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.


Paul Cunningham said...

Very nice, thank you. I did notice that the link or recipe is not active yet.

Anonymous said...

How do you dispose of used solution?

Bob Crowley said...

Paul - fixed, thanks.

Bob Crowley said...

I pour off the non-silver thiosulfate containing liquid and retain the silver which is the part that can be a pollutant. Check with local regulations. Some people put it in a tray and let it evaporate, then throw the rest in the trash. A small amount of silver metal is in a lot of things and this is no different.

Mgagle said...

I might possibly be moving overseas at the end of summer. I know you don't ship it overseas, but if I buy it, and then have a family member ship it to me, is it a toxic material that I won't actually be able to ship?

Bob Crowley said...

You'd need more information about the location and rules there, though you might check by finding out how you would ship a small bottle of ammonia from country A to country B. It is not flammable and if spilled, mildly noxious because it smells like ammonia used for cleaning floors and such, which is exactly what is in there with the developer and fixer. We ship it ground in the US and because it is so easy to make, we recommend you do that if you are somewhere else.

Paul Cunningham said...

I just learned a little lesson with regard to peeking at the film after two minutes.

This morning I mixed up some monobath and developed two sheets of HP5+ (of unknown age and quality).

Processed in a dark room, at slightly more than two minutes I turned on the lights. The negatives looked a bit thin. At six minutes they looked markedly different, thick, fogged even. They were in fact POSITIVES, having been re-exposed prior to fixing. Unintended Sabatier process!

The HC-110 and Ilford rapid fix were fresh. The film is perhaps relatively fresh but unknown storage conditions.

An interesting lesson learned. (Also stacking sheets in a tray resulted in uneven development of the bottom sheet.)

Douglas said...

For people that have used the sandwich boxes how many sheets at a time? Does 2 at a time work well? Anybody tried more?

Thanks - Doug

Julie Stone said...

I have experience developing medium format but not large format, and as a newbie, I'm curious if anyone out there has tried the R3 or another monobath with the mod54 holder in a Paterson. It seems like an ideal setup, especially since you're not supposed to agitate it...any thoughts?

Wes Carroll said...

I was also wondering about the use of R3 with the MOD54 holder. The MOD54 website states that 1 Litre of chemicals is needed to fill the tank and fully immerse the film sheets. One bottle of R3 is 950ml. I wonder if that is close enough to fully immerse the film?

Paul Cunningham said...

@Julie Stone, I wouldn't be afraid to try it. You can also try just one sheet if you already have a Mod54 by putting dummies or perhaps nothing in the other slots.

Daniel Gauss said...

I got very excited when I read about this on PetaPixel... only to find you're "sold out". I hope this is only a temporary thing. Yeah, I know I can make it myself, but I'm the lazy type. :) Do you have a notification process for when it is back in stock?

Paul Cunningham said...

A friend tried the home mixed version of this monolith with 35mm roll film with two inversions at the beginning and no further agitation. He experienced streaking at the sprocket holes leaving him to conclude that additional agitation is indicated for 35mm film. Cheers.

Paul said...

What film would give the best lower contrast result. I've seen the video with the Tri-X example and the crushed blacks, so can see that contrast is a problem, but are there any film/processing time combos that give a lower contrast result closer to type 55.

Bob Crowley said...

HI Paul,

If you look at my tri-x results with R3, they are not high contrast. They are on the adjacent page. That video is good but doesn't fully explain what you get with Tri-x.

Look at the shot of the jack-in-the-pulpit. If your gamma is set too high (over 1.9 on a mac) all blacks will look "crushed" but once again, try it yourself before relying on that video.

Anonymous said...

That video on R3 is totally wrong about the contrast. What scanner is he using? I get results literally like Bob's plants using KODAK TRI-X

Ryan Estes said...

I'm excited about this. Today I mixed up a batch of my own R3 monobath using the recipe posted here. Upon running a test roll through, my scans look like this:

Any idea what could have happened? Is it possible I used the wrong ammonia? I processed it for 6 minutes at about 78 degrees F. The film was brand new.

Jamie M Photo said...

Sorry if I've missed this, but when you say "roller tank," does that also include a Jobo processor? Should I just stay away from that? Thank you!! (Also, SO looking forward to using this 1 Shot and R3! Thank you all for these great items I never got to enjoy before.)

Bob Crowley said...

Ryan - your film was exposed to light during processing. Try keeping it in total darkness for the whole 6 minutes. Also make sure the ammonia is 5%.

Bob Crowley said...


Some people have had good luck with rollers. If you dare to experiment, I'd like to see your results. We are all learning together!

Anonymous said...

The Silver at the bottom of the monobath could be a good thing. It keeps Silver out of the waste stream. I pour off used liquid after letting it settle and then put the "sludge" in the bin, but you could collect it and make a bit of jewellery!

Anonymous said...

Has anybody tried push processing yet? I regularly shoot hp5 400 iso at 1600 and wanted to try developing with the monobath. Is this possible?

James Cockroft said...

I have a couple of rolls of old Ansco Versapan that expired in 1968. Since it's so old, I shot one roll at one stop over.

Does anyone have any recommendations on the developing temperature or time?


coreo94 said...

I am having trouble finding 5% ammonia Is there a specific brand I should look for? If not Where should I look?

James Cockroft said...

The R3 worked fine with the ancient Ansco. I made a couple of errors (agitated some at the beginning and started pouring out at the 6 minute mark), but these are my fault not the fault of the R3.

Problem results and good, pretty results are on my website if you want to have a look.

Eric Molinar said...

Tested the R3 developer from New 55 with our Film Photo group in phoenix. 5 different people, 5 different cameras, multiple types of film, done at three different locations, no agitation, some agitation (I used the rotating stick gently twice for 3 seconds on one roll) with all the same result - Banding on all 35mm, some streaking on the 120 and 110. Temp was 80 degrees for the developer. Could it be cause by pouring the developer causing the irregular developing during the pouring in of developer?

Josh said...

I just developed a roll of 35mm TMAX 400 with the directions above and the negatives are a mess. Lots uneven developing and streaking around the sprocket holes.
Are the above directions more for sheet film? Has anyone had any experiences with R3 and 35mm that might have a better, alternative method?

Bob Crowley said...

If you look at the examples you will see TMY and TMX with R3 and no streaks. I believe that what is happening to those with streaks could be caused by warm R3 being slowly poured into a cold tank, slowly. I've not tried that. I usually pour it in very fast and cover the film with plenty of extra since I re-use this. I never agitate or invert. But others do and produce fine results. I would make sure the temperature - filled with developer - is 80F or more, and not lowered by a cool tank. Slow pouring will cool it off for sure.

Dave M said...

The initial trial using a Nikkor SS tank and 120 reel was a mess. Loaded in a light bag and then daylight processed - pouring the R3 into the tank.
Second try had the tank (with the R3) in a water bath (a 16X20 deep tray with an aquarium heater epox'd in) @86 degrees f. In a darkroom, the feel was placed into the tank fairly rapidly, given a bounce to dislodge and bubbles and sat there for 7 minutes. The roll was much better with no streaking to speak of and very mild fogging where the film touches the reel windings - well out of primary image area. I haven't had a chance to either scan or projection print the neg's yet but they look OK - I'm sure they will scan fine and with some work, should be OK for projection printing.
Still do sheet film in the rubber coated Tupperware and that works out fine.
As mentioned in my write up about the rubberized Tupperware, I said that I run the R3 through a coffee filter that captures virtually all the solids and pour the R3 back in the bottle. That seems to be the easiest way to keep the solution clean; the solids are primarily silver particulate.

Kaspar said...

How many rolls did you get out of one bottle? Is it more economic to develop two rolls in the tank or does it not matter?
After using the developer, should I pour the used developer back in the same bottle, so it can mix with the remaining fresh liquid, or do you recommend collecting it in an extra bottle for another go?

Sorry if these questions are stupid, but I am a newbie in home developing...

Dave M said...

If you scroll up to the write up I did on spraying a Tupperware "box" with liquid rubber and straining the used R3 through a coffee filter you'll see I get about a box of 4x5 from a New55 bottle of R3 before strange things happen (increased development time, density issues, etc. I'm still having some issues with roll film but best results are obtained by filling the tank first and then rapidly inserting the roll stack.

Michael Vitetta said...

I know you guys are trying to make money but 15.00 to ship? According to your MSDS sheet there are no shipping restrictions. How are you shipping the product?

Bob Crowley said...

We don't make money on shipping. One bottle plus box weighs about a kilo and therefore costs something to ship. You might want to make your own R3 - the formula is posted here on the blog. If you have amazon prime you might save the shipping costs of the HC-110 liquid and the rapid fixer liquid, and you can go to the supermarket and get the ammonia yourself. While you are there pick up distilled water and the shelf life will be better.

Unknown said...

Someone earlier mentioned problems finding 5% ammonia. I'm also having some difficulty locating it - a lot of places near me mostly seem to carry ammonia-free cleaner or lemon-scented ammonia stuff. If anybody has tips on brands they've used which have worked, it'd be really useful!

Anonymous said...

I failed after a long search to find 5% ammonia ( I'm in Asia). However, a little corner shop sold me a bottle but claimed it was 25%! Is there any way to determine how much ammonia is needed? If I assume it's 25% and dilute it accordingly, how would I know if it's actually now too weak or strong?

StevenRay said...

I find the 80 degree requirement surprising, because I just bought some R5 and the temp printed on the container is 75. Perhaps that's why my negatives are coming out as very light or having a faded appearance. This stuff was a bit expensive (as is film), so to have my first 8 images all be this way is frustrating, especially when the instructions on the container don't match what's been posted here.

Bob Crowley said...

Not much difference between 75 and 80. The problem we often see is that the liquid cools as it hits the cold film and canister. They all should be warm and kept warm. Another cause can be underexposure. Hard to tell from here.

StevenRay said...

Well, I developed two more sheets at 80 and that did make a very noticeable difference. I think it'd be good to have consistent instructions, both here and in the product. :-)

IOGDKA said...

Is the recipe for R5 public domain, or is it now proprietary? I've been mixing up my own monobath from the older version...

Administrator said...

Can you push and pull with R5? Cut it with water or reduce development time and if so, how much for a 1 or 2 stop push or pull?