In March 2014, we reported that inventor Bob Crowley and his startup New55 were working on producing a new line of 4×5 instant film. That Kickstarter campaign turned out to be a smashing success. As the company continues to work on its instant film aspirations, its has released a new product that many photographers may find useful.
It’s a new monobath developer called R3 that lets you develop, stop, and fix black-and-white photographic film with a single bath.
It’s the “the most convenient black and white developer we know,” writes New55. “It can be used in the field, in the darkroom, in your bathroom, or in a dark-bag to conveniently develop your black & white negative film in a single pass.”
Instead of immersing your film in three different baths and agitating the tanks, R3 works without any agitation and will develop your film in just 6 minutes of soaking. You then rinse it off for 5 minutes, dry it, and you’re done.
New55 has confirmed that the developer works with New55 Atomic-X, Ilford Pan F, HP5 Plus, Kodak TMax, Tri-X, Efke 25, and Shanghai 100 so far, but it should work with any standard black-and-white film on the market, even “old exposed black and white film that has been sitting for years.”
Here are a couple of sample photos from film that was developed using R3 (more sample shots can be found on the New55 blog):
Ted Forbes over at The Art of Photography just published a video review of this monobath developer. It’s an informative look at what it is and how it’s used:
New55 does have some objections to certain statements and conclusions mentioned in the video. Crowley left comments on Forbes’ blog, saying that the developer isn’t designed specifically for Tri-X film and that it can be pushed and pulled quite easily.
“[W]e and many others used R3 on nearly every black and white film we could find over the past 5 years of teaching people about R3,” Crowley writes. “Also you can easily pull and push monobaths, with temperature […] Just go to 90F for 1.5 stops increase.”
If you’re based in the continental US, you can purchase a 950 ml (32 ounce) plastic container of R3 from the New55 online store for $20.