the way Polaroid made it in the past. It was a hard and expensive lesson, and even though it was anticipated that a start-from-scratch situation could occur if that development failed at first, it wasn't planned to go that way. But it did go that way,  and an all-new, water based receiver sheet coating had to be invented. The new receiver has now recently shown to have a reasonable chance of being cost effective and a good performer. The team has its fingers crossed because even though it is a relatively simplified design, it is still new and risky and has never been made before in production quantities.

Coating Development

New55 pays $2000 per hour at the commercial coater to test run and do final runs. It is the sincere hope of the team that the commercial coating will go smoothly and take two to three days to complete. There is no guarantee that will be the case, and you will be among the first to know if there are problems with this important step.  Today the team is trying to solidify the exact date of this coating event and the thought is that it is only a couple of weeks away.

Sleeve Assembly, and Cost Opportunities

In other areas, decent progress continues to be made. The sleeve assembly has undergone substantial changes so it may, one day, be produced on high speed machinery at a lower cost.  Everyone familiar with the project realizes that at first, the product will be very expensive to produce and that by iteration supported by sales the manufacturing costs should decrease over time. One nice thing about this improved sleeve is that it looks more like the "readyload" system and therefore could be used to make a single sheet reloaded 4x5 convenience product, if there is support for it.

The Pod

Another lagging item is the pod machine. This is owned by 20X24 and we are grateful it is in the building, but work to reconfigure it to make the right pods for New55 has lagged and is now also behind schedule.  Work is being done to try to catch up and although it is an unanticipated expense, various supplemental fundraising ideas and initiatives are being pursued to support that and the other things that still need to be done.

The Clip

If you recall there was quite a lot of talk about the clip in the past.  The design team took a chance with a very much improved clip made of stainless steel rather than just copy the soft steel that was used in the past. It turned out to be a good decision - the clip works well and has been so trouble free it now gets taken for granted. The initial cost per clip is 25 cents which is high. Working toward a less expensive clip is a future task.

The Shop, and Administration

It takes a lot of coordination and organization to set up an online store and a fulfillment system. New55 can't just "ship out" boxes of anything as that would be very expensive to do. A fulfillment center that happens to be run by an ex-Polaroid person will act as warehouse and order taker assuming there is a product.  We must have this system and the accounting and manufacturing planning resources in place for production. These areas tend to be out of the sight and comprehension of consumers.  To date, the shop has one item, a T shirt (in various sizes) and has sold about $3000 worth. This helps the team learn how to run the shop and the fulfillment center with something less critical than film, and makes a small but very important amount of additional cash available for the rest of the project. The response to the T shirt is so good that there is an eagerness to put up several of the supporter-suggested products like the "readyload" and monobath to help raise more funds. Watch for these items in the store.

Four Channels

New55 has four important information channels that include the Kickstarter list, this blog, the Facebook page, and the mailing list. Many people who supported the Kickstarter do not use Facebook, so they need to have regular updates. Many new people have come into New55 through Facebook but never look at the blog or Facebook. Then there are those who signed up to the mailing list.  There is also a minor presence on Twitter and a growing one on Instagram.  With all these channels it is sometimes hard to get the word out consistently, so we ask you to help chime in to assist those with questions and continue to share in the overall effort.


New55 FILM is late and the cost over run has been discussed and also the possibility that work could be slowed or stopped if the money runs out.  That lead to various fundraising ideas and a push for fundraise-friendly products. Meanwhile important progress has been made and results look good. There is still risk and the team is working diligently on all aspects of the mission of creating a new industrial capacity for the manufacture of an instant film product.