Black coating on 665 pack P/N, what a mess! : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread


I am a newbie to Polaroid pack 665 (thanks to all for your previous help on loading it!) --- have now shot a few packs of it and cannot figure out the safest way to get the black backing off. It comes off in the water bath, but in many small globs which get all over my hands and everything else, ruining the water bath for the next shot. The pictorial instructions on the Polaroid website show it coming off nicely in a big blob, but even when I get that to happen (rarely), it soils my hands. I am working with this on the street and can't wash my hands. Moist towelettes, etc, are not good enough -- this is a real mess. Invariably some negs get scratched as I fumble about. Yuck! Thanks for any advice.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, July 03, 2001



I periodically use Type 55 P/N film in the field to produce quick negatives and avoid darkroom fatigue. My practice has always been to remove the film packet without processing and return home to treat and wash the film negative. Is there a reason you need to process the film in the field? Does your Polaroid holder allow you to release the film packet without processing? Alternatively, have you tried using a dedicated accesssory tank which separates each negative?


-- Dave Willison (, July 03, 2001.

Hi Dave, I wish it worked like the Type 55, but unfortunately you do have to process it right away. When you pull out the film it starts the gel developer. I'm using a 6x9 Arca-Swiss camera so I can't use Type 55. Yes, I should find a better water tank to keep the negs separated from each other, but I think I'd still get gunk on my hands. I just wonder if this is how it's supposed to be --- is anyone able to get this backing off in one piece consistently? Cheers, Sandy

-- Sandy Sorlien (, July 03, 2001.

Sandy Do you mean the sticky gunk that covers one side of the neg. If so a solution of Sodium Sulphite will do theh job. I think Polaroid recommend a 12 or 18% solution but in my experience a few table spoons per litre does the trick. Too strong and it's quick, too weak and it takes longer. Plain water will work apparently but not until you've scratched the neg good and proper. Type 665 is not the greatest stuff for working on location with...Type 55 is easier but on your 6x9 Arca you don't have the choice. You've got to want those wobbly edges and tonal range to be bothered with this stuff.

-- Matt Sampson (, July 03, 2001.

Hi Sandy,

To remove the backing off the T-665 negative, after clearing the negative in a 18% solution of sodium sulfite, place the negative in a running water bath to wash it, in a few minuits the antihalation backing will start to bubble, over the entire surface,gently rub one corner to start it and you can gently peel it off the negative.


-- Bill Jefferson (, July 03, 2001.

Yes, Matt, I do want the wobbly edges and uneven areas and beautiful tonal range of the negative. I barely look at the positive. The backing I speak of is only on the 665 pack film, you Type 55 users don't have to contend with this tar-like layer. Bill, your method would be great but I have no running water in the field (street). I guess my question now is, is it OK to leave the black layer on as it soaks in water for an hour or two before I can get back to the motel? At least that way it wouldn't get on my hands. I was also hoping to get away with using water only, no sodium sulfite, at least until I get back to the motel. But I guess I can carry a jug of the SS in the car.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, July 03, 2001.

Sandy, I use both the 55 and 665 for proofing in our studio & on location...although I really prefer the type 55. You can hold the 665 in water for a short while, I really don't know how long is "too long"....but I'd think you'd be okay for a couple of hours at the least. Just don't touch it a whole lot while you're holding it that way, and make sure you eventually do get it into the sodium sulfite bath to clear. I've always had to work the goop off the film in clearing as well, gently with my fingers...I usually try to wear some disposable gloves for this because the sulfite likes to get's like fix, when it dries it turns up in the weirdest could get an old plastic film tank (like a Yankee) or the polaroid bucket to hold the sheets in as well. I know they don't recommend it, but I have used just regular old Permawash to clear the film when I was in a hurry as well....I can't vouch for it's longevity, but we really don't make "permanent" negs on the stuff anyways.

-- DK Thompson (, July 03, 2001.

Sandy, why not get a tupperware container with a sealable lid and just drop the film there and take the backing off at home? Provided the container does not leak, I would just use water and transfer them to a sodium sulfite solution when I got back home.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, July 03, 2001.

I confirm Gasteazoro method. Try it !

-- Manuel Gomes Teixeira (, July 04, 2001.

I have 2 brand-new Tupperwares that I've been using for soaking the film, and they both leak! Guess I should try the Tupperware Forum... Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll keep practicing. Cheers.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, July 04, 2001.

I've seen mottling occur when using the Tupperware method, presumably from a lack of space between the negs. You're better off using the bucket designed for field use of P/N materials. Calumet sells them. I heard the other day that an 8x10 P/N is on the way. It's called 805!

-- Steve Wiley (, July 04, 2001.

6x9 film holders will work to hold the film in a (for example) 4x5 Kodak developing tank containing a sodium sulfite solution. The tank can be placed in a 5 gal pail. Wash the negs when you get home.

-- Wayne Crider (, July 04, 2001.

Update: Gee, if I'd only followed directions I wouldn't be bothering everyone here. I just shot some more 665 P/N and let it soak a minute in sodium sulfite and the black backing came off very nicely in one piece without soiling my hands. I tried it again in water only, and it broke into bits and created a mess that stains hands. I was trying to get away with only using water in the field --- guess I can't. Someone on this forum said water works great with Type 55 but that's another film....

-- Sandy Sorlien (, July 09, 2001.

Type 665:

ThereŐs a Ônot so simple methodŐ that I've been using for over 5 years now..It might be tricky at first, but try it over and over and you will get it...

While in 'the field' I use a couple of methods... I like the Doran Adjustable Cut-Film-Pack Developing Tank because you can load your negs vertical... To keep the mess down I use distilled water instead of the sodium bath...we'll use it later...

After you pull your type 665 pos/neg, and it's developed to your liking, pull apart the papers at the tab end (the end you pull out of the holder)...this will pull away the print and paper developer mask on one side, the neg/backing and the spent 'developer pod will be the other half. (The 'pod' is what I call the mound of unused developer that gets squeezed to the bottom...this is important well get to it in a second)

Put the positive off to the side, (have an assistant coat it while you are taking care of the following steps)

Holding the neg/backing/pod you should have the tab on the left-hand side, spent developer pod on the right.

Notice that the 'pod' is overlapping the negative by 1/32 of an inch.

Hold the neg/backing with your left index finger and close to the overlap as possible, hold the pod with your right thumb and index finger...

Carefully peel away the pod from the neg/backing by pulling the pod up and away...carefully throw this away.

Now flip the neg/backing over to the black coated side...keep the former 'pod' side up (holding the backing/neg vertical, the Ôpull tabŐ is at the bottom, and yes, holding it in your left hand not laying it down)

Take your right thumb and wet it with some saliva, then immediately rub your wet thumb across the upper left-hand corner of the backingÉnot too wet, and a swatch about the size of your thumbprint

You will notice it getting dull...wait about five seconds then carefully take the formerly wet thumb and begin to roll back the backing.. Once you have enough to hold on to, then slowly pull the backing away from the neg., going from corner to cornerÉthen 3/4 of the way down pull it evenly from side-to-side till you get to the bottomÉ *DonŐt pull it completely off, but notice that you will see where it overlaps the neg. with the developer mask. Roll back the bottom of the backing until you see the bottom edge of the negative, now carefully separate the neg. from the paper developer mask by pulling the negative towards you, the mask/backing away from you.

Place the negative in the developing tank in the same direction as the previous one keeping them in the same order throughout these steps helps to keep the scratches to a minimum.

That's it!


A couple of practice steps and you will have it down...

Another note is that the Doran adjustable tank has 10 slots for film...after I've filled them up with the (10) 665 negs, then I carefully pull them out two at a time, placing them back to back and returning them to an empty slot...this gives you room for 20 negs, and allows the distilled water to dissolve the developer.

Take the Doran tank back to your lab/ hotel room/ mobile darkroom camper...and treat them with the sodium sulfite bath listed above...

I like the Yankee Agitank for the washing step...I use a rubber hose attached to my sink and with the lid on, place the hose in the top of the pouring slot...another tip is to use a nice fat sturdy rubber band to keep the lid securely on the tank, this will ensure the water flows from the bottom of the tank to the top (that's why I prefer the Yankee)

Wash and photo-flo.

Some examples of my 665 negs can be found on my website:

Good luck!

-- phillip highley (, November 24, 2001.

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