written by Bob Crowley
What is New55?
New55 is a trash-reduced design that produces less waste than old Type 55 did. It also produces a properly exposed negative and positive print - something Polaroid Type 55 never could do.
Why did you start New55?
One day on Twitter I noticed that The Impossible Project said they were not going to focus on 4x5 materials, so I said that I would do it. We have accomplished nearly all of our performance goals and only have yet to commercialize what we have done.
Is the New55 Project associated with The Impossible Project?
Yes, in an informal and collaborative way. We strongly support The Impossible Project's efforts as they re-learn what took Polaroid decades to accomplish. Bob Crowley visited The Impossible Project factory in Enschede, and New55 has done fruitful, but still in-process experiments with various materials produced by The Impossible Project.
What is the connection between New55 and 20X24 Studio?
New55 is located in Ashland, MA, not far from 20X24's Connecticut facility, and very close by to 20X24's Ted McClelland who has been working closely with us to bring New55 to life. Because New55 and 20x24 use PN systems and not integral systems for their films, we share some of the technology and materials, and have other things in common, such as suppliers, and collaborators.
When will New55 FILM be released for sale?
The current plan is 8 months after the final funding, which is not yet in place. It will take that long to tool up, get supply lines filled, and iron out the bugs from the system. We do have a working system today that is mostly hand assembled. It works well, but cannot be made in large production quantities until there is money available for scale up. R&D has been costly, but funded as a skunkworks project by Soundwave Research, which has paid for hired help, materials, air travel, equipment, and provides R&D space and infrastructure. Soundwave Research is a product development and manufacturing company that has invented and produced many new products.
Can I get samples or be a film tester?
We do not have a test supply of New55.
What equipment is needed to use New55 FILM?
We use a standard Polaroid 545 single sheet back. There are many thousands of these well-made film holders available and they fit easily in nearly every 4x5 camera. Currently, we are using the metal 545 holder with the back cover removed, so we can more easily check and manipulate the clip finger. This is necessary because New55FILM is currently not made with lubricious paper.
Is a tub of sodium sulfite still needed?
No. The sodium sulfite is hard to get, so we use ordinary fixer for the final negative bath. Fixer is available easily, is cheap, clears better, and stays fresh for a very long time.
What will be the price of New55?
The target price is $6 US.
Can I pre-order New55?
We are not currently taking any pre-orders.
Do you have machinery to produce New55?
We have fixtures, templates, night vision systems and other things we need to produce the prototypes and continue the development. We share the pod machine owned by 20x24, and in our plan are specifications for full tooling of the product.
Does New55 use Panatomic X?
No. Old T55 used a material called SO139 which was similar to Pan-X and produced by Kodak. We have tested nearly every available negative emulsion in production and have chosen one that has slightly faster speed and allows us to get a positive print that is correctly processed with virtually the same exposure. Users of old T55 had to choose if they wanted the negative or the print to be properly exposed, but not both. New55 solves that problem.
Who is doing the development of New55?
Soundwave Research Labs, and collaborators Jack Willard, Des Fyler, John Reuter, Ted McLelland, Tobias Feltus and Bob Crowley have done most of the R&D. We've also had a great deal of assistance and encouragement from Ilford, The Impossible Project and Doc Kaps, who has been to the lab where New55 is being developed, and have had special support of materials from many other people. If I tried listing them I would leave someone out.
Are there any plans for an 8x10 version?
No plans, exactly, but it seems possible. An 8x10 system is an expensive item.
Do you have any plans for an instant 4x5 color negative product?
We'd like to see this happen and think we can after New55 is released.
Is New55 a copy of Polaroid Type 55?
No, it definitely is an all-new system that superficially resembles T55 and shares some of the fun characteristics like edge effects, solarization, and certainly has all the magic, maybe more. Perhaps more importantly, New55 produces a balanced positive and negative, something old T55 never did. This improves "the value proposition" considerably, in our view, since we get two useful photographs from one. The negative has extreme sharpness and a long scale, and the positive print can be display quality.
I see some of the New55 test photographs on Flickr and here on the New55 blog. Who did these?
Bob Crowley, with assistance of Jack Willard, Des Fyler and Keitaro Yoshioka. You can see them here.
How can I help the New55 Project?
Right now the best thing is to put our link wherever you can. Mention New55 online, tell everyone who might be interested about it, and grab links from this blog and send them all around in emails. on forums, on Twitter and Facebook, and everywhere else you can think of.