Cutting down Ortho Litho into 120 rolls?

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grainyvision

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So I recently started playing around with this super cheap ortho litho stuff and have been amazed with the results, even if developer choice etc is super finicky.

I don't own a large format camera, so I've just been cutting it down to 120 sized strips from 4x5 sheets and then taping 4 of these strips (typically get around 10-11 exposures). This of course is not ideal, it's difficult to develop all the sheets together, the seem between strips usually lands in an exposure, etc. I'd love to buy this stuff at a reasonable price in 120 format, but they don't sell it (apparently they do sell 35mm though!? 5 rolls of 20 exposures for $40 though).. the only other ortho film available in 120 is Rollei ortho 25, which sells for the ridiculous price of $15/roll... so this is a way to get incredibly affordable ortho film. My costs are recycled backing paper + $1 worth of film per roll, and takes about 5 minutes to assemble the roll with my current workflow.

I've looked at buying a huge roll of this stuff, though I need to have everything figured out before I pull the trigger on this $380 roll of film. The roll is 24"x100ft. Assuming no waste (which isn't true of course), it would make 375 rolls of film with the standard 2.4" width and 32" length (30" is the minimum, but 32" is the normal so that there is some buffer for drying clips etc). I figure once I get the process perfected, I'd probably end up selling some rolls on ebay or something since I can't see myself using more than 200 rolls of film anytime soon, though I'm definitely not doing this to make a profit.

Anyway, so the problem: how do I get perfectly straight cuts along such a wide area? Right now it's simple to cut down sheets because I have one of those big paper cutter (the kind with the blade you push down), but that can't handle anything bigger than 12". I am just doing this out of my home, not like I have some big industrial area to setup some huge cutting equipment (not to mention I don't want to spend a huge amount on setup costs). My best idea is building a custom jig or something with two notches that I can place a metal straightedge onto and hold pressure against that to keep things straight. The other concern is this film is pretty easy to scratch, so I'd like to avoid contact with the film surface as much as possible

Another complication is that I'd really like to be able to fog the strip of film before rolling. This stuff really performs best with a very light fogging to bring up the shadow details. My best idea so far is to use room lights for 1-2 seconds and to place neutral density filter sheets (14x14" ones are cheap on Amazon) over the film. The two big problems I foresee with this though is that fogging could still be inconsistent, and I'll have to use multiple sheets of filters. The seem where the filters meet might leave an obvious line.

Anyone have any ideas for how best to do this? Is it possible to get decent results in a home setup?
 

desertrat

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If you shop at Freestyle, you can get 10 sheets of 16x20 for $47.99. A single 20" strip should get you 8 - 10 exposures if you're shooting square format.

Kind of slow, but if you have a long enough straight edge, you can mark out a strip with a felt tip pen and cut with scissors. There will be an ink mark along the edge, but if you're careful it shouldn't get into the image area.
 
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grainyvision

grainyvision

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If you shop at Freestyle, you can get 10 sheets of 16x20 for $47.99. A single 20" strip should get you 8 - 10 exposures if you're shooting square format.

Kind of slow, but if you have a long enough straight edge, you can mark out a strip with a felt tip pen and cut with scissors. There will be an ink mark along the edge, but if you're careful it shouldn't get into the image area.

16x20 is still larger than I can cut with my current cutting tool, so I'd have to figure out a process anyway. But you're right that there's a big difference from $47 and $379. I already have some 8x10 on the way (intended for masks, but will be abused for this too) and I figure if I'm going to do this then I'll just get a huge size that will completely fill a 120 roll.

This film is really thin, I don't expect to have problems cutting it with a razor blade or something similar. Keeping it perfectly straight and the same width is the difficulty

Another really cool thing I'd like to do is somehow make my own edge markings, but that's a question for another day heh

edit:
heh, here's an idea: What if i just tape a processed and flattened strip of 120 down onto a cut sheet of ~33"x24" film and used that as a guide for cutting. If I use the manufacturer edge to line it up, then it should be perfectly straight.

or I could even use a pin/registration type system by punching a whole in the two far edges of the film, and then taping to be extra sure.
 
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I cut both Ilford Ortho as well as some of this film down to roll film sizes.

I'd suggest getting the 10x12 sheet size, getting one of those 12 inch wide Crikut trimmers that are sold cheaply in the craft stores, doing a little bit of advance work to put a pair of bump markers on the surface bed of this at about 60 or 61mm from the blade. Put your film in, secure it up the edges and make sure its squared, and then cut 12 inch long strips of 120 rather than 5 inch long ones. This same method will also let you put other marks on there for 127 or 122 or 116 or whatever you like,
 
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I can do that easily enough with the 8x10 (10" instead of 12", so 1-2 less exposures) but I'd really like to have full 12 exposure (6x6) rolls that can work reliably so that I always know how many exposures I'll get out of it.
 
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I agree that a 24 inch length is ideal but when I explored something similar to this, the costs and challenges of prepping it made the 12 inch lengths mich easier. If you want predictable results, why not use “templates” of either the 10 or 12 inch length using trimmed paper and use that to plan how two snippets of film can be used to create a full predictable roll of film. This would likely involve an “intermission” point in the middle of the film, skipping a known exposure or two depending on format and then writing in one or two more numbers on a pre prepared recycled backing paper. I do some similar things with these sheet films cut to roll widths for spooling.

Are you using the Legacy Soft developer? I bought some but have been trying to use a combination of over exposure, colored filters, and dilute developers first, similar to the things that work well for me with microfilm.
 
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grainyvision

grainyvision

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The intermission bit is easy if I'm using a red window camera, but much harder to accurately judge with the auto advancing style cameras like my LC-A+ 120 (which is super tempermental about frame spacing anyway) and my Mat 124G... you could potentially cut off an exposure by lining up the start line just a bit imperfectly, or even just due to camera variance. I'm ok to buy the roll I think if I can find some people that would buy some of the rolls to soak up the cost some and leave me with a bunch of "free" film.

No, I used HC-110 super diluted to 1:200, which gave reasonableish contrast, but had very little density. I increased to 1:100 which traded density for contrast but still wasn't as dense as I'd like, and then 1:50 which achieve almost max black, but way too much contrast. I also tried 1:1 and 1:2 Multigrade paper developer, that left me with a contrasty mess. Now I've been messing with pyro PMK and it seems to be the most promising yet if I can cure an uneven development problem (I develop for 5+ minutes, still uneven somehow.. I blame trays). With PMK it's near impossible to over expose it and blow the highlights, but it still brings out a good amount of shadow detail. With PMK the best speed is 3 or 6 ISO. One thing about PMK though is if you push it too hard and leave it in the developer, it will begin to fog in a fairly short manner. Fog seems to begin around 6 minutes and gets bad around 9 minutes. Ideal time for me seems to be 7 minutes. The thing that really helps this film though seems to be pre-flashing. I did just enough preflash to make the base just barely gray and it helped enormously for contrast and exposure latitude. I got decent pictures even at 12 ISO, but 3 or 6 ISO still looked the best.

Here is an example I did with preflash at ISO 3:

_0000012small.jpg
 

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I bought a 9 inch wide roll on Ebay, wack into the correct lengths and then cut with an Olfa cutter and straight edge under a dim red safelight.
 
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I’m thinking of a multi stage approach with this film to see just how much I can tone it down. For this I am going to cut some of my 5x7 sheets of it down to 9x12 cm and am considering the following contrast reduction measures...

1 Shooting with a lens known for being lower contrast such as a dialyte. I also have an uncoated Trioplan triplet that has pretty low contrast as well.

2 Using colored filtration. Since this is Ortho film I sort of think that a filter on the red end of the spectrum (such as Amber or orange) would give a very narrow spectrum though it would need considerable exposure time.

3 use of very diluted developers or even a POTA type developer. I’ve been wanting to try the latter on microfilm anyway so this may be the right time.
 
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I tried heavily diluted HC-110 and multigrade paper developer and neither worked well for me. Dilluted paper dev even at 1:5 (working solution to water) produced too much contrast and very few mid tones. HC-110 heavily diluted produced decent enough contrast, but max density was VERY low. I tested this by just putting a piece of scrap film into it with the lights on... it didn't seem to even begin developing until 5 minutes in when diluted to 1:200, and after 20 minutes it was a mild gray. Increasing dilution helped with density but also came with an increase in contrast.

I've been curious to use this film in pinhole cameras since those are super low contrast (I could even tame Ilford's high contrast direct positive paper when processed normally in a pinhole camera).. Only problem is I'd be restricted to contact prints since I don't have an enlarger that can do anything bigger than 6x7

This film, at it's very fastest, is 12 ISO. I think colored filtration would make it impractical for many uses, not to mention unpredictable. Also would void my primary reason for shooting it. I like the unique way ortho film renders things, like where with fall colors the green trees will be black and contrast with the red trees of the same type that will be white or grey. This is my main motivation for even bothering doing this... and that I don't want to pay $15/roll to Rollei for ortho film.

edit: er, had negative and positive reversed. Green trees would be white, while red would be black or gray
 
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I definitely get the premise and have times where I really like that “ortho look” but I’ve had pretty similar challenges with this film. I’ve maanged a few passable images from it on a 127 camera that I could shoot at f/2.8 at 1/100 but have found the contrast to be a real headache.

I do agree there is an overlooked market for a reasonable ortho film. Ilford Ortho Plus is great stuff when you can get it, and Silberra offers a very nicely 50 speed emulsion that they’re planning to expand to 120 so my fingers are crossed!
 

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Is there a particular reason for using Ortho film?

Well, this thread is about ortho litho film, a different beast entirely.

Couple notes - for safelights and Freetstyle's litho film, these dirt-cheap red LED bulbs are fantastic - I get no fogging, even with them 3' away for cutting and processing times.

If I were going to try to do those long cuts, I'd probably get a piece of aluminum bar (home depot, cheap), glue some felt to the bottom, and make some sort of jig for using an exacto. I'd think a 1/4-20 threaded knob on each end with a spring wrapped around the threads might work well - use the spring to lift the bar up for positioning, then tighten the knobs down. All hardware-store stuff.

This article may be of potential interest - pre-bleaching film for extreme zone contraction. For very high contrast scenes, pre-bleaching (after exposure) is a controllable and repeatable way to pull highlights down without having to resort to short dev. times and the issues those entail. I've seen work like desert shots done with this process and it can be pretty remarkable. Of course, litho film is an "all bets are off" material as far as techniques that work with normal films and papers, but it's also a cheaper proposition for testing. I'm about to start testing this process with some Delta 100 this week.
 
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grainyvision

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Is there a particular reason for using Ortho film?

If you want to simulate the ‘look’ of ortho then you can simply use a blue filter (such as Wratten Filter #47 or #47B or #44A) with normal film.

Bests,

David.
www.dsallen.de

According to this thread, it's very hard and requires specialist (or at least very hard to find) filters, matching pan film that has a suitable spectral sensitivity, and other factors... and then things change if you go to tungsten lights or whatever. https://www.photrio.com/forum/threads/simulating-orthochromatic-film.30408/


Well, this thread is about ortho litho film, a different beast entirely.

Couple notes - for safelights and Freetstyle's litho film, these dirt-cheap red LED bulbs are fantastic - I get no fogging, even with them 3' away for cutting and processing times.

If I were going to try to do those long cuts, I'd probably get a piece of aluminum bar (home depot, cheap), glue some felt to the bottom, and make some sort of jig for using an exacto. I'd think a 1/4-20 threaded knob on each end with a spring wrapped around the threads might work well - use the spring to lift the bar up for positioning, then tighten the knobs down. All hardware-store stuff.

This article may be of potential interest - pre-bleaching film for extreme zone contraction. For very high contrast scenes, pre-bleaching (after exposure) is a controllable and repeatable way to pull highlights down without having to resort to short dev. times and the issues those entail. I've seen work like desert shots done with this process and it can be pretty remarkable. Of course, litho film is an "all bets are off" material as far as techniques that work with normal films and papers, but it's also a cheaper proposition for testing. I'm about to start testing this process with some Delta 100 this week.

I have a very dim red safelight around 5' away that will fog the film after ~6 minutes in a tray. I might try to get one of those LED bulbs, maybe the spectrum it uses is more specific. I know a red LED flashlight I have will fog the film too on the order of about 15 seconds, but it's very directional and bright light. I use it very sparingly to help when developing by inspection.

And yea, good idea with the aluminum bar. Wasn't aware home depot had it, will have to check now. Not completely understanding your description with the spring and such though. I guess two aluminum bars (or drill hole in the table I use) to sandwich the film to keep it still?
 

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grainyvision

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There’s a shop on etsy that sells film cutters... he advertises that he can make custom cutters to your specification (i.e. from xx width to yy widths).

https://www.etsy.com/listing/266829907/film-slitter-to-cut-any-roll-film
I highly doubt he can manufacture those at 24" wide, though I will message and check. Regardless, I just got a huge 36" paper trimmer that should fit the bill nicely.

Also, received the film, no good way of cutting it yet, but did hack together something that works good enough for testing. Here's some of the cool results (shutter stuck on my Mat 124G resulting in the blurred images

Shot at 3 ISO, developed in Pyro PMK 1+1+100, 5 minutes total, 15s initial agitation, 4x agitation every 2 minutes after. I love the somewhat ghostly look of this stuff with it's weird response to color and contrast, and the grain is easily fine enough for some great pictures at 120... not sure I'd like it at 35mm though. I want to try this stuff in Rodinal at some point, as I think the grain looks pretty attractive. Similar in structure to FP4+ or other slower speed classic films. I think this would actually look better at 1.5 ISO, but that pretty much eliminates any ability to go handheld outside of the very brightest of days.

_0000001.jpg


_0000003.jpg


_0000004.jpg


_0000005.jpg


_0000007.jpg


_0000011.jpg



Also, here is a 100% crop (from 6300x6300px) to show how nice the grain and edges on this is:

_0000001 grain.jpg
 

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Late to the party, but I would cut an 8x10 sheet into four strips, each of which could contain three 6x6 frames. I then had a roll of backing paper marked with tape lines which would land between frames. But this was for a red window camera where I could be very exact with frame positions. Also, dust can be a problem when hand rolling film like this. But mostly it worked. I would tray develop the strips. Centrabrom S was my developer of choice for this film.
 
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Late to the party, but I would cut an 8x10 sheet into four strips, each of which could contain three 6x6 frames. I then had a roll of backing paper marked with tape lines which would land between frames. But this was for a red window camera where I could be very exact with frame positions. Also, dust can be a problem when hand rolling film like this. But mostly it worked. I would tray develop the strips. Centrabrom S was my developer of choice for this film.

Unfortunately all of my good cameras (ie, excluding my Holga and Diana) use automatic frame advancement and not red window.

I strongly prefer tank development (after I figure out processing of course.. otherwise dev by inspection is awesome) because I found it really hard to get consistency with tray development.. and it's difficult to juggle more than 2 strips in a tray, which means a normal strip of 120 takes 2x the processing time.

I cut my first successful batch of 7 rolls last night (only wasted 13 rolls worth of film figuring it out!) and was careful with gloves, clean surface, no airflow etc so I'm hoping that these have at least minimal dust, and no image compromising scratches. The back of this film is very fragile, scratched even by felt, but luckily in testing I found these minor scratches, despite being visible when inspecting the back of the negative, do not affect scanning or printing
 
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grainyvision

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Just posting here to hopefully get some ideas. I tried emailing the guy who makes the film splicers but never got a reply. I assume 24" is too big for him.

I printed some 3D printed guides for my 36" rotary cutter to cut it to a precise 61.5mm. These extend from the cutting side and are taped down. I push the film through from the flat section to where it cuts until it hits the guides. This works somewhat, until it doesn't. The film is too flimsy to really stay in one place like paper or cardstock would.. but also it's too tough to be cut without having it bubble or try to lift up. This makes it incredibly difficult to keep the film exactly still. Once a mistake is made and the film no longer has a perfect straight edge, it's pretty much impossible to recover. The film won't be firm against all of the guides, and thus cutting it the film will move, causing the edge to be even less straight and making the problem even worse.

I've also tried using the built in guide on my cutter, but the guide is only about 4" long and does practically nothing to hold the film straight other than put scratches on the emulsion.

I'm currently testing a 3D printed blade guide type system. No rotary cutter involved. I just have a slot in a platform and edges to push the film against. I position the film and then run a razor blade down the slot to cut it. I have serious doubts this will work. It's near impossible to get less than 0.5mm precision for the slot, and as with the first idea, once the perfect straight edge is gone, this runs into the same problems. Even if I made no mistakes, I think after 5 slices the straightness would be compromised beyond tolerance. Also, standard razor blades are not nearly sharp enough to cut the film with no problems. It still tends to buckle and bunch up without extreme care. The other problem is fairly involved to 3D print. It must be printed across 6+ pieces and then bolted together. I have doubts that straightness will be within tolerance when running across the potential minor errors of that many pieces.

My next idea is to cut two times per strip using a blade guide system and some 3D printed thing that holds 2 blades that I manually swipe across both slots. This will waste at least 10% of the film from sheet size, but can easily recover from mistakes that compromise edge straightness. However, my only idea for this also suffers from all of the other problems with the blade guide system above, especially the 6+ piece and accumulating errors problem. Thus far this is the most promising idea I have, though I want to try something simpler first.

Another idea on salvaging the rotary cutter usage is to somehow clamp down the film. This is really difficult to do without scratching the emulsion though. A guide thing that functions as a clamp was included with the cutter, but I haven't used it due to the scratching problem. Maybe I could just try covering this with felt or something? Some felt I found will put dust and hair onto the emulsion though which is pretty much as bad as scratches. Not sure of an ideal surface that won't scratch the emulsion. I've considered just using a generic flimsy plastic tarp and then removing the clamp when advancing the film. I will probably try this tonight since it's easy to try and wastes "only" $10 worth of film if it doesn't work out

Complicating things even further, I found I'm taking too long to cut and roll the film and fogging it under my safelights (they're safe for 20 minutes, target is 10 minutes.. actual time is around 30-40 minutes with current mistakes in the process).

If anyone has any ideas please share them.. This has been an incredibly frustrating process that I did not expect to be nearly so hard.
 
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