View Full Version : field use of type 55 and 665 pack film

roger michel
11-Feb-2005, 10:17
just about my favorite mf/lf film these days is polaroid 55 and 665 positive negative film. beautiful tonality, teensy grain, and nice to be able to check compostion in the field.

the downside ahd always been the clearing process. who wants to carry saltwater into the field -- even a small flask to store the negs in 'til you get to a faucet (BTW plain water works just fine, but that's another thread).

anyway, i have done experiments this week on 55/665 to see if there are alternative to carrying water.

i have discovered that as long as you peel away the positive image within ten minutes or so, you may store the uncleared negative for a long time before clearing without any serious ill-effects.

i did a test storing the negs uncleared for 8 hours, 1 day, three days and five days. they all cleared fine. the backing in unaffected by storage obviously. the developer seems to go right into solution when soaked in water, and washed away easily. the only thing i have noticed is that the developer stains the negative ever so slightly, leaving a very faint yellowish tinge. printing both via a scanner (4870) and using traditional materials, this has not caused any contrast effects in side-by-sie comparisons of identical shots.

this is good news for me because it makes this wonderful film even more versatile.

by the way, i heartily recommend the graflex pola back to any XLSW users. it makes a killer travel/landscape/architectural/superwide reportage camera.

Alick Crossley
11-Feb-2005, 10:17
Some people I know shoot type 55 and don't develop it until they are home. So basically you push the release button on the holder to extract the film without engaging the rollers. Then you can do all of the dirty work in the comfort of your kitchen/bathroom. This obviously won't be possible with pack films, for which I carry a small rectangular tuperware case, dry, and clear at the end of the day.

One problem I have noticed is that all of that black gunk from clearing the negatives clogs up my drains. I used to dump it in my tub and had to resort to draino quite frequently. I am not a big fan of using poisons in my house if I don't need to. Maybe straining with a collander/coffee filter would be a good idea? (Don't know why I never thought of that earlier.)

Have fun! Oh yeah, and let's pray that polaroid finds some way to stay in business! I had some passport pictures taken at a local shop a few months ago which were shot on digital. The camera was hooked up to a TV that showed me the shot and then printed on a dye-sub. All sony equipment. He was telling me what a mistake polaroid had made by not looking beyond traditional methods. Another less funny but very capitalist factoid was that sony would pay the local shops for all of their old polaroid cameras. Yikes. I am not sure what the percentage of polaroid's market was passport photos, but I imagine it was significant. If sony's dye-sub materials are less expensive than $1 per shot it might mean trouble. I personally like the polaroid better of course. The digital has this strange way of erasing all of the background which slightly eats into me in the picture, leaving little jagged edges.

11-Feb-2005, 10:17

Just curious as to how you protect the negs while in the field?

When I shoot 55 in the field, I carry a pint bottle of sulfite solution, sevral sandwich sized ziplock baggies, and a small tupper ware type conainer. I peel the neg, place into a baggie, pour a shot or two of solution into the bag and seal it, then the bag goes into the container. Works fine, but a lot to carry (I have a shoulder bag just for Polaroid materials).

Your idea takes a lot of the work out. But the negs still have to be safley stored. And how do you keep them from sticking to, whatever?

Gem Singer
11-Feb-2005, 10:17
Hi Roger,

Polaroid recommends placing the Type 55 negative in the clearing bath immediately after processing. I believe that is good advice. Here's why, development of the negative is self -limiting. The monobath gel in the packet contains both the developer and the fixer. The accelerator used for the developer is potassium hydroxide, a highly caustic alkaline substance. The clearing bath helps to remove the anti halation dyes from the negative, as well as neutralize the by-products of the development process that remain on the surface of the negative. Plain water can be used as a temporary holding bath for the negative, but it doesn't preclude the need for the sulfite clearing bath.

I find that I get the best result if I don't pull (process) the film that I am going to use for the negative while in the field. Instead, I wait until I get back to my darkroom, where I have prepared an HP Combi-Plan tank with one liter of Heico Permawash (25ml. per liter) to use as a clearing bath. I run the film through the Polaroid 545i processor, use a 60 sec.development time, and immediately peel, then slide the negative onto the Combi-Plan rack , dip it into the clearing bath, and discard the print. I wash the negative and treat it with Photo Flo wetting agent while it still remains in the tank. Perfect development, with no scratches, and I feel comfortable knowing that I followed Polaroid's recommendation.

roger michel
11-Feb-2005, 10:17
hi -- i just stack them in a 4x5 sheet film box (25 sheet size) with thin mylar sheets i have cut to size and smeared with vaseline between them. i reuse these sheets several times without washing. so far so good. the negs actually harden up pretty quickly on the developer side which seems to offer good protection.

i have been clearing my 55 negs for years in plain water and photo-flo. i have not noticed any detrioration at all in the older negs (some quite old now).

but YMMV.

11-Feb-2005, 10:18
Thanks Roger. But I'm suprised you haven't had any problems with the vaseline?

I may stick to my process, but it's sure nice to know that if something fails (or I forget the solution!) that your method works also. I will give it a few tests just to see that dry neg come back to life ;-)

And I would agree about the chemical properties. The sulfite would help neutralize the alkaline pod. But an awful lot of people do use plain water and not sulfite... If it works, it works...

roger michel
11-Feb-2005, 10:19
i think the vaseline may be overkill, but i was nervous about sticking. i used only a very thin film.

the actually fact is that the sheets really aren't that sticky, more like oily. i don't think will stick to much of anything if you move em around a little while they are drying. and once they dry, they are very robust little packages. also, they seem to dry very quickly.

anyway, i just want to know that this stuff works great in the field, however you do it. give it a try.

Keith Pitman
11-Feb-2005, 19:38
If you're purpose is to make a negative for printing/enlargement, I see abolutely no reason to clear the film in the field. It's cumbersome to do so, it's time consuming when you could be making other photos, and you risk ruining the negative. Wait until you get back to home base, and take care of this chore in a controlled environment.

adrian tyler
14-Feb-2005, 00:58
i did a workshop with master b/w printer here in spain castro prieto. he enphatically stated that you could clear the type 55 negative up to 1 day after developing.

his prints are hard to beat and he uses the 55 type negs a bit too, enjoy;

http://www.fotocultura.com/monograficos/galeria_castro_prieto/Default.htm (http://www.fotocultura.com/monograficos/galeria_castro_prieto/Default.htm)