How to (consistently) make positive E-6 transparencies with C-41 chemicals

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by earlz, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. earlz

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    So I have been chasing this idea of being able to process E-6 film in B/W developer and C-41 chemicals in order to create positive transparencies. I've been working on this process since sometime last year, and I think I finally have it perfected for almost all types of currently produced E-6 film. I of course have done my research and found this is not an unheard of idea. What I had trouble finding was a reasonable and consistent recipe using commonly available chemicals and without any Ph balancing, chemical additions, etc. When I tried it the first time, things were all over the place. Some guidance resulted in an effective 3 stop pull, other guidance only resulted in a 1 stop pull. I wanted to get to exactly box speed, with little to no color casts. With a lot of wasted film experimenting, and a lot of patience, I've finally figured it out. I wanted to figure this out for two primary reasons: First, I hate having two sets of color chemicals, especially with how volatile and fragile the E-6 ones are. Second, I wanted to use it for artistic effect, to change the character of a film and maybe make something unique.

    My personal favorite film in this chemistry is Provia 100. It resembles Kodachrome in some ways and as long as you tighten up on the blue shadows in photoshop (or use a tungsten colored scanning light) you get just absolutely marvelous color with plenty of saturation and contrast, but not too much. A more tame and warmer version of Velvia.

    Anyway I wrote my final recipe, some lessons from my experiments, and tons of full resolution pictures from a variety of stocks in a blog post: https://filmandtubes.tumblr.com/post/175065123616/x-pro-reversal-perfected I've also attached a few of my favorite examples

    The recipe:
    • Mix HC-110 A working solution (1+15)
    • Heat both HC-110 and C-41 chemicals to 102F (you might also want a bottle of water for rinsing)
    • Rinse/preheat the tank for 2 minutes
    • Develop for 6:30 in HC-110. Agitate 10s initially, and then 4x every 30s after. Experimenting with less aggressive agitation could lead to less blown highlights, but additional time might be required for full shadow development.
    • Rinse several times in order to stop development
    • Remove film from tank, fog over daylight colored light pad. Do not fog over tungsten lights or outside using the sun. Fog for 2 or 3 minutes, ensuring to cover both the front and back of the film
    • Put film back in tank
    • Rinse/preheat tank again for 2 minutes
    • C-41 develop for slightly longer. For my kit it says 3:30, so I did it for 4:00 for VERY fresh developer (ie, this was the second roll I used with it). If you’ve processed more than 4 rolls, extend to 4:15. If you’ve processed more than kit capacity go for 4:30 or even up to 5:00.
    • Blix for almost twice as long as instructed. For my kit it says 6:00, so I blix for 10:00. If using a two bath kit, extend both bleach and fix times.
    • Rinse as normal. I recommend inspecting the film before stabilizing in case more blix is required.

    I have tons of pictures across different types of film. The only one I've had consistent problems to the extent of "wow this turned out looking absolutely awful and unusable" is Rollei CN200, Rollei CR200, and Lomography X-Pro 200.

    Processing C-41 film like this WILL result in color shifts and can be quite unpredictable. C-41 film will also of course have the orange base. This is easy to correct out in photoshop but makes it impossible to project with. Each C-41 film has it's own character when processed with X-Pro Reversal. Most E-6 film is on the range of passable or great:

    • E-6 Velvia 100 - Good, but I prefer the look of E-6 processing. There is a slight loss in color saturation with this
    • E-6 Provia 100 - Absolutely perfect. I actually prefer the look this film gives with this process to traditional E-6
    • E-6 Ektachrome 320 (frozen/expired) - Decent, a lack of color saturation however, and some mild color shifts
    • E-6 Lomography X-Pro 200 - Absolutely awful, don't do it
    • C-41 Superia 400 - Extreme color shifts, skin tones can look blotchy and purple in the wrong light
    • C-41 Lomo color 400 / Kodak Gold - Reasonable colors, though some mild shifts. Very punchy and vibrant with lots of saturation. High levels of contrast. Resembles a more tame version of Velvia with a lot more grain
    • E-6 FPP Color IR 400 - Preliminary (lacking scans) - Looks really great and color accurate with no color casts whatsoever

    Examples:

    Provia 100
    faye.jpg

    woodsy.jpg
    Velvia 100
    tim.jpg
    Ektachrome 320

    fashion.jpg

    Kodak Gold 400

    busy.jpg
     
  2. Cholentpot

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    Woah. Excellent work!

    Would this work with any B&W films?
     
  3. flavio81

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    Wow, wow wow....!!

    Paging @georgegrosu who might be interested as well...
     
  4. OP
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    earlz

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    I have a roll of XP2+ that I've been meaning to try this with. When I'm doing B/W it's usually so I can make darkroom prints, so I typically don't want positives. With most B/W films put through this process though you'll end up with just a clear strip of plastic because the blix part of C-41 strips off all the silver. With XP2+ it should work since it's not silver that you see on the film, but rather dye.

    Also, I scanned the color IR film and I don't think it looks any better than in E-6, but it doesn't look much worse either.
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Cholentpot

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    So that odd roll of BW400CN stuff I got floating around would be a prime for this...off to the freezer!
     
  6. OP
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    earlz

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    While doing some research on this, I did hear that you can end up with strange color casts with XP2+, so I wouldn't do it with anything really critical
     
  7. halfaman

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    Thanks earlz for sharing your work. Deserves a try by myself!
     
  8. mard0

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    Wouldn't this result in to a wides with a orange base? How is that better than a negative?

    How about the stability? Wouldn't CD-3 instead of CD-4 make the slides less stable
     
  9. thuggins

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    XP2 processes beautifully as a positive. I have posted information to that effect a couple of times here, at least. I find that for best results shoot at 100ASA and increase first developer time by 25% (i.e. over expose and over develop). They come out a very nice bluish-grey and are really unique and lovely images. Sample images have been posted on their respective threads.
     
  10. thuggins

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    Did you do anything else to the Kodak Gold? That is remarkably sharp and contrasty for cross processed negative film. And there does not appear to be much, if any, of an orange mask.
     
  11. OP
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    earlz

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    Of course, I had to adjust curves etc so that the orange mask wasn't there. I scanned it using a DLSR by taking a picture of the clear (ie, only orange base) leader to set whitepoint, and then scanning as normal. Here is what the raw scan off the camera looked like:

    [​IMG]

    And here is what it looked like if I set the whitepoint to daylight (which my lightpad I use for scanning is set to) and thus is much closer in reality to what you see with your eye

    [​IMG]


    Regarding image stability, I have no idea if the dyes produced are the same regardless of it it's activated by CD-3 or CD-4. To me it would make sense if they were, but I don't have a chemistry background. Unfortunately no real way of knowing how stable the image is either without waiting a number of years at least. I do know that E-6 processing still requires formalin. It should be simple to make a C-41 and E-6 stabilizer with some formalin and photoflo, but I haven't bothered.
     
  12. flavio81

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  13. wblynch

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    Thanks for the info.

    I tried it with some expired Provia 400F. I did something wrong as the film came out almost black and you can very faintly see images. I can scan them but they don't come out very good. If I had an enlarger I could probably print through them given enough time.

    I am sure I didn't give enough light in the re-exposure step.

    The colors look to be correct which is the main goal.

    I will try again soon.
     
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  15. iandvaag

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    I'm quite impressed with the results, thanks for sharing. I'm always interested in people's tests, since they could become useful one day if E6 goes by the wayside.

    If you ask me, I'd say if the film came out black, you've given enough re-exposure, and your problem was unsufficient first development (assuming the in-camera exposure was correct).

    First developers (FDs) in reversal processes are specially formulated beasts! Pretty much all of the colour balancing and contrast control is done in the FD. Hc110 is not a reversal first developer, and won't produce optimal results. It is really challenging to properly formulate a reversal FD.

    If you want a suggestion, you could try mixing up some D-67 (not D-76!) or D-168. These are reversal FDs for B&W. They might be a bit closer, but still won't be optimal. E6 FD contains hydroquinone monosulfonate (HQMS), which is different than regular HQ.

    If you don't want to mix D-67 or D-168, then you could try adding a silver halide solvent to your HC110 (such as thiocyanate or thiosulfate). It will probably take a lot of trial and error to get the proper amount and the proper developing time.

    Best of luck.
     
  16. OP
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    earlz

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    Why is D-76 more tuned as a first developer than HC-110? Why is HQMS an absolute requirement? I get consistent box speed results by using HC-110 solution A heated to 102F, cooked for 6:30 and agitated every 30 seconds. The only difference I see between E-6 first dev and HC-110 is slightly less contrast, but that actually makes slide film a bit easier to work with.
     
  17. OP
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    earlz

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    If you didn't fog the film enough, your unexposed portions of film should be fairly clear, rather than completely blocked as normal. Sounds like you massively under developed during the first developer, or your first developer was bad in some way (make sure it's heated to 102F).
     
  18. wblynch

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    Well, after first development, when I pulled the film out for light exposure, the black and white images were quite strong. I'm sure if I fixed the film then it would have given very acceptable b/w negatives.

    I admit I could have done any of a number of things wrong but I'm certain that in-camera exposure was no more than a half stop off, if at all. My best guess is under-exposure in the reversal step. Funny though that what can be seen of the images is clear and good color. It's like the darkness is a solid mask across the entire film strip. I tried to re-fix the film but it did nothing more to help.

    Even though this try wasn't successful I am interested to try again. I was excited to see positive images. Next time I will be more diligent at every step.
     
  19. mard0

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    If the film looked okay as a negative, then the development was not long/strong enough.
     
  20. OP
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    earlz

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    Also if you're using expired Provia 400, it might have lost some of it's sensitivity and you might need to expose it at 200 or 100 ISO. I've not tried this process yet with expired film unless it's been frozen, so I'm not sure what adjustments can be made for that.
     
  21. wblynch

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    As fate would have it, I bought a camera with an exposed roll of Provia 400x inside so I gave it another go. This time I followed EarlZ instructions religiously. The process worked wonderfully. Unfortunately there were only 3 exposures on the roll and they appeared to be test flash shots of a white feather duster in a black box. Not very colorful or exciting. But it clearly worked and the edge markings came out beautifully.

    My only complaint is it takes 30 ml of HC-110 per roll of 120 and I’m down to my last 100 cc. Time to order more HC-110 and a bottle of Rodinol to go with it. Or I could mix up some of the D-76 or X-Tol powder I have hanging around.
     
  22. Cholentpot

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    Think this'll work with rodinal? If so what do you think the times would be and what dilution.
     
  23. wblynch

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    No, I don't have any idea. I just am out of black and white developer. But it seems reasonable that Rodinal would work.. why not?
     
  24. Cholentpot

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    Lets figure this out. Anyone got any formulas for C-41 in Rodinal? I'll guinea pig this with some expired film...
     
  25. flavio81

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    The formula uses HC-110 dilution A at 110°F. The strong dilution (1:15) and very high temperature (for HC-110) mean the development will be very strong, aiming to increase contrast A LOT.

    This would be, in my opinion, consistent with what one does in B&W reversal, which is using a "contrast-working" developer.

    Thus, any developer suitable for achieving the very high contrasts should work. Perhaps Rodinal but at a concentration good for developing paper (paper developers are much more strong). Or perhaps using Dektol!
     
  26. Cholentpot

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    So what would work with Rodinal? Lets talk numbers and formula. What would work?
     
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