E4 PROCESSING

A couple of years ago, we won an ebay auction for some 120 slide film that had been used as "display film" and was recommended to continue to be used as "display film". It was not listed in the description that it was E4 process film and we got 7 rolls for about £15.00 (thought it was a bargain before we knew it couldn't be developed that easily). Once we discovered that it was E4, we tried searching up how to develop it and found that it had to be done as colour negative rather than colour positive. Thus began the testing process of how to develop E4 film in the best way possible using C41 chemicals.

E4 film was E6's predecessor and it was discontinued around 1976 due to the harsh chemical process that it used which included a step called pre-hardening; development processes do not use this step today. The pre-hardner was used to protect the film and enable it to withstand the high temperatures of the developer in the later stages and saving it from reticulation. Reticulation is the warping of the grain in the film that occurs when film is exposed to higher temperatures than it is supposed to withstand.

For all of these tests, we used expired Fujifilm X-Hunt C-41 Developing Kit to avoid cross contamination with other people's films.

1st Development

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The film we have is from 1975 and is initially rated at ISO 160 so this is what we first shot it as.

Then are the stages, timings and temperatures as follows:

Pre-wash - 5:00, 38C

Developer - 3:30, 38C

Bleach - 6:30, 38C

Wash - 3:30, 38C

Fix - 6:30, 38C

Wash - 3:30, 38C

Stabiliser - 1:20, 27C

After the stabiliser, we did not wash and did not use a squeegee. We realised during the development that as there was no pre-hardner stage, the was going to reticulate and the emulsion would be separated from the rest of the film. We were right and the film came out very fragile - if you touched it, the emulsion transferred onto your finger. We let it dry overnight and the emulsion kind of re-dried onto the film and when we scanned it, it was amazing to see how there was still the information on the negative but it was as if the grain had expanded. The colours were definitely not accurate, most likely due to a combination of not being rated at the correct ISO that accounts for the film's age and because of it being a cross process.

2nd Development

This time, we decreased the temperature of the whole process from 38 degrees to 27 to stop the reticulation of the film and kept the timings the same as the first test:

Pre-wash - 5:00, 27C

Developer - 3:30, 27C

Bleach - 6:30, 27C

Wash - 3:30, 27C

Fix - 6:30, 27C

Wash - 3:30, 27C

Stabiliser - 1:20, 27C

The low temperature and short development time caused the film to be very underexposed and discoloured. It looks really digital and broken!

3rd Development

For this development, we kept the temperature at 27 degrees but increased the development time. we also rated the film at ISO 32 instead of 160 by calculating the how much the film's effectiveness deteriorated by using the expiry date. If you have any expired film of your own, you can calculate its new ISO here.

Pre-wash - 5:00, 27C

Developer - 6:30, 27C

Bleach - 6:30, 27C

Wash - 3:30, 27C

Fix - 6:30, 27C

Wash - 3:30, 27C

Stabiliser - 1:20, 27C

Wash - 1:30, 27C

The colours came out more accurate and more like the first development test. The kind of broken grainy streaks remained on these shots like the 2nd development - we think this is due to the chemistry being expired. Other than that, good exposure and no reticulation meant this seemed like the best solution!

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