E6 at home, please advise

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by kristopher_lawrence, Sep 1, 2008.

  1. kristopher_lawrence

    kristopher_lawrence Member

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    Hi,

    I got a beautifull Kandan for cheap (it needs new bellows but I am working on that)

    I am really impressed by the results that we can obtain with 4x5 slide film. However, processing is really expensive.

    So, I want to process the slides myself and I have a couple questions: I will use a yankee bakelite light tight tank, an I can also use a water bath for temperature. I will also get a digital thermometer to be precise on the temperature. Does it sound right?

    Now, chemistry. Kodak single use slide chemistry or Arista (freestyle) three bath chemistry?

    I won't reuse chemicals that much, i.e. sill stick to their normal capacities and dispose of them when they will need compensation.

    I need something that is consistent, and efficient. Since I am a little bit color blind, I want to be sure that the colors remain ok. (Thats why I shoot slides, I can trust their 'natural' colors)

    I plan to shoot mainly Kodak slide but maybe some Fuji too.

    Is there anything more I should know, feel free to tell me!

    Thanks a lot,

    Kris
     
  2. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    I use the Kodak E6 single use kit and would recommend that you do if you are shooting Kodak transparencies. Check out the Kodak site at
    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/prof...id=0.2.24.14.18.14.3.28&lc=en&_requestid=3569
    Download the Processing manual Z119 for a detailed instruction on the E6 process as well as the two Tech Publications. As for using the Yankee tank for processing I think you would find it easier to maintain the developer temperatures if you use stainless steel tanks if you can find them. Failure to maintain the temperature tolerances will give you problems with the final results. If you want to mix up portions of the chemistry it is best to split the kit concentrates into smaller bottles to keep oxidation of the chemistry to a minimum.

    Good Luck
    Gord
     
  3. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Your preliminary steps (tank and thermometer) sound right, with one caveat: "Digital" does not necessarily equal "accurate" or "precise." A digital thermometer might read out to one digit past the decimal point (23.7 degrees, say), but the true temperature might be 24.4 degrees, and if you try repeating that measurement, you might get another reading (23.9 degrees, say). If you're buying from a photography shop, look for a thermometer that's designed for use with color chemicals. Those are supposed to be accurate and precise enough for the job. Such thermometers might or might not be digital. (I had an analog Kodak thermometer until I broke it -- whatever was inside stank of petrochemicals.)

    Second, I agree with gordrob that the Kodak E6 kit is the way to go. I've tried two third-party 3-bath kits (from Paterson and Unicolor [the latter is the same as the Freestyle product]), and I've found the 3-bath kits to be less reliable than the 6-bath. Kodak's 6-bath chemicals keep for a long time -- I used mine for about two years before they went bad. In the US, the 3-bath kits cost more per roll, and require re-using the chemicals to get their lowest cost. Thus, consistency with the Kodak kit is likely to be better. The main downside to the Kodak kit is that it takes more effort, since there are more baths to mix and use.
     
  4. Nigel

    Nigel Member

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    I too use the Kodak E-6 kit with excellent results. In addition to the above good advice, I will opine that there is little economy in doing E-6 yourself. There are small cost savings, but not enough savings, in my opinion, to drive the decision. I do E-6 for the fun of it, and yes that is a sad commentary on my idea of fun :smile:
     
  5. Jerry Thirsty

    Jerry Thirsty Member

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    When you say that the cost savings is small, is that because you are factoring in the startup costs somehow? The chemical cost itself is much cheaper than commercial processing around here; you can easily run 30 rolls through a 5 liter kit (40 if you're careful), or about $2 a roll.
     
  6. amuderick

    amuderick Member

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    The cost savings of at-home E6 are huge. I have set things up to get 40 rolls out of the 5 liter kit. That's $1.50/roll vs. $12 at the local lab. Even if I used mail order processing, it would cost a lot more than $1.50. My equipment to setup the line cost me less than $60.
     
  7. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    The cost savings of doing your own E-6 are huge - provided you use the chemicals to exhaustion. Unfortunately, E-6 chemicals have a relatively short shelf life - working solutions are good for only about 30 days. So that means that your throughput must be high enough to use the chemicals to exhaustion within that period of time.

    On the other hand, there is a value in the rapid turnaround that you get by doing it yourself that may offset the cost of wasted chemistry.

    Obviously, the size of the kit is a factor - larger kits may offer greater economy, but perhaps only if it is possible to mix smaller quantities while retaining decent shelf life of chemical concentrates. Read labels carefully.

    I wouldn't get excited about a digital thermometer. The E-6 process is a 100 deg F process, and the published recommendations call for fairly tight control over temperature - less than one degree of variation. The major challenge is with the first developer - variations in first developer temperature have the effect of varying film speed. What that ultimately means is that you want temperature consistency between development sessions so that you can assign a film speed and know that your transparencies will have a uniform density. I found that a dependable (consistent) dial thermometer was more that sufficient.

    Temperature control is not nearly as critical in the other steps of the process. That doesn't mean that you can go form 100 deg F to freezing, but you really don't need to stay within a fraction of a degree. My experience was that using a fairly large water bath to temper the chemicals resulted in adequate temperature control.

    I used both the Unicolor kit (similar to the Freestyle 3-solution kit) and the Kodak kit. The main difference is that the Kodak process is a six step process that supposedly provides greater stability in the transparencies (for a longer life).
     
  8. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    I've no experience with the at all.

    Does the Kodak E6 six step process allow you to use just what you need for that session. Can you use just what is needed for 1 or 2 rolls of 35mm and keep the unused safley sealed?
     
  9. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    Kodak provides information on the inside of the box for mixing 350ml, 500ml 1L and 2L volumes. When I mix smaller volumes I put the remaining original chemicals into smaller bottles to reduce oxidation. The shelf life of the mixed solutions is not long - Kodak says 1 month in full bottles and 1 week in partially filled bottles. You should be able to process at least 20 - 36 exposure rolls or 10 - 12 sq ft of sheet film from the 5L kit.

    Gord
     
  10. CCOS

    CCOS Member

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    Talking about 6 bats and 3 baths kits. My normal supplier ( fotoimpex.de) only got TT kits i 6 bath... wonder if that can compit with kodak or where at mainland europa I can get kodak's kit.

    Jesper
     
  11. amuderick

    amuderick Member

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    I keep my Kodak E-6 Kit chemicals in their original bottles. I measure out the amount needed to mix 500ml of solution at a time and process 4 120 rolls. Then I fill the head space in each container with canned air (difluoroethane) and screw it shut. It took me 7 months to use up my kit. The kit was still functioning well when I finished it. The developers were still light-honey colored when I finished. The chemicals were stored in my cellar around 55-60F.
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My experience with the Tetenal 3-bath kit is that it's fine for normal processing and one stop push or pull. For more than a 1-stop push, you'll probably get better results with real E-6. I'd also not recommend using the solutions more than twice for Fuji films or with push processing, but I got good results using the chemistry three times with Kodak film, when I last tried it a few years ago. Obviously, it's a good idea to test before developing a new film under new conditions.

    The main attraction of a three-bath kit for me is that it takes up less space. I suppose that if I were using a Jobo, it wouldn't matter, since the machine is a constant size, no matter how many solutions you use in it, but with tanks and hangers, that means twice as many tanks and a larger water jacket, and with daylight tanks, it's twice as many bottles to hold the chemicals.

    I generally prefer to send out 35mm slides, because it's easier for a lab with mechanized equipment to mount them. I can remount the good ones in glass mounts later, if I like.
     
  13. q2q@tds.net

    q2q@tds.net Member

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    Everything above is true: Kodak does last a lot longer on the shelf, but unless you a really critical (as I suspect most of you are), you shouldn't notice a difference between Kodak and unicolor/arista. (might start with the 3 bath to get the hang of it, and to use it as a comparison.)

    Film. If you want natural/neutral tones, go with kodak. In my own work, Fuji tends to be a little more saturated (which I like). Again, without a spectrometer, you probably won't be able to tell between each film in each set of chems-but you will be able to tell a difference between the film itself.

    Have fun! E6 is a wonderful "instant gratification" hit in the darkroom.
     
  14. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    amuderick, thanks, that's the kind of answer I was hoping for.
     
  15. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Kodak's E-6 kit is marketed as a single-use kit, so once you mix and dilute the chemicals to working strength, you won't be keeping them around for more than a few minutes -- at least, not if you use as directed. Going against instructions and running two or more rolls through one mix could help reduce costs, but only if you shoot a lot of film, since even the stock solutions will eventually go bad. That's likely to take a year or more, in my experience (my first Kodak E-6 kit lasted for roughly two years).

    Comparing costs, Kodak's 5-liter E-6 kit costs about $50 from Adorama or B&H (but B&H won't ship it). That's enough to process 20 rolls of film (at 250ml per roll), or $2.50 per roll. I think a low-volume user would be likely to buy a 3-bath E-6 kit in 1-liter size, since the instructions for those generally recommend re-using at least once, so such a kit will do eight rolls. Thus, a 1-liter kit ($50 for Tetenal at B&H) would cost $6.25 per roll, assuming two uses per working solution batch. Buying the 5-liter Tetenal kit ($92.95 at B&H) brings the cost down to $2.32, again assuming two uses -- but then the stock solution would have to last twice as long as Kodak's stock solution (40 rolls), and for a low-volume user, I think spoilage would become a problem. For high-volume users, a replenished system might make sense. I haven't looked into the economics of that, though.

    Even assuming your use is very low (as mine is) and you throw away half of a Kodak kit, the cost is then $5.00 per roll, which is likely to be less than the cost of having it done by a lab. The 1-liter 3-bath kits would then be closer to cost-competitive with the Kodak kit.
     
  16. Nigel

    Nigel Member

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    I will clarify a bit.

    I do not run the Kodak kit to exhaustion. I like to use fresh chemistry for consistency, so I mix what I need and discard after one use. This means that I can get 20 rolls of 35mm equivilent from the 5L kit.

    I am in Canada and can't get the kit from B&H. I am buying it at Henry's for something between $60 and $70 I think. Compared to about $7 locally for E6 processing, it is cheaper ignoring the capital costs. As I use metal reels and tanks, a set of cheap graduates, and a Rubbermaid tub for my water bath, and I expect those components to last a long time, capital cost is perhaps pennies per run.

    But, if you value your time, you will spend about 1 hour running the process from pulling out the gear to cleaning up after yourself. As I charge myself about $75 an hour (I give myself a 25% discount from my usual $100 rate) it is no longer cost effective.

    Your calculus may differ.
     
  17. Jerry Thirsty

    Jerry Thirsty Member

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    At 20 rolls per 5 liter kit, I think you've still got a lot of headroom, even using it single shot. The capacities listed in Kodak Pub. Z119 part 9 are sort of vague (they seem to think that 5 liters and 1 gallon are the same size :rolleyes: ), but they state a capacity of 18 sq. ft. per gallon for the developers, and three times that much for the other chems. At 80 sq. in. per roll, that's 32 rolls/gallon or 42 per 5 liters of developer. The one time I tried doing 5 rolls in 2/3 liter I ran into some weird color problems (which I think was actually due to insufficient wash after the first developer), but I've since switched to 150ml per roll and it works very well in my system.
     
  18. gordrob

    gordrob Subscriber

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    If you check out Kodaks Tech Publication J-83 and go to page 5 there is more detail on the use of the 5L kit and recommended times and solution capacity. It has a little more information on the 5L kit than does the Z-119 publication.
    Gord
     
  19. amuderick

    amuderick Member

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    I use 125ml per roll (500ml solution for 4 rolls of 120 film) and have had no problems. The last round of slides after month seven had the same great colors as the first batch.

    I think only running 20 rolls on the kit is a mistake and a waste. However, I also think that re-using the chemicals and adjusting for time is asking for trouble. The best bet is to use the minimum fluid volume you can in your tank. In my tank that corresponds nicely to the minimum amount of chemicals recommended in the Kodak publication (42 rolls per 5 liters of developer).
     
  20. kristopher_lawrence

    kristopher_lawrence Member

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    I outdated chemicals really bad?

    I found a single-use chemistry Kit at my local shop. However, it is outdated and is not available in their system....

    It is dated march 2008. The manager offered me at least a 50% disount on it. Does I am looking for trouble or it should be allright?

    Kris
     
  21. snallan

    snallan Member

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    Hi Kris, I think you would probably be OK with the discounted kit, as I have used kits over a 2.5 to 3 year period (I don't run control strips or the like, but the results look good to my eye).

    On the economy side, all of the comparisons above are talking about the per-roll costs. The nice thing about doing 4x5 sheet film, is that four sheets are equivalent to one roll. I have used the Kodak and Tetanal 5l 6-bath kits, which are both about equivalent in price in the UK, and the first litre used to process sheet film pays for the kit (compared to comercial processing).

    I would pay around the equivalent of $6+ per sheet in the UK (including postage both ways), and the kit costs me around $100 (including transport). At the Kodak recommended usage volumes, I can process 16 sheets per litre, which would cost around $96 dollars to process commercially. So once I have done that, the remaining four litres are essentially free. One of the delights of processing your own large format, it can subsidise your other formats. :D
     
  22. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I don't think anybody can make any promises; however, the kit is probably still OK. It might not last for as long as a kit that's still months from expiration, but if the original price is close to the price you can get elsewhere (such as $50 for a 5-liter Kodak kit from Adorama), I personally would go for it.
     
  23. Nigel

    Nigel Member

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    What will he do with the kit if you don't buy it? I suspect Kodak will not accept a return if he is not ordering a replacement. Try offering 25% of the original sticker price. Worst that can happen is he says no.