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  1. #1

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    Ektaflex Question

    This is probably aimed at Photo Engineer, as the little detail I did find on Ektaflex seems to say he worked on it...

    I came across an Ektaflex processor, film, paper and a gallon of unopened activator.

    As this is all from the early 1980s, what are the chances of it actually working?


    Aside from whether this stuff is any good, I'm interested in the history of it.

    Did Ektaflex come out of the Kodak instant camera/film effort?

    Can you comment any on how it works? Just one chemical to produce color prints from slides or negatives? The only difference was the film?

    And the prints are supposed last a long time?

    Kodak actually put some effort into advertising this as a consumer product back then in the magazines, and even incorporated it into one of their books on color darkroom work as the preferred and cheapest per-print of the available color printing methods. (Kodak Workshop Series: Color Printing Techniques 1981)

    Was this method ever pursued as a computer printer type of instrument?

    What does PCT mean?

    What killed it?

    Is anything similar available anywhere today?

    Why I ask is that it sure SOUNDS good. It is relatively simple compared to everything else...room temperature and one chemical. Obviously, there are probably issues with the laminating, but with some development, that could have been solved, I'm sure.

    And to think that the exact same chemical is producing the correct image for print from negative or print from slide on slightly different media seems really cool.

    Whatever you care to share, I'd love to learn about this remarkable, if short-lived, product. I'm aching to try it, but will await some guidance as to what to do with something this old.

    Tom

  2. #2
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    It was some kind of transfer technology, and yes, related to Kodak's instant film technology.

    You took the 'dye' sheet, exposed it and then wound it though the activator chemistry (basically and alkali, I believe) and then the dyes migrated onto the receiver sheet in the processor.

    I had a pack of 100 receiver sheets gifted to me a few years ago. I had hoped that they would work in a dye sub inkjet that I had at the time. No dice, so the paper and the dye sub printer god scrapped.

    I think that Kodak had to withdraw it after Polaroid beat Kodak in the law courts. Shame really, because the technical way that Kodak and Polaroid's instant processes worked were different
    my real name, imagine that.

  3. #3
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    So process wise it was a dye destruct type opration, I think. That would put it into the Ilfochrome camp as far as colour stability, which is suppose to be quite good.

    I do not know how good the film was at keeping it's unexposed dye sets stable.

    Usuallly old polariods are not great, but often because the activator pod has dried out on them.
    my real name, imagine that.

  4. #4
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    I remember it as I was doing darkroom work at the time and just starting color, E-6 and type R (I think it was 2203 then? Just after type 1993?) in my case.

    The reason I never tried it, besides the cost of the processor on my then-shoestring budget, was that the per-print price was still about twice that of conventional materials, maybe more. I'm surprised they claimed it was the least expensive method. My memory certainly doesn't agree with that.

  5. #5

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    The activator is likened to Drain Cleaner in Kodak's own instruction pamphlet for the machine.

    I'm still amazed that stable color photos are rendered by "activating" the exposed film and laminating it to a paper base with just one chemical involved, then peeling apart.

    Makes me wonder about why other color processes are more complicated and sensitive to processing temperature?

    Ektaflex says 65 -75 degrees is fine, and it will work up to 100 degrees. Only difference is the time until peel.

    Activation time is just 20 seconds in most cases.

    The thing that probably strikes me most about the decline of this industry is the irrecoverable loss of so many amazing technologies.

    While the patents remain, the proprietary parts and the key people with the detailed knowledge are lost to us, and the chances of bring these ideas back to life is harder with every day that passes.

    Kodachrome? Even with an old K-Lab and detailed knowledge of the chemistry, would we ever get real stable Kodachrome processing again?

    Could Kodak start coating it again without problems?

    We're facing the same with Ektachrome, Ilfochrome and many more technologies. If we lose them, they are really more "Gone" than we realize.

    This is similar to bringing old airplanes back to life. My friends and I are trying to bring a Grumman A6-E Intruder back to life. They are stored in the Arizona desert in perfect condition, but in 20 years since they aere retired, the people who supported them have passed on, or have forgotten so much. The vendors who made parts are out of business, been merged, or the drawings are no longer available. Pretty daunting task to ressurect any old technology, no matter how cool it is, no matter how much we like it. Sure hope Kodak can figure out how to contract into a lean organization that can prosper at small volumes of these technologies.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by tintruder View Post
    ... I'm interested in the history of it.
    Yes, Ektaflex was part of the Kodak Instant Film effort. It used the same developer dye release chemistry; when the developing agent reduced Ag, a dye was released. The process was amazingly temperature insensitive; I made prints in my basement with temps in the low 60s with no problems. It was loved by photojournalist around the word for its ease of use. When Kodak lost the law suit to Polaroid, Ektaflex was dropped because the dye releasers were very expensive to make and the amount of Ektaflex sold didn't (in Kodak's mind) justify continued manufacture. However, Kodak traded off the patents to Fuji who then used the dye releaser technology to make the highly successful Fuji Pictrography printers for digital images. I don't remember the exact image stability data, but I think it was very good.

    Kodak Instant Film used a direct positive emulsion (Reversal F) that formed an internal latent image which would not develop in normal developers. The development involved a nucleating agent that acted on the silver halide grains with no internal latent image. To make a negative Ektaflex product, you used standard emulsions.

    I spent 7 years working on the Kodak Instant Photography System (1976-1983) and was sorry to see Ektaflex dropped.

  7. #7

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    Was there genuinely an infringement on Polaroid's technology? Or were the courts too science-dumb to appreciate the differences?

    I'm tired of the government picking winners and losers...

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by tintruder View Post
    Was there genuinely an infringement on Polaroid's technology? Or were the courts too science-dumb to appreciate the differences
    The decision was made in a Boston Court based on the idea of a 'concept patent' (instant photography) rather than on the technology involved.


    In the '80s, Kodak had worked out a settlement with Polaroid President McCune, but Dr. Land refused to go along with it.

  9. #9

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    I have both the positive and negative film in the freezer and the release paper but no activator. Does anyone know where I could get the formula for the activator so I can process this stuff.

    Gord

  10. #10
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    It is probable that the negative, the activator and the receiver sheet are still reasonably good. The reversal material may not be so good anymore. I too worked on the instant project for the same years and for part of this time on Ektaflex.

    One of the reasons that it was able to be processed at a wide variety of processes is that it was self limiting in the quantity of dye present, the amount of activator imbibed, and also in the presence of "shut down" chemicals in the receiver sheet. But, the law suit by Polaroid killed it all. It was indeed killed by a "concept patent", or a virtual instant product which Polaroid was deemed to "own" regardless of how different Kodak made the product. Strangely enough, Polaroid never went after Fuji AFAIK.

    The material used azo dyes that "fragmented" imagewise and became water soluble. They diffused to the receiver sheet where a mordant rendered them insoluble. In this sense it was roughly similar to Dye Transfer.

    IDK how good the image stability was or is. I have quite a few prints here myself. But, after running the process all day long at work, I just did not enjoy making them at home. I never set up a processor. I used to do straight chromogenic prints if I wanted to do color.

    Nothing similar exists today AFAIK.

    PE



 

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