Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On the Cusp

Here is the recent Kickstarter update dated June 9, 2015.

The key points:

Progress is being made and a few full assemblies will probably be ready this month.

The characteristics of New55 PN will require people to learn something new.

Old timers might want to look to new users for guidance.

There will likely be direct sales of New55 PN alongside award shipments.

Dear supporters,

Today we have some news for you that has been long awaited and cause for optimism but not yet celebration. New55 FILM will very likely have the first units of New55 PN built, in the box, and in regular production within three weeks. The first pieces will be a start and will likely need adjustments that will happen as we go through the first tranche of some 20,000 units over the coming months. Those of you who have been patiently waiting and encouraging us all along will already know that the road is just beginning and that what we do -- together -- to make New55 FILM YOUR success will depend on how we proceed to use it, show what it can do, learn it, and tell others who will have to follow.

There will be new things to learn: The balance of reagent to receiver to negative that we sometimes call “the wicked triangle” is OK and certainly good enough for artistic purposes, but the look, handling and results that you will get are unknown. If you are an old hand at T55, you will have to do some things differently. Unlearning can be almost as hard as new learning, something those of you who have never shot any 4x5 will probably learn faster than the old timers.

In the past we have discussed the need to continue to finance the project. That has not changed and we find ourselves with very limited operating cash. The many suggestions from you to raise funds resulted in 1SHOT and R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER and it is very encouraging and telling to read the reaction to these two new products on the various boards. Something new is happening in film photography -- real photography -- and you caused it to happen. Now we are likely to take your suggestion to fold in sales of some of the early New55 PN assemblies with the Kickstarter rewards in order to raise some cash, an idea that was quite enthusiastically received by supporters and newcomers, too.

OK enough for now. We are fatigued but optimistic about this new and counterintuitive business we are forging with your help. As always, you are the first to know.

Bob & Sam

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New55 Releases New 4x5 Film Product

Just when you thought that all the film manufacturers were cutting back film production because of lower demand, along comes New55 and its "1SHOT" product aimed at the growing interest in large format film photography. The New55 Kickstarter project, which is directed toward producing a new instant film, released this non-instant product recently and found it could not keep up with demand. "We were surprised as anyone that 1SHOT was so enthusiastically received, given its "fundraiser edition" price" said Bob Crowley, founder of New55. The group recently announced the fundraiser to help the effort to make instant film that it started in 2010.

New55's 1SHOT film can be bought at

 *** YELLOW DOT FUNDRAISER EDITION *** READY LOADED 4x5 SHEET FILM IS FINALLY HERE! YOU ASKED FOR IT! Many supporters who have followed the New55 INSTANT FILM project have ALSO asked for a ready loaded 4x5 film pack like we enjoyed so much in the heydays of “quick loads” and “ready loads”. The New55 Team needs to raise funds to continue their excellent progress. Now, more than ever, the field of large format photography depends on you. 1SHOT comes from The Skunkworks, and while not funded by New55 FILM’s Kickstarter program, it does make great use of our capability! Won’t you help us bridge the funding gap by buying and enjoying this surprise from The Skunkworks, all for the benefit of New55 FILM, and you? The clock is ticking. New55 FILM project supporters will have the first shot at 1SHOT. With every box of 1SHOT you buy, $25 is contributed to the development of New55 FILM. THANK YOU!!! 1SHOT YELLOW DOT EDITION WILL BE SOLD IN LIMITED QUANTITIES TO New55 FILM SUPPORTERS We will produce 1SHOT with New55 FILM’s selected Atomic-X, cubic grained standard weight 4x5 sheet film that we rate at ISO 100. You can develop 1SHOT any way you like: monobath, conventional tray, or even send it out to your favorite lab. 1SHOT is not an instant film! But it is fast, and convenient. SPECIFICATIONS: 1 box contains 5 single-sheet packs 4x5 negative only works in the Polaroid 545 series holders for monobath or regular darkroom development Film negative: New55 FILM's Atomic-X cubic-grained black and white emulsion on a 4x5 standard weight polyester base Recommended film speed: ISO 100 Use 1SHOT with any Polaroid 545 holder in any 4x5 camera, pinhole camera, home made camera, or studio view camera! This offering is a test of the demand by serious photographers for an easy way to make large-format photographs, without having to load film holders. Many people have asked. Now it is up to you. 1SHOT IS NOT INSTANT FILM, OF COURSE! SPECIAL YELLOW DOT FUNDRAISER EDITION - LIMITED QUANTITIES The famous yellow dot of the Aero Ektar, and other dots like Gold Dots, Red Dots, evoke a special quality. It's here for the generosity of supporters, and those who believe that large format photography - real photography - is worth our every effort. The yellow dot also helps us commemorate and keep track of the first series of film products ever made at the new New55 FILM factory. Like “ready loads” or “quick loads” that are no longer produced, each pack contains one, single high quality 4x5 black and white sheet film negative. The premium price reflects the fundraising power of 1SHOT! Order 1SHOT NOW!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Silver prices affect the price of all film products

Here is a historical chart of the price of silver that shows the more recent spike in prices, and then the collapse.  Although plastics and sensitizing dyes can be as costly as the silver used, all film is subject to price spikes when and if the price of silver spikes. As you can see, it did that. Like oil, the price of the final product is quick to rise, and very slow to fall.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tilting Xenotar - still available to support New55 funding

The 150mm f2.8 Schneider Xenotar is still available for sale. Without the mount, in this condition, the lens alone would cost you at least $2000. It really is perfect. The custom machined tilt mount that I made would set you back, if you could find someone to design and make it. This is the only one. Since we need money to continue New55, I will consider a strong offer for this lens and mount for the Pentax 67.  Imagine having such a lens on your 67! Also, with an adapter, you can mount it to your Nikon or Canon full frame camera, or to a Mamiya 645, and others.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

1SHOT - Lower shipping prices outside the US

After a lot of looking around we found a way to configure shipping so that European and Asian customers can usually pay a more reasonable price for shipping from Massachusetts. Several potential customers for 1SHOT abandoned their carts when shipping prices of $50 or more came up. That was the right thing to do. The reward for waiting are more 1SHOT packages available in the Shop (we've sold out three groups) and a lower shipping price.

So buy 1SHOT here. $25 of the price goes to fund New55 PN FILM development.

Thank you!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Interesting finding after the 1SHOT letter to supporters

Some of you will know that an email letter went out early this morning to supporters of the New55 Kickstarter effort, with a link to the New55 Shop where a limited quantity of 1SHOT ready loaded sheet film was offered for sale.  All of the 1SHOT boxes were sold in almost no time, and this is very encouraging. Another finding was the distribution of visits into the site this morning, heavy on the European side at about 11am Boston time.

Below is a screen shot of hits to the web store. Most web stores use things like this to see where people come in from. Ours does not collect personal information and we are interested in the location and time of visit.

What does it mean? Californians were still in bed, the East Coast of the US was up, and so was Europe. If you are from California and missed the offer, don't worry, there will be another batch in the Shop soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Image collection for coating team access 3

Double layer delamination. Multiple layers tend to crack
and separate. Here two layers are widely apart.

Double layer dimensions and delamination. The layers
are thicker than we thought they would be.

Stripe artifact, with and without release layer over it. The stripe
is a wrinkle in the image layer and can easily be seen with a magnifier.
The image layer looks like it was dried very fast. The release
layer is so thin we cannot measure it.

Single layer adhesion is excellent. No place on the single
layer sample has any flaking at all.

Single layer worst case adhesion is excellent even
when it is flexed. It does crack, but stays in place. The single layer
thickness is 5 microns or more, which is plenty.
8 Layer top view showing severe delamination. Multi image
layers in the sample set all have this problem.
8 Layer side view showing adhesion and strata. There is
some adhesion between layers and some splitting. The
bulk multilayer separates from the ABV at the bottom. The release layer
is apparently too thin.
Lots of holes produce the deepest blacks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

20 X 24 Studio: the 20X24 gang

Sam Hiser plus the 20X24 gang of Nafis Azad, Ted McLelland
and John Reuter.

Our neighbors   Quite an accomplished bunch! Check out their website and be amazed.

There's always time for a snapshot

Friday, April 10, 2015

Image collection for coating team access II

Top surface normal angle 23X

Top Surface 45 degree

Strata showing separation and multiple gravure coats

Top surface 20 degree 40X

Kickstarter Update #34 - This could be our most important update, and challenge

Here is the text, in full, from the April 10 2015 New55 Kickstarter Update. I'm posting it here on the blog as well as on Kickstarter so that we can reach the widest possible audience at this critical moment in the project.  As always, your comments are welcome here, on facebook, and elsewhere, and so is your continued support for this fascinating cause. 


Update #34 - This could be our most important update, and challenge

ALERT: This is an update to the Kickstarter Supporters of New55 FILM. This is a news story. This is a technical drama unfolding now! Written by Bob Crowley

Dear Supporters,

This may be our most important update ever about the cause of large format instant photography, and New55 FILM.

1. We have good general progress to report in the Shop, and technically;
2. A critical coating event is happening now on the Receiver Sheet;
3. We are short of money and have an urgent, immediate need for cash;
4. We are acting on a supplemental fundraising plan based on your recommendations and encouragement to continue.


The New55 Team is pleased to report very rapid progress in getting the Shop started, shipping methods in place and logistics underway. All of these steps are crucial but are often overlooked by new startups. Some of you have begun to see the early signs in shipments of t-shirts and accessories such as R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER. Sam Hiser is learning the ways of Shopify which has been very time consuming to his all volunteer effort. Sam is looking for some outside help configuring and updating the Shop which is essential to New55's survival, in case you know someone. Without an efficient means of online commerce goods cannot flow and New55 will not be sustainable, so the Shop is a high priority.

In other areas, we have made some progress understanding the pod machine. Our connection to 20x24 Studio, which supplies the pods and is essential to the project, continues to strengthen as we work together every day, all day.

Tests continue to show close correlation of the positive and negative and a nice tonal scale. You might have seen these on the Blog:

or on Facebook:

Critical vendor progress is good too: The sleeve and final artwork are nearly done and will be tweaked so that the thickness is correct to spread the reagent between the negative and the positive in just the right way. The vendor doing this will have to hold a critical thickness, so we will watch over it. More of the famous frangible pod material was purchased from a good company in The Netherlands - enough for 25,000 pods.

New55 FILM's supply chain is shaping up, but not without some glitches and one serious change that may be occurring at the sheet film factory: Last week someone at the factory expressed doubts about continued production, which alarms us. An interruption could adversely impact the price going forward, though for now we have some 25,000 sheets on hand, safe in cold storage and ready for final assembly. We cannot survive another loss like Efke when it went out of business. I suppose existential threats exist in any industry, but ours is more sensitive since we know of only six places on Earth where 4x5 sheet film is produced!

20X24 Studio, our friends and recently moved-in new neighbors, John Reuter, Ted McLelland and Nafis Azad, have now trucked in their huge chemical mixer, and that, with their pod machine also now installed, should lead to the ramp-up of pod production. Today I will put on my goggles and get back to rewiring the controls for the mixer so we can fire it up for the first time in Ashland. We have even started talking about a color product for the future, but first things first. There is a lot to do.
On the manufacturing and final assembly front, coordination with two other Massachusetts factories is fast underway, and we depend upon, and appreciate, their attention to New55 FILM's needs, which go like this: We produce and mix the coating formula, then we bring that to the coater while special paper stock for the Receiver Sheet ships in from New York. Once the coater puts on three critical layers, they ship the coated Receiver Sheet paper to a Packaging and Converting company that exactly cuts, folds, pastes and prints the coated materials into components that we will assemble here at New55 FILM in Ashland. If we can get this round-robin of factories to connect, end to end, then we will have the makings of an ongoing, sustainable supply chain. Fingers are crossed it will, though it will require constant attention during scale-up and long after.

The Receiver Sheet coating is still a very big risk, and gets its own category, here.

Most of you know that the technical team had to scrap the failed original Polaroid-style Receiver Sheet coating, and how that led to the invention of an all-new environmentally safer and more manufacturable technology that we and our manufacturing partners can approve. In case you have only just heard this, suffice to say, it was a major failure requiring the coating team to start again; but then a major win for New55 FILM. Your support helped us invent a new material that never existed before, one that is better for the environment and works very well! It costs plenty and has never been coated before on a large scale, so there are still risks. This unique new coating is like a micro-scaled laboratory, and can have other uses in photography and even in medicine. Together with you we are proud of this achievement since it is something Polaroid never attempted.

Yesterday we tried the very first full-length, production-ready Receiver Sheet test coating and it ran into trouble. And while that news is disappointing, we are working intensely to find a way to get our layers down onto the paper successfully.


A “start-from-scratch” scenario for the Receiver Sheet was predicted as a possible high risk in Kickstarter's “risks section”. I just went back and re-read this prophetic warning again. We all paid a big price when that risk became real and we found we had to scrap the way the Receiver Sheet coating was done in the past. The Receiver Sheet re-do cost the project around 20%, which means that the project may need an additional $100,000 to get to the finish line, if not more. Money is needed to pay for services, rent, and hired help. Sam Hiser and I continue to donate our time without any salary but others cannot be expected to do this, and we cannot do so indefinitely. So we brought the problem of cash shortage to you and asked for your recommendations. The response was heartening, to say the least! Many ideas are very interesting and all were helpful, and as a direct result of your recommendations several fundraising projects are underway already. Here they are:


Q: Can you sell a monobath?  
A: Done! We launched R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER last week. Not much money will be made but it is a start, and it helps Sam learn to manage the Shop and Dan learn how to execute fulfillment. We'll need these to stay alive.

Q: How about something like Readyloads?  
A: Yes! Stay tuned for 1SHOTTM ready loaded sheet film, yellow dot fundraiser edition. The 1SHOT product was not developed using Kickstarter funds as it is not an instant film, but does share one of the assemblies and several vendors. 1SHOT will be a lot like the readyloads of the past, but with a more film-agnostic twist that I think many of you will appreciate, and buy. New55 FILM supporters will get first alert when 1SHOT goes on sale, before the general public. Our selected Atomic-X 4x5 ISO 100 cubic grained film will be used in this special yellow dot run of 1SHOT.

Q: Can you hold a fundraiser?  
A: Yes. This is planned, a possible auction of artworks and photographs by some well-known artists, to be held in New York. But it can't be held until September, so we will have to do other things first.

Q: Do you have a way for people to contribute if they want?
A: Yes, there is a convenient paypal donation button here: Huge thanks to those of you who have already used it! Your donation, no matter how small, makes a big difference.

Q: Perhaps you can attract investors? Big donors?
A: That's a way off, but I plan to continue to invest my time and also sell some of my personal collection of photo equipment like I have in the past to help fund the program. You may have seen the view cameras, brass lenses, Aero Ektar lenses, and other film and large format equipment from my collection that I sold on the blog to augment the first three years of development.

In addition, I am planning to sell some of the instant film stock, lenses, camera gear and other things I bought for New55 FILM, before the kickstarter program. It is my hope these will be sold to supporters who will understand they are supporting a cause and not just buying gear. They will appear on the Shop soon.

Another critical step might be to provide more cash from my own pocket to bridge the gap between now and the time we begin to make money. It looks like, with a note, about $75,000 could be temporarily added to the New55 Holdings, LLC, bank account this way. Since I started the New55 FILM project in 2010, I've already spent most of my time, and a lot of money. Gulps ... passes out ... posts motorcycle on craigslist.

4. Won't you please help? Use the donate button today, and do participate in these other fundraising events. We are creating the means and tools of post-digital photography -- real photography and real photographs -- for us all to enjoy well into the future. Your participation, no matter how small, makes a real difference.

And in other news ...

Christopher James’s new book, entitled The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Third Edition), is out! We are on page 704 in the chapter called, “The Alternative Negative”. Nice shot of Sam.


New55 FILM's technical progress is strong, but there have been technical setbacks that cost the project about $100,000. The technical problems have been mostly overcome but they were more costly than anticipated.

The critical Receiver Sheet coating could lead to first-piece production in the coming weeks! There is still risk, yesterday we had a bad result which disappointed us, so money is needed more than ever.  We are completely focused on this goal. A new product called 1SHOT(TM) will soon appear! R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER has started to ship. Logistics and the Shop are coming together.
A cash shortfall threatens progress, but fundraising and personal financing from Bob are all in various active stages. These also depend on you. Sam and Bob continue to donate all their time but we still have to pay others their salaries as well as rent and other expenses.

The supporters have made important recommendations, and we have acted on several of them in product areas relating to large-format photography. They are R3 MONOBATH DEVELOPER, 1SHOT(TM) ready loaded sheet film, sales of photo equipment from my collection, and additional personal cash to temporarily bridge the gap. Together these things might be enough if the flow of support continues as it has, and they all have to happen. Will they? They will if we want them to.


Bob Crowley