View Full Version : First time with Polaroid Type 55

Dave Saunders
4-Apr-2008, 01:20
I took my first Type 55 pic today and it raised a couple of questions.

I managed to tear the neg when taking of the excess surroundings, but I think that was due to heavy handling, or is there a secret to it?

I dunked my neg in the Sodium Sulfite solution with the Polaroid clearing tank using the supplied holder, but it didn't remove all the excess sludge, I had to use my finger, is that correct?

Does the neg need hardening or fixing (thought I read that somewhere)


Ben R
4-Apr-2008, 02:09
I found it easier to let the paper and metal bit float off after being in water for a bit. I also found that SS never cleared the neg properly while letting it lie in a tub of water for an hour or so cleared it perfectly.

4-Apr-2008, 02:34
My only experiences with clearing the neg was.....bad.

Leaving it for a few days until the sludge was dry, then thinking "hey maybe I'll just wash it under the tap".

It worked though. I recommend you go for warm water straight away - DON'T let it dry!

I used around 10 sheets of the stuff, didn't tear a single neg. Be careful and you should be fine.

4-Apr-2008, 02:35
I pull the neg and print apart as per standard...then grab the metal end and the neg and tear the neg off as if it was just a perferated piece of paper...haven't torn a negative yet (not counting the 11x14 negative I tore in half accidently.)

The sludge should come off without using one's fingers -- the last batch I did I just used water (no NaSulfite) and the sludge still came off on its own. How long did you soak the negs in the NaSulfite?

Hardening is optional -- I don't do it. The gelatin should harden up on its own when dry.

But I will tell you of something mighty strange. I have a set of Type 55 negs on my desk in front of me that I took last week while teaching 4th and 5th graders some photo. I waited the normal dev. time, separated the negs and put them in the tub of water. We were outside so the sun was shining into the tub. It was a couple of days before I finally got around to hanging them up to dry.

Looking at the negs, there is some solarization going on and one of them is now a positive. Probably could not do this again on purpose!

I posted it below...I just scanned it on a Epson V700 as positive film (so that the software would not reverse the tones of the image) and I increased the contrast and darkened it in PhotoShop because the neg is actually a bit underexposed (the print looked good, so I had underexposed by a stop).

Have fun with the stuff!


Dave Saunders
4-Apr-2008, 03:08
I found it easier to let the paper and metal bit float off after being in water for a bit. I also found that SS never cleared the neg properly while letting it lie in a tub of water for an hour or so cleared it perfectly.

So I wasted my money on the Polaroid clearing tank? (another one down to experience):mad:

I let it soak for 1 min, (the recommended time) then washed it for 3mins.

How long do you guys wash for or soak for before sludge comes off?

Dave Saunders
4-Apr-2008, 03:11
Looking at the negs, there is some solarization going on and one of them is now a positive. Probably could not do this again on purpose!

Maybe the sodium sulphite stops development quicker?

4-Apr-2008, 03:26
Maybe the sodium sulphite stops development quicker?

Well, the bucket was in the direct sun and there ended up being 8 or so negs in there and not a whole bunch of water -- so I suppose the water could have become a weak developer.

There is no time limit for the negs in the NaSulfite -- they can be in there all day (as per Mark Klett -- he said he just put them in the clearing tank/bucket out in the field, and took them out when he finally got back to camp.) But this was at a workshop about 20 years ago, so my memory could be faulty...he had just finished the Re-photographic Survey. It sounds like you could give them a lot more time (and/or possibly even strengthen the concentration a bit).


David A. Goldfarb
4-Apr-2008, 03:30
I usually alternate between the sulfite and plain water for a bit to remove the processing gel, and sometimes help it along a little by rubbing it off with my fingers.

If the film is going to sit in liquid for a long time (for instance, if you're using the clearing bucket in the field), better to use the sulfite, which will reduce emulsion swelling.

Interesting solarization effect. The sulfite doesn't stop development like a stop bath, but it does wash away the development solution. I suspect the same thing would have happened in sulfite as in water. Another thing that happens with monobaths--unless there is some agent in the solution to prevent this, which there might be in the Type 55 processing gel--is that fixed out silver can plate back onto the film. Normally this wouldn't be an issue with normal processing and a brief soak in the clearing solution and wash, but if you left it in the solution or plain water for a couple of days, I could see this happening, and then in the sun, the developer remaining in the solution might develop the re-exposed silver.

al olson
4-Apr-2008, 07:21
After the exposure and development step I fold back the outer parts of the envelope and holding them together I pull out the print/negative. They remove very easily. I then separate the print from the negative. I have never had any problem with tearing.

I keep a Rubbermaid container (about 5x7x3) filled with water nearby wherever I am shooting. I place the negatives with film clip and paper in the water and seal the container with the lid to keep it from sloshing around.

When I am finished I take it to the darkroom and place the negative sheets in the sodium sulfite bucket to clear. By the time the negatives have soaked a while in the container, the clip and paper usually slide right off. Several hours (or days) later I rewash the negatives, rinse them in Fotoflo, and hang them to dry.

I tried a couple of times taking the sodium sulfite bucket with me into the field, but I was sloppy and got the stuff on my hands and the carpeting in my SUV. This becomes a problem where you don't have the resources with you to clean up the mess. Using water in the Rubbermaid container solved this problem.

4-Apr-2008, 09:04
The other way of doing it is to not develop the 55s in the field, but to press the release button and pull it out for processing later.

Some folks also use a solution of water an Permawash to clear. Permawash has sodium sulfite in it. It's easier to handle than the sodium sulfite powder. If you can clear type 55 in water, the exact dilution probably isn't all that critical.

David A. Goldfarb
4-Apr-2008, 09:17
I've cleared it in salt water--about a teaspoon of table salt for 12 oz water.

4-Apr-2008, 09:25
I use Permawash. Here is a page full of Polaroid 55 Tips (http://www.cameraartist.com/words/2006/07/how_i_shoot_polaroid_55_pn.html).


Gary L. Quay
4-Apr-2008, 21:08
You know, my type 55 negatives have always cleared just fine in the sodium sulfite bath. Unfortunately, this is an issue that will soon be moot, unless Ilford or Fuji step up and lisence the technology.


jenn wilson
7-Apr-2008, 18:56
careful with the fingers. it'll work, but those negs scratch easily. as for soaking time, one minute or even a few minutes probably won't do it. you can easliy soak 'em all day in nothing more than water. just don't leave them soaking for weeks on end. the negative will be completely clear.
i always have my tanks with me while i shoot. they are invaluable for storing the negs safely. but i never fill them with water till i get home. but the water would add too much weight. even if i do find i need to clear any one image right away, a couple hours has never made a difference.
no one has written yet about leaving the negs alone for a while before clearing. depending on the image, i might clear them right away or i might just let that chemistry do its thing for a while before clearing it. fun with texture!