Please join in support of “New55 PN Quality Improvements” at Kickstarter NOW!
The possible improvements discussed generally in the campaign include:
- Improve the spread so it is more even, with a smoother border;
- Make the finished negative less sensitive to light after peeling;
- Bring the print closer to presentation quality;
- Generally improve the Pod, Clip, Sleeve and Stop functions to make the system easier to use.
On #4, we can already begin to be more specific about the planned changes and their benefits to performance.
The “Stop” is the little extra piece of paper attached at the front of the mouth of the Sleeve. Upon withdrawal of the Sleeve, the Stop hits the Gate of the 545 holder to govern the proper Sleeve position during exposure. Stop-failure occurs when the Stop jumps the Gate, at which time the Sleeve comes out too far. Support indicates this has resulted in spent packets and failed exposures. The Stop really should be foolproof.
(It is true that expert users can recover from Stop-failure if there is a darkbag handy or by taking the camera off the tripod and into a dark space where the film packet can be removed from the holder and manually reassembled. This kind of alertness is generally too much to impose on users, but it is covered thoroughly at the New55 PN Workshops.)
Even before planning this Kickstarter campaign, we were already working on the lowest-hanging fruit: doubling the thickness of the Stop and also improving its positioning on the Sleeve. The new position would minimize or eliminate the Stop’s imprint during processing and development on both the positive and the negative.
See in figure 1, on the left side is the old Sleeve design and, on the right, a crude hand-made prototype of the new, thicker Stop. The Sleeve is slightly withdrawn (don’t do this at home) to show that the new Stop’s effective leading edge is not only closer to the Clip but, also, the improved design eliminates the double thickness of the Sleeve where it goes into the Clip.
This new single thickness of the mouth of the Sleeve is important: it is intended to reduce the “stickiness” of the Sleeve and Clip with new film packets when they come fresh out of the box. It could be the solution to a real problem that in phase one caused many new users to improperly expose their sticky film packets; the correction might even obviate the need for annoying and distracting film-packet preparations like “The Clip Tip-Tap Tip“.
Figure 2 shows the new Stop at home, noticeably closer to the Clip where it will no longer interfere with the spread Gap that governs the reagent’s disposition between the positive and the negative during processing.
Another related change is to the “New55 lens side” logo, which until now has been embossed in the Sleeve. We received user reports on some occasions that a ghost of the logo was appearing in the negative and sometimes even faintly transferring to the print. While the embossing relief is very very small, the impact on the sensitive Gap as the film packet is pulled between the rollers is enough to affect the developing images. So we plan to change the logo’s method of application to a flat ink — something more akin to inkjet. These prototypes can be seen in the background of figure 3.
Finally, this short video clip shows that the new Stop is positioned outside the 545 holder’s image frame. In this position, the thicker Stop is intended to reduce the chance of image degradation during processing. The improved, more solid feel of the Sleeve now should also increase users’ confidence in film packet and holder function.
The impact from making individual changes tends to cascade through a complex system. Once a thicker Stop is introduced, stricter attention to Pod thickness and consistency will be required in the Pod manufacturing process.
We will see how well these changes to the Sleeve work in testing, if this crowd-funding campaign is successful. These improvements to the Sleeve are not the only adjustments planned for the New55 PN film packet system; nevertheless, they should help raise performance and reliability.
Please join in support of “New55 PN Quality Improvements” at Kickstarter NOW!
Ashland, MASSACHUSETTS, June 15, 2017 — Manufacturer of instant film, New55 Holdings, LLC, announced today the launch of its new crowdfunding campaign at Kickstarter. The campaign, entitled “New55 PN Quality Improvements,” is focused on raising a minimum of $150,000 to fund tooling and component investments intended to raise the performance and reliability of New55 PN.
“Photographers from all around the world crowdfunded New55 PN to life in 2014,” said New55 FILM CEO Sam Hiser, “and we are now the last peel-apart instant film manufacturer in the world.” Hiser continued, “It’s taken a lot of unselfish support from the users and that’s why we need to see the project through: we need to improve the film quality and reliability while we continue to expand large-format photography for all.”
Said New55 FILM’s co-founder, Bob Crowley, “Our users asked us for a better quality print and negative and we have identified a path to evolve the developer, the print paper and make a series of upgrades to the film packet system.” Crowley said, “It’s a good plan but not without risk.”
New55 FILM has a worldwide community of users that is over 20,000 strong. The company anticipates raising pledges from every continent, to which it will ship improved boxes of New55 PN starting in the 4th Quarter 2017. This Kickstarter campaign is scheduled to run for 30 days and will end on Saturday, July 15th, 2017.
“New55 PN Quality Improvements” Kickstarter page
Ashland, MASSACHUSETTS, May 15, 2017 — Manufacturers of instant film, New55 Holdings, LLC, announced today that it has completed filings for new inventions and discoveries in the field of analog photography. This field includes instant films such as those previously made by Polaroid. New55 FILM manufactures and sells its “New55 PN” alongside other analog photographic products from its Ashland, Massachusetts, plant.
New55 FILM Co-founder Robert J Crowley described intellectual properties owned and in development by the company: “We’ve unlocked the secrets of some of instant film’s most prized recipes for making beautiful prints,” he said. “Our nanotech base includes layered nanostructures that act as tiny chemical laboratories, and our ability to iterate and innovate improvements is already starting to lead to new products,” Crowley added.
Crowley — who has over 125 US and foreign patents to his name in such diverse fields as medical devices, optics, photonics, music recording, antennas and now instant film photography — began the New55 Project in 2010 to bring new analog imaging materials to market, and the company received early funding from Soundwave Research Laboratories of which Crowley is a principal shareholder.
“Customers who loved Polaroid’s large format products are finding us,” explained New55 FILM’s CEO, Sam Hiser. “The growing base of customers who are willing to accept the early products in formative stages are a larger group than we thought,” he said. “And,” Hiser added, “customers are also buying up related non-instant products such as Atomic-X ISO 100 4×5 Sheet Film, R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER and 1SHOT Ready-Loaded Sheet Film packets in increasing amounts.”
The intellectual property filings consist of a direct-positive imaging material that would produce a finished print, and further instant photographic processes that can be used with the installed based of millions of “instant ready” cameras that are already in the hands of eager photographers and artists.
“We are entering a refinement stage,” concluded Crowley, “where New55 FILM is still building its considerable portfolio of know-how, trade secrets patents and licensed patents, and building a newly-recognized brand and following.”
New55 FILM products can be seen at http://shop.new55.net.
New55 PN, Atomic-X, 1SHOT and R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER are trademarks of New55 Holdings, LLC.
Samuel W. Hiser
New55 Holdings, LLC | 72 Nickerson Rd, Ashland MA 01721 | (508) 560-0937
We are getting this question more frequently each week, so I thought I’d provide an efficient, repeatable and complete answer.
The short answer is “No, but …”
As of date (April 2017), you can still get Type 100 “packfilm” — the excellent Fujifilm FP-100c, for example — at retail in the US for around $2 a shot. (We don’t know about the situation abroad.) This kind of instant film comes 10-exposures per packfilm cartridge. While Fujifilm has announced the end of manufacture, a certain amount of packfilm inventory remains in the channel. No one really knows how much — maybe a year’s supply, maybe two.
As for us, New55 FILM makes a 4×5 positive-negative black and white peel-apart instant film called New55 PN, designed to work in the 545 Polaroid Landfilm Holder series (this included the 545, 545i and 545 Pro). This is a single-exposure instant print film system that also produces a beautiful negative. The 545 holder series works in the millions of 4×5 cameras with standard sprung ground-glass backs. This is a very different system from packfilm.
New55 FILM — our factory in Ashland Massachusetts — has no plans to re-introduce packfilm. It is flattering that you think we could. Although we have the materials and know-how to produce a nice black and white peel-apart photographic print and negative that could be leveraged by a separate packfilm project, our research indicates that a packfilm manufacturing revival would not be an easy task.
It’s because Fujifilm has, or had, all the know-how and tooling, and it would take years and tens of millions of dollars of investment in machinery and testing to re-establish a beta packfilm system from scratch and achieve a suitable return. The needed price level would have to begin above $10 per exposure by our guess at the early stage, and we know there’s no appetite for that. Despite good stocks back in Autumn 2016, we witnessed retail sales of Fuji FP-100c nearly drying up when the retail price went up from the usual $1 to $3 bucks a shot. Retailers had to rebate and discount the price back down to about $2 bucks a shot to get any traction on the remaining supply.
You can be certain that packfilm is — was — an artistic medium, an important material. It was also cheap and always gave a lot of joy. While we still see strong demand for packfilm among expressive photographers for their artistic and project-based work, the loss of insouciant, gestural, and social photographers to packfilm at prices higher than $1 buck means that packfilm will not sustain itself on its native wit. One imagines also that Fujifilm’s confident migration to Instax was driven by sensible financial logic, specifically the lower cost of manufacture of integral films and also of integral camera systems.
Doubtless also, the retail supply of FP-100c will diminish to nil and then that color material will join FP-100b (Fuji’s excellent black and white packfilm) on auction sites for around $6-$8 bucks a shot. Film expiration is the destiny of both products. This is the way of things.
Perhaps there will be a highly resourceful group somewhere that can match their financial resources to their courage and bring packfilm back for the thousands of Type 100 Polaroid cameras and backs. You never can tell who might muster the needed resolve.
But we are sure that it won’t be New55 FILM.
New55 Holdings, LLC
Last week we had the pleasure of a special visit to the New55 FILM factory. Among our most generous supporters are Eric Luk and Shirley Lung.
Traveling from Hong Kong to the States with their daughter, they came to collect their Kickstarter reward — a 20×24 family portrait — from 2014’s successful New55 PN crowdfunding campaign.
We had a lovely time getting acquainted with Eric and Shirley and wish to thank John, Nafis & Theo at 20×24 Studios for providing unique and enabling photographic services that have been important to the survival of large format instant film.
Why is it that some users have significant difficulties — sometimes compounding difficulties — while others skate through the New55 PN learning curve smoothly?
Friends & users of the Customer Support line — email@example.com — are familiar with my reply, “You’re facing a common issue that is easy to remedy once its source is understood.”
A 545 holder that’s warn out or functioning “out of spec” can lead to repeated failure, so it is important to check your holder’s condition — particularly the function of the Finger and the Gate — to establish confidence in your setup. Success comes from experience and learning to identify the ins and outs of a hand made system of systems. (Our trusty refurbished 545 holders are available here.)
ISSUE #1 — “Sticky-Sleeve”
… in which the Sleeve-to-Clip attachment is over-tight, making Sleeve Withdrawal difficult. In some cases, the film packet’s stainless steel Clip “jumps the 545 holder’s Finger” during the Sleeve Withdrawal. (This results in a BLACK PRINT and a CLEAR NEGATIVE if the condition is not spotted before processing — see “Feel Your Pod“. It is because the negative, being still up in the Sleeve, has not received any light during exposure.)
The Sleeve-to-Clip attachment is reasonably tight coming out of assembly; this was engineered into the film packet system in order to prevent accidental separation and therefore accidental exposure of the negative in casual handling such as during unboxing or during film transport in a camera case. Some 545 holders prefer a looser attachment in order to function optimally. Here’s how to prepare for 100% success to deal with the tight Sleeve-to-Clip bond.
REMEDY to ISSUE #1 –“New55 PN – The Clip Tip-Tap Tip”
An additional note on the spirit of the Clip Tip-Tap process: Don’t wait for the issue to arise. When I am shooting New55 PN on an important series or project, I use the Clip Tip-Tap exercise for all 5 film packets in a box when first opening the box at the outset of the shoot — very likely this takes place as a preparative step back at the studio over coffee, WELL BEFORE beginning the shoot and certainly WELL BEFORE arriving at a location. My purpose is to get all my film stock in shooting fettle so as to maintain full concentration and not to be distracted from my subject in the midst of a shoot. Film-packet hold-ups are infuriating and unnecessary when preparation is possible and, indeed, helpful.
There is also …
ISSUE #2 — “Sleeve-Hang”
… in which, during Sleeve Replacement, the Sleeve will only return about 3/4 back home. (This issue is more commonly experienced in use with the 545i [plastic] holders.)
REMEDY to ISSUE #2 – burnish or tape
Burnish the leading edge of the Silver Release Tab with a finger nail with the purpose of minimizing its relief from the Sleeve paper. Then replace the Sleeve into the holder as normal.
The other, and most certain, way of curing “Sleeve Hang” is with the temporary use of masking tape to cover the leading edge of the Silver Release Tab in order to get the Sleeve home properly. After getting the Sleeve home, be sure to remove the tape before processing or it will cause an impression in both the negative and positive in development. The proper sequence is: add the tape to the Sleeve, then replace the Sleeve, then remove the film packet from the holder (using the holder’s Release Lever ‘R’), carefully remove the tape, then replace the film packet in the holder and processing as normal.
All the Detail You Were Afraid to Ask
The New55 FILM system is a SYSTEM-OF-SYSTEMS: the New55 PN film packet has over 17 components that must work together in concerted tolerance within a holder with many many moving parts and three critical sub-systems — the Rollers, the Finger and the Gate — which can vary from 545 holder to 545 holder and across over 7 different vintages of 545, 545i and 545 Pro holders in the series since the 1960’s. New55 PN’s variability in pod production and in its paper components reward alertness and sensitivity to the condition of the Systems in each mode or state of use.
Gaining a full understanding of the parts and functions of the 545 series holders, and of the parts and functions of the New55 PN film packet system, can yield a regular 4- or 5-out-of-5 success rate per box of New55 PN. Confidence in cleaning and diagnosing 545 holder issues is paramount, and preparing each film packet for shooting also remains key during this early hand-made phase of New55 PN’s production.
In the near future, as New55 FILM automates pod production and replaces paper and mechanical components with more apt, rugged and versatile materials, users are justified to expect a more fool-proof photography experience, an improving print quality and even more sublime negative.
R5 NOW SHIPS IN the United States for as little as $3.09 per liter.
Now, for our customers in the United States, we are offering Flat-Rate shipping from the United States Postal Service on orders of R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER (and some other kit products, too).
You’ve complained about the high costs of shipping R5. And we have heard you — LOUD and CLEAR! The total shipping & handling rate you will pay now for quantities of either 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 bottles (our standard 1-Liter size) will be a flat $15.45. This translates to a significant savings at quantity.
For example, when you purchase one bottle of R5, the transport cost per liter is $15.45. But when you buy in quantity, the shipping costs per liter fall dramatically — 3 bottles ship for $5.15 per liter and 5 bottles ship for only $3.09 per liter. (See the cost analysis at bottom.)
Larger Size Planned
Due to its chemical composition, R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER has a long shelf-life. Though we haven’t completed long-term testing, we have found in the short life of this product (we’ve been using it regularly since 2015) an unopened bottle lasts months longer that standard developing solutions. And an opened bottle can be trusted to work many months longer than an opened bottle of conventional developer.
R5’s long-shelf life encourages larger purchases, so the idea of a larger container now comes into play. Later in 2017, we plan on introducing a 2-liter bottle to the catalog for heavier use at home and in darkrooms and workshops. Pricing — to be determined — will favor heavy users.
We encourage you to try R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER in any quantity for all black and white film formats including 35mm, 127, 120, 4×5 and up. You’ll see just how easy developing your black and white analog film negatives can be.
“The REEL Truth About MONOBATHS (Part I) – 35mm”
New55 FILM’s R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER is easy to use and works nicely with just about all black and white films.
We are making extensive tests with medium- and large-format films, too, but in July we took the chance to try R5 with a few of our favorite 35mm films, including Kodak T-MAX 100, Kodak T-MAX 400, Ilford Delta 100, Ilford Delta 400, Kodak TRI-X 400, Ilford HP5 Plus and Rollei Retro 80s.
All the films worked superbly with R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER. If it’s possible to draw a broad conclusion from this variety of subjects, settings and lighting conditions, it would be that these films behave very much like themselves with R5.
Their salient characteristics are easy for the experienced eye to pick out: the tabular-grain emulsions (the T-MAX’s and the DELTA’s) are tonally smooth with lovely mid-tones and delicious grayscale transitions, while the classic cubic-grain emulsions (TRI-X and HP5) are high in contrast and, in muted light with underexposure, can display their grain unabashedly. The Rollei Retro 80s examples (these are flash portraits with this adaptation of an old red-sensitive AGFA aero film) show fine grain and good contrast without sacrificing mid-tonality; a very interesting combination of traits. In all cases, R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER brings out the unique qualities that experienced photographers have come to enjoy in these popular films.
The method used when developing 35mm films with R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER in a reel tank is straight-forward. We use the Paterson Universal 2-Reel (Super System 4) daylight tank for 35mm films. Our 1-Liter bottle of R5 completely covers the two loaded reels in this tank and the extra solution — which can be used again and again — serves the key purpose to maintain the solution’s temperature.
After warming the R5 solution in a water jacket to 85°F, pour the R5 smoothly and quickly into the daylight tank, swirling the tank while you pour. A familiar agitation procedure begins immediately: rotate the tank’s stem consistently throughout the first minute; then, agitate for 5-second intervals at each 30-second mark. Total development time is 6 minutes. Replace your solution in the bottle, rinse the negatives under a room-temperature tap for 5 minutes and hang them to dry. (Rinsing warm negatives in very cold water can cause the emulsion to reticulate; this effect can be used creatively along with the enhanced grain of pushed cubic-grain emulsions.)
Temperature matters with R5 and serves as a potential control. A well-exposed negative will develop with ideal density at 85°F; to achieve a higher-contrast Push effect, higher temperatures can be used (though development time is always 6 minutes). Higher than 95°F can lead to over-development, and lower than 80°F can yield under-development.
R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER is so easy to use with 35mm black and white film. Choosing from the variety of available films, you can dial in the tone and grain characteristics to suit your creative intentions. Control in rendering the negative is a key feature of the enhanced palette of the analog photographer. R5 adds convenience without sacrificing variety.
Photography and testing for this article was provided by Charles Fendrock, Jen Scovern and Sam Hiser.
Related article: “R5 Monobath exposure and temperature array” by Bob Crowley.
Angel Rivera, up in Anchorage, did something nice with some aging Kodak Technical Pan 2415 in R5 MONOBATH DEVELOPER. I believe I’m heading up to Alaska to get some of Angel’s Houston Bar-B-Cue. -SH
This tip is for new users of New55 PN who want to know more about the Clip and how it can be checked for the right amount of tightness. Enjoy!
When opening your box of New55 PN, first be careful that the Sleeve and Clip do not separate in casual handling. Then, make sure each film packet is ready to shoot by testing that the Sleeve and Clip are not too tight.
Try shifting the Sleeve side-to-side in its Clip; a half millimeter of shift will do to ensure they will separate smoothly in the holder when you are preparing to make your exposure.
If the Sleeve and Clip are very tight and do not budge in your hand, try tapping the ends of the Clip on a hard surface (not wood, as wood will ding). After the brisk tap, check by hand to see if the fit is just right to proceed.
I perform this little exercise on all 5 film packets in my box before I go on a shoot. This ensures that I don’t get distracted or waste time when the camera and subject are ready.
video: Jen Scovern | New55 FILM
New POD Quality-Control for New55 PN
Ted McLelland and Charles Fendrock are seen in Jen Scovern’s video, above, engaged in Pod production for the New55 PN instant 4×5 positive-negative black and white film.
Not visible is the careful mixing of the developer reagent, which takes uninterrupted time and concentration. But do notice the level of continuous precision necessary to set up, watch, check and test along the production line for a precise fill and even seal, for correct positioning of the cut, for accuracy to the specified Pod weight, and for proper thickness in the “Belly Gage.”
After Jen’s extensive Pod analysis in late May, all Pods going through Assembly upstairs have survived rigorous Quality-Control; and the latest Pod run this week generated a higher-than-expected yield due to a few key tweaks Ted and Charles made to the Pod Machine. Best run yet!
Daily testing in Assembly shows promise and we are looking for better Pod performance, including a more consistent reagent spread on the print and negative, in June.
Surveying the three basic types of 4×5 cameras available for large format photography —
- the Press Camera;
- the View Camera; and
- the Technical Camera
— let’s continue the “TO BEGIN” series with a look at the View Camera, also known as the “Field Camera.”
The bellows maxes out at less than 300mm, so serious macro enlargements or microphotography is out. But the View Camera has a nice wide range of movements for all kinds of Focus Fu, and it has front-rise for straightening the lines of buildings.
See Polly Chandler’s work (at right). Her extraordinary practice in environmental portraiture incorporates lots of camera movement and the gorgeous long tonality and acutance of old Polaroid Type 55.
The View Camera comfortably accommodates lenses from 72mm (wide architecture) to 210mm (head-and-shoulders portraiture). And the light weight and compact size makes for an easy carry. (The Ebony RSW45, pictured above, is a bit of a specialty item: with a rigid back and very short extension range, it’s a high-quality first tool for architecture and wide landscape, weighing in at 3.5 lbs or 1.6 kg. The photograph is from Ilya Azhdarov’s Behance page; I don’t know the creator.)
There are heavier and more precise cameras for indoor studio work, but the View Camera is a solid all-rounder and a superb camera for clocking your first ten thousand hours.
K.B. Canham (Ft. McDowell, ARIZONA)
Mike Walker (Flintshire, NORTH WALES)
Gibellini (Modena, ITALY)
Chamonix (Haining City, CHINA)
Shen Hao (Shanghai, CHINA)
Intrepid (Hove, UK)
Video: Jordan Bickett with his Ebony RW45
OLD WOODEN CLASSICS:
Burke & James
Gowland (especially the Pocket View)
We can help you pick your first large format camera. Please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.