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Compact continuous film processors for 16mm?


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#1 Marc Roessler

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 04:08 PM

Some time ago I've discovered a webpage (gone in the meantime, unfortunately) which covered the lomo spiral processing tanks and also some very compact continuous processing machines.

Somehow the idea about those really small contiuous processors keeps fascinating me. How cool would that be, a (b&w) continuous processing machine for home use, preferrably with the same tank capactity as the lomo tanks (1.8 to 2 liters) but much easier to use... probably b&w reversal would be a bit too much, but surely it could be adapted for b&w neg?

There seems to be very little information on the web on such processors. I have found some information about the "Kodak Prostar II" microfilm processor, maybe you can use that one for a normal b&w neg process with some modification? Interesting: it is claimed to have automatic threading, I'm wondering how that is supposed to work...

Has anyone any information on those compact processors in general? I seem to remember that the mentioned russian page said something about such machines being used for processing in small TV stations back in the 70s/80s?

Thanks,
Marc
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#2 Richard Tuohy

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 05:46 PM

Hi Marc,
the prostar is worth looking at. I have recently acquired an oler model of prostar myself. The tanks are 1 litre. The processor is designed to phisically fit only 1 x 100' roll on a daylight spool at a time - to porcess longer lengths, you couldn't close the lid or use the supplied film take up and supply arms. Yes, they are self threading. Kodak intend you to splice a so-called 'self threader' to the front of the roll of film. I don't have one of these. They look like a strip of film but made from a different material. They look like some kind of bi-material strip. I have found that polyester leader will also self thread. The self-threaders are available, but due to the kodak brick wall, I can't get them here in Australia and Kodak USA won't send them to me. But I don't think they are necessary anyway really. There are moving rollers all the way through the film path on both sides and, when threading,the film seems to simply hapily snake its way between all the little rollers. that is pretty cool.
Some factors about the prostar.
It needs warm water fed to it.
The film path is very short and the tanks very small. For instance, the film only passes through the developer for about 1 minute. Too short of course, so needs slowing down (and using the hottest temperature setting)
The wash time is also very short.

The lomo tanks on the other hand are extraudinarily good to use once they have been tuned and you are used to loading them. You can do any process you like in them for any amount of time. They are extremely flexible and much more reliable than any small processing machine - at least the small processing machines that i have had.
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#3 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 10:37 PM

1) The prostar was inteneded for Microfilm, when I tried one many years ago at work, it seemed to be reliable in threading, although at that time we were using 2.5mil Poly microfilm. The challenge was to get the film on the reel at the take-up end, as it comes out rather fast.

2) I have saved the old geocities Movie processing page with the authors permission
http://web.ncf.ca/aa...ovieProcessing/ there is some info there about the LOMO tanks. I ahve not yet gotten the courage to try mine.

3) I am not sure where the russian pages on the LOMO went. but you may find something on http://konvas.org/
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#4 Richard Tuohy

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 02:04 AM

Just found today that I was able to slow down my prostar using a lighting dimmer attached to the motor power input... probably more viable as a movie film processor now.
The russian site (Olexander's old Geocities site) is now gone. His replacement site doesn't have the image of the little russian processor. Not that you would ever be able to find or acquire one of those little processors ...
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#5 K Borowski

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 12:23 PM

The self-threaders are available, but due to the kodak brick wall, I can't get them here in Australia and Kodak USA won't send them to me. But I don't think they are necessary anyway really.


Richard, you need anything from the United States that is available to us here, PM me.
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#6 Simon Wyss

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 02:43 PM

What about a semi-automatic developing gear like what I’m preparing? Cargo will consist of spiral reels that one uses by hand, and drying drum on stand, driven by an electric motor, activated by pedal. With two drums one will be able to work continuously.

The reels will be adjustable to different film widths and available in 100, 200, 500, and 1000 ft. sizes. The biggest one will necessitate two workers. Spooling from reel to drum is a safe and neat action.

Best materials, the system evolved out of the experience of years in commercial film lab darkrooms. Rough calculated price for the basic kit around US$10'000. It will last a lifetime.
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#7 Chris Millar

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 03:14 PM

That website:

https://sites.google...rocessing-tanks

(Olex is a user here, he'll chirp in soon I bet)

I am building a VMC style CNC milling machine at home at the moment (geared more towards metal cutting than say the popular gantry style router 2/2.5D router) - I reckon with a bit of time and experience I'll be able to design and mill a mould for plastic injection and clone some Lomo tanks. Next up of course comes an expensive lesson or hundred in DIY injection moulding :blink:
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#8 Richard Tuohy

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 05:50 PM

Richard, you need anything from the United States that is available to us here, PM me.


Hey, thanks for the offer Karl, I'll keep that in mind. Much appreciated.
richard
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#9 John Sprung

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 06:59 PM

Next up of course comes an expensive lesson or hundred in DIY injection moulding :blink:


You can get mould bases from DME:

http://www.dme.net/d...ucts/index.html

Also check out their free online plastics university:

http://www.dmeuniver...ish/default.cfm

With your mould made in a standard base, you can take it to an injection job shop, and have them run your parts.




-- J.S.
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#10 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 05:01 AM

Some time ago I've discovered a webpage (gone in the meantime, unfortunately) which covered the lomo spiral processing tanks and also some very compact continuous processing machines.

Somehow the idea about those really small contiuous processors keeps fascinating me...........
Thanks,
Marc


Marc,
does it have to be as small as that? About 20 years ago some friends running a film course refurbished an already old looking commercially made continuous B&W processor. It was about the size of a washing machine. It origionally had about 6 or 8 rectangular section tanks about 4 or 6 litres each. There was a driven shaft across the top. Driving that and setting up rubber traction rollers may have been a mod that we did. I can't remember what was tensioning the film and controlling the speed as it came out of the drying section.

The replenishing rates were controlled by little clamps on the plastic tubes. The roller assemblys in each tank were each on a rod which was raised or lowered to change the process time. Results weren't as consistent as the commercial lab, but could have got close to that if more time was invested.

Whenever I daydream about making a small processor like that it seems quite feasible.

A couple questions for those guys familiar with commercial processors. Do they normally have drive sprockets once the film is dry? Are some of the wet rollers driven? Who sells hardware for processors - 16/35 rollers, squeeges?

Cheers
Gregg
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#11 John Sprung

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 06:18 PM

Usually no sprockets, and most of the wet rollers are driven.





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#12 Charles MacDonald

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 09:27 PM

A couple questions for those guys familiar with commercial processors. Do they normally have drive sprockets once the film is dry? Are some of the wet rollers driven? Who sells hardware for processors - 16/35 rollers, squeeges?


The PROSTAR was intended for Microfilm, hence no sprocket holes in the film. The film came out DRY and was soposed to be wond on a return reel. Where I worked we just used it for Camera spacing tests, and so they just re-used the film spools. (microfilm comes on Plastic spools which are the same size as the metal 16mm Movie spools.)
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#13 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 02:38 PM

I just posted this but it didn't show on the board, so sorry if it ends up double posting.

I saw some interesting pictures and info on commercial cine film processors (Treise, Calder) on the RTI website. Including a description of some used B&W machines.

http://www.rtico.com...t/products.html
http://www.rtico.com...used/index.html

Looks like processors were/are custom made to suit. Sometimes small (but tending to be bigger than the microfilm processors)

Cheers
Gregg.
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#14 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 11:00 PM

We have a Treise 35mm/16mm ECN machine which runs about 50'/Min it is not small at all, the other machines we have are three Allen's and a Treise 16mm/8mm B&W Reversal. All Motion Picture processors are custom made to order. The Allen machines are relatively small for MP Processors our 8mm/16mm ECN machine is only about 30' long. Allen made smaller machines for microfilm, etc. http://www.allentechnical.com/

I don't think there was ever really a call for something like a 10'/min ECN machine, in a lab it would be too small and for individual use probably too expensive. The small desktop B&W machines are great for tests and allot of optical down-shooters had them for that.

-Rob-

Below is a pic of the drybox on the "small" Allen ECN machine we use for 8mm and 16mm.

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#15 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 04:13 PM

Ok, so with the ideas about physical size for commercial machines I'm too small. The old machine B&W my friends and I played around with years ago wasn't much bigger than a washing machine, but it processed quite slow. Guessing, scratching my memory maybe 1200' overnight, something like 2' per min.

What is an optical down-shooter?

Cheers
Gregg
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#16 Robert Houllahan

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 05:45 PM

There are problems with maintaining gamma with such slow film processors due to temp and chemistry variation over time.

Down Shooters are people who use optical printers having a small B&W processor in house saved allot of time for guys doing special FX shots with optical printers because they could setup a shot and run it to B&W and then just quickly process it in house (instead of going to the lab) to see what they were getting, then run the shot for real onto Master Positive or Interneg, etc.

-Rob-
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#17 Marc Roessler

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 06:08 PM

Robert, good point with the chemistry variation... hadn't tought about that. With larger tanks it spreads out much more. This means that agitation and replenishing would be extra critical with such small (2 liters) tanks - probably not worth the hassle.
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