Tank / hand-processing of Kodachrome?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by eli_fedele, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. I know I'm probably kicking a gigantic hornet's nest here, especially with this being my first post on photo.net and all, but you definitely read correctly.
    Everywhere I've read and photographers I've talked to have told me that Kodachrome was a very intricate process to develop, such that it was out of the means of hand-processing (i.e. tank) and even the capability of smaller labs. Hence, why Dwayne's Photo was the last to be able to process it.
    However, being introduced into photography and finding the chemistry of film really interesting (and being an applying chemistry major at that), I want to try the tables and see if such a feat can be done. It doesn't help having the headstrong I'm-not-taking-no-for-an-answer mentality either. This isn't necessarily to produce lab-quality, perfect results. This is to do so and prove, yes, I did it. I processed something which is almost impossible to process in the manner that I did. A bit of a bonus point for my mind.
    If it helps, I'm not blindly rushing into this. I've in the past month done extensive looking into how color is generally processed, and gone to hundreds of niche forums and photographer's blogs that used Kodachrome and who know some of its intricacies. I've looked in detail to the K-14 process and what it entails. Now, obviously K-14 specific chemicals have been discontinued.
    From what I could gather, piece together and what was looked at:
    • K-14 specifies a PQ developer (phenidone-hydroquinone combination). D-76 fulfills such the category, albeit at modified development times
    • E-6 dyes and color couplers could be used (not sure on this one, I understand the color coupler concepts, but not sure how they varied by process)
    • Anti-halation backing removal solution could be made by a 1g/800mL sodium hydroxide solution
    What I planned on doing for the re-exposures (red re-exposure before the cyan coupling and development and the blue re-exposure before yellow development) was re-spool the film into a canister with the leader intact and what not, load into a modified camera where a blue or red light is inserted into a lens barrel and exposed. That has the benefit of allowing for standardized shutter times - then the film is rewound, retanked and on to the next step of the development process.
    Obviously all chemical processes would take place at the standard 100F (38C) temperature.
    Would this (in theory) work? I'm a chemist - the mentality is "what you know can work is significantly different from what will work should you try to complete it"
    E. Fedele
  2. Well you let us know..... I will just let you come back after you have finished your project and look at the results..... :)
  3. In that case, I may try to get on board with everything a bit quicker. I know you can readily buy E-6 chemistry kits, and all I believe it requires is a water bath for temperature control.
    Do you know if Kodachrome is still readily available in decent quantities, and if so, where?

    (I may need a couple rolls as "calibration" for my setup - those light re-exposures get to be hard - too much, ruins film; too little, doesn't sensitize)
  4. ebay for collectors.... And there are a few different types out there... Storage and age makes all that calibration moot.. You have no base point...
  5. Those re-exposures : just get into a proper darkromm, and find yourself one of those oldtime 10x10" Kodak darkroom lights, and get filters of the color you need for each exposure.

    You always reexpose the film wet on the developmet spiral, at least was what I did when I developed ektachrome and Ferraniachrome back in the day.

    Your method of reexposure in camera would require you to dry the film in a darkroom..... respoling it several times, I doubt that would pan out.

    Other than that I have few comments on your process, you might get color, most likely not.

    There is a wast difference between Ektachrome and Kodachrome, the first has the color dyes placed into the emulsion layers at the Kodak film manufacture plant.

    Kodachrome is a black-and-white emulsion, where the dyes are placed into the emulsion at the time of development, layer by layer, coupled and fixed in place by the color-developer.
    I have developed KC as B/W and stripped off the rem-jet black layer by two fingers wetted by wetting agent.
  6. Okay, now my next question is if I can't obtain the coupler and dye agents, is it possible to obtain original K-14 dyes and couplers? I know that KC films don't contain them.
    And if I can't obtain them, are there any analogs? What are the specific chemicals in use?
  7. No the last batch was sent to Dwayne's and they used them all up... Some of the chemicals to make the couplers and dyes are now on the EPA death list. Well thew were for a few years but had an Exemption. That expired January 15th 2011.
  8. So basically, it's a no-go.
  9. I think at this stage the most fruitful is to discuss specific recipes........

    I think I have the K-14 process in detail in a german tome on photo tech that I have.
    Its a frightful read as I recall, but substitutes might exist or it might not.
  10. In detail you say - enough to specify exact chemicals, or at least close enough to get the job done?
  11. Good enough for Government work? It is possible... If you are McGiver. :)
  12. As I recall - and this was some time ago - it was the process, both recipes and time/temp charts. I'd have to check.
  13. Well if you can get ahold of it, please share!
    If I can get the chemicals regardless of concentration, I could probably brute-force the development times, or at least figure them out the hard way.
    And to process KC in B/W, wouldn't you have to omit the bleaching step?
  14. Sure thing I developed KC as B/W negative, it was a peach, as soon as I figured out how to get rid of the rem-jet, imagine I had all but forgotten it was there, so it was a big disappointment! The film was KC left in some 35mm vintage cameras I bought, no control over expired or such, but I got weak negatives, I now know how to get them way better in case some KC turns up here......
    Larry don't discount a chem engineer to get out of the ordinary chemicals, I have personally handled stuff 1000 times more dangerous than this, and witnessed even worse handled in 55 gallon drums by guys with a cigarette and in their shirt-sleeves....
  15. Oh I am not..... I am the guy who developed film in urine. Erik... :)
  16. about 25 yeaqrs ago, I was making duplicate slides with e-4 kist
    one of the men told me " next year they will have a home Kodachrome kit"
    I tries not to laugh. "god & man" the two musicians managed to create Kodachrome in a hotel room.
    Modern Photography reported that ' some guy" in california developed Kodachrome at home- no reports on sucess or failure.
    Dynachome appeared when asa 10 kodachrome was discontinued. Someone said they even made an asa 25 clone of Kodachrome. This makes it sound " not too difficult" but that company had the old kodachrome machines and possibly access to the special Kodachrome chemicals.
    Movie sites talk about developing kodachrome as a b&w negative.-That is what kodachrome is a multi-layered B&W film.
    Reading here you will become aware that Colors are introduced as Dyes. there are no colors or color coupler in the film when you buy it.
    all colors are added at the time of processing.. Just about every other Color reversal film has the color couplers in the film.
    it is all similar to ektachrome or fujichrome. ( there were move films like technicolor that had colors added at the lab., these films were B&W films shot thru filters..
    I do wish you well and possibly there is some way you can proc3ess a film with some color in the finished product.
    That alone would be a great sucess. If the world was different or digital photography had not been invented, it is possible that Kodachrome would still
    be made. These has been no color reversal paper ( except cibachrome) for several years. so the handwriting is on the wall.
    Color slide film is beoming extinct. More power to you if you have some sucess.
    eith color negative sand c-41 and ektachome e-6 sand ra-4 paper there si a fairly close identity.
    one person reports developing c-41 color negative film in solutions intended for color printing. with some sucess.
    but Kodachrome shares none of this. It from a different world
    maybe some of the retired Kodak scientists can post and shed some light on this.
    DPreview posted that there would soon be "another Kodachrome" I think this is only wishfull thinking.
    I aonly want some panatomic x ( or ever real plus-x)
  17. Walter
    You know this is one post I won't have to figure out of yours. Very well said.
  18. Jupp, even one color in one layer, not even takling right color in right layer would be an astonishing success, given how long KC was on the market, and noone came up with anything as far as alternative processing....

    But it would be fun!
  19. Ok but I suddenly did not get an english literature degree
    I will try harder. BTW I did not even have to edit the "mistreaks"
    I might add that Kodak did 200 K-chrome in a sink but they were Kodak.
    when I showed a car buff that big-block chevy connecting rods were available for small-block chevy he said ' it can't eb done"
    he is right of course but this was chevrolet making them Not joes on the corner.
  20. Larry I remember you mentioning thaturine project, I pondered upon that this week and decided to attack tea leaves instead, it will be a long project unwinding but so far successful!

    One question, the stench (teas smells better than coffe!!) hod did hydrolysing urine work as far as that urine stench goes? If it did turn into a *chemical solution* I might one day go down that road..... :)
  21. Walter... That is why i love you.. Always Knowledge... Don't ever go away.. You my friend are a store house.... This is why I call you a friend...
  22. How is it that noone has anything specific to say about the KC recipes? I think the process times and temperature charts are well known, but noone has posted the recipes, are they THAT secret, even now? Kodak should put everything into the public domain,

    And for the record it was a shame they did not put out kits for C41 normalized for 20 Centigrade.
  23. Eric
    The Project I had petered out. :) I tested Female and Male urine and even went for store bought Uria. The problem I had was when I asked how to purify the store bought uria. Seems I got my name on a list....
  24. C41 kits at 20C were put out and they sucked....
  25. Lists..... overe here asking for something stronger than 3%superoxyde for hair dyes will land you on one of their lists.....
    But you hydrolyzed the stuff, was it still *urine*?
  26. I have one roll of K25 that I overlooked at the end. It is exposed, but I am planning eventually to process it as B&W. There are instructions here and elsewhere on the internet (what isn't on the internet, after all).
  27. Eli, you should go to APUG. Photo Engineer worked for Kodak developing films. There are lots of post about this very thing.
  28. No it is a common Fertilizer...
  29. Agfa had their C41 process normalized for 20C, it was published. I doubt you could tell 80 million germans that their pictures sucked.... But 17 million of those germans knew what sucked, the old east german ORWO process and even worse the russian Svet process, I have had the dougtful experience of developing Svet films myself with east-block chemistry from small kits...
  30. Eli just walk over to my blog, there in the archives is how I did KC myself with home-mixed chemistry.
  31. Eric that was C-22.
  32. If one had basic knowledge of the general chemical structure of the Kodachrome dyes, one might through trial and error eventually create them. IMHO, though, I think the infinite number of monkeys typing out all of Shakespeare's plays might be more likely, though. ;)
    However, someone at EK must know the formulas used, but getting them to reveal them is also unlikely I would guess. Whatever the outcome, though, good luck with your project.
  33. I do know one was Cyanide in the mix.. for all of the Kodachromes.. It was a problem....
  34. Naaaa Larry I have some internal AGFA literature here, dated 1979, outlining their color-negative process, says 20 centigrade, Agfa went with C41 the same time as Kodak AFAIK.
    But ORWO did keep the old Agfa process running - the old Agfa plant was in Wolfen (ORiginal WOlfen).
  35. US Patent 3,658,525 is the entire K-14 process.
    Problem is you need a serious organic chemist to synthesize the dyes, and perhaps some of the other chemical ingredients. They were only ever used for Kodachrome, and there is no commercial source of them anymore.
    Note that the patent doesn't say how to make the chemicals. That was a Kodak trade secret.
    Engineers did "sink line" the Kodachrome process at Kodak. It is possible, with the chemistry.
    Realize that many of the former Kodachrome processing plant sites are now "Superfund Sites".
  36. @Erik - link me to your blog, I'll be sure to check it out. Is that B&W or color? I'm assuming B&W.
    This leaves me a lot of thinking to do.
    Are there any other standardized processes that do not rely on emulsion-bound dyes (that is, you have to add the dyes)?
    You may see where I'm going with this - is it possible to shift the dyes from one process to the other? Theoretically, it should work. The silver is the same, and use of a compatible developer...My mind tells me yes, but experience isn't around to comment.
  37. @John - if I were to get the chemicals, making them or however, substitution w/e,
    would the K-14 process be "in vitro" compatible by tanking, or would it ABSOLUTELY require a processing line?
  38. Erik I know I used to import the chems through Australia to the US in what we called KoKo Kits.... Even East German C-41 ended up C-41 a few years later.... The problem is the color/colour shift you get with lower temp and extended times... :)
  39. Larry thats why they hired chemical engineers! And threw a million bucks at them....

    So many engineers employed at Kodak and so little worthwhile for their efforts, they should (also) have done a few simple projects like putting out a C41 kit @ 20C with NO false colors and color shifts and color crossovers and whatnot, instead of all the *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* they brought forth :
    Instamatic, Pocket Instamatic, Kodak Disc, and the ultimate last straw APS....

    That would have faciliated home prcessing for the enthusiasts, creating a stronger more loyal customer base, instead of trying to just lock the moms and dads into their evergrowing chain of picture plants....

    And while at it, done something similar for Kodachrome, I used Chibachrome in the darkroom for a while, it was a revelation, immacculate picture quality, nearly KC quality from the colornegative films of the day..... and it was said to be poisonous as hell, actually the kit came with warnings against putting the chemicals down the drain....
  40. Did you have to add the dyes, or were they embedded?
  41. Eli the blog can be found at


    From what I have seen the K 14 is a running line operation, but I haven't seen anything in the process the REQURES a running line, anything can be done in a tank, it's just a matter of scale.

    Thuinking opposite setting up a running process for anything at home, from scratch would probably be a lot harder than doing K 14 in a tank...
  42. LOL Erik You are talking not only Temp and time changes you are also talking a chemical change to make one element react with another at a given temp..... ISO and it was universal... Temp included.... It would have been another standard and patent based on what Kodak created.. And we see in the news where the Android Microsoft Apple thing is... :)
  43. Eli, if you are serious about his, and it sounds like you are, you need to head over to apug.org, and pick the brain of one Rowland Mowrey. Also known there as Photo Engineer. As John eluded to above, though, you may need to "rediscover" the dye couplers. Good luck, and I have two rolls of unexposed Kodachrome 64 I will donate to the cause.
  44. Na Larry the general idea was that Kodak should have done that themselves, with their guys and technology, and cultured photography and the enthusiasts....

    There was a time when a lot of people covetted Kodak cameras....Retina's for instance, a time when Kodak products was right up there on tier one, instead we got *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* like Instamatics and the rest.

    Kodak was at one time in history the worlds most rcognized brand...there was Kodak sign outside stores all over the world, even in east block countries.

    Its all gone now, we don't se any signs now, and the signs themselves have become museum pieces.... the youngsters have never HEARD of Kodak, and they closed down their operation in this country 5 years ago....

    But theyt sure still have many secret processes....
  45. I see this is going to get the man no place . And in those days most of us loved doing our own E4-E6. When the world was simple and the cops used to say... Damn Larry that was a nice model rocket you built we recovered it 80 miles away.
  46. Just got online at APUG.org and sent Photo Engineer a message about the specifics.
    @Michael - thanks, and that would be an absolutely huge help should I get some more confidence regarding this project.
    I will make sure to keep everyone posted (probably over this thread) about everything, especially what I hear back about it. Obviously, in the rare chance this does work, I will post full documentation about exactly how I did everything.
  47. PQ stands for Phenidone/Hydroquinone. There is no phenidone in D-76. Agfa did not go to C-41 as soon as Kodak did. This nearly caused Agfa to go out of business long before its consumer division folded.
  48. Kodak should put everything into the public domain​

    It already is... and has been for years.
  49. I really can't see the point in this exercise. What's the point in going to all this trouble if Kodachrome has been discontinued? I could understand it if the film was still in production but it's not. Just shoot E6 and be happy.
  50. If you would've read the original post in its entirety and read with a bit of context sensitivity...it's because it's a challenge. Of course I could get any E-6 film, run a 100F water bath and with half a clue and a keen eye for charts and regulations get decent, maybe even lab-quality results.
    That, however, is not the point. I'm a chemistry major who likes challenges. The point is to prove it can be done. As I said (again in the original post), I'm not trying to resurrect a dead film and an even more justifiably-dead process, I'm trying to give myself a challenge and see if I can actually get decent results. Of course it's been discontinued. If it hadn't I wouldn't be sitting here posting this.
    You may ask yourself why we sent a man to the moon...certainly wasn't to run lab analyses on moon dust...it was so we could sit around for eternity and say we made the feat.
    Assuming I find some way to obtain the dyes even, I can't see myself processing more than 5-10 rolls that I would find primarily through eBay, and I definitely wouldn't become the world's next Kodachrome processor (even though I would post full documentation about it).
  51. Eli's last post explains WHY. Too many are not willing to accept a cha;llenge..
    This is not to say it is do-able. but it is really a try-able thing to do.
    it is not as if he were trying to process the original asa 10 film- which I really liked.
    where would he get a supply? Or even the early ektachrome that was not a great film.
    One small suggestion. I said Modern Photography commented on someone home developing Kodachrome.
    Possibly before K-14. Some of the folks are still around like jason Schneider, and may have some details. It is likely the california experimenter is passed away. But there may be some details abailable. Especially a few "do not's"
    I completely agree with the iundercurrent comments that Kodak is whre it is today because it did not one but several stupid things.
    Companies tend to do that when an agressive CEO with limited understanding steers a company onto the roaks/.
    In many cases Mr. average joe photographer could do better.
    Because of the comments about poisonous chemicals and a very small percentage of Kodak sales,
    Kodak probably was right in discontinuing Kodachome.,
    another factor was that it would not work AT ALL in many cameras as they did not have the proper DX coding to accept iso 64 film.
    If Kodak had made iso 100 or iso 200 Kodachrome and dropped the iso 64 film it might have made the film more
    salable. Just about as smart as the odd film sizes.
    again I wish you well and hope to hear good or at least interesting reports.
  52. Exactly. Even if the result comes out with completely off saturation and color shifts and what not, at least it would show me that hey, the chemicals did what they were supposed to when they were supposed to do it.
    At which point it would be a combination of aggressive trial-and-error and a lot of time of good ol' back-to-the-drawing-board kind of research. I don't see any reason though why it would be an impossible feat.
    On an optimistic note, I have good news.
    Rowland Mowrey let me know that a good starting point would be the RA-4 or C-41 developers as they contain the proper CD-3/CD-4 color developing agents. Also, the dyes/couplers in use are apparently still available, albeit in significantly restricted quantities.
  53. The process is absolutely sink-line-able. As I noted, they did it in research, and it's how they processed sheet-film Kodachrome before that was discontinued in the 1950's.
    Realize that you don't need to use Kodachrome film to experiment. You can use B&W film (say Tri-X), do the processing, re-exposure, reversal, and ONE of the three dyes. Then bleach out all silver and fix. The dye couples into the emulsion when you are processing the silver complexes you exposed.
    Kodachrome is just a stack of three B&W emulsions with a different spectral sensitizations. (Plus a yellow filter under the top emulsion.) What is really tricky in Kodachrome processing is that you selectively fog only one emulsion at a time, and the processing after that re-exposure is what brings in the dye for that layer. The top blue-sensitive emulsion is fogged through the top of the film with blue light, and then processed to pick up yellow dye. The bottom red-sensitive emulsion is fogged through the bottom of the film, and then processed to pick up cyan dye. The middle green-sensitive emulsion is chemically fogged, and then processed to pick up magenta dye.
    There is no magic chemical key that makes the dye only connect to it's emulsion. It just goes to the emulsion layer that was just fogged, only in places where the fogged silver compounds are being developed.
    The re-exposure is critical, since you do NOT want to fog the other layers. Very narrow spectral filters are used on the light, and the timing is somewhat critical.
    Oh, before the first developer, you have to remove the rem-jet backing without contaminating the emulsion side with that crud. You can use Eastman Color Negative films to develop a workable process for that. Note that you must do it first, since you need to re-expose through the base.
    The hardest part is developing a set of dyes that works. Obviously they also need to be "engaged" with the developer so that they are absorbed/activated in only the right places. If I recall correctly, that developer is CD-6, so they need to be friendly with CD-6. (CD-6 is Color Developer 6.)
    You can have fun with this, but don't expect to possibly be able to process Kodachrome film to look better than any current E-6 film in an E-6 line.
  54. So Kodachrome is the equivalent of stacking three films together, and each emulsion is exposed in a different color. Makes sense...somewhat, but it's the intricacies that are the issue.
    How would you do a reversal? I would probably practice and calibrate the operation on B&W film first with single dyes before swapping to all 3 dyes at once.
    And about your last comment...that is exactly what I've tried to convey above anything else here, that I'm doing it to experiment and to have a bit of fun, maybe get results. Stellar results are more than what I'm hoping for, and I'm not trying to be the world's next KC processor. I'm just trying to prove that hey, it could be done again, that Kodak didn't absolutely quench the world's last possibility of color development of Kodachrome.
    Even if it comes out wildly inaccurate that'll still be good enough results for me should I not have enough KC stock to continue.
  55. One simple question: Kodachrome is a three layer B&W film. The silver particles are dyed during processing, and because its silver, it will last "for ever". Was this technology ever used in color negative films? Is it possible to process Kodachrome into a negative "silver" film?
    I think the idea of processing Kodachrome at home is a wonderful challange.
  56. One, read the patent.
    Two, read the Kodak Z-50 manual on the K-14M (K-Lab minilab) process. Section 3 I can find online here. I can e-mail the whole thing.
  57. Joachim there is absolutely no problem developing Kodachrome into B/W negative film.

    I have done so and I mixed my own developer, (even if somebody feels talking about this was inappropiate in this thread, and completely misread it).

    The only problem was getting rid of the rem-jet black layer, which can be removed by an extra bath beforehand (I have a recipe), I didn't and removed it mechanically after development,m that is with two fingers in in a wetting bath, just pushing the film gently back and forth.

    I used Caffenol, and developed the film exactly like I develop C41 and even E6 films in caffenol. 3 baths just as with regular B/W.

    The film came out with a fog and yellow stain, but I got scannable negatives. I have since learned to control fog with potassium bromide KBr, the yellow stain is worse but a scanner cuts right through it.

    I have pictures and notes on my blog AFAIR.
  58. If you would've read the original post in its entirety and read with a bit of context sensitivity...it's because it's a challenge.​
    Oh well, each to their own I suppose. My challenge for this evening is to see if I can finish these 10 beers without tripping over the dog.
  59. Now that seems like a fair challenge, but at least that has probably been attempted and has a documented success rate.
    So assuming I can get ahold of the dyes/couplers in the first place, how would I go about developing? Just premix with the developer and pour in on the appropriate steps? Pour in first and follow with the developer?
  60. Nearly anything that has already been done can be done again. Whether it is practicable and desirable to do so is another matter altogether.
    Marx fairly well summed this up in his statement about things repeating*:
    The first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.​
    *Sorry to keep repeating this, but it has seemed so very appropriate lately, so count this one as farce. ;)
  61. ....meaning...?
    Again, I don't think this has been conveyed enough, but I'm not doing this to make a practical, economical procedure to develop Kodachrome and to bring its processing back from the deep. I'm doing this to prove hey, it could be done and maybe have some fun in the process.
    This would be the hobby-in-spare-time, not the all-consuming quest over the supposed photographic Holy Grail. I perfectly understand, right now, that it is unlikely I will ever be able to run such a project. My ability to obtain the chemicals is unlikely. My ability to make such a setup work properly is even more unlikely at that. Finally, any hope to produce acceptable results which would rival that of modern, properly-processed Ektachrome and even hint at the standard that Kodachrome was is merely in itself that - a hope - probably excess optimism at that - and is probably factoring more variables than I would be able to account for in the first place.
    Best case scenario, I produce KC slides that are the first anyone has seen newly-processed since KC processing went down just about a year ago. That's it. Maybe others in such a scenario might follow my documentation to try and do it themselves, but it's unlikely. Might I remind you that I'm a senior in high school - I haven't the experience or time to know what not to do - and if such a project teaches me several things about photography, even if I was never able to develop KC properly, it was worth it.
  62. In the meantime while I'm trying to gather a bit more info and stuff before I can proceed, is there any way to open the canister without mutilating it via good ol' canopener?
    Because I'd love to have me a Kodachrome canister that I could use with bulk 35mm.
  63. I wish OP’s effort won’t stop here - just in the form of postings. But I do worry about the feasibility after reading about OP’s hesitation of mutilating the canister. As an encouragement, if you are really doing it, including have acquired the required chemicals and with detailed workflow, I will gladly supply you the Kodachrome film needed for the experiment, with the Kodachrome canister.

    Many people lacking of experience climbing mountains are suddenly interested in challenging the Everest. I hope you can prove this is not the case with you.
  64. I am sorry I didnt make my question clear, Erik. I am aware its possible to develope Kodakchrome into B&W negatives. I have seen the results. I was just thinking, if it is possible to skip some of the reversal steps in order to keep the process more simple. Just develope each B&W layer and dye it without re-exposure or bleach.
    Color negatives are supposed to fade over the years. I would be clever to invent a colour negative film with the same basic silver layers like Kodachrome. If its possible to reversal process a traditional B&W negative film into B&W slides, why not do the "opposite" to Kodachrome.
    One last thought. Is it easier to invent a home processing technique for some of the older Kodachrome types like K-II? Quite often they turn up on Ebay in shape of 16mm films.
  65. No that would not work because it is the REEXPOSURE stage that makes it possible to develop each layer seperately. Thosae that came up with KC, wqas sneaky enough to figure out a way to have 3 separate layers thsat was orthocromatic, pancromatic and not sentized, with filering between layers, the reexposure is the trick here, exposing ONE layer only at a time and deve,loping that layer, with dyes, coupled at the same time, repeat until its done.

    A negative would not work, sinve at the negative stage all layers are exposed in balance....
    Can't see how this would be possible.
  66. Like many of Kodak's products, Kodachrome's processing chemicals were all proprietary formulas. Many of the bags and barrels did not even list the ingredients. You would have a better chance of making your own SD cards.
  67. Thank you. Now I understand...well...just a little better. It sounds like a very sensitive work flow. Just one small fault, and the whole film is ruined. This was done with technology of the 1930s without computers. I am impressed.
  68. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I wonder if you could contact Dwaynes, explain what you want to do and see if they have left over dyes that they will sell you.
  69. All you need to do:

    Backing removal
    An alkaline bath softens the cellulose acetate phthalate binder. A spray wash and buffer removes the rem-jet backing
    First Developer
    All exposed silver halide crystals are developed to metallic silver via a PQ developer. The yellow filter layer becomes opaque because it has a combination of Lippmann emulsion (very tiny grains) and Carey Lea silver (metallic silver particles that are small enough that they are yellow rather than gray.)
    Red light re-exposure through the base
    This makes the remaining undeveloped silver halide in the cyan layers developable.
    Cyan developer
    The solution contains a color developer and a cyan coupler. These are colorless in solution. After the color developer develops the silver, the oxidized developer reacts with the cyan coupler to form cyan dye. The dye is much less soluble than either the developer or the coupler so it stays in the red layer of the film.
    Blue light re-exposure from the top
    This makes the remaining undeveloped grains in the blue sensitive layer (the yellow layer) developable. The now opaque yellow filter layers prevents the blue light from exposing the magenta layer (the green sensitive layer, which is also sensitive to blue light). It is important to avoid stray printing light exposing the film base of film.
    Yellow developer
    Analogous to the cyan developer.
    Magenta developer
    This contains a chemical fogging agent that makes all of the remaining undeveloped silver developable. If everything has worked right, nearly all of this silver is in the magenta layers. The developer and magenta coupler work just like the cyan and yellow developers to produce magenta dye that is insoluble and stays in the film.
    Prepares the metallic silver for the bleach step.
    (Iron EDTA) Oxidises the metallic silver to silver halide. The bleach must be aerated. The former ferricyanide bleach did not require aeration and did not require a conditioner.
    Converts the silver halide to soluble compounds which are then dissolved and washed from the film
    Washes the fixer out of the film.
    Contains a wetting agent to reduce water spots.
    The result is three different color records each with the appropriate dye, just like other color films. The original Kodachrome process in 1935 used dye bleaches and was a far more complicated process. Although the formulae have changed over the years, the basic process steps have followed a similar pattern since the introduction of "selective re-exposure" Kodachrome in 1938.
  70. Thanks to John Shriver for providing the reference to the Kodachrome process patent. Thanks to Steve Levine for the concise description of the K-14 process. At this point, you have all of the information necessary to process Kodachrome. Study that patent in detail. If there is something you don't fully understand, you will need to study it until you do.
    While you have all of the information, I doubt that you have all of the resources. That patent was issued in 1970. Much of the work to support the patent was completed well before then. Process K-14 was introduced in 1974. There was a sizable staff of chemists, engineers, and technicians who worked hard for those 4+ years to make Process K-14 a reality. My estimate is that you will need 3 synthetic chemists to synthesize the couplers. You will need another chemist or chemical engineer to sort through all of the options in that patent to figure out which color developing agent goes in which developer solution. You will need a chemist to scour the catalogs of a multitude of suppliers to purchase the chemicals that are still on the market. You will need someone to construct re-exposure devices to accomplish the re-exposures through the base (red) or emulsion (blue) without exposing the other side. You need to figure out what kind of filter to use for the red and blue re-exposures as well as the type of light source and the necessary exposure time.
    Try to contact Rowland (Ron) Mowrey. His name is on that patent. I think he is still a member of photo.net so you may be able to send him a note from this forum. Otherwise try to contact him on APUG. He can give you a much more accurate picture of the resources needed to re-create a process for Kodachrome film.
    Finally, I'm going to pick at some nits here. There are no dyes in the processing solutions. There are couplers and they are colorless. The dyes are not formed until the couplers react with oxidized color developing agents. If this is just a semantic issue, then don't worry about it. If you are not clear about how this process works on a generic level, then you have a lot more studying to do.
  71. Try hair colorant!
    Ever noticed that strange orange, purple or blue hair color - in fact it works in the same way as the color-forming process in chromogenic color development: color coupler (soluble) + color developer (soluble) + oxidant (in an alkaline environment) = color (insoluble). On film, the residual silver halide acts as the oxidant, on hair, it might be hydrogen peroxide. The color must resist washing out and should not fade too fast.
    Try to get the basic color couplers for hair colorants, and you might also able to order the hair color developer, or try with a normal substituted para-phenylene diamine (I assume CD-1 or CD-2, I do not know if CD-3 or CD-4 are now used in hair colorants). Then do your experiments with cheap B & W film first for single color chromogenic development. You might not get the colors as right as Kodak's original ones, but it could work.
    For reversal exposure LED sources will provide a narrow spectral range, better than the filters available in the 1970s. I remember from the manual that the cyan layer is exposed with red light, the yellow layer with blue light, and that the magenta layer is chemically fogged. You could also try single color fluorescent tubes, with a red or blue phosphor (but these may have residual mercury lines at shorter wavelengths, especially the red one.)
    It would of course help to have a trained chemist at hand, and basic laboratory equipment such as a balance, a pH-meter, and a thermostat. Be aware of laboratory safety! It could be an interesting challenge for senior high-school or college chemistry classes to reverse-engineer a Kodachrome substitute process...
  72. @Phil - Haha, that's not the case. The mutilation of the film canister is by no means a worry to me, if I have to do it. I know very well how to do so, and I've processed enough commercial rolls to have it down. If I didn't know how to open the rolls, I wouldn't be asking how to process Kodachrome, I'd be asking how to process B&W.
    I was just wondering if there are any ways to open the rolls without mutilating or bending the canister out of shape, so I could reuse it with bulk film or something. It would be a neat thing to go up to my photo course instructor and hand him an empty KC canister to load and get a funny look. If I must resort to hacking it up for the sake of progress, by all means I will do so.
    I already have a tentative procedure in place, depending on the chemicals and setups used I will add times to it later and if this project gets to the point of your rolls helping me then I will post up that procedure and logistic information in full detail and explanation for anyone to review/critique/etc. I have a good understanding of chemistry and how the chemicals will and should interact.
    I will work on getting a full process and interaction diagram done either tonight or tomorrow and if any of you want I will post it for review.
    @Heinz - I did not think about that! I knew some color developers and other vague derivatives of photography compounds were used, but I did not know that the dyes could be used. If you want, you can email me and we can discuss that more in detail. If anyone can find me a link for those couplers and CD developers, I could progress more with this and would be very thankful. While the exact magenta, cyan and yellow colors may not be Kodak-accurate, it would be "close enough" - we have to remember we're working with a film for which processing is no longer available, so if I have to take slightly off-color than what processing would have made it look like, at least we're getting what we're trying for.
  73. Also, Ron, I've already gotten in touch with Ron Mowrey, and I'm trying to work out a process from there. The dye/coupler confusion was just my interchanging the terms.
  74. Eli - Glad you are not just talking here but I guess you still need to get chemicals and filters, lights etc ready. Past few years I have seem too many discussions/postings and never(!) had one really get all things ready for a serious, complete trial, even if the result is not favorable.

    We have already seen many b&w images using a few different b&w developers. I haven't seen 1) a b&w reversal image; 2) a color negative image; or 3) a color reversal image from Kodachrome home processing. If you can conduct a repeatable trial generating one of above (3) results it definitely is an improvements. It is understandable you are not looking for or demanding color accuracy. Even if the color images look like the result of cross processing I think you already can claim a success.
  75. I can send you 2 rolls of Kodachrome 64 to use for your test. The 25 I am keeping for History.
  76. Definitely, it seems now this seems to be a more achievable project, especially if the hair dye concept proves to work out. I figure I can order a loader and some bulk B&W to practice the dying procedures, maybe even re-exposing and producing some one-color reversals on B&W. Since it is Kodachrome we're talking about, I will have very limited quantities to work with and want to have the procedure down pat before actually using it.
    For the light re-exposures I have an idea which may work, but I'll run it by everyone here for critique. My idea is to buy a cheap SLR off eBay (the manual-advance ones), and hack the lens glass out and mount red and blue LEDs inside the barrel of the lens. Run them to two different circuits (one red, one blue) and respool the film accordingly to expose the proper side. Load the camera, and "shoot" the film again, one exposure at a time. For variance, the shutter speed can be altered to find the proper time. The film is rewound and re-tanked for the next step.
    If I am able to get these trials to work...well folks, we'll be seeing the first color Kodachrome freshly developed in over a year (including the fact it may take me a while to acquire the water baths and dyes). @Larry - that would be a tremendous help, but I won't take you up on it until I have a process with a reasonable chance of success. If anyone wants me to, I'll scan and link to the process that I've (tentatively) worked out.
  77. Ignoring all of the other problems for the moment, I perceive some problems with your proposed method of re-exposure. The red re-exposure needs to come through the base. This is normally done when the film is wet. Running wet film backwards through an SLR will produce many scratches, some of them severe. Unless you are very consistent when loading film, the frame lines wont match up. If you want to use a camera body for re-exposure, remove the back plate and the mirror and transport the film continuously through the camera. It will be better if you don't wind the film into a cassette. Plan on doing this in your darkroom. You don't need to "hack the lens glass out". Just mount your LED's on a plate in front of the lens mount.
    However this project turns out, I hope you will report back to us about what you have learned.
  78. Does the re-exposures absolutely have to be done wet? I forgot to mention I intended to dry the film before respooling. Also I planned on using tape marks on the film in several positions along the first few frames to serve for alignment purposes.
    In regards to the wet re-exposures, I see no reason why it shouldn't work, but then again, Kodachrome was hard to process for a reason.
  79. I don't know whether acceptable results can be achieved with dry film for the red re-exposure. I'm pretty sure the results will be different. The red re-exposure is likely to be a bigger problem than the blue. The red spectral sensitizing dyes for Kodachrome were chosen in part because they would stick to the AgX grains when the film was wet. I know that an acid wash after the first developer will remove the spectral sensitizing dyes and prevent successful re-exposure. I know that if the wash after the first developer is too long, some of the dyes will be removed. This is one of 50 to 100 experiments you are going to have to try for yourself and find out.
  80. Lee makes three affordable color filters and I wonder if they can be used for re-exposing:
    • 3x3" Green #58 Polyester Filter for Tricolor/Color Separation Work
    • 3x3" Red #25 Polyester Filter for Tricolor/Color Separation Work
    • 3x3" Clear Blue #47B Polyester Filter for Tricolor/Color Separation Work
  81. Depends. Are those camera filters? If not, I may use some shop skills to embed them in a filter ring. It depends on how monochromatic
    the LEDs that I choose to use are.
  82. The rest of the K14 Z manual is on Kodak's website if you dig around enough. Except for part 11. I have the other parts up on my website as well. It's the files that start with Z50:
  83. Sounds fair. At this point it'll be chemical acquisition rather than process possibilities. For the most part I have a tentative
    process worked out; I'll have some form of a typed description up in the next day or so. The equipment shouldn't be an
    issue as this process is experimental at best and not designed to be efficient.

    If I am able to get the dyes from Sigma-Aldrich, I'll pull times from the K-14 patent and develop that way with minimal
    modification. I'll probably go the route of hair dye though, as it'll (most likely) be obtainable at less cost and greater
    quantity. That also affords me the ability to practice and perfect the procedure more, at the cost of less dye stability (
    compared to K-14 dyes) and non-standard times; I'll use bulk film for that. E-6 developer and reversal agents can be
    used, as they are chemically equivalent to the Kodachrome process chemicals.
  84. An idea...rather than respooling, etc, you should settle on your process then try it out on maybe a piece of film 2-3 exposures long. This would make the testing much more manageable. Another possibility, forget the film roll entire, mount single frames into plastic slide mounts and expose them singly, in a hacked-up film back.
  85. Hey if you need a model for this I am for hire... I don't eat much but I will need a place to stay. :)
  86. Haha :)
    @Michael - that would definitely make developing a tad easier (each slide could be developed singly and the process perfected that way, especially the re-exposure parts, but the re-spooling of the film and the exposures that way helps me process film as a whole and if I were to shoot the film on the roll, I would get much better efficiency (given that KC is a commodity) - there would be those "wasted" end segments of film.
    I do like the idea though, and will give it some thought.
  87. Much of what was discussed in this thread is completely over my head. My knowledge of color development is nil. I'll stick to B&W, thank you. BUT... reading this thread brought up a question for me and I'm hoping I'm not going off topic? But, was the B&W Scala film similar to Kodachrome then? I realize that Kodachrome had three layers and that the Scala may not have had those layers. I shot several rolls of Scala in the mid-1990s and it was such an interesting film. I know that Scala is also discontinued but, I have seen it on eBay also. I was just wondering if it's in any way similar to the Kodachrome, even if it's only one layer, that perhaps it might beneficial as a test film for Eli?
    Also, Hi Erik! I know you from the Caffenol group on Facebook, I think. Anyway, I was also wondering about using plant-based dyes/developers for the colors. What about beets, for instance? I've used beet juice to dye frosting to make a pink cake and I've also used it to tone cyanotypes.
  88. Scala film was just a normal panchromatic B&W film on a clear base. I [resume it also had some anti-halation measures either under the emulsion or on the backing side, since the grey base on normal B&W films is for anti-halation. (The anti-halation layers had to be ones that would come out in processing.) Then it was just reversal processed. Perhaps it was designed with different contrast (H-D curve) than normal B&W film, since positives have a limited density range.
  89. Scala cannot be developed at just any lab. I found that out when I bought a roll into a lab that processes black and white. DR5 does Scala. And I will be sending it there.
  90. since the grey base on normal B&W films is for anti-halation​
    The gray base is both anti-halation, and to reduce light piping. With the leader out, light can follow down the film, the same way as through an optical fiber. Paper backed roll films don't have that, and can use other anti-halation systems.

    So, 35mm films without gray base should be loaded in even more subdued light than normal.

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