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  1. #1
    foc
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    Agfacolor films: a history and your help please

    I have been interested in the Agfacolor type process (CN17/CNS negative & Agfachrome reversal process) and have done some research and found that after World War 2, the Agfacolor production methods and formulas were made freely available. I also found out that machinery and booty from the Agfa plant were taken east by the Soviets.

    With the information and know how so freely available it's no wounder that film companies decided to produce their own films using the Agfacolor type process. Here is an example of different brands of film, all using the Agfacolor/Agfachrome type process.

    http://www.fotointern.ch/wp-uploads/...oshofer_kl.jpg


    Was the Agfacolor type process more popular that the Kodak?
    If so when did the tables change?
    If Kodak was the dominant film type then why did all the film brands in the photo above use Agfa?

    I have shown below, my brief research concerning some of the film brands using the Agfacolor type process. This is not a complete list and I stand to be corrected on any points, so please feel free to do so.

    In some cases I have only mentioned the colour negative type Agfa film, this is because I could find no information about the reversal, Agfachrome type. I am sure that the film manufactures listed below did produce their own reversal film and that they did use the Agfachrome type process.

    Again any information anyone can give would be greatly appreciated


    1949 Agfa (Leverkusen) introduced their first colour negative film and in 1952 their first reversal film. In 1978 Agfa introduce their first AP70/C41 negative colour film

    1949 Ferrania (Italy) produced their first Agfacolor type negative film. In 1971 they are taken over by 3M, so do they change to a Kodak negative type film when C41 is introduced in 1972?

    1951 Telko (Switzerland) introduced Telecolor, an Agfacolor type negative film with the help of Wilhelm Schneider and Alfred Frohlich, both of whom left Agfa (Wolfen) just after the end of World War 2. In 1960 Telko was taken over by Ciba so was that the end of the Agfacolor negative type film?

    1957 ICI (England) produced cut sheet colour negative film, called ICIcolor, based on Agfacolor and in 1959 they joined forces with Ilford Ltd and the film was called Ilfocolor. Was this Ilfocolor film an Agfacolor type or Kodak type negative film?

    1950's in Japan, Fuji, Sakura and Oriental Photo Industries are producing film and paper based on the Agfacolor process. So when did they change to Kodak process?

    In the late 1940's Ansco (Agfa-Ansco USA and later GAF) produced transparency film, Anscochrome based on Agfachrome. I also heard that Ansco produced a negative colour film based on Agfacolor. In the early 1970's they tried to change to a Kodak C22 type film and suceeded only for Kodak to then introduce in 1972 C41 type film. To try and change again to the new C41 would prove too costly (from what I have read) and so GAF, as it was then, bowed out of the film market in the late 1970's.

    1953 in East Germany the Agfa (Wolfen) plant becomes state property. They produce film based on the Agfa process both in colour negative and colour reversal films. From my research, it appears that they continued with the same Agfa type films, unchanged, until the early 1990's and after the merger of East and West Germany.

    After 1945, Svema (Ukraine/former USSR) and Tasma (Russia/former USSR) receive production methods, formulas, machinery and booty from Agfa and go on to produce Agfacolor negative film and Agfachrome reversal film. This continues until the early 1990's and after the disolution the the Soviet Union.

    1962 Gevaert (Belgium) launch Gevacolor-S reversal film. This was not an Agfa type process but a Kodak type process as the film was designed for the US market. In 1964 Gavaert join Agfa to become Agfa Gevaert. So were all the film prior to 1962, Geracolor (not the S type) and Gevachrome based on the Agfa type process or were they Kodak type process.

    If you can add to or correct this list then please feel free to do so.

  2. #2
    AgX
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    There had been 4 different coupler-systems in chromogenic dye-formimg.
    When you speak of the "Kodak" system you should distinguish between the Kodachrome and the Ektachrome system.

    All four systems had advantages and disadvantages. As you already hinted at, the Agfacolor system yielded the economic advantage of being free accessable, free of royalties and being published to a certain extend.
    Nevertheless many manufacturers went the Kodachrome way.


    The end of the Agfacolor system was for a part dictated by changes on the consumer and processing-industry side. Within this strive for standardisation the system to aim at was set by the world-market leader: Kodak

    Agfa changed over to the Ektachrome system quite late. Other manufacturers even later, some never.
    The reason for changing resp. not changing has to be looked at with every manufacturer apart as the situations varied.
    Last edited by AgX; 04-26-2013 at 03:40 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Kodak's post WWII films may have used a slightly different approach, system & process but they learnt a lot from having access to Agfa's research, and it's forgotten now but there were other German companies as well.

    Before C41 & E6 many felt that the Agfa colour processes gave better colour rendition, as did Fuji films.

    Ian

  4. #4
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    Some of your research is not correct. For example, the Soviets left the Orwo plant intact in Wolfen, just using some ideas and spare equipment in their own plants.

    The Agfa method was used by the Japanese before and during the war at both the Fuji and Konica plants. It was given in an exchange program just before the war.

    After the war, the Agfa formulas were published in the BIOS (British) and FIAT (US) intelligence reports. Each have significant errors in translation and also errors of omission. This was in 1945. Before that, Kodak produced two color films themselves that were contemporary with the German films.

    Ansco AGFA used Agfa chemistry and was nationalized by the US government at the start of the US effort in WWII. The formulas used by Ansco were about 1 generation behind the Agfa products. After Ansco reverted to private ownership, they continued to evolve their products towards the Kodak type until the company failed.

    Kodak color processes used dye forming chemicals that were terminated with "fatty" tails and which were dissolved in oils in the coating. Agfa and all other products contained dye forming chemicals that terminated with sulfonic acid groups. These groups affected the viscosity of gelatin and therefore had to be coated one layer at a time. The Kodak dye forming materials did not affect viscosity and thus Kodak was able to develop the slide hopper which allowed up to 14 layers to be coated at one time.

    Agfa used several processes from the start and these evolved as their products evolved. They had at least 3 for color neg and 3 for color paper before they moved to the Kodak fat tail image formers which allowed them to coat multiple layers at one time. Thus they could speed up operations and keep up with Kodak in production.

    Agfa used gold + sulfur sensitization but this was under development by Kodak in an independent effort before the war. The captured documents revealed the Agfa method, and Kodak went on to develop a superior method with better keeping. The original keeping method involved the Agfa method of a sulfur restrainer that was later replaced by Tetra Azza Indene. This is now commonly used throughout the industry, but with improvements in the method of addition and the combinations of chemicals used.

    Near the end of the life of Agfa, tests on image stability and raw stock keeping of their products proved them to be inferior to both Kodak and Fuji. Their grain and color reproduction were similar.

    I have much much more on this. I must say though that the Agfa Brovira formulas in Glafkides and reproduced here on APUG have several glaring errors and omissions.

    PE

  5. #5
    AgX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    Kodak color processes used dye forming chemicals that were terminated with "fatty" tails and which were dissolved in oils in the coating. Agfa and all other products contained dye forming chemicals that terminated with sulfonic acid groups.
    Not all non-Kodak coupler systems used polar Groups.

  6. #6
    AgX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    Some of your research is not correct. For example, the Soviets left the Orwo plant intact in Wolfen, just using some ideas and spare equipment in their own plants.
    During the war the plan was only partly damaged by shelling. The US Forces took raw materials, equipment, documents, and brought staff to the West of Germany. The Soviet occupational authorities took after nationalizing the plant about 60% of the machinery from film and power plant and forced staff to join the USSR industry for years.

  7. #7

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    I sure miss some of their unique color properties that E6 films cannot seem to replicate, even if other
    characteristics have been significantly improved.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgX View Post
    Not all non-Kodak coupler systems used polar Groups.
    Agfa, Fuji, Konica and Ferrania all used polar couplers from the start of their "Axis" cooperation effort until the end of the war and beyond. Konica and Fuji used them until their effort to develop C41 compatible products.

    Oh, I might add Oriental to this list and a few others that I have forgotten.

    I have samples of polar coupler products from as late as 1960.

    PE

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AgX View Post
    During the war the plan was only partly damaged by shelling. The US Forces took raw materials, equipment, documents, and brought staff to the West of Germany. The Soviet occupational authorities took after nationalizing the plant about 60% of the machinery from film and power plant and forced staff to join the USSR industry for years.
    A joint British and US team was sent to the Eastern plants, while the Soviets went to Wolfen. Some of the Wolfen equipment was left there in situ to continue manufacturing as ORWO (Original Wolfen) and some was moved to the Soviet Union to form the nucleus of a SovFoto (not related to the Soviet Press portion of their photographic industry). They continued to make Agfa like materials well past 1960. As part of project ForTech in the USAF, I investigated such subjects. I cannot discuss details. This core material is well known.

    PE

  10. #10
    AgX
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    The Soviet photochemical industry did not need a nucleus from Wolfen, it already was in existence. However, the soviet industry never left the Agfacolor system.


    Those unpolar non-Kodak couplers I referred to above had been used by three manufacturers.

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