2018 What a year!  The Year of Reversal (films and processes!)

I don’t think that I personally, nor we as a team have ever shot so many films for making slides with…and not just colour E6 process films at that..

Yes we all knew that a new version of Kodak Ektachrome was coming since some PR sprog at Kodak HQ in Rochester got over-excited and let the cat out of the bag over 10 months in advance of when they should have done!

That error wasn’t such a good thing for most in the trade but of course primarily for Alaris who, after nearly a year were coming under fire online by the impatient resulting in what was a truly unfair amount of trolling of Kodak….off the back of a film that was never going to be ready when those trolls wanted it to be!   It was, ultimately developed to Kodak’s very exacting standards and it was in fact, delivered in good time…just a couple or three weeks after the anticipated planned release.

Great going considering the time, effort and trialling and test coatings and things that us mortals don’t comprehend when bringing a new film to market happens.   And it is a new film, new films take more time to prepare for market than any of us realise and let’s face it, with decades and decades of doing this behind them who knows better than Kodak??

Even better then when you consider that as time goes on and the sciences discover things, many of the ingredients of the old film had been outlawed so a new formula had to be made.  A brave thing to do and we are all lucky to have a company willing to take on that risk on behalf of the craft that we all hold so dear.

Dear being a word often bandied at film photography and at products like the new E100 but hey, we got it…given the choice between having it and not having it we win.  Doubly so when you think about it and then compare the rise in prices of other things over the years.  You see film has actually dragged it’s heals massively so we are paying now, in effect, in real terms, much less than ever before (according to recent economist studies)

Now the non-rambling bit!

Ah well, for us the announcement was a good thing.   Previously we were processing the low numbers of E6 films that came in to us,  pretty much as home users do on a CPE2 which was slow, had okay reliability but took a lot of time and required costly low volume chemistry.  It was a pain, so when E100 was let out of the bag we knew that it was a our opportunity to improve this process across the board if we could find the right bit of kit to do it with…automation was what we needed to improve both reliability of results and turnaround times.

We knew what we needed and it wasn’t the horrendous dip & dunk stuff…that would be both too big, too dedicated and too expensive to feed.   Absolutely and totally out of the question!

We were lucky enough, very lucky in fact, to locate a Jobo ATL2500.  Often considered the best of Jobo’s professional equipment and just the jobby for Nik & Trick indeedy, thank you very much!

Having sat in a garden for a while then in a shed for ten years it was a huge gamble, but they are few and far between and following a horrendous trip to the west country and a lot of cleaning and clearing, the evictions of the late mouse that had munched on some wiring and a bit of plumbing and more clearing and trial and error….and we’ve got it working proper good!

Nik & Trick’s ATL2500

Bellini’s E6 kit on the CPE was producing stunning results so when they made us a good offer on the bulk E6 that slotted right on in with the new machine.   Some timings and things took a little tweaking due to the operational manner of the ATL but that was soon overcome.

The best thing about our E6 procedure now though, apart from proper six bath chemistry that is?

Film batch runs take so little chemistry to cover the films, literally down to the exact millilitre that developers deplete by…it’s best practice and economical to use FRESH first & colour developers and the reversal bath for each run. Now isn’t that reassuring.

Kodak Ektachrome E100 Beta Test
Kodak Ektachrome E100 Beta Test
Bellini Six Bath E6 Test on Outdated E100D
Bellini Six Bath E6 Test on Outdated E100D

It helped that Kodak sent us some Beta test rolls ( a big thank you to Andy Church who has been a diamond from our first contact), we shared some of those with customers who use the most slide film and in the end all, including Kodak, were happy. Amen!

E6 processing: Tip of the iceburg! We have the ATL automated now to run other processes, one in two parts: the dreaded black & white reversal process…something that we just can’t seem to leave alone as results are very beautiful.

Black & White Reversal Process
Black & White Reversal Process

It’s a service we want to offer.  Rare across Europe but one often requested so we shot roll after roll of film as time permitted and ruined a few none too costly kits to get our procedure down pat, the results ARE really rather lovely, when mounted 120, 127 and 35mm slides are little gems in both colour and black & white, the latter being really rather special.

They Scan beautifully by the way wonderfully, perhaps even better than negatives…and thus make amazing quality digital prints (from our new printers of course!) 😛

The Bellini chemistry for black and white reversal is rather unique in that it offers users the choice of using a reversal bath, which is actually best avoided as it can cause sepia toning on some films, but does endow people with the confidence to actually try the process…as we did but avoiding the initially nerve shattering procedure of re-exposing the films during processing.

Bellini B&W Reversal Kit
Bellini B&W Reversal Kit
Re-exposing during the B&W reversal Process
Re-exposing during the B&W reversal Process

Re-exposing for the reversal process actually isn’t anything to fret over! The exposure time isn’t critical at all so evenness of exposure under a 100w bulb at a distance of 30-40cm for about a minute does the trick we do it in a plastic measuring jug of water for better light dispersal.

After that there’s a second developer, fix and stabiliser all of which can be done in the light but all of which means hands on work which of course, with combined with the chemistry price commands the cost of this process…but boy is it worth it!

Results on FP4, Scala, Delta 100, RPX25 etc have been lovely and those are just a few of the films compatible with this lovely process.

But gee did we shoot some reversal films this year!!! ~ What’s next?

Well,  Bellini has sent us a new set of b&w reversal chemistry to test, one designed for higher contrast, more clarity and better longevity…we shall report back on our Facebook page as we get into it!

Once we’re happy with procedures and chemical storage…we may decide to offer this process officially sometime in 2019.

In the meantime we do so encourage people to give this a go.  A bit of a challenge to begin but hey, isn’t that one of the reasons we all LOVE FILM photography? 

Just about all of the suitable films, including the now rare Copex and Scale-X are available here and we can offer two really great kits for those brave and curious enough to want to give it a go.  Of course, we have the superb Bellini kit but also the very fine reversal kit by Rollei, each of them top quality products.

If you like it then we’ll stock more mounts and don’t forget the slime Kaiser Plano led light boxes…never fails to impress when you see them presented that way!

So why not?..below are some of the products used in the making of this blog the quality of which we apologise for as we’re not too hot with editing these things!   😀

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