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  1. #1

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    3-bath vs 6-bath E6 kits

    I've read through the recent threads on E6 developing and haven't found an answer. I'm wondering just what differences there are between the 3-bath and 6-bath E6 kits for home development in individual tanks.

    Doug

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    Basically, the 3-bath kits combine some steps -- reversal takes place in the colour developer IIRC, and the bleach and fix functions are combined. It makes the number of steps smaller, though the overall time for the process is not significantly shorter, from what I recall.

    The combination of multiple steps makes it hard (or impossible) to tweak each particular step by adjustments in pH. In addition, combined bleach-fix solutions ("blix") have problems with stability. You need to make sure that the blix step goes to completion.

    The 3-bath kits have worked well for me, but I'm just a hobbyist and I don't run control strips for consistency, etc. In addition, I was always sure to use the entire kit (up to its stated capacity) within a few days of mixing it.

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I've used the Tetenal 3-bath kit and have gotten pretty good results for normal processing and 1-stop push. If you push, I don't recommend reusing the chemistry. For normal processing, I typically reuse it once. Fuji films seem to exhaust the developer faster than Kodak, so you might be able to get three batches through the chemistry with Kodak film.

    The 6-bath kits are said to give better results for bigger pushes, which I don't do that often.
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  4. #4
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    Like David said, if you don't need a big push, the 3 step kits are usually fine. I recently bought a Unicolor Rapid E-6 kit (yes, they are still in business) and ran some 120 E100, the results were just fine.
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  5. #5
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    The E6 first developer is a high solvent, high acutance developer with special ingredients to promote good interimage, edge effects and stability. Many brands other than Fuji and Kodak do not use the same chemistry and suffer from a host of minor faults in the above characteristics. Some are severe and some are minor. All exist unless the exact method in the Kodak/Fuji formulas is followed.

    This includes a balance of pH, bromide and iodide as well as the use of Hydroquinone monosulfonate for proper development. If these are not used properly, development in the many layers is not correct.

    As for bleach then fix and blix processing, the blix for films is less stable and tends to allow for retained silver. A team of us spent over a year trying to develop a good blix for E6 and C41 and failed to do the job to our satisfaction although it yielded a lot of novel work and one patent. At present, I'm still trying to design a good blix and I now have one formula that works. It is not all that stable, but it works as well as can be expected when mixing an oxidant and a reductant.

    So, be careful and beware of blixes used for color film processing. I have read several threads discussing retained silver problems from such processes.

    PE

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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
    The E6 first developer is a high solvent, high acutance developer with special ingredients to promote good interimage, edge effects and stability. Many brands other than Fuji and Kodak do not use the same chemistry and suffer from a host of minor faults in the above characteristics. Some are severe and some are minor. All exist unless the exact method in the Kodak/Fuji formulas is followed.

    This includes a balance of pH, bromide and iodide as well as the use of Hydroquinone monosulfonate for proper development. If these are not used properly, development in the many layers is not correct.

    As for bleach then fix and blix processing, the blix for films is less stable and tends to allow for retained silver. A team of us spent over a year trying to develop a good blix for E6 and C41 and failed to do the job to our satisfaction although it yielded a lot of novel work and one patent. At present, I'm still trying to design a good blix and I now have one formula that works. It is not all that stable, but it works as well as can be expected when mixing an oxidant and a reductant.

    So, be careful and beware of blixes used for color film processing. I have read several threads discussing retained silver problems from such processes.

    PE
    I take it from your comments, then, that the quality is better with the 6-bath kit, though the quality of the 3-bath might be acceptable.

    Doug

  7. #7
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    I cannot judge 3 bath kits, as I don't use them having seen results several years ago.

    If the first developer and blix give you acceptable results, use it. I say do whatever works for you. Anything can fail to work for any number of reasons.

    PE

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    Quote Originally Posted by greypilgrim
    I've read through the recent threads on E6 developing and haven't found an answer. I'm wondering just what differences there are between the 3-bath and 6-bath E6 kits for home development in individual tanks.

    Doug
    For what it is worth, I'll try and accurately paraphrase the paragraph John Tinsley devotes to the 6 bath v 3 bath debate in his book.
    6 bath gives the more neutral results and the Kodak process the most neutral grey. When absolute colour accuracy is required as in studio work the 6 bath process should be used. Outside work is a different story. An absolutely neutral E6 can give very cold results on film exposed out of doors in the middle of the day. In these circumstances the warmer results of the 3 bath processes are normally preferable to film exposed without filtration and processed in 6 bath. He goes on to show examples of six gray shades and alongside RGB and CMY for various processes including Tetenal, Kodak and Photo Technology, part of the Paterson Photax group. The film used for the test varied from Velvia to Agfa Chrome RS 50 and 100, Kodak EPX and EPR 64 and EPP100

    Of course in looking at the colour squares the reader is relying on the accuracy of the colours on a printed sheet but assuming that any colour authenticity issues apply equally to all the examples, I could see no difference between Tetenal 3 bath or 6 bath.

    While the book is now 13 years old and processes may have been improved, it may be worth obtaining a copy. A lot of what he says I suspect is still valuable in terms of processing procedures etc.

    The book is called The Rotary Processor Manual and has an ISBN number of 0-902979-11-6. The publisher was R Morgan Publishing PO Box 11, Chislehurst Kent BR7 5RH

    I am not an E6 processor as yet but I have looked throught the book fairly thoroughly and unfortunately he makes no mention of the respective longevities of film processed either way. This was not addressed in his 6 bath v 3 bath paragraph.

    Hope this helps

    Pentaxuser

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    Quote Originally Posted by pentaxuser
    6 bath gives the more neutral results and the Kodak process the most neutral grey. When absolute colour accuracy is required as in studio work the 6 bath process should be used. Outside work is a different story. An absolutely neutral E6 can give very cold results on film exposed out of doors in the middle of the day. In these circumstances the warmer results of the 3 bath processes are normally preferable to film exposed without filtration and processed in 6 bath.

    Pentaxuser
    This is the sort of thing that I was looking for.

    Now let me take my questions a step further: what is the shelf life of the chemistry kits. I will most likely be using the kits in one-shot fashion. If I remember what I've read, I will dilute the chemicals from concentrate to use "today." The rest of the concentrate I return to the shelf for use another day. Once finished developing today, I will dispose of the working solutions.

    Thus, I don't really care about the shelf life of the working solutions; they'll be thrown away immediately. But I do care about the shelf life of the concentrates, both for the 3-bath and the 6-bath kits.

    Doug

  10. #10
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    Doug, I believe it depends on the actual component of the kit in terms of long term storage. Supposedly stock bleach solution will last forever but the first developer less so. I use the Kodak 6 step and chuck the working solution after one use. I generally use up the kit in about a month or so and I have seen no ill effects from storing the stock solutions in partially full bottles for this amount of time and they could probably last longer but I'm sure PE can give a more adequate answer. FWIW the 6 step process is foolproof as long as you strictly adhere to the instructions and I have never screwed up a roll of film. For the better longevity of your images and the apparently better image quality I would go with the Kodak 6 step process but thats me. The most time consuming part is mixing the dilutions but after that it flies.

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