Monday, May 18, 2015

Silver prices affect the price of all film products

Here is a historical chart of the price of silver that shows the more recent spike in prices, and then the collapse.  Although plastics and sensitizing dyes can be as costly as the silver used, all film is subject to price spikes when and if the price of silver spikes. As you can see, it did that. Like oil, the price of the final product is quick to rise, and very slow to fall.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tilting Xenotar - still available to support New55 funding

The 150mm f2.8 Schneider Xenotar is still available for sale. Without the mount, in this condition, the lens alone would cost you at least $2000. It really is perfect. The custom machined tilt mount that I made would set you back, if you could find someone to design and make it. This is the only one. Since we need money to continue New55, I will consider a strong offer for this lens and mount for the Pentax 67.  Imagine having such a lens on your 67! Also, with an adapter, you can mount it to your Nikon or Canon full frame camera, or to a Mamiya 645, and others.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1SHOT - Lower shipping prices outside the US

After a lot of looking around we found a way to configure shipping so that European and Asian customers can usually pay a more reasonable price for shipping from Massachusetts. Several potential customers for 1SHOT abandoned their carts when shipping prices of $50 or more came up. That was the right thing to do. The reward for waiting are more 1SHOT packages available in the Shop (we've sold out three groups) and a lower shipping price.

So buy 1SHOT here. $25 of the price goes to fund New55 PN FILM development.

Thank you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Interesting finding after the 1SHOT letter to supporters

Some of you will know that an email letter went out early this morning to supporters of the New55 Kickstarter effort, with a link to the New55 Shop where a limited quantity of 1SHOT ready loaded sheet film was offered for sale.  All of the 1SHOT boxes were sold in almost no time, and this is very encouraging. Another finding was the distribution of visits into the site this morning, heavy on the European side at about 11am Boston time.

Below is a screen shot of hits to the web store. Most web stores use things like this to see where people come in from. Ours does not collect personal information and we are interested in the location and time of visit.

What does it mean? Californians were still in bed, the East Coast of the US was up, and so was Europe. If you are from California and missed the offer, don't worry, there will be another batch in the Shop soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Image collection for coating team access 3

Double layer delamination. Multiple layers tend to crack
and separate. Here two layers are widely apart.

Double layer dimensions and delamination. The layers
are thicker than we thought they would be.

Stripe artifact, with and without release layer over it. The stripe
is a wrinkle in the image layer and can easily be seen with a magnifier.
The image layer looks like it was dried very fast. The release
layer is so thin we cannot measure it.

Single layer adhesion is excellent. No place on the single
layer sample has any flaking at all.

Single layer worst case adhesion is excellent even
when it is flexed. It does crack, but stays in place. The single layer
thickness is 5 microns or more, which is plenty.
8 Layer top view showing severe delamination. Multi image
layers in the sample set all have this problem.
8 Layer side view showing adhesion and strata. There is
some adhesion between layers and some splitting. The
bulk multilayer separates from the ABV at the bottom. The release layer
is apparently too thin.
Lots of holes produce the deepest blacks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

20 X 24 Studio: the 20X24 gang

Sam Hiser plus the 20X24 gang of Nafis Azad, Ted McLelland
and John Reuter.

Our neighbors   Quite an accomplished bunch! Check out their website and be amazed.

There's always time for a snapshot

Friday, April 10, 2015

Image collection for coating team access II

Top surface normal angle 23X

Top Surface 45 degree

Strata showing separation and multiple gravure coats

Top surface 20 degree 40X

Kickstarter Update #34 - This could be our most important update, and challenge

Here is the text, in full, from the April 10 2015 New55 Kickstarter Update. I'm posting it here on the blog as well as on Kickstarter so that we can reach the widest possible audience at this critical moment in the project.  As always, your comments are welcome here, on facebook, and elsewhere, and so is your continued support for this fascinating cause. 


Update #34 - This could be our most important update, and challenge

ALERT: This is an update to the Kickstarter Supporters of New55 FILM. This is a news story. This is a technical drama unfolding now! Written by Bob Crowley

Dear Supporters,

This may be our most important update ever about the cause of large format instant photography, and New55 FILM.

1. We have good general progress to report in the Shop, and technically;
2. A critical coating event is happening now on the Receiver Sheet;
3. We are short of money and have an urgent, immediate need for cash;
4. We are acting on a supplemental fundraising plan based on your recommendations and encouragement to continue.


The New55 Team is pleased to report very rapid progress in getting the Shop started, shipping methods in place and logistics underway. All of these steps are crucial but are often overlooked by new startups. Some of you have begun to see the early signs in shipments of t-shirts and accessories such as R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER. Sam Hiser is learning the ways of Shopify which has been very time consuming to his all volunteer effort. Sam is looking for some outside help configuring and updating the Shop which is essential to New55's survival, in case you know someone. Without an efficient means of online commerce goods cannot flow and New55 will not be sustainable, so the Shop is a high priority.

In other areas, we have made some progress understanding the pod machine. Our connection to 20x24 Studio, which supplies the pods and is essential to the project, continues to strengthen as we work together every day, all day.

Tests continue to show close correlation of the positive and negative and a nice tonal scale. You might have seen these on the Blog:

or on Facebook:

Critical vendor progress is good too: The sleeve and final artwork are nearly done and will be tweaked so that the thickness is correct to spread the reagent between the negative and the positive in just the right way. The vendor doing this will have to hold a critical thickness, so we will watch over it. More of the famous frangible pod material was purchased from a good company in The Netherlands - enough for 25,000 pods.

New55 FILM's supply chain is shaping up, but not without some glitches and one serious change that may be occurring at the sheet film factory: Last week someone at the factory expressed doubts about continued production, which alarms us. An interruption could adversely impact the price going forward, though for now we have some 25,000 sheets on hand, safe in cold storage and ready for final assembly. We cannot survive another loss like Efke when it went out of business. I suppose existential threats exist in any industry, but ours is more sensitive since we know of only six places on Earth where 4x5 sheet film is produced!

20X24 Studio, our friends and recently moved-in new neighbors, John Reuter, Ted McLelland and Nafis Azad, have now trucked in their huge chemical mixer, and that, with their pod machine also now installed, should lead to the ramp-up of pod production. Today I will put on my goggles and get back to rewiring the controls for the mixer so we can fire it up for the first time in Ashland. We have even started talking about a color product for the future, but first things first. There is a lot to do.
On the manufacturing and final assembly front, coordination with two other Massachusetts factories is fast underway, and we depend upon, and appreciate, their attention to New55 FILM's needs, which go like this: We produce and mix the coating formula, then we bring that to the coater while special paper stock for the Receiver Sheet ships in from New York. Once the coater puts on three critical layers, they ship the coated Receiver Sheet paper to a Packaging and Converting company that exactly cuts, folds, pastes and prints the coated materials into components that we will assemble here at New55 FILM in Ashland. If we can get this round-robin of factories to connect, end to end, then we will have the makings of an ongoing, sustainable supply chain. Fingers are crossed it will, though it will require constant attention during scale-up and long after.

The Receiver Sheet coating is still a very big risk, and gets its own category, here.

Most of you know that the technical team had to scrap the failed original Polaroid-style Receiver Sheet coating, and how that led to the invention of an all-new environmentally safer and more manufacturable technology that we and our manufacturing partners can approve. In case you have only just heard this, suffice to say, it was a major failure requiring the coating team to start again; but then a major win for New55 FILM. Your support helped us invent a new material that never existed before, one that is better for the environment and works very well! It costs plenty and has never been coated before on a large scale, so there are still risks. This unique new coating is like a micro-scaled laboratory, and can have other uses in photography and even in medicine. Together with you we are proud of this achievement since it is something Polaroid never attempted.

Yesterday we tried the very first full-length, production-ready Receiver Sheet test coating and it ran into trouble. And while that news is disappointing, we are working intensely to find a way to get our layers down onto the paper successfully.


A “start-from-scratch” scenario for the Receiver Sheet was predicted as a possible high risk in Kickstarter's “risks section”. I just went back and re-read this prophetic warning again. We all paid a big price when that risk became real and we found we had to scrap the way the Receiver Sheet coating was done in the past. The Receiver Sheet re-do cost the project around 20%, which means that the project may need an additional $100,000 to get to the finish line, if not more. Money is needed to pay for services, rent, and hired help. Sam Hiser and I continue to donate our time without any salary but others cannot be expected to do this, and we cannot do so indefinitely. So we brought the problem of cash shortage to you and asked for your recommendations. The response was heartening, to say the least! Many ideas are very interesting and all were helpful, and as a direct result of your recommendations several fundraising projects are underway already. Here they are:


Q: Can you sell a monobath?  
A: Done! We launched R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER last week. Not much money will be made but it is a start, and it helps Sam learn to manage the Shop and Dan learn how to execute fulfillment. We'll need these to stay alive.

Q: How about something like Readyloads?  
A: Yes! Stay tuned for 1SHOTTM ready loaded sheet film, yellow dot fundraiser edition. The 1SHOT product was not developed using Kickstarter funds as it is not an instant film, but does share one of the assemblies and several vendors. 1SHOT will be a lot like the readyloads of the past, but with a more film-agnostic twist that I think many of you will appreciate, and buy. New55 FILM supporters will get first alert when 1SHOT goes on sale, before the general public. Our selected Atomic-X 4x5 ISO 100 cubic grained film will be used in this special yellow dot run of 1SHOT.

Q: Can you hold a fundraiser?  
A: Yes. This is planned, a possible auction of artworks and photographs by some well-known artists, to be held in New York. But it can't be held until September, so we will have to do other things first.

Q: Do you have a way for people to contribute if they want?
A: Yes, there is a convenient paypal donation button here: Huge thanks to those of you who have already used it! Your donation, no matter how small, makes a big difference.

Q: Perhaps you can attract investors? Big donors?
A: That's a way off, but I plan to continue to invest my time and also sell some of my personal collection of photo equipment like I have in the past to help fund the program. You may have seen the view cameras, brass lenses, Aero Ektar lenses, and other film and large format equipment from my collection that I sold on the blog to augment the first three years of development.

In addition, I am planning to sell some of the instant film stock, lenses, camera gear and other things I bought for New55 FILM, before the kickstarter program. It is my hope these will be sold to supporters who will understand they are supporting a cause and not just buying gear. They will appear on the Shop soon.

Another critical step might be to provide more cash from my own pocket to bridge the gap between now and the time we begin to make money. It looks like, with a note, about $75,000 could be temporarily added to the New55 Holdings, LLC, bank account this way. Since I started the New55 FILM project in 2010, I've already spent most of my time, and a lot of money. Gulps ... passes out ... posts motorcycle on craigslist.

4. Won't you please help? Use the donate button today, and do participate in these other fundraising events. We are creating the means and tools of post-digital photography -- real photography and real photographs -- for us all to enjoy well into the future. Your participation, no matter how small, makes a real difference.

And in other news ...

Christopher James’s new book, entitled The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Third Edition), is out! We are on page 704 in the chapter called, “The Alternative Negative”. Nice shot of Sam.


New55 FILM's technical progress is strong, but there have been technical setbacks that cost the project about $100,000. The technical problems have been mostly overcome but they were more costly than anticipated.

The critical Receiver Sheet coating could lead to first-piece production in the coming weeks! There is still risk, yesterday we had a bad result which disappointed us, so money is needed more than ever.  We are completely focused on this goal. A new product called 1SHOT(TM) will soon appear! R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER has started to ship. Logistics and the Shop are coming together.
A cash shortfall threatens progress, but fundraising and personal financing from Bob are all in various active stages. These also depend on you. Sam and Bob continue to donate all their time but we still have to pay others their salaries as well as rent and other expenses.

The supporters have made important recommendations, and we have acted on several of them in product areas relating to large-format photography. They are R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER, 1SHOT(TM) ready loaded sheet film, sales of photo equipment from my collection, and additional personal cash to temporarily bridge the gap. Together these things might be enough if the flow of support continues as it has, and they all have to happen. Will they? They will if we want them to.


Bob Crowley

Thursday, March 26, 2015

R3 Monobath Developer Resource Page

Tri-X processed in R3

This is the page for information, tips, links and results of New55's R3 Monobath Developer.

Click here to buy R3 Monobath Developer in a ready-to-use bottle.

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

Introduction to R3 Monobath

Q: What is R3 Monobath?
A: R3 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.  R3 works well when NOT agitated much. A little bit is OK but not necessary.

Q: Why use a monobath?
A: Because it is easy! It is also fast. And, R3 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 R3. Otherwise you should not get your nose close to the ammonia, which is irritating. Obviously, do not ingest R3, and if you do, call a doctor.

Temperature, and Time

Q: At what temperature should R3 be used?
A: 80F is the standard temperature. R3 must be warm. That's 27 degrees Celsius.

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

Films that work with R3

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 R3 a universal monobath?

Q: I read in Haist that each monobath has to be tailored for the specific film?
A: Grant Haist wrote a good book from the point of view of Kodak films. It is an excellent book but generally avoids the solution that Qualls invented, which goes against some of "the rules".  Hooray Donald!

Household ammonia smell

Q: Why does R3 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 R3 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 R3 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 R3 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.

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 R3 for continued use

Q: Can I use R3 again?
A: Yes, depending on how much film you process, you can reuse R3. 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: R3 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 warm 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 R3 to cover sheet film.

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. Don't agitate too much but be sure to use enough solution to cover the negative.

No agitation needed, and too much is not good

Q: Should I agitate the film?
A: Except to wet the film, agitation is not necessary and too much can cause streaks. A little bit is OK.

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 R3

Q: How long will R3 keep?
A: Unopened R3 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.

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.

Q: Why can't you ship outside the US?
A: It is too expensive to ship this outside the US, at present. But, you can mix your own very easily. Here is the formula.

Silver metal

Q: I see a layer at the bottom of used R3. Is that "sludge"?
A: That is metallic silver and is normal, and does not affect development. When you dispose used R3, you can save it if you like. A silversmith knows how to heat it to make a little bead of silver if you want.

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 R3 Monobath

Here is a gallery with just a few of the excellent examples we have by using R3 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 here is a link to an R3 Resource Page.

Want to try R3 but can't be bothered to measure and mix? New55 is now offering R3 at a reasonable price to help raise funds and promote the cause of easy large format photography. Please join in supporting New55 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) D Fyler

TMX 120 D Fyler

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