E6 Processing

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by lxdesign, Jan 1, 2007.

  1. lxdesign

    lxdesign Member

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    Hi all,

    I am relatively new to film shooting in the past few years, and up until now, I have been shgoting medium format E6, and getting a local lab in Toronto to process my film for me. Well, I live out in the suburbs, and I am frankly getting sick of having to make the trip to get to the lab, and pay for the processing, and whatnot -- and I would love to learn how to do it myself.. but I have NO clue how to do it, or what I need to get started.

    I was hoping that there are some resources here or on the internet, to help me out with what I need, and how to do it. Then I'll shoot a couple of test rolls, and give 'er a go.

    thanks,



    David
     
  2. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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  3. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    It is just chemical steps, with temperature control. Only the first developer step has tight temperature control, the others can vary a degree or two and still be fine. Various manufacturers make chemistry for E-6, but Kodak is the originator, and still be best. All current slide films other than Kodachrome are E-6 compatible in processing. I started out developing E-3 in my bathroom, using the bath tub as a tempering bath for the chemicals (in bottles), and then E-4, and wow, when E-6 came along, it was so much easier that I could do it in my sleep. (figuratively speaking)

    There are seven chemical steps, plus a couple of wash steps. Takes about 35 minutes or so, once you start the process, until you are ready to hang up the film to dry.
     
  4. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    The two critical things are time and temperature control, especially for the two developer steps. I use the Agfa kits (but will have to find a substitute). They specify something like 38.0 C plus or minus 0.3 degrees C for the first developer. A couple of days ago, I processed two rolls of 120 RSXII 100 which have been lying around for about 17 months, with a chemical kit which I've had for probably about 18 months (Agfa state a life of only 1 year for unopened chemistry), and everything was fine. Strangely, some time ago, Agfa changed their recommnded process times, and started giving ranges such as 5 to 7 minutes for the first dev, but personally, I still use the older times.
     
  5. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    The Agfa chemistry "may" be available again, as there was a company that purchased the Agfa chemical and mini-lab operations, and are offering most of the chemicals that Agfa sold, including Rodinal.
     
  6. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    I just started doing E6, primarily because I have no easy way to get sheet film processed without shipping it a large distance. I may do 120 and 35mm at home as well but the cost of getting a lab to do it is quite reasonable, and I have a couple of good labs where I live.

    What I use to do my sheet film is the Jobo CPE-2 processor (keeps the chemicals at the magic 38 degrees, and agitates the tank with a motor). It works quite well. I forget the model numbers, but there is a tank that is big enough to take sheet film (which is what I use). You can get 35mm and 120 reels for that same tank, or get a narrower tank that uses less chemistry for your rollfilm work. It's a very flexible system.

    It's also good if you do RA-4 (colour print) processing or C-41 (colour negative) development.

    I'm using an old Agfa chemical kit that was in the darkroom (it worked fine), but I'm probably going to get the Fuji chemistry next. (Fuji and Kodak both make the best E6 chemistry, but Fuji's is in litres and Kodak's is in US gallons. Yes, I know, I could still use Kodak's in litres, but it's my little political statement.)
     
  7. nc5p

    nc5p Member

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    I did a lot of this as a teenager. I haven't done it in quite a while, but it was quite rewarding. I used to buy Ektachrome in 100' rolls to give an idea of how much film I did back then. (My dad got upset about the water bills!) All I ever did was small tank development. Most always did two rolls at a time, unless I was push processing a roll. I set up a water bath, running hot water to keep the temperature constant. Mix your solutions fresh, keep everything clean (don't contaminate the chemicals), and follow the directions and you will get good results. If a 14 year old can do it anybody can. Oh, don't mess with the cheap kits, get the Kodak chemicals. I have slides from the 70's and can tell which chemicals they were processes in. The ones done in Kodak still look quite good, the others (Unicolor, etc.) are faded and look anemic.
     
  8. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    lxdesign, you don't mention if you've ever processed B&W (or any other sort of) film before. If not, you'll need some basic information on film processing, such as how to load film into a developing tank, etc. Various books and Web sites cover this information. One I happen to have bookmarked is The Black and White Darkroom. Even if you never intend to shoot or process B&W film, sites on B&W processing can be useful because the B&W and E-6 processes do have a lot in common. Just don't get hung up on the details of the B&W chemical steps if you don't intend to do B&W processing.

    That said, E-6 is the most complex of the common at-home processes (B&W, C-41, and E-6). You can do B&W with as few as two chemicals (three if you count water as a chemical, which technically it is). B&W is processed at room temperature, whereas E-6 is done at 100 degrees F, and B&W is slightly less sensitive to temperature shifts. For these reasons, if you've never done B&W film processing, you might want to try it before jumping into E-6. Even if you dislike B&W and so just do a few rolls, it'll give you practice with a somewhat simpler and more forgiving process, so you're less likely to be overwhelmed by the E-6 process when you work your way up to it.
     
  9. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    srs5694 makes a very good point. If any processing is new to you, then starting with mono makes a lot of sense.
     
  10. Rob Landry

    Rob Landry Member

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    Where are you getting the Fuji chemistry if you don't mind me asking? I use the Kodak 5L kit with great results, but it would be nice to have another option just in case Kodak......
     
  11. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    The rumor I'm getting is that within the next year or so Kodak IS going to......

    Besides, I only shoot Fuji slides and trannies anyway, and almost everyone I've talked to has said that the Fuji/Hunt chemistry produces better results with these films.

    I went down to the local lab where I get my C-41 stuff done (they have a Fuji Frontier machine) and asked the manager if he would mind tacking some E-6 chems onto his regular chemistry orders and then reselling them to me. He said "No problem." I then asked for the name and number of the Fuji rep he deals with so that I could discuss my chemistry needs with him. Again, "No problem." Of course he will tack a fee onto the chems he'll be selling me, but that's only fair. It certainly won't be as much as the shipping would cost if I could even find somewhere to order the stuff on my own. I called the Fuji rep and he was most helpful, spending over an hour talking to me about how to get the best results with the setup I'm putting together. My 35mm automatic slide mounting machine will arrive next Tuesday and I've made a deal for a countertop automatic E-6 processor that will do 35mm, 120 and 4x5 and supposedly produces excellent, consistent results. It has the bonus of also being able to handle C-41 and whatever B&W processes I care to have programmed for it. My E-6 independence is looming on the near horizon. :smile:

    The route I took to secure my Fuji/Hunt E-6 chems should be doable just about anywhere there's a local Fontier operator, especially if you're already taking them your color neg film. Just a thought.

    Bruce
     
  12. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    Well Kodak DID already sell its chemical plant, and has stopped making all their chemicals themself, however they are still having the chemicals made by the company that purchased the plant, and will continue to offer them under the Kodak name. The new owners...Champion or some name, can't quite remember, said they hoped to reintroduce items that Kodak had discontinued, as well as carry forward with the current line up. I know I can still order Kodak brand E-6 chems just fine.
     
  13. Rob Landry

    Rob Landry Member

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    Bruce, thanks for the idea, I will seek out a few of the local labs to see what they say. Any idea what sizes you can get? Are the Fuji chems in a kit or do seperate components? Thanks.
     
  14. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    Hi Rob, you're quite welcome. It comes as separate components that mostly come in the 10 liter (after mixing) size. It is a bit more of a pain to use than the Kodak 5 liter kits, not only because you have to buy twice as much, but because it is designed around replenishment. To use it as a 'one shot,' as I will be, you also need the 'starter' chemical for the first developer, color developer and bleach. This isn't as bad as it sounds, though, because only a tiny amount of the starters are required for each batch and the concentrates have a good shelf life (3 years unopened and 6 months to a year opened). Using a small bottle of nitrogen to evacuate any oxygen from the air space in your opened bottles will extend the shelf life of your concentrated chems dramatically. Good luck!

    Bruce

    PS - PM me your email address and I'll send you the data sheets.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 8, 2007
  15. Rob Landry

    Rob Landry Member

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    Bruce, great info, thanks again. While I'll probably continue to use the Kodak 5L kit as long as it's available, it's nice to know there's a back-up solution in case Kodak decides to discontinue it. Of course, now that Champion has taken over production, I'm more optimistic. Anyway, the Fuji chems were always something I wondered about, but there just hasn't been much info about them out there. I've sent you my e-mail address if you don't mind sending the tech pubs.
     
  16. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    The data sheets are on the way Rob. I just had a couple of guys bail on me yesterday, so my E-6 volume is going to be a lot lower than I thought for quite a while. Now it looks like the Kodak 5 liter kits are going to be my best option as well. At least for the immediate future. Hopefully they will be available for a long time and the quality will be consistent under the new company.
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Guys;

    I feel like I'm hijacking a thread but here is my problem. Slap me down if this is an inappropriate place. Also, I've told a few of you this dilemma.

    Grant Haist entrusted me with the photos from his last National Geographic effort before his stroke. It was to retrace Ansel Adams through the Grand Tetons with modern Ektachrome.

    The trouble is this. He froze the exposed film, then became ill and they have remained frozen and unprocessed for all these years (about 10 now).

    So, I have probably 100 or so sheets of film that should take some tender loving care in processing and should go to a good sheet film processing facility. Among other things, the cost of processing, the condition of the film and the age of the images make me hesitate as does the magnitude of the responsibility and size of the job.

    Here in Rochester, Kodak has closed down its E6 line totally and only runs a check process for production when needed. The local labs are down to one as well, and I know nothing about them. I have searched out a few labs, but the price is daunting and there may be problems with the film.

    I rarely do E6 and right now I'm set up to make and test emulsions. It would take a bit of effort to change over and would interrupt my emulsion work drastically.

    Any suggestions?

    PE
     
  18. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    Wow, that's a tough one! I would suggest sending PM's to naturephoto1 and roteague, as they shoot a fair amount of 4x5 E-6 and are obviously getting quality processing done. The challenges I've had here are what has prompted me to look into doing it myself, but I'm nowhere near being able to confidently handle a project of that magnitude and importance. Good luck!

    Bruce
     
  19. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I've never bought Fuji chemistry from them, but Unique Photo seems to carry a lot of it. Unfortunately, their Web site is poorly designed, so it may be hard to locate what you need there. You might want to try calling them on the phone instead. Others have told me that their salespeople are knowledgeable and helpful, although I've never placed an order with them by phone myself.
     
  20. Rob Landry

    Rob Landry Member

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    I received the data sheets no problem, thanks again. That's too bad about your E6 volume but I think you'll be pleased with the Kodak 5L kit. Quality's great and it's easy to mix and use. Myself, I mix up the entire kit the first time I process and then freeze the woking solutions in plastic 500ml and 1L sized bottles in my deepfreeze. This eliminates the need to get out my graduates each time I want to develop film and the hassle of trying to eliminate all the air fom the remaining concentrates.
     
  21. Rob Landry

    Rob Landry Member

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    Thanks for the link. Had a look around and was able to find most of their chemistry. Seems like they stock all the Fuji Hunt chems as well as Kodak's. Another good resource that may come in handy in the future.