SFW-XL Seattle Film Works film processing

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by djs, Feb 14, 2006.

  1. djs

    djs Guest

    I hate to admit it, but I founds four rolls of exposed film with
    Process: SFW-SL on the canister. Where does a person send these to get
    them developed? I searched several photograph news groups but there is
    very little information that isn't over 6 years old.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Some advice that I find says the film is old movie film. Others have
    stated that it is C-41.
    The local labs won't touch it. What is a person to do to get these
    rolls developed?

    Thanks in advance,
    djs, Feb 14, 2006
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  2. That Seattle filmworks film is indeed commercial movie film. As I recall,
    it has a nondissolving anti-halation layer that comes off and messes up the
    processing line of equipment not designed to process it. That's the reason
    why local labs won't touch it. I would think that your best bet would be
    someone that processes commercial movie film - DeLuxe? Technicolor?
    Problem would be that such concerns probably don't want to bother with just
    a 5 foot or so long piece of film...but you never know.....
    Lawrence Akutagawa, Feb 14, 2006
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  3. djs

    Bernie Guest

    Seattle Film Works used to repackage left over movie film and sell it cheap.
    This was for process ECN-2 (Eastman Color Negative) and had a rem jet
    carbonized antihalation coating on the base side of the film.

    The first step in ECN-2 is an alkaline bath to soften this coating, and
    rotary buffers and water spray to remove it before the film entered the
    developer. The actual development process is a little different from C-41,
    but if you manually remove the rem jet backing so it doesn't fowl the
    processor, you can get good results developing in C-41.
    About 8-10 years ago, SFW stopped using motion picture film and began using
    a private brand C-41 film from Agfa. I'm surprised the film cassette doesn't
    state Process C-41 or ECN-2 instread of SFW-SL.

    The easiest way to determine which film you have is to retrive the leader
    from a cassette, cut off an inch or two of the tongue, and soak it in warm
    water for a few minutes. If a black particulate coating comes of the base
    side, it is motion picture film and you will have trouble finding someone
    who processes and prints that. If there are just some colored dyes which
    wash off, it is C-41 film and your local minilab can process it.
    Bernie, Feb 14, 2006
  4. You can tell if its motion picture negative from the
    perforations. Motion picture negative film (camera film) has
    Bell & Howell perforations that look like this:

    Both negative and slide film for still cameras have Kodak
    Standard perforations that look like this:
    Richard Knoppow, Feb 15, 2006
  5. djs

    djs Guest

    Thanks for the info. I found a local lab that said they can handle it.
    They send it out somwhere, but they said it takes four weeks. I will
    let you all know how it works out. Thanks for the info.
    djs, Feb 15, 2006
  6. djs

    Rod Smith Guest

    I think it was more like 10-13 years ago that they stopped using the ECN-2
    films. I'm pretty sure of this because I noticed the change at about the
    time I started a postdoc, which was in 1994. I *THINK*, but I'm not 100%
    positive, that the "SFW-XL" films were C-41; their using that unusual
    process type was just a way to keep customers "locked in" to their
    service. If customers *THOUGHT* that they couldn't have the film processed
    elsewhere, they wouldn't try, and the mainstream photofinishers wouldn't
    touch it because they wouldn't know what it was. Note that I'm not 100%
    positive that SFW-XL was really C-41, though; it's possible they changed
    the process type label while still using ECN-2 films (probably to keep
    people from sending films to Dale Labs or others who'd process ECN-2
    films) and then switched to C-41 films later. My memory of the sequence is
    simply a bit foggy.
    If it's really ECN-2, check with Rocky Mountain Film Lab
    (http://www.rockymountainfilm.com). They do ECN-2 processing, but it's
    slow and costly -- $25.85 per roll plus $4.00 per order, with a turnaround
    time of 2-6 *MONTHS*. Note that I've never used their services; I just
    know what I've read on their Web site and from people who've posted about

    Alternatively, if you're set up for it, you could try processing it
    yourself in C-41 chemistry. I've seen conflicting stories about how much
    of a problem the rem-jet layer is, and since I've never tried this myself,
    I can't speak from experience. At best, you'll get something that'll be
    pretty close to normal. Given that the film is probably about a decade
    old, you're unlikely to get perfect color balance anyhow.
    Rod Smith, Feb 15, 2006
  7. djs

    Peter Irwin Guest

    That's pretty expensive. The Camera Shop <http://www.thecamerashop.com>
    lists their price as $9.95 for 24 exposures and $13.99 for 36 exposures
    develop and print on 4x6 paper.

    I understand that Dale Labs may still offer the service at their
    normal price, but they don't mention it on their website any more.

    I have not used either of these.

    Peter Irwin, Feb 16, 2006
  8. djs

    Mike King Guest

    If it were MY one-hour lab I'd still tell you to go elsewhere, my
    experiences are that all bulk loaded films are suspect and that color
    balance is also a big issue with the weird stuff. Mini-labs are production
    driven not custom labs. You need custom work? Take it to a custom lab,
    you'll be much more satisfied with the results.
    Mike King, Feb 19, 2006
  9. djs

    Mike King Guest

    I just browsed the site and say nothing but black and white and C-41,
    nothing about ECN-2
    Mike King, Feb 19, 2006
  10. djs

    Peter Irwin Guest

    Peter Irwin, Feb 19, 2006
  11. djs


    Feb 10, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Cleveland (NE) OH, United States of America
    Update to ECN-2 Services

    I want to add some information about ECN-2 processing of still lengths of film:

    As of Jan, 2011, ECN-2 labs can all still process this film. Most do not want to, and due to processing procedures many will staple a half foot to a whole foot (15-30 cm) on each end (5-6 frames) to ensure good splices, and charge, what for them is a reasonable minute with motion picture customers, something $10 for nothing but this process-only service.

    Shameless plug, our laboratory runs ECN-2 and ECP processes (color movie negative, color movie print/slide). Weekly service, neg. only starting at just $5 per roll. Service to all countries excepting North Korea.

    We still provide the same high-quality slides from negatives, in addition OPTICAL 4x6", 3-1/2 x 5" prints. Digital scans available from special ECN custom scanning channels, in low-, medium-, high-resolution.

    Let me just say, too, that those stories about bad longevity of ECN-2 negatives are pure horses***. ECN-2 properly processed (3:00 minutes at 106°F) is just as archival as C-41 negatives. It fades really no more, no less than standard C-41.

    With all those awful minilab processors currently in use, with no wash-water, accelerated -A, -B, -RA cycles, I wouldn't expect even the most archival C-41 film to last too long when the 17 y.o. kid is plugging in the box chemistry, setting in the replen. rate.

    Shameless plug over. There's the lab in Minnesota offering the service, one called Swan Labs, and Rocky Mountain.

    To my knowledge though, we're the only FULL SERVICE lab, using the proper ECN-2 chemistry (like movie labs) use, offering slides from negatives, offering full, calibrated channels for ECN-2 films.

    The gamma, color dye sensitization, CD agent used, are all different. Running ECN through a scrubber, then standard C-41 chemistry is NOT the optimal approach for this film.

    If you want the best results from already-out-of-date ECN-2, we're the ones to use. We're not out to make a lot of money with this service, just to provide the same high level of CQ that we offer on C-41, E-6. Our philosophy is to exercise the same care with customer film as we would with our own; I can honestly say that I run my own C-41 and ECN-2 film through our machines, processes.

    The negatives I first used to calibrate our slide printer were early color negatives of my parents' wedding. So we don't scrimp at any step of the process.

    Also want to add I can produce slides from negatives from all current C-41 negatives as well. I'm personally not satisfied with straight exposures. There's a contrast mismatch between C-41 and ECP (C-41 is contrastier than ECN-2, so the slides tend to be a bit too contrasty for my taste, just as ECN negatives tend to print flat on RA-4 paper). Am working on a contrast control flash to solve this problem, or a push-pull process on the ECP step.
    DoubleExposureLab, Feb 10, 2011
  12. djs


    Feb 10, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Cleveland (NE) OH, United States of America
    For those of you that don't speak color densitometry/color print (the language I used in the first post), I am going to try to simplify for those of you with no knowledge of a darkroom, densitometer:

    "SFW-XL" "SFW" etc. etc. etc. are all really movie film, process " ECN-2 or ECN-II "

    Not only does it have black REM JET backing, it has to go through a DIFFERENT DEVELOPER or the colors will all be off.

    When film gets old, the orangish base mask picks up a cloudy grey quality due to something called age fog. It is correctable, but running film through the wrong developer "C-41" developer will only increase the problems in printing.

    To my knowledge, our lab is the only one that runs customer film through ECN-2 for processing. Most other labs are using a drum processor with old C-41 chemistry that is dumped after every cycle.

    We're one of the only ones doing optical (analog I say better color, detail) printing onto positive film (slides) photographic paper (prints 3-1/2 x 5" 4 x 6" or 5 x7" ) or scanning.

    Do your film a favor and send it through the correct process, and have a human being color balance the prints for the best results.

    To boot, we have some of the cheapest prices, starting at just $4.86 for processing.
    DoubleExposureLab, Feb 27, 2011
  13. djs


    Aug 14, 2017
    Likes Received:
    The remjet test is incredibly simple and tells no lie. As said before, cut a little off the leader, if black gunk doesn't immediately come off in warm-hot (90-110 degree) water, you're good. Don't worry about waiting for the dyes to seep out, in my experience it takes 5-10 for dyes to show up. ECN-2 is a real pain in the ass, alkali bath included, so if you have remjet come off, god bless ye. Otherwise, you're clear to go ahead with C-41. If my memory serves right, Seattle Filmworks shifted from ECN-2 to C-41 around 1996 or 1995. If you're using film you acquired recently (even if the production date is the late 90s to early 2000s) you're probably good to go. Most labs won't touch the stuff because there's that slight slight chance of getting remjet coming off and completely screwing the bleach step. I couldn't find even a local speciality lab willing to touch it, so I developed a roll at home from 1998 completely uneventfully. Blix step went by without a hitch. Seattle Filmworks kept SFW-SL on the label to convince people that the only way to have it developed was to mail it to them. As mentioned earlier in this thread, if they marked it C-41 or ECN-2 people would take their film to outside labs and Seattle Filmworks would lose the majority of their revenue. It's marketing, direct people to their own lab and don't tell them what they're developing for you is common C-41... Or in earlier cases ECN-2. Most likely if you bought Seattle Filmworks film recently and it wasn't 12 years or more years old, you have C-41. If it's more than twelve years old, do the remjet test and either send it to be processed ECN-2 since there's no way in hell you can do that at home, or just spring for the relatively inexpensive C-41 chemistry and do it the right way, yourself. If you're only doing a single roll and can find a lab willing to do it C-41 (after the remjet test of course), send it there. If you have more than one roll, 1 liter C-41 kits are surprisingly affordable.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
    qbalazs, Aug 14, 2017
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