Reviving A Sensorless X-Ray Cabinet With Analog Film

In the same way that a doctor often needs to take a non-destructive look inside a patient to diagnose a problem, those who seek to reverse engineer electronic systems can greatly benefit from the power of X-ray vision. The trouble is that X-ray cabinets designed for electronics are hideously expensive, even on the secondary market. Unless, of course, their sensors are kaput, in which case they’re not of much use. Or are they?

[Aleksandar Nikolic] and [Travis Goodspeed] strongly disagree, to the point that they dedicated a lot of work documenting how they capture X-ray images on plain old analog film. Of course, this is nothing new — [Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen] showed that photographic emulsions are sensitive to “X-light” all the way back in the 1890s, and film was the de facto image sensor for radiography up until the turn of this century. But CMOS sensors have muscled their way into film’s turf, to the point where traditional silver nitrate emulsions and wet processing of radiographic films, clinical and otherwise, are nearly things of the past. Continue reading “Reviving A Sensorless X-Ray Cabinet With Analog Film”

Darkroom Robot Automates Away The Tedium Of Film Developing

Anyone who has ever processed real analog film in a darkroom probably remembers two things: the awkward fumbling in absolute darkness while trying to get the film loaded into the developing reel, and the tedium of getting the timing for each solution just right. This automatic film-developing machine can’t help much with the former, but it more than makes up for that by taking care of the latter.

For those who haven’t experienced the pleasures of the darkroom — and we mean that sincerely; watching images appear before your eyes is straight magic — film processing is divided into two phases: developing the exposed film from the camera, and making prints from the film. [kauzerei]’s machine automates development and centers around a modified developing tank and a set of vessels for the various solutions needed for different film processes. Pumps and solenoid valves control the flow of solutions in and out of the developing tank, while a servo mounted on the tank’s cover gently rotates the reel to keep the film exposed to fresh solutions; proper agitation is the secret sauce of film developing.

The developing machine has a lot of other nice features that really should help with getting consistent results. The developing tank sits on a strain gauge, to ensure the proper amount of each solution is added. To avoid splotches that can come from using plain tap water, rinse water is filtered using a household drinking water pitcher. The entire rig can be submerged in a heated water bath for a consistent temperature during processing. And, with four solution reservoirs, the machine is adaptable to multiple processes. [kauzerei] lists black and white and C41 color negative processes, but we’d imagine it would be easy to support a color slide process like E6 too.

This looks like a great build, and while it’s not the first darkroom bot we’ve seen — we even featured one made from Lego Technics once upon a time — this one has us itching to get back into the darkroom again.

Continue reading “Darkroom Robot Automates Away The Tedium Of Film Developing”

three resin-printed Single8 film cartridges, uncropped image

Re-Inventing The Single 8 Home Movie Format

[Jenny List] has been reverse-engineering and redesigning the Single8 home movie film cartridge for the modern age, to breathe life into abandoned cine cameras.

One of the frustrating things about working with technologies that have been with us for a while is the proliferation of standards and the way that once-popular formats can become obsolete over time.  This can leave equipment effectively unusable and unloved.

There is perhaps no greater example of this than in film photography – an industry and hobby that has been with us for over 100 years and that has left many cameras orphaned once the film format they relied on was no longer available (Disc film, anyone?).

Thankfully, Hackaday’s own [Jenny List] has been working hard to bring one particular cine film format back from the dead and has just released the fourth instalment in a video series documenting the process of resurrecting the Single8 format cartridge. Continue reading “Re-Inventing The Single 8 Home Movie Format”

Sometimes It’s Worth Waiting: Kodak Finally Release Their Super 8 Camera

Think of all those promised products that looked so good and were eagerly awaited, but never materialized. Have you ever backed a Kickstarter project in the vain hope that one day your novelty 3D printer might appear? Good luck with the wait! But sometimes, just sometimes, a product everyone thought was dead and gone pops up unexpectedly.

So it is with Kodak’s infamous new Super 8 camera, which they announced in 2018 and had the world of film geeks salivating over, then went quiet on. It’s abandoned, we all thought, and then suddenly five years later it isn’t. If you really must have the latest in analog film-making gear, you can put your name down to order one now.

Continue reading “Sometimes It’s Worth Waiting: Kodak Finally Release Their Super 8 Camera”

Spuds Lend A Hand In The Darkroom

If film photography’s your thing, the chances are you may have developed a roll or two yourself, and if you’ve read around on the subject it’s likely you’ll have read about using coffee, beer, or vegetable extracts as developer. There’s a new one to us though, from [cm.kelsall], who has put the tater in the darkroom, by making a working developer with potatoes as the active ingredient.

The recipe follows a fairly standard one, with the plant extract joined by some washing soda and vitamin C. The spuds are liquidised and something of a watery smoothie produced, which is filtered and diluted for the final product. It’s evidently not the strongest of developers though, because at 20 Celcius it’s left for two hours to gain an acceptable result.

The chemistry behind these developers usually comes from naturally occurring phenols in the plant, with the effectiveness varying with their concentration. They’re supposed to be better for the environment than synthetic developers, but sadly those credentails are let down somewhat by there not being a similar green replacement for the fixer, and the matter of a load of silver ions in the resulting solutions. Still, it’s interesting to know that spuds could be used this way, and it’s something we might even try ourselves one day.

We’ve even had a look at the coffee process before.

Large Format Photos Without The Large Price Tag

There’s a good reason that the go-to format for most film photographers is 35 mm, in that it provides a mix of convenience and cost. Shooting huge large-format negatives in the style of a 19th-century photographer can return astounding pictures with detail and lens effects unavailable on relatively tiny cameras, but it’s hardly the most convenient or cheapest medium. [Amos Chapple] may have a way to cut those costs though, by using a digital camera to capture the image projected by the camera onto a screen where the film would otherwise be.

He’s following in the footsteps of a Ukrainian photographer who tried the same technique photographing the projected image from the lens side, but that approach gave disappointing results due to the offset angle. Instead he’s placing the camera behind a translucent screen, having his DSLR behind a sheet of waxed paper held at the focal plane.

The results are we’d have to say, stunning. The old Soviet Ukrainian camera he’s using is something of a beast, but his photos of dancers at a folk festival have that other-worldly look to them which might well have something form the 1890s about it. We like it a lot and perhaps it’s tempting to fashion a poor-mans version using a cardboard box, and try for ourselves. Long-time readers will know it’s not the only attempt to digitize a large format camera we’ve seen.

Photography Goes Leaf Green

Something that haunts film photographers is the prospect of a film shortage. This won’t replace film in that event, but [Applied Science] demonstrates photography using leaves. That’s right, a plant can record an image on its leaves.

Anyone with a high-school level of education can tell you that the leaf is a solar energy harvester, with the green chlorophyll using CO2 scavenged from the air to make sugars in the presence of light. It stands to reason that this light sensitivity could be used to capture images, and indeed if you place a leaf in the dark for an extended period of time its chlorophyll fades away where there is no light. The technique described in the video below the break is different though, and much more sensitive than the days-long exposures required to strip chlorophyll. It relies on starch, which the leaf uses to store energy locally when it has an excess of light. Continue reading “Photography Goes Leaf Green”