Adventures with Early 60s C-22 Film
Note: this was written pre-last site update and may not be up to my high standards :)
Expired film. Kinda cool, right? You shoot some shit from the 90s, you have a good time, you get cool colors. Maybe, if you're looking to get a little crazy, you get some black and white stuff from the 70s. Well, I've always wanted to hop on the expired film bandwagon, but I knew I didn't want to shoot any old roll. I frequently check Facebook Marketplace for old film, most of it's that afformentioned junk at prices way higher than I'd like to pay. But, one night a few months ago I found a job lot of camera stuff that caught my eye. In the corner, there were 4 small Kodak-colored boxes. After messaging the seller, we agreed on 10 bucks for all 4 rolls.
When the package arrived at my door, I had no idea what I was in for. As I unpacked the box, I immediately went to the expiration date. I had two 1963 Kodacolors and two 1966 and 69 Ektacolors. I decided to start with some of the newer film and I loaded the 1966 Ektacolor into my Rolleicord V. Fun fact: Ektacolor is actually still around. It evolved into a little known Kodak emulsion called Portra! Isn't that wild? After some preliminary research, I found that it was also one of the earliest, if not the earliest, film to use the orange base. It's process C-22, which I had vaguely heard could be processed in room temperature C-41 chemicals. I decided to rate my roll at 1 ISO as a starting point and decided not to bracket because I'm a moron. Going into the darkroom, I had very little faith that I'd get images. I did something like this for development times:
40 min C-41 Developer @ 68F
8 min Blix @ 68F
Wash 10 min
What did I get? Nothing! Well, I thought nothing at first. When I examined the dried negatives on a light table, I realized there was one little speck. This proved that the film was still at least a tiny bit light sensitive! Armed with this knowledge, I loaded another roll into my Pentax 645. Before this, I'd never really kept notes of exposures on rolls of film. But this time, I luckily tracked everything. I started at 6 ISO (the lowest my 645 would meter) and bracketed down to an effective ISO of .046. When I took it out of the tank, I saw decent pictures! In hindsight, the one shot at around .375 ISO looked best. Even using numbers like this feels a little disingenuous. This is absolutely not an exact thing. Only baby jesus really knows what ISO this old film is. Still, it's shocking how insensitive this film was, losing at least 7 stops of exposure.
So, I'd gotten useable images from the Ektacolor. I knew, therefore, that I should be able to get images from the Kodacolor. There were only a few problems. The first was that the Kodacolor was originally significantly less sensitive. Box speed was 32 ISO! You don't need to be a mathematician to see that this would be a problem. In my infinite wisdom, I predicted even longer exposure times. Another problem was that the Ektacolor negatives were also incredibly faint, even though I'd doubled developer times from what I'd read online. So, I blindly stumbled my way through a test roll on the Kodacolor. I used more lights and increased the development times by 20 minutes. This was my formula:
60 min C-41 Developer @ 68F
8 min Blix @ 68F
Wash 10 min
And, somehow, there were images. And, even more shockingly, they looked decent! The negatives looked almost modern. Key word there is almost. Obviously very curly, but significantly better than the Ektacolor. I don't have my notes handy, but my exposure was 15 seconds wide open indoors with some big flood lights on. You can see that the greens were weakest (more evident in the outside shot), and the reds were pretty strong.
So, that's my adventure in 60s C-22 film. What did I learn? Well, almost nothing. Definitely an exercise in patience, but frankly I don't do this for any reason other than that I think it's cool. I can tell you one thing, I didn't learn any common sense from this adventure. I've got two boxes of early 60s Ektacolor sheet film that I'll be shooting soon. Thanks for reading!