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View Full Version : Some observations on old Kodak 4x5 pack film



Chauncey Walden
12-Jan-2007, 19:34
After more than a year of it kicking around in my camera bag, I finally finished off the 16 exposures of some Plus-X pack film of some unknown but undoubtedly prehistoric expiration date that had previously been sitting on the back of a cabinet shelf for, well, years. Assuming the remaining quality to be dubious at best, I had only pulled it out every now and then to take a second shot when I thought of it or to take a shot that was iffy at best. In the darkroom I realized that I had cleaned and stowed the Jobo so opted for an old Nikor spiral reel that on a good day could hold 12 pieces of film but which I usually only used for 6. In the dark, I opened the pack holder. I think now that the pack might be light tight even with exposed film as long as it is handled only by the edges but at the time I was uncertain so stayed in the dark. The next trick was to open the pack - dead easy now that I can see it in the light but requiring a lot of gropping, pushing, pulling, and prying at the time. (Hint - just pull the end where the tabs are sticking out towards the tabs about one quarter inch and it pops off allowing the top to hinge up and freeing the film.) Ah, the film! Well, not only are there 16 pieces of film and their tabs in there but there are also 18 sheets of paper, one attached to each sheet of film and now lying along its back, and 2 attached to each other proclaiming the film type. As you might have guessed by now the film is thin, very thin, very, very thin. The paper and the tab separated easily from the film leaving only a few little smudges of paper along the non-image edge which easily came off after the wash. There is one more thing about the film; it is larger than normal sheet film. It's over one quarter inch longer and just a smidgen wider (but enough wider that I had to reset the Nikor to its maximum width.) Loading it in the spiral was not fun and you have to be careful to keep the emulsion on the inside. That's another trick, telling which side the emulsion is on. There are no notches. When you open the pack the emulsion is up and you have to be careful to keep track of it while loading. I had exposed it at 100 and just developed it normally - 10 minutes at 70 in PMK. I was expecting to find it underexposed (from age induced speed loss) and fogged. Surprise! It was fine but a little bit crinkled from loading it in the spiral. The next surprise was what happened in the dryer; it was like a high kicking chorus line. The sheets were practically folding over on themselves. They need lots of room. Eventually they sort of straightened out. The next batch will be in the Jobo and, you know, I think there just may be some Tri-X film packs in the freezer. Hmmmmm..

Eric Biggerstaff
12-Jan-2007, 19:46
Man Chauncey, I think I am glad I never was able to get hooked on pack film, sounds kind of, well, fun (not)!

Look forward to seeing this stuff for myself next time I am over!

Stay warm.

Bill_1856
20-Aug-2007, 21:29
I've got three left in the freezer (Tri-X). What a #$$#$@@ shame they aren't made any more.

Glenn Thoreson
21-Aug-2007, 11:10
I have a pack of 2X3 Tri-X from 1969 or something. Now, you've given me the incentive to try it. With Diafine, perhaps.

Chauncey Walden
21-Aug-2007, 11:30
Since the subject has come up again, I have found the perfect way to mass develop and not get crinkled film. Of course, Kodak had the answer first: the Kodak Film Pack Tank. This is a tinned tank with screw on lid with gasket that holds 12 sheets (what did they do with 16 sheet packs?) in vertical taco style. Now all I have to do is rejuvenate the gasket!

Bill_1856
21-Aug-2007, 13:11
Since the subject has come up again, I have found the perfect way to mass develop and not get crinkled film. Of course, Kodak had the answer first: the Kodak Film Pack Tank. This is a tinned tank with screw on lid with gasket that holds 12 sheets (what did they do with 16 sheet packs?) in vertical taco style. Now all I have to do is rejuvenate the gasket!

Chauncey, I am completely in the dark that such a tank existed, and would be greatly interested in seeing the thing. Any chance you could email me some pix? bmitch at comcast.net. Thanks. (Did i say, Please?)

Bruce Watson
21-Aug-2007, 13:47
Chauncey, I am completely in the dark that such a tank existed, and would be greatly interested in seeing the thing. Any chance you could email me some pix? bmitch at comcast.net. Thanks. (Did i say, Please?)
Me too. Please post some pix -- how about in this thread? I'd love to see it, and how film was positioned in it. That is, how it was used.

Chauncey Walden
21-Aug-2007, 14:32
Well, I'll try. Please forgive the quick and dirty pics. This is also the first time I've tried to post any so hang onto your hats. One is of the Kodak and Premo tanks (I never had the guts for the Premo, but the tanks are identical), a "new" pack of film, and the sexiest of all pack film holders, the Busch, polished (sorry about the reflection, but it is really polished!) blued steel with contoured faux ivory darkslide pull. Another is of the film holder in the can and the bottom side of the lid showing the spring clipped lifter for the holder. No dipping the hands into those dirty old chemicals, no sirree Bob! And finally, the holder in all its glory. The film would be gently folded lengthwise with the middle of the back to the outside.

Bruce Watson
21-Aug-2007, 15:06
One is of the Kodak and Premo tanks (I never had the guts for the Premo, but the tanks are identical), a "new" pack of film, and the sexiest of all pack film holders, the Busch, polished (sorry about the reflection, but it is really polished!) blued steel with contoured faux ivory darkslide pull. Another is of the film holder in the can and the bottom side of the lid showing the spring clipped lifter for the holder. No dipping the hands into those dirty old chemicals, no sirree Bob! And finally, the holder in all its glory. The film would be gently folded lengthwise with the middle of the back to the outside.

Thank you! This is very interesting to me.

So the film was folded in half and put into one of the wedge shaped slots? The film would hold itself in place by it's own "spring action" (that is, by the film's trying to open back up and flatten itself back out)? Was this more of a dip 'n dunk kind of agitation or an inversion kind of agitation?

Tell me again why we don't have film packs available today? This looks like a much better thing than the quickload/readyload system. Both for speed and for weight.

Chauncey Walden
21-Aug-2007, 15:37
You're very welcome. Yes, that is how it would be loaded. You could dip it using the hook, but since the lid is gasketed and screwed on, I would guess that inversion was what they had in mind. I just tested the two lids, and the kodak one holds water. I may try to make a silicone seal for the Premo tank. Since I dug the stuff out, I might as well put that pack in the Busch and get some test film exposed!

Bill_1856
21-Aug-2007, 17:31
Fantastic! The inguinity of some people! Thanks.

Glenn Thoreson
21-Aug-2007, 17:56
There were several flavors of those tanks available at one time. I'm not sure if any were made for the 16 shot packs, but would have to assume so. By the time they changed the packs from 12 to 16 shots, though, I think pack film poularity was declining. The film uses essentially the same base as roll film. Very flexible, so it could make that 180 turn at the bottom of the pack. It should work pretty well to develop the stuff in home made BTZS tubes, too. I think I have a Busch 4X5 pack adapter around here somewhere. If someone can use it, it's yours for postage.

Mark Sampson
22-Aug-2007, 04:41
And to think that I used to just develop 4x5 filmpack in a tray. When EK discontinued it in '92 I should have bought a huge amount, but I didn't :rolleyes:

Gord Robinson
22-Aug-2007, 21:20
The nice thing about the film pack is that you can open it and retrieve any number of sheets and close it and continue shooting. I tray processed four sheets of 2x3 from a 1972 TX film pack last night in D76 that showed some base fog so the next sheets will have an anti fog added to the developer.
The Yankee Sheet Film tank also allows for developing film packs but you need the special loading clip which I have lost so I am stuck with tray developing.

SEA_4X5_Guy
14-Dec-2018, 11:56
Has anyone tried to make a 4X5 film pack? Using standard 4X5 film and cutting black paper sheets? I'm not sure how the back worked but may be we could build a pack? I would welcome any idea's.

BrianShaw
14-Dec-2018, 12:25
Has anyone tried to make a 4X5 film pack? Using standard 4X5 film and cutting black paper sheets? I'm not sure how the back worked but may be we could build a pack? I would welcome any idea's.

The base on the film in pack-film was a lot thinner than sheet film. I doubt it would work. Most folks who want that kind of capability use a Grafmatic.

Louis Pacilla
14-Dec-2018, 12:27
Has anyone tried to make a 4X5 film pack? Using standard 4X5 film and cutting black paper sheets? I'm not sure how the back worked but may be we could build a pack? I would welcome any idea's.

It was such a BIG and difficult undertaking/difficult task that when the last person at Kodak who was trained and able to build the packs retired (along with the market for pack film dying off with all the medium and small format cameras taking over press work) Kodak pulled the plug on Pack film. That was it.....
So I deduce from this that if it was that difficult for the BIG YELLOW FATHER to train up another employee to continue pack film then we peons stand little chance.

SEA_4X5_Guy
14-Dec-2018, 18:53
Well it was a good thought anyway. Thanks for the information.

richydicky
16-Dec-2018, 10:12
I've just acquired two packs Tri-X. I have some holders with adapters to take plates or sheets so when I found some packs of Tri-X I thought I would try it out. The film is well expired, '81 but I did a speed test shot, developed in HC110 and reckon a speed of about 125-160 works. The second shot rating at 160 and using flash came out beautifully. The slight oversize of the sheets is a pain though.

I have only used 2 shots but have kept the backing papers and will experiment with them to see if I can fix sheets of Rollei IR400, about same thinness of the pack film sheets, and re-pack it. I like the idea of having sixteen shots in a very compact package. I discovered in an art shop Hama non-permanent glue dots dispenser and reckon this might work to attach the film edge to the backing sheet. I'll probably build a cardboard template to help get everything aligned.

SEA_4X5_Guy
16-Dec-2018, 23:33
Does anyone know how the film moved to the back of the film holder? I know the film was thiner than standard 4X5 sheet film as it had to make a 180 degree turn to the back. The first paper is pulled to expose the film than I guess the second sheet was connected to the first exposed sheet so that when pulled it would move to the back while the second sheet is exposed and so on. Hard to imagine and even more difficult to manufacture.

Louis Pacilla
16-Dec-2018, 23:55
Here's the patent including drawings Google Patents ...https://patents.google.com/patent/US1823295

SEA_4X5_Guy
17-Dec-2018, 19:01
Thank you Louis.