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Thread: Kodak Kodalith MP ortho film 2557, know anything?

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    Question Kodak Kodalith MP ortho film 2557, know anything?

    Hey everyone,

    I was in a local used camera store today, and happened across two boxes of 8x10 Kodak Kodalith MP ortho film 2557. The owner of the store had no clue what to do with it, and since it expired in 1980, offered them to me free of charge. I didn't have my 8x10 camera with me at the time, but the previous owner of the film had cut some of it down to 4x5, so I decided to do some experimenting. I had never used this type of film, and was intrigued by being able to handle it with the safelight on. I did three test exposures, and got some very weird results, so I decided to ask on here if anyone knows anything about this film.

    Here are the weird results I got, if you know anything about this film, or why this happens, it would be great to hear about it. I asked the great all knowing god- Google, about it, but couldn't find anything on this variant. It seems the 2556 variant was more common, but there wasn't a whole lot about that film either. Some sources indicated Kodak had a special developer for these films, but as I didn't have that, I used standard black and white chemicals, which could be the cause of some of these results.

    When processed as I do normal film, things were the weirdest. On the back of the film, the edges turned a coppery color, and the whole thing acquired a metallic sheen. The back also got covered in marks where it was touched, when using tongs, and also when using gloves. The weirdest part though, is that when held up to a light it looks like a normal negative, but put it on a white background (no backlight), and suddenly the image is a positive (what?!?!?).

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    (metallic sheen)

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    (looks like negative with backlight)

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    (backlight off and it becomes a positive)

    I also discovered that when developed without a water pre-wash, it works more like normal film, looks like a negative both with and without backlight, but still gets covered in marks. This is cool, but also really confuses me. All the chemicals are mixed with the same water as the pre-wash, how can simply dunking it in the same H20 as the chemicals use for a few seconds have such a large impact on how the film develops?

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    (looks more normal when not pre-washed)

    Do any of you have experience with this film, or know anything more about it? I'll definitely be doing some more testing, as this stuff is very weird, and that makes me very intrigued.

  2. #2
    Greg Davis's Avatar
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    Re: kodak ortho film, know anything?

    I can’t answer all of your questions, but the metallic sheen is dichroic fog.

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    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: kodak ortho film, know anything?

    sin eater

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    Re: kodak ortho film, know anything?

    Interesting, briefly reading that indicates that dichroic fog is caused by spent chemicals. I had mixed the fixer that session, but I suppose it may have been exhausted by the time I got to those negatives. I usually mix new chemicals for each batch of negatives, but for these tests I didn't. So as long as I keep checking the chemicals, I should get better results, thank you! I wonder if that will help minimize the marks on the film too, since the fixer is what has the hardener in it (I think), if the fixer was spent, that might not have been working either. Does that sound possible?

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    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: kodak ortho film, know anything?

    Don't know, but I have a sealed 100 sheet box of 1973 4X5 Tri-X Ortho Film 4163 Estar thick base

    Some day I try something....

    Let us know what you find out!
    sin eater

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    Re: kodak ortho film, know anything?

    Tri-X ortho? I wonder how that compares to Tri-X normal, I'd guess the emulsion is very different

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    Gary Beasley's Avatar
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    Re: kodak ortho film, know anything?

    Made to be used with lith developer, for extreme high contrast copy work, ie line legs and halftones. It can be tamed a bit with a pota developer but its a lot more fun to use for graphic effects, posterization, masking, etc.

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    Re: kodak ortho film, know anything?

    Mr. Beasley is correct... it was made for graphic arts use. Basically its H-D curve is vertical. Two tones: base+fog and D-max.
    (note) All the Kodalith films (there were many types for specific applications) were replaced in the 1990s by "Rapid Access" (RA) films which did not require the obnoxious Kodalith developer, and could be processed quickly by machine.
    (note 2) Tri-X Ortho 4163 was advertised by Kodak for portraits of men... I never used it so can't comment on its characteristics. It was probably the last truly continuous-tone ortho film (all the other ones I know of are high-contrast graphic-arts films). it was discontinued c.1992.

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    Re: kodak ortho film, know anything?

    Do you have any experience processing it without the Kodalith developer? I don't have any lith developers at the moment, but may try some to see if that yields better results than the standard developer I've been using.

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    Gary Beasley's Avatar
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    Re: Kodak Kodalith MP ortho film 2557, know anything?

    Might try D23 or Technidol or equivalent, but as the film is inherently high contrast it will be difficult to use continuous tone. Stand processing in a tray might get you some interesting results.
    Best bet is to play with it under the enlarger, especially if you can get some lith developer. Look up bas relief effects with litho film. It can also be used with very thin negs to get interesting results.

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