Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Reclaimed Fuji intant negs!

I'm certainly not the one to think this up, though I've tried similar with Polaroid film in the past without success. There is currently some activity in "reclaiming" a full color negative from Fuji FP-100C. There is a good thread on Filmwasters and they also cover it in a video podcast I believe, but I figure I would quickly go over the process here, as one can never have to many useful Internet resources!
First off, don't be put off thinking this is difficult. It took me awhile to get around to messing about with this, and it took me about five minutes to make my first color negative, plus drying and scanning time.
Basic supplies are bleach, a brush, some kind of surface such as glass or a piece of plastic, and water. Also, of course, the remains of a Fuji FP-100C...the back side that you would normally throw away (you'll see what I'm talking about in the step-by-step).
So you have your bleach and brush...

And your Fuji FP-100C remains, which you can tape to the glass if you want, solid black side up. The idea is to remove the black backing on the negative without getting bleach on the other (emulsion) side. I taped my first down, then didn't bother after that and I didn't have any problems.

Then you dip your brush in the bleach and begin applying it to the black surface. I added a little scrubbing motion with the brush to loosen the backing faster.

You can see the black stuff coming off. It's probably a good idea to wear gloves, but whatever. Rinsing it under water shows the black stuff draining off and an image underneath.

Holding it up to the light. you can see the image (yes this is a different neg than seen above)...

Keep brushing and rinsing, or you can apply the bleach and leave it sit for 5-15 minutes and then rinse, and you will eventually wash off all of the black stuff and be left with a nice color negative. The emulsion side has developer goop on it, which should be gently rubbed off under water before or after working with the bleach (sodium sulfate will wash it off in a snap). The image is in/on the plastic, like a true color negative.

Hang to dry and you have a large color negative ready for scanning! It really is as simple as that. So I scanned the negative. Uncorrected, it is faded and somewhat sepia in nature.

And after some color correction done in Photoshop, we have a photo with a very lovely tone. You can see where the bleach got on the emulsion side to the left.

Here is the original print for comparison.

And another example, before and after color correction...a shot of the preparation of my next blog post in a few weeks.

That's it! Makes me sad about all of the Fuji negs I've thrown away in the past, particularly from my Japan trip. There are other methods out there on the Interwebs. Some use paper towels or sponges, some use different chemicals. Experiment and see what works for you.
On a side note, I thought to try this with black and white film, to see if I could get something similar to Type 665. It works...sort of. I chose to use Fuji FP-100B, because the 3000B already has a scannable negative. And I figured it would be most similar to FP-100C. The big difference is that the image on 100B is on the developer, not the plastic, so it washes off, and washes off very easily. So...it is possible to remove the black backing from FP-100B, but you can't get any water on the other side. This is very difficult to accomplish when you are trying to rinse off the bleach and black coating. After a couple failed attempts, I chose to just use the paper as a handle and painted and rinsed very carefully.

I still got water on the opposite side at the very end of the process, but it mostly worked. After drying and scanning, here is the negative as it naturally appears. Oddly enough, the image was positive in different print I washed, but here it is negative.

After reversing, converting to black and white (the image is purple otherwise), and adjusting contrast, this is as good as this one gets...

A bit messy. The original print for comparison.

Here is another previous, mostly failed, attempt with FP-100B with much of the image washed and scratched off. This one I attempted to tape down to seal off the emulsion side. Print and negative...

I believe that this is definitely a doable process with FP-100B. A few workarounds that might help would be to let the goop dry completely so that it takes longer to wash off, and to paint the bleach on and let it sit for awhile, with luck reducing rinses. Taping it down to seal the underside almost worked, but after a few rinses and bleaches, the tape just bubbled up. But a careful process would make this a viable process...though it doesn't provide the same high quality negative that FP-100C does.
And this does not work with Polaroid films, as the black backing doesn't dissolve from bleach.
I also wanted to try Type 689, as it seems similar to FP-100C, or an earlier version. Some people believe they are they same film, but this experiment kicks that idea out the door.
For some reason, I saved a bunch of Type 689 negatives (and other types). No idea why, but glad I did now!

The process is the same, though the black backing is a bit more tenacious and requires some scrubbing. The other difference with 689 is that it has an opaque coating on the emulsion side, as well, which FP-100C does not have. This washes off with warm water, leaving a lovely blue negative underneath.

The negative is actually very dense and a monotone blue...so when it gets scanned and reversed, it is sepia/orange. This is a scan after some adjusting of contrast in Photoshop...

Super orange! But, we can treat it as a black and white negative, which it basically is as it has no color to it (except orange), and we get a decent image.

Pretty cool! Too bad Type 689 is relatively rare at this point. I also tried Type 669, 690, and 667, but the back doesn't come off of any of them with bleach.
So, to summarize, the following film types have been tested by me (or verified by others as with the Fuji 4x5) as working for negative retrieval (a few) or not working (most).

Working (backing removable with bleach with transparent negative)
Fuji FP-100C, FP-100C Silk and FP-100C45 (emulsion will discolor and deteriorate with extended exposure to bleach)
Fuji FP-100B and FP-100B45 (emulsion washes off if not very careful)
Polaroid Type 689 (very dense blue negative)

Not working (possible to remove black backing but emulsion is opaque)
Fuji FP-3000B (emulsion opaque, but already has a scannable negative image)
Type 667, 107 and 47 (emulsion opaque, but already has a scannable negative image)
Type 669 and 108 (can scrub back off but black underneath, emulsion opaque)
Type 690 (can scrub back off but black underneath, emulsion opaque)
ID-UV (can scrub back off but black underneath, emulsion opaque)
Chocolate and Blue 100 (can scrub back off but black underneath, emulsion opaque)

In closing, another reclaimed negative saved from last year...

Anyway, another something to mess around with. Next up I will be reviewing the Konica Instant Press! Until then...


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Great post as always, Sean. I don't use the tape anymore either. No need with the thick bleach. I too fell foul of the FP-100B differences and ended up with 1 half-usable neg...which come to think of it, I still haven't scanned yet (it's pinned to a noticeboard downstairs).

  3. I must learn to colour correct in PS on some colour ones. The example you corrected is super. I've only ever saved them as scanned. I'm not gonna be brave enough to not tape them down as I stopped using a brush and moved to laying a strip of toilet paper across them and letting the bleach blot out then wipe off and rinse. Very quick!

    I've all but given up trying to recover one from FP100-B. It is fragile.

  4. Great stuff, Sean. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  5. Thanks for the tip Sean. My second attempt is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chadwadsworth/5245098781/

    but third attempt went afoul and I'm not sure why. The neg scanned almost completely green with some red. I left the bleach on for around 20 minutes and still had to do more scrubbing and another application so am wondering if that extended bleach time might have had an affect.

    Have you had this problem?

  6. the bleach seems to turn the negative green before dissolving it, so that is probably exactly the problem!

  7. Great work!! Salut!!

    Frank, Barcelona


  8. I found what works best for me, is (1) wipe dry my kitchen sink (2) add a few drops of water in one spot (3) press the negative firmly onto it and let the surface tension hold it down (4) pour the bleach on top (5) after 2 minuets just turn on the tap, and the black coat just washes away. (6) rinse then wash off goop.

    Remarkably, the goop/emulsion is really well protected since the adhesion caused by the surface tension is literally water tight. I sometimes allow the bleach to bleed under by lifting the sides, just to be clever...

  9. Have you tried the gel bleach? Its been my best friend with my negatives. It goes on thicker so you have a little more control as to where it goes. Then you let it sit for a few minutes and it does all the work for you.

    1. ..

      I could only get some gel bleach a few days ago.

      thank you

  10. ..

    can't wait to get some fp100c again and try this!

    gel bleach? I haven't seen this yet, will look for it =)


  11. I've had pretty good luck with 100B negatives but they tend to come out as positives rather than negatives. Here's a sample that I've cropped and adjusted the levels in PS http://www.flickr.com/photos/philipgreene/4510151593/

    The New55project blog suggested using window cleaner after bleaching rather than water and I've had good luck with that technique.

    I think the Fuji FP100C also looks good converted to gray scale. I've had a lot of variation in the color results from those negatives - some I like and others not so much.

  12. Hi This is unrelated to this post specifically but I had a few questions about using the Polaroid Big Shot I thought you could help me with, and I couldn't find any other way to contact you so I will leave my email in hopes you will write. Jrorlow@gmail.com please help!. Thanks-John

  13. opaque negatives you can use for contact prints. for exp. http://www.flickr.com/photos/antanian/5884739545/ Just you need hard graded photographic paper.

  14. Hi,
    is this possible also with fuji instax film?
    Best Regards

    1. I doubt it, completely different kind of film.