Friday, December 23, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions about New55

written by Bob Crowley

What is New55?

New55 is a new, instant positive-negative (PN) system that produces a high quality 4x5 black and white negative, and a positive print.  It is not a recreation of Polaroid Type 55.  It is a new, single shot system that incorporates a negative material, a processing pod, a special positive receiver sheet, and other components needed for a field-processable instant photograph to be produced by a photographer, without a darkroom.

New55 is a trash-reduced design that produces less waste than old Type 55 did.

Why did you start New55?

One day on Twitter I noticed that The Impossible Project said they were not going to focus on 4x5 materials, so I said that I would do it. We have accomplished nearly all of our performance goals and only have yet to commercialize what we have done.

Is the New55 Project associated with The Impossible Project?

Yes, in an informal and collaborative way. We strongly support The Impossible Project's efforts as they re-learn what took Polaroid decades to accomplish. Bob Crowley visited The Impossible Project factory in Enschede, and New55 has done fruitful, but still in-process experiments with various materials produced by The Impossible Project.

What is the connection between New55 and 20X24 Studio?

New55 is located in Ashland, MA, not far from 20X24's Connecticut facility, and very close by to 20X24's Ted McClelland who has been working closely with us to bring New55 to life.  Because New55 and 20x24 use PN systems and not integral systems for their films, we share some of the technology and materials, and have other things in common, such as suppliers, and collaborators.

When will New55 FILM be released for sale?

The current plan is 8 months after the final funding, which is not yet in place.   It will take that long to tool up, get supply lines filled, and iron out the bugs from the system. We do have a working system today that is mostly hand assembled.  It works well, but cannot be made in large production quantities until there is money available for scale up.  R&D has been costly, but funded as a skunkworks project by Soundwave Research, which has paid for hired help, materials, air travel, equipment, and provides R&D space and infrastructure. Soundwave Research is a product development and manufacturing company that has invented and produced many new products. 

Can I get samples or be a film tester?

We do not have a test supply of New55.

What equipment is needed to use New55 FILM?

We use a standard Polaroid 545 single sheet back. There are many thousands of these well-made film holders available and they fit easily in nearly every 4x5 camera. Currently, we are using the metal 545 holder with the back cover removed, so we can more easily check and manipulate the clip finger. This is necessary because New55FILM is currently not made with lubricious paper.

Is a tub of sodium sulfite still needed?

No. The sodium sulfite is hard to get, so we use ordinary fixer for the final negative bath. Fixer is available easily, is cheap, clears better, and stays fresh for a very long time.

What will be the price of New55?

The target price is $6 US.

Can I pre-order New55?

We are not currently taking any pre-orders.

Do you have machinery to produce New55?

We have fixtures, templates, night vision systems and other things we need to produce the prototypes and continue the development. We share the pod machine owned by 20x24, and in our plan are specifications for full tooling of the product.

Does New55 use Panatomic X?

No. Old T55 used a material called SO139 which was similar to Pan-X and produced by Kodak. We have tested nearly every available negative emulsion in production and have chosen one that has faster speed and allows us to get a positive print that is correctly processed with virtually the same exposure. Users of old T55 had to choose if they wanted the negative or the print to be properly exposed, but not both. New55 will solve that problem through a combination of film speed, processing reagent and balancing these against the positive.

Who is doing the development of New55?

Soundwave Research Labs, and collaborators Jack Willard, Des Fyler, John Reuter, Ted McLelland, Tobias Feltus and Bob Crowley have done most of the R&D.  We've also had a great deal of assistance and encouragement from Ilford, The Impossible Project and Doc Kaps, who has been to the lab where New55 is being developed, and have had special support of materials from many other people. If I tried listing them I would leave someone out.

Are there any plans for an 8x10 version?

No plans, exactly, but it seems possible. An 8x10 system is an expensive item.

Do you have any plans for an instant 4x5 color negative product?

We'd like to see this happen and think we can after New55 is released.

Is New55 a copy of Polaroid Type 55? 

No, it definitely is an all-new system that superficially resembles T55 and shares some of the fun characteristics like edge effects, solarization, and certainly has all the magic, maybe more.  This improves "the value proposition" considerably, in our view, since we get two useful photographs from one.  The negative has extreme sharpness and a long scale, and the positive print can be display quality.

I see some of the New55 test photographs on Flickr and here on the New55 blog. Who did these?

Bob Crowley, with assistance of Jack Willard, Des Fyler and Keitaro Yoshioka. You can see them here.

How can I help the New55 Project?

Right now the best thing is to put our link wherever you can. Mention New55 online, tell everyone who might be interested about it, and grab links from this blog and send them all around in emails. on forums, on Twitter and Facebook, and everywhere else you can think of.


Unknown said...

good luck with that guys! looking forward to final product! all the best!

Matt Mendelsohn said...

All I can say is this: thank you and happy holidays. I have two beautiful Zone VI cameras that are totally neglected these days. Yes, I can shoot regular film but Type 55 was my favorite. I've been waiting for this kind of announcement for a long time now. (And an extra bonus! no more shooting for the negative, or vice versa. Now we get both right.)

You left one important question out of your otherwise extensive FAQ: Will the new film have the same kind of "dot" rip pattern?? :)


Arlington, VA

Ryan said...

I can't wait!! Godspeed!

Bob Crowley said...

Based on this poll we saw that a third wanted "holes". They are produced by a part that New55 doesn't use, and we have a new "style" of border that naturally occurs from our process.

Christopher said...

The news from you folks just keeps getting more promising. Fingers crossed that I can photograph Christmas 2012 on New55.

Do you have a supplier yet for positive paper? Off the top of my head, it seems to me that will be a difficult part of this project.

Bob Crowley said...

We would manufacture that part. We have several formulas to choose from now, cost and time being factors, also tone, scale and surface texture. The receiver sheet is something I've touched on here a few times with regard to the DTR process, nucleation, and aggregation of what Old Pol called "galaxies" of sulfides and the migrating silver sols. There is a lot to it, but we think we know how to scale it up.

Anonymous said...

This is really good news. I am really looking forwards to the release of this new material. I have only tried Polaroid 55 once in my life when i bought a box off Amazon. It was not exactly hard to use, but certainly hairier than the regular "crack n' peel" pack film.

I would also like to thank you Mr. Crowley, for being so open and informative about the whole process. I am seventeen and am attending high school at the moment (recently took a group picture of the class with my Graflex - my mates think I'm crazy), and the introduction into the whole chemical process behind film in general and instant film in particular has really invigorated and inspired me to do better in my chemistry class. You really have opened up a whole new world for me, and I would like to thank you ever so much.

Pardon if this post seems a bit childish and/or unnecessary, but I just thought I'd share some of my thoughts.

Bob Crowley said...

Not at all, glad to hear it. The purpose of the New55 Project is to promote the state of the art, and that means inform, inspire and make subjects real, and interesting.

This isn't quite a done deal - you may have noticed the "8 months after funding" part. We all realize there is another step. But, we know it can be done. We all know it.

Thanks for the nice words.

Peter said...

Great post good to see all the results summed up in one post! I would love to shoot New55. Just as I eagerly awaiting Impossibles 8x10 film.

Would you guys be cooperating with Impossible distribution wise? I think that could benefit both parties a lot.

Bob Crowley said...

Hi Peter, thank you for helping us, and readers, click on Peter's name and see his blog! The fashion series is great.

cafe selavy said...

The world keeps getting better again. Thanks.

Bob Crowley said...

Peter, right, nothing here is actually new. It's just a summary of things people ask and the answers that I have at the moment. If and when released, New55 could appear through any channel that will carry it, though I don't exactly know what they would be.

Anonymous said...

How about doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the project?

Bob Crowley said...

Only if you would be willing to run it. We've been through it with them though, have approval from KS, and you can search it on this blog. Type in "kickstarter" in the upper left search box.

Anonymous said...

Kickstarter isn't really a fund raising method, but more of a pre selling one. I think the new 55 people need more than kickstarter will collect too, but it is a good idea. Someone has to run it.

Zoe Wiseman said...

how much money do you need? rough estimate? curious. if it's private, that's cool.

Bob Crowley said...

That has not been a frequently asked question! I'm glad you are curious.

We published this plan
And the numbers are still good - $210k brings us to a general release in 8 months. Half that money goes to tooling and materials. Rent is "free" under that scenario. It's not a very large amount. Soundwave has put in about a third that much so far, all things told, for the R&D and feasibility stage which is concluding successfully. So all it takes is this one investment of a little over $200K.

Anonymous said...

I second the recommendation for Kickstarter. New55 needs to happen, and I think that'd be a good way to get there from here. Heck, I'd fund it myself if I weren't starving. I wish you the best of luck.

Bob Crowley said...

Kickstarter cannot, in all probability, raise the $210,000 needed for production. Kickstarter is an "all or nothing" website. That means if you fail to make your dollar goal, you get nothing. If we raised half of what we needed, we would still not be able to release the product.

If we wanted to take preorders we could do that without Kickstarter. The money we got on sales would pay off after people put in repeat orders over time.

We don't believe we would get $210,000 worth of preorders, here or on Kickstarter.

David Kirk said...

Good luck with the project! When you are producing the production runs, can you post orders out to Scotland?

Bob Crowley said...

I don't see why not. We have just this week sent some of the most recent batch to Edinburgh to Tobias and he will see what happens to them on the way, if anything. One aspect of this "experiment" we are doing is a compact EU mailable packet that holds 5 sheets and stays under one of the size and weight limits for small packs from the US. The idea is to find the right balance of "shippability" and cost.

Bob Crowley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lloyd said...

Any chance of a future with Type 665, the pack film? I loved that material. Much of the work I have collected in museums was made with that material. Beautiful stuff, and far more convenient to work with in the field than Type 55- though much success to you with this marvelous project!
Please kep us in the loop. Lloyd Wolf

Bob Crowley said...

The 665 was a low volume seller so it would be hard to justify it. We do not plan to make any pack film. New55 isn't even very much like a polaroid product either. Thanks for the kind words, Lloyd!

Unknown said...

Best of luck!

You have my support and best wishes.

I would buy your film.

Fingers crossed.


Drew Gardner

Anonymous said...

I have been hoping for this, GOOD LUCK

Thor said...

Great -- especially since Fuji has also discontinued its 4x5 instant film.

Question though -- what makes your business model any more viable than Polaroid or Fujifilm's? In all reality instant film is a niche and will remain a niche. Does it really take $200,000 to get the manufacturing going? Isn't there some way to scale gradually?

Bob Crowley said...

It's more focused and directed toward a very high value application that nobody else addresses.

We have a ready, eager customer pool

The platform it works with (4x5) will be around for a very long time

The alternative photography field is growing

It will be a decade before digital can match the resolution of 4x5 film

There are no legacy problems, overhead, old factories, agreements, real estate, to load the costs like Fuji and Kodak suffer.

New55 won't scale from hand assembly, because machines, tools and supply agreements have a minimum order price, and capital equipment costs, though modest for a start up of mfg, add up to about half the needed funding. Just the pod machine alone, which cannot be duplicated by hand, is about a $40k investment.

These are very small amounts in the manufacturing world today.

Matus said...

I am really looking forward to the New55 film. I was too late in LF to try the Type55 and would love to be able to shoot instant photos in 4x5 and have negative at the same time.

Just a short question - what will be the ISO of the film/paper?

In any way - I hope to see the New55 film to become available soon.

Bob Crowley said...

The results you see so far are exposed at ISO 50 or 100. Because of the good shadow detail I tend to underexpose a little, and as you might have guessed, I like low-key. I'd expect we would still be in that range.

Luke said...

Please let it happen, im ready to order new55 , best wishes!!!!

Bob Crowley said...

I really need you to put our link around in order for enough people to know about us. Very appreciative of those who have done so, but need many more. Mention us in forums and add the link, Feel free to link to anywhere in the site or just the link.

the more frequent, the better. Twitter links too please. Facebook is ok. Embed us in facebook on your page by typing in the link (copy and paste really).

Anonymous said...

I have recently returned to large format. I gave it up because of the T55 being discontinued.But because I like large format so much, I decided to return and use traditional materials. But now, after reading about New55,I can't wait to get my hands on my first box. This is the only film I will use. I am so excited about this film. It can't happen soon enough. Thank you so much. Sincerely, John

Bob Crowley said...

Get yourself some Efke 25 (or 100) and mix up some R3 (monobath) that is referred to on this site. Try it. It is just as easy as old 55 or New55 - really. But, none of the goop magic. Also it is cheap.

Today I experimented with a 36 megapixel (they say) digital camera. It does not even have half the resolution of a sharp black and white 35mm frame. So, imagine what you can get with 4" x 5" acreage.

Anonymous said...

Pardon if this question is silly or misplaced, but what is the difference between B/W instant processing and colour processing? B/W seems to mainly be fuelled by the monobath reagent, but is color processing the kind one finds in integral materials where the reagent activates dye developers in the film?

Also, I was wondering if you could recommend some literature that one could read if one wishes to learn more about monobath processing and/or the DTR process. I recently acquired a book by one Grant Haist called "The Monobath Manual" and I have become, really, REALLY fascinated by the whole chemistry around this kind of photographic processing and I would love to learn more about it.

Bob Crowley said...

The color is also a monobath but the layers of dyes, couplers and what happens to them is obviously quite different and more complex.

Haist has a couple of books and is considered perhaps the best work on the subject. However, Quall's monobath which uses the most readily available materials and is so versatile is the star of the liquid monobath world. If you look up an MSDS of Type 55, you will see that is a monobath too, just a very thick one.

Monobaths reduce the exposed silver while simultaneously dissolving the unexposed silver. There is balance that has to be achieved so that the unreduced silver halides don't get dissolved out before they can reduce. It turns out this is not hard to do. The migration/diffusion rate of various molecules into and out of the gelatin matrix affect it though, and when we then add the diffusion transfer reversal requirement to an adjacent sheet, the rate and availability of the chemistry at the interface becomes tricky. Obviously, since we do it all the time with New55 FILM, it is possible to do this with materials available today and get a decent result.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Crowley, again, I can not thank you enough, and I thank everyone involved in the making of New55.I am counting the minutes.

Bob Crowley said...

Thanks - I hope you can be patient, because we have not yet secured funding for scale up. However, we do plan more limited runs and will sponsor an internship for a photography major or grad student in DTR and sensitive materials technology.

Shane Byrd said...

Bob, I'd like to commend you for your efforts. I stopped using 55 around 2000 because it seemed like the manufacturing got a little careless. My 545 would bend the metal tab and still the protective sleeve wouldn't disengage. At around 3 bucks a shot it was disheartening to throw away approx half a box of film (not to mention all of those lost shots in the field).
I'm looking forward to an excuse to break out the old Speed Graphic (my first camera!) again! I stopped shooting completely several years ago and your work may be just the thing to reinspire me.

matthew pace said...

Let us know when it comes out so I can announce it to the groups...

Alpenhause Kamera Werke said...

A Brand New and superior T55 film is a must have for large format enthusiests!

All of those nice Polaroid 545 holders out there will have a new and exciting use once again.

For those of you that are "handheld" 4x5 rangefinder camera enthusiests this new T55 will bring a lot more enjoyment and usefullness to these types of cameras.

To a great job well done New55project!

I look forward to using this new film and eagerly await the color version.

Steven Icanberry, Alpenhause Kamera Werke, Santa Paula, California Http://

Alex Gray said...

Good to hear you doing this work. I have become addicted to instant film material since I got a PA-45 back for my press camera. I am graduating next year with a nanotechnology chemistry major, and I can't think of anything I'd rather do than developing stuff like this. Am eagerly awaiting the results, keep at it!

Bob Crowley said...

My group did work in nanotech, inventing acoustic nanofilm, and tuned optical/RF carbon nanotube arrays back in the mid 90s. I think you realize that companies such as Kodak, Polaroid etc were nanotech giants but didn't think of themselves that way. The Land papers are filled with nanotechnology.

Silver and photonically modulated chemical processes that occur at the nanoscale have important as yet undiscovered properties and applications in medicine, science and industry.

jannx said...

Bob, I've linked the New 55 to a Flickr film group.

Hope it helps!

John said...

Hi Bob,how close are we to seeing New55 film on my shelf? Thanks.

Bob Crowley said...

Hi John. Please see the FAQ "When will New55 FILM be released for sale?" above for the answer to your question.

Anonymous said...

If 1000 potential buyers were willing to advance $200 towards their first purchase, would that supply the needed inital investment?

Anonymous said...

Bob ~ I'm an old user of Type 55 P/N, having used it exclusively with my collection of "Lensless Camera(s) of Santa Barbara" in various focal lengths... pinhole cameras, all of them. I'd won a few blue ribbons in camera club print competions years ago...

Yesterday I was showing my teenage grandaughter some of my 16 x 20 prints of shots I had taken with relatively long exposures with a 25A red filter. She asked how I had gotten the "brush stroke" effects from the cloud motion during the 2 minute exposures in bright sunlight, and how I'd managed to get the pinhole "look" of the focus. So I rumaged around in the closet and brought out the four wooden cameras and the Polaroid 545 back and some film, and told her all about the picture-making process. Let me say that the girl's previous experience using only the camera in her cell phone didn't prepare her properly for the description which followed.

Anyway, today I thought I'd search for some fresh film, as the still-sealed boxes on hand were dated "best if used before March 1995". And that search is how I came upon your page(s) about your New55 Project. Although I'm kinda getting pretty old with no commercial plans for using my nifty wooden pinholes on my nifty wooden tripod, I am greatly appreciative of your efforts to produce this exciting new film and will buy enough to get myself going again now that I have retired. (No time like the present! And, not so much time left anymore either..!) So, again, Thank You! Best Of Luck! I really hope to shoot some New55 before checking outa here!


Anonymous said...

Bless you ALL for making this film a reality.

Accra Shepp said...

I think this is terrific! I look forward to N55 becoming available.

Reading FAQ above I am a little saddened that N55 will be cleared with fixer as opposed to sodium sulfite.

I have never known this chemical to be difficult to purchase. It is easier to mix, easier to clean up, and though fixer is perfectly safe even less toxic.

But if the new process requires fixer, so be it, I'll still be buying.


photoworks said...

Does anyone knows when film will be on sale. The faq section seems to have been here for a while so the 8 month timescale mentioned in the faq is not really giving me any estimate. my camera has been gathering dust for so many years now that I am now wondering if it would not be wiser to switch to a 8x10 camera in order to use the 8x10 instant film from the impossible project instead of waiting for an elusive sale date for the new55 film.

Bob Crowley said...

If you are interested in 8x10 then yes you should purchase what is available now. Doing this improves the overall health of this very tiny "industry" if you can even call it that.

Did you know that EFKE has gone out of business this week? Also you might be following the news of KODAK. In the meantime, have you tried R3? It is amazingly easy and produces a negative in the same amount of time you can get with New55 overall, just not the positive.

We do not have an estimated sale date but we are producing limited amounts of New55 FILM that you may have heard about. Full production depends on a variety of factors, some that are changing as the industry and suppliers.

You might go on flickr and see examples of what is being produced now. None of it is sale ready quality, but it is interesting.

Joe said...

I have a Toyo45cx and like it very much. Many years ago I purchased a Polaroid 4x5 back. The film was discontinued. Then I found Fuji Instant 4x5 film. I purchased the fuji 4x5 back. Now I found out three days ago that fuji is discontinuing their 4x5 film. Today I found out about the New55 film. I still have my single sheet 4x5 polaroid holder. I almost threw it away. When the New55 film is available I will be happy again.

Unknown said...

I used Polaroid Type 55 film for years. I absolutely loved that film. It was really sensitive and hard to work with at times, but it was well worth it. Needless to say, I was devastated when Polaroid discontinued it. I have been following your project since its inception. I just saw the slide show of images made with the New55 film and I am really getting excited now! It certainly has the look and feel of Type 55. I'm really looking forward to working with it! I can't thank you guys enough. This is like a dream come true! Please check out my website so you can see many of my images shot on Type 55 film. Good luck and please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Good luck!

Unknown said...

I would pay 100 or even 200£ as preorder. Also, I bet u'll find a lot of people like me around the world! Just try!
You have my support. Good job.

motzo said...

I totally digg the new55project and will be using this SX-70 lens that i just built, cannot wait to use it.

One question, I got at least twenty Polaroid 55 clips. Where do I send them to donate for the project ???

Thanks for all your progress


Unknown said...

Can you use the Polaroid 500 instant film holder, which is an older version of the 545?

Unknown said...

Can the Polaroid 500 instant film holder, which is an older version of 545 model, be used?

Bob Crowley said...

Do not use the very old 500 holder from Polaroid. New55 FILM will be designed to fit the metal 545 holder, which I prefer due to its ruggedness, and the plastic 545i.

Unknown said...

What, if I may implore, is the difference or limiting factor between the 500 and 545 holder? from an operational standpoint they're similar. I was just curious why New55 shouldn't be used with the 500 holders.

Bob Crowley said...

The dimensions are different, and incompatible.

jannx said...

Bob... I've been following from the sidelines and might have missed a post I'm not sure. Is the film now in production and if so who is carrying the film.



Polaroid Kamera Fujifilm said...

We use a standard Polaroid 545 single sheet back. There are many thousands of these well-made film holders available and they fit easily in nearly every 4x5 camera. ...

nwlorax said...

I have a question about fixing the negative. I've used nothing but alkaline fixers for the past 20 years, for a variety of reasons. Will I be able to use alkaline or neutral fixer with New55 or do I have to use a hardening acid fixer?

Unknown said...

Hi there - in light of the discontinuation of FP-100C, any chance for this in 3.25 x 4.25 for use in standard Land cameras (250, 350, 450, etc.)? I would buy a case.

JeanDavid said...

In reading the processing instructions for the New55 film, it warns not to use running water from a tap for washing the negative, because of possible film damage. Would that also exclude using running (tempered) water in a tray using a Kodak tray syphon (just fast enough for the syphon to work)?