Kodachrome B&W processing?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by andylynn, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. Okay, so now that we're just about at the end of the cycle and K14 film is about to become the cheapest film on Ebay, can anybody point me to instructions on how to process it as B&W negative film? I keep seeing mention that you can do it, but I can't find any actual information.
  2. As I understand, C41 stuff can be treated like B&W for B&W developing (see about halfway down at http://www.photo.net/film-and-processing-forum/006iUm ), but others will know about Kodachrome.
    I know that Rocky Mountain Film ( http://www.rockymountainfilm.com/ ) does develop chromes for B&W, but it's something like $42 a roll.
  3. Here's some info I found using a Google search. I didn't go thru all the links yet tho. If anyone does have any info on how to develop Kodachrome as a black & white negative, please share how you exposed the film, which developer, dilution time, etc :)
    Thank you!
  4. Hmmm, so I do see one reference that looks like somebody was successful with HC-110 B at 23C for 4-5 minutes. That's a bit quick, so maybe 20C for 6 minutes? There was also mention of black bits or sludge floating in the chemistry - is Kodachrome rem-jet backed? Does it need a final rinse in borax? Maybe I'll just see if I can score some cheap this week and try it.
  5. I read that to remove the black gunk, which is the rem-jet backing, use a solution of sodium carbonate. Someone else said use some citric acid with your rapid fixer.
  6. I thought Rockymountain was bad news.
  7. Yes, Kodachrome has rem jet backing. This is the biggest problem with B&W processing. The backing will soften and wash off in an alkaline bath. Either borax or carbonate buffers can be used. The pH should be about 10. A B&W developer will also work. (The EM-26 process for Ektachrome Movies used this approach.) A continuous processing machine runs the film through a quick dip in an alkaline bath to soften the backing followed by either a spray wash or rotating buffers (like paint rollers) to remove the backing. The trick is to remove the backing without getting it on the emulsions side where it will stick permanently.
    I've heard of people taping the film on a hard vertical surface and wiping it with a alcohol soaked cloth. I have no experience with this technique.
  8. The other problem with processing Kodachrome as a B&W negative is the high contrast and dense image that results. The high contrast comes from the slide film emulsions. The high density comes from the yellow filter layer which was unique. In addition to Carey Lea silver (finely divided silver that reflected blue light) There was also a Lippmann emulsion (very small silver bromide crystals). In a B&W developer that contained a silver solvent (like sodium thiocyanate) the tiny silver bromide crystals would dissolve and develop on the metallic Carey Lea silver. The result was a dense black layer that shielded the green sensitive layer (which is also sensitive to blue light) from the blue print step.
    This yellow filter layer would cause fog if an imaging emulsion came in contact with it. It was coated in the same pack as the slow magenta and fast magenta emulsions and was separated from the fast magenta by a gel spacer layer. After this pack was dried, the yellow emulsion pack was coated on top of it. If there was any mixing between this yellow emulsion layer and the slow yellow layer, it would cause some fog. The contrast of the yellow highlights could be adjusted by changing the temperature of the slow yellow emulsion at the coating step. Temperature changes also affected the widthwise uniformity so this adjustment tool was avoided. It has been 25 years since I was managing the formulas of these products, but I remember these formulas better than some of the films I designed in later years. I'm recovering from foot surgery this week and and have plenty of time to expound on this useless trivia.
  9. Please, go on at length :)

    Sounds like the Kodachrome is pretty complex stuff - I take it the manufacture is a more involved process than with their newer films?

    So what would you recommend for a developer? Doesn't matter if the results are weird, this is all just because it's interesting.
  10. The K-14 first developer would be ideal, but you are not going to find that. The E-6 first developer would be a reasonable substitute.
    The above recommendations are based on theory. Since I've read reports of people using HC-110 to good effect, I would believe someone who has actually tried it.
  11. Kodachrome color film is made using three separate black & white emulsions sandwiched onto a single support. Each layer responds to specific frequencies of the spectrum (red - green -blue). During the developing process, a black & white negative image is formed by developing the film in an energetic black & white developer. The developer used is a rather ordinary in that it combines two developing agents. This combination is known in the trade as superadditive. The two agents are metol combined with hydroquinone. In an earlier time, hydroquinone was called quinol, thus the nicknname MQ. Kodak D-76 is an excellent example and it will work well for this purpose.
    In the actual color developing process, after the black & white negative image appears, Kodachrome film is treated using two reversal exposures and one chemical reversal, each followed by a dye bath. The film is then bleached and fixedto remove unexposed silver and silver images. Dyes are induced during the process. This type of film type is called in the trade, non-incorporated. Whereas Ektachrome E-6 and Kodacolor C-41 have a simpler process because these films have dyes incorporated in then during manufacture.
    Now Kodachrome wears an undercoating consisting of a heavy layer of carbon black. This layer protects the film from exposure when loaded into a motion picture camera, while on a reel. It protects against exposure from the rear in reflex movie camera and prevents halation's. Now this anti-halation coat is an acid plastic that is soluble in an alkaline bath. The backing called rem-jet and its difficult to remove. In the Kodachrome process the film is pre-soaked in an alkaline bath. This temporally hardens the film allowing it to withstand the rigorous of machine processing and also softens the rem-jet which is removed by buffing with soft spinning cloth rollers.
    You can processes Kodachome as a black & white using most any common developer. After processing the rem-jet backing can be removed by buffing the back of the film with a soft well washed T-shirt. Removal can be difficult thus the following solution softens.
    To make 1 liter
    Water 800ml (warm)
    Borax 20g
    Sodium Sulfate 100g
    Sodium Hydroxide 1g
  12. Thanks Alan, that's the most detailed description of the process I've ever seen.
    My listing of Rocky Mountain Film was just for reference. I know not whether they are good, bad, or indifferent. At $40+ a roll, I'm unlikely to ever find out (being a true-born Swedish skinflint and the child of parents who came to adult life in the Great Depression).
  13. Misc. comments:
    • Rocky Mountain Film Labs used to provide good service for very old film. Recent reports suggest they should no longer be trusted. Film Rescue International continues to provide this kind of service.
    • For a pictorial description of the K-14 process, go to http://www.randrews4.com/ProcessK-14.pps
    • There is a verbal description here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-14_process
  14. Alan, thanks for the detailed information. I'm going to try this, when I'm able to get some cheap Kodachrome - I bid on a lot of 2 and got outbid and it sold for $20! (I wonder whether the higher bidders understand that they can't get it to Dwayne's in time for K14 processing...)

    Ron, interesting Powerpoint - the cross sections are very helpful.
  15. Just so you will know: Many years ago I was Quality Control Manager for Dynacolor's processing plant. Dynacolor made a knock-off of Kodachrome that was marketed under the Dyancolor name plus under many other mass merchandiser names. The film was processed in Aurora near Chicago. Dyanacolor was purchased by 3M as was an Italian maker. The films made in the US were were K12 and K14. Incorporated color films were made in Italy. Prior to working for Dynacolor I was Quality Control at Southern Films Atlanta. This was a small Florida photofinisher with several locations. The Atlanta plant processed Kodachrome. Each Kodakcrhorme lab maintained an elaborate chemical analysis lab. Tests were ongoing to keep the chemicals of the process on specifications. Additionally sensitomecrtic test film was run hourly and read on calibrated densitometers. These were plotted on graft paper and the chemicals and physical properties of the process were constantly adjusted. I was trained by Eastman Kodak for this task.
  16. Alan,
    Were you at the Aurora Dynacolor plant in 1980? I visited that plant as part of a trade process survey on the Ektachrome Movie process. We were getting ready to introduce the improved versions of the films and Process EM-26. As I recall, there were four modified Ektachrome Autoprocessors running bulk mix chemicals.
  17. Hi Ron,
    In 1980 I had moved on. I was Technical Manager for Eckerd Drugs in Clearwater Florida. Mr. Eckerd had 200 drug stores. I built seven wholesale photo labs - Clearwater - Orlando - Miami - Houston - Charlotte - Atlanta - Dallas. Each able to process and print 20,000 rolls of color negative film a day. Kodak was the vendor for the equipment and expendables. Our relationship with Kodak was first-rate. We considered processing Kodachrome but could not justify the expenditure. In Huston we regenerated most of the chemicals. That escalated to a full blown analytical lab and an effluent pre-treatment plant. Mini-Labs were emerging, I put in 200 in key stores, the chain expanded to 2000 stores. The Min-Lab concept exceeded our wildest dreams. I chose Noritsu as the equipment supplier. After a time I was hired by Noritsu. I retired at age 65, now 72.
  18. I first came to be aware that Kodachrome could be developed in black & white chemistry was from this man's photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/century_graphic/315079338/
    He has a total of three kodachrome images developed as b&w, and he describes what he did with the film to remove the black layers after developing it in Rodinal. Indeed the shots are very contrasty and a bit dreamlike. Some might find appreciation in them while others may not. Maybe there are ways to experiment and improve on the process. There's a lot of Kodachrome still being sold on eBay. I myself still have eleven rolls.
  19. Would a B&W reversal process produce better results? If the bleach removed the silver in the yellow filter layers, that would be nice.
    I processed a roll of either Kodachrome II or Kodachrome 64 in D-76 in the 1970's. Came out readable. Turns out it had been double-exposed, loaded and shot twice. (That was why nobody wanted to pay for proper processing.) The rem-jet just poured out with one of the steps, either when I drained the developer, or when I drained the water-bath after the developer. Like pouring black ink.
  20. I asked DR5 about this; they said in effect that they aren't going to be processing Kodachrome as reversal process.
  21. David Brusco , march 02, 2011; 01:15 p.m. Can any one tell me what tempature to develop
    kodachrome in d-76. Also if the film is 25 years old will any image i put on yesterday show.
    One more question what is prewash and what is tempature.
    Anh and Dave
  22. Here's a sample of what a Kodachrome that expired in 2006 looks like processed into a B&W negative....
  23. Oh...and those who may be curious...here's some Kodachrome (no suffix) K-11 process film from the early 50s processed into a B&W neg...
  24. KODACHROME film, if the film is still 'good', meaning either not much older than 10 years kept at room temp, or film that has been cold stored since new (Thus usable filmstock), can still be used and processed but in Black & White. I process it here all the time for customers, mainly movie film in the 8mm and Super 8mm formats. It can still be REVERSAL processed to a decent B&W image, OR also in Sepia tone. Here's link showing some recent examples using a roll of film that expired in 1982 but had been cold stored for most of its life:
    So, if the film is still good, it can be processed FOUR different ways if desired:
    (1). B&W continous tone negative using a good B&W Film Developer such as D-76
    (2). B&W high contrast image, using the B&W Reversal process without Reversal or any high contrast B&W Developer.
    (3). B&W Reversal (either exposed manually rated at ISO 10 if ISO 25 Daylight film or ISO 40 Type A but using Daylight Conversion Filter{good for sky and cloud details in B&W}....or exposed at the indexed ratings and push processed to get 'normal' image density.
    (4). B&W Reversal in Sepia using ReDeveloper Formula T-19. This really makes a very interesting rich brown, tan and yellow look to the images, highlights almost glow....different in some ways compared to Sepia tone processing of conventional B&W Reversal movie films.
    So, back to your question on processing it as B&W Negative, if the film is 'good' use a good B&W continous tone B&W Developer and process normally using a roll for testing and then adjust your times and/or exposure index [E.I.] for the density you require. IF the film you have is very old, then I suggest using a developer such as KODAK D-19, and if also exposed many years ago, there will be significant age fogging. You can use an Anti-Fog agent to minimize this, but with such very old films, it does very little. So, use the lowest temperature recommended for B&W Neg processing, thus 65 F, cut your developing time down to somewhere between 2 & 3 minutes, and pre-wash the film first as well for about 5 minutes. After processing, both old or newer KODACHROME films will have to have their Remjet backing removed. This can be done via first soaking the film in a Borax bath, and there are some formulas out there. However, be advised that the remjet doesn't want to come off easily, and will require some serious forceful wiping. IT must be removed while wet....once dry.....you might as well try a paint scrapper to get it off!
    Once processed as a Neg, the negatives can be printed or scanned, and adjustments made in a photo editing software program; flipping images to positive, and density & contrast adjustments etc.
    Lastly, if you have KODACHROME Slide film and it's still good usable film, it will make nice B&W Reversal or Sepia slides.
    Hope this helps shed some light on the issue.
    Best regards,
    Martin Baumgarten - PPS
  25. Hi,
    I haven't developed B&W film for awhile, but developing my kodachrome as a negative seems quite interesting to me.
    If the Rim-Jet backing is so hard to get off, I was wondering if using acetic acid as a stop-bath would be appropriate. Has anyone tried using carbonic acid or another very soft acid as a stop-bath? Do you think that this might do any good? I'm also wondering if the non-hardening fixers pH might be raised in any way. Not hardening the emulsion might prove to be a problem, but would using formaldehyde (as in E-6 processing) after the backing has been rubbed off do the trick? Hmmmm, solving this problem could prove to be very interesting.
    I might try to get in touch with someone who ran a kodachrome processing machine to see how they dealt with this.
    From an old (and new) school photographer-
    Bill Rich

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