Ansco Printon & Plenacolor ~ Researched by Michael Talbert

Index to this web page:
I am indebted to Michael Talbert for the following information.
Also, see his research on early Kodak colour print materials.
Also, see his research on early Gevaert colour materials.
Also, see his research on early Agfa colour materials.

Printon - prints from transparencies

Plenacolor - colour negative film
Ansco Color Printon
Handling Printon in the darkroom

Exposure of Ansco Color Printon
Processing Printon with the 'Ansco Color Printon Developing Outfit'
Ansco Color Printon processing procedure dating from 1948
Anscochrome Type Printon processing procedure dating from 1960
1968 Processing Sequence giving times for 68°F and 75°F.
Ansco Color Compensating Filters for use with Ansco Printon
Exposure factors for Ansco Color Compensating Filters
End of Printon in 1973
Ansco Plenacolor Negative Film
Possible processing procedure for Ansco Plenacolor film
Processing Steps for Ansco Plenacolor Negative Film
Printing Ansco Plenacolor Negatives

Ansco Anscochrome Colour Transparency Film

Ansco Anscochrome Colour Transparency Film


Ansco Color Printon

Ansco Color Printon was a reversible opaque colour print material for making colour prints directly from colour transparencies without the use of an internegative. It was first made in 1943 by Ansco, Binghamton, New York, USA for industry and the US military, but by 1945 it was sold directly to professional photographers and amateur photographers.

A detailed history of Ansco can be read on the Wikipedia webpage here.
Also, read Frank Omilian's brief account of using the Printon process for a few years from 1949 while working for the Pavelle brothers in New York. The Pavelle brothers, Simon and Leo, also feature in the story of the Paterson-Pavelle UK home colour printing process, from 1963, a development of the earlier UK Pakolor process, from 1952.

It was the first colour print material in the world of the integral tri-pack type where the user could expose and process his own colour prints. The emulsions were coated onto a white opaque colour film type of material with an acetate base, not a paper base, similar to a thick sheet film. It was slightly thicker than the Kodak single weight black and white printing paper available in WW II, and was much like the material used by Eastman Kodak for making their Minicolor prints from Kodachrome transparencies. From the base upwards the first emulsion was the red sensitive layer containing the cyan coupler which gave the cyan dye image. On top of this layer was coated a green sensitive emulsion containing the magenta coupler. This produced the green dye image. Because the red emulsion and the green emulsion were both sensitive to blue light, a yellow filter was inserted between the green emulsion layer and the top layer, sensitive to blue light and contained the yellow coupler, producing a yellow image.
Printon was balanced for a colour temperature of about 3000°K.
The surface of a Printon print was extremely glossy, almost a mirror-like finish, similar to a print made on the old Ilfochrome Classic material with the “Super Glossy” finish. (Ilfochrome Classic CLM.1K)

As Printon was a reversal material, the first solution in the processing sequence, a black and white developer, produced a black and white negative image. Any photographic material developed to a negative image also contains an undeveloped, and unexposed, positive image, the exact reversal of the black and white negative image. This remained undeveloped in the black and white developer because it was unexposed. Printon makes use of this fact by exposing the undeveloped positive image to light, (because it was unexposed), and then developing this image in a colour developer which reacts with the colour couplers to produce a coloured positive image, the exact opposite of the black and white negative image.

At the end of the colour development step there are a black and white negative image and a colour positive dye image in the Printon. We only want a colour positive dye image, but the Printon contains the developed silver produced in the black and white developer and the colour developer. So the next processing step is the Bleach bath, which converts all the metallic silver into silver halide. The silver halide is made soluble by the following bath, which is the Fixer. Most of the soluble silver halide remains in the Fixing bath, and any left in the Printon is removed in the final wash. The unwanted black and white negative image, because it had been produced in a black and white developer, is unable to generate a coloured image, and is completely removed. The silver is also removed from the positive colour image, produced in the colour developer, to leave the dye image containing cyan, magenta, and yellow dyes, making up the original scene. The final wash removes any chemicals and silver not retained by the Fixing bath, and an “Anti-Staining” bath completes the processing sequence before drying.

     


Two boxes of 5 x 7 inch Anscochrome Printon dating from the early 1960s.
A date of “March 1961” is printed on the side of the box.
     

Handling Printon in the darkroom
As Ansco Color Printon was sensitive to light of all colours, it was recommended to unwrap and handle the material in total darkness. The early instruction sheets for Printon suggest that it could be handled by the indirect light of a safelight fitted with an Ansco A-3 green safelight filter. This filter is listed in an Agfa-Ansco catalogue for 1941, as the filter for use with Agfa-Ansco panchromatic films, so it is likely that the filter could be substituted by the Ilford green filters Nos. 907G or 908GB. The equivalent Kodak filters for use with panchromatic film were, at that time, the Wratten Series 3, or Series 5. Too much exposure to a green safelight resulted in greenish-black fog in the prints.

Exposure of Ansco Color Printon
Colour correction filters were necessary to achieve a neutral balance in the finished prints. The “White Light” method of colour printing was recommended and the highest standard of print came from transparencies of medium to low contrast. Contrasty transparencies printed with burnt out highlights and deep black shadows devoid of detail, and there was very little latitude in trying to alter the contrast of a Printon print during its processing.

At the time of the introduction of Printon very few photographers would have had any knowledge of making prints from a colour transparency onto an unknown tri-pack material. Some were skilled in making Tri-Chrome Carbro or Kodak Wash-Off Relief prints (later known as Dye Transfer) from colour transparencies, and would have had the necessary skills to recognize colour casts in Printon test prints. But the method of filtering, or removing colour casts, from Printon would have been entirely different to changing the colour balance of these “assembly” type printing methods. Colour casts on Ansco Printons were removed by the use of colour filters, much the same way as colour negative/positive printing, but with the opposite effect.

Ansco probably had in mind a person doing colour printing for the first time, so their colour printing filters were fairly easy to use. And to help the 'first time' printer expose his first test strip, each label on the packets of Printon carried a “starting filtration” which could be made up of Ansco filters for a trial test print. Of course, because of the vast range of enlargers, enlarging lamps, and methods of printing, this trial filtration could only be a rough guide, and it was extremely unlikely that the first test print at this filtration would have produced a neutral print. But it was at least a good starting point.

An exposure time recommended for the first trial print was 2, 4, 8 and 16 times the exposure time given to a successful black and white print made on Ansco Brovira contrast grade 2 (possibly Normal grade) paper. Ansco also pointed out that a heat absorbing glass was essential when using Printon, as was a U.V. filter, such as Ansco Color UV-16P. A Kodak Wratten 2A filter was a good substitute. Without the heat absorbing glass in the enlarger, it was possible that some prints would have required a very high cyan filtration to eliminate heavy red casts caused by the lack of the heat absorbing filter.

Processing Printon with the 'Ansco Color Printon Developing Outfit'
It was possible to process sheets of Printon in dishes, but where quantity production was concerned, processing in tanks, similar to the development of sheet films, was recommended. For the amateur photographer, or the professional photographer who made the occasional Printon, dish processing was satisfactory as long as the two developer solutions were changed regularly to achieve consistent results.

Owing to the emulsions of Printon being coated onto a white plastic base material, sheets of Printon could be loaded into “groove” type film processing hangers where the sheets were slid into grooves which held them securely on all four sides. “Clip” hangers could also be used where a clip gripped each corner of the sheet.

Ansco Color Printon processing procedure dating from 1948
This process was for sheets of Printon loaded into stainless steel hangers for processing in tanks of glass, stainless steel, plastic or hard rubber. The hangers were loaded in total darkness, or under the indirect light of a green Ansco A-3 safelight filter, or a safelight filter suitable for black and white panchromatic films.

Processing was carried out at any temperature between 65°F and 75°F, but the processing times of the two developers varied by ½ minute (First Developer) and 1 minute (Colour Developer) for each degree F, upwards or downwards. The bleach times were also variable according to the temperature of the solution.

Step

Solution or Wash

Time (Minutes)

Temperature °F
In Total Darkness or Using a Suitable Safelight (see text above)
1.

First Developer

14

65

13½

66

12½

67

12 Minutes

68

11½

69

10½

70

10

71

72

9

73

74

8

75
2.

Short Stop Bath

2

60 – 75
Remaining steps can be carried out in normal room lighting
3. Wash

2

50 – 75
4. Reversal Exposure. Expose print for 2 minutes at 3 feet from a No. 1 Photoflood light. The back of the print shoud be exposed for at least 30 seconds. Ansco advised it was better to over expose the print than to under expose.
5.

Colour Development

23

65

22

66

21

67

20 Minutes

68

19

69

18

70

17

71

16

72

15

73

14½

74

14

75
6.

Short Stop Bath

1

60 – 75
7.

Hardener

4

60 – 75
8.

Wash

5

60 – 75

10

< 60
9.

Bleach

11

65

11

66

10

67

10 Minutes

68

10

69

10

70

9

71

9

72

9

73

8

74

8

75
10.

Wash

3

50 - 75
11.

Fixer

4 - 5

60 - 75
12.

Final Wash

10

50 - 75
13.

Anti-Stain Bath

2

60 - 75
14. Dry. Do not wash after Anti-Stain Bath

During the 1950s the processing times of Ansco Printon were changed slightly. The two development times were altered and there was a shorter Bleach time.

     

Anscochrome Type Printon processing procedure dating from 1960
The name was changed from “Ansco Color Printon” to “Anscochrome Type Printon” in 1956, and again about 1965 to “G.A.F. Printon Anscochrome Type”.
Processing sequence for Anscochrome Type Printon dating from 1960.
The temperature is given as 68°F for the whole process

Step

Solution or Wash

Time (Minutes)
Printon to be loaded into film hangers in total darkness
or under a dark green safelight
1.

First Developer

14
2.

First Stop Bath

2
Remaining steps can be done in normal room lighting
3.

Wash

5
Reversal Exposure Expose 1 minute each side
1 foot from a Photoflood light

2
4.

Colour Developer

15
5.

Second Stop Bath

1
6.

Hardener

3
7.

Wash

5
8.

Bleach

5
9.

Wash

5
10.

Fixer

5
11.

Final Wash

10
12.

Final Rinse

1
13.

Dry

Total time excluding drying: 73 minutes.

Notes.

  1. The temperature is given as 68°F for the whole process. It is likely that the temperature could vary 4 to 5 degrees F either side of this limit without affecting the results. For the two Developers, especially the First Developer, ½ degree either side of 68°F would have been permissible.
  2. Step 12, the Final Rinse, may have been an “Anti-Staining” bath consisting of a weak solution of Formalin.
  3. The two Stop Baths were separate solutions and once used were not interchangeable.
  4. At least one processing table (early 1960s) has a Hardening Bath inserted between the First Stop Bath and First Wash for 4 minutes. Like the two Stop Baths, once used, this Hardening Bath and the one in Step 6, were not interchangeable.

1968 Processing Sequence giving times for 68°F and 75°F.

Step

Solution or Wash

Time (Minutes)
at 68°F

Time (Minutes)
at 75°F
Printon to be loaded into film hangers in total darkness
or under a dark green safelight
1.

First Developer

14

2.

Short Stop Bath

2

2
Remaining steps can be carried out in normal room lighting
3. Wash

5

5
Reversal Exposure For a total of 3minutes
4.

Colour Development

15

10
5.

Short Stop Bath

1

1
6.

Hardener

3

3
7.

Wash

5

5
8.

Bleach

6

5
9.

Wash

5

5
10.

Fixer

5

4
11.

Final Wash

10

10
12. Stabilizer (includes wetting agent)

2

2
13 

Rinse

10 seconds

10 seconds
14.

Dry

Total time excluding drying: 76 minutes 10 seconds (68°F), 64 minutes 40 seconds (75°F)

Notes:

  1. The Reversal Exposure time (3minutes) seems rather excessive and other sources give it as “1/2 minute each side of the Printon from a No. 2 Photoflood”, probably at 1 foot distance.
  2. Similar to the 1960 processing sequence, the two Stop Baths would have been separate solutions.
  3. The agitation rate given for this sequence:
    For the First Developer, Colour Developer, Bleach and Fixer, “Lift and drain from opposite corners immediately after being immersed in the solution. Then repeat this once per minute.”
    For the Stop Bath, Hardener, Step 8 Wash and Stabilizer, “Agitate continually for the first 30 seconds”, then (presumably) agitate once per minute?
    For the Water Rinse of 10 seconds, “Agitate continually”.
    For the remaining Wash steps, no special agitation, but “running water”.
  4. The above is believed to be the final processing sequence for Ansco Printon.
     

Ansco Color Compensating Filters for use with Ansco Printon
The filters were known as Ansco Color Compensating Filters and were available as a set of 10 filters, being three Yellow filters, four Magenta filters and three Cyan filters.

The Yellow filters were coded as: 23, 24, 25, plus a 26, introduced later.
The Magenta filters were coded as: 33, 34, 35, 36.
The Cyan filters were coded as: 43, 44, 45.
For some reason there was no Cyan 46 filter. Perhaps there was no need because the Cyan filters could always be combined to make higher strength filtrations, though of course, this was true for any other colour filter

Early instruction sheets for Printon state that there were just these three yellow filters, but certainly by 1948 there was an additional Yellow 26 filter included in the set.

Ansco Color Compensating filters were fabricated so that any filter of any colour has twice the strength of the preceding one, the Nos. 23, 33, and 43 being the weakest filters in the set. Thus, a Yellow 24 has twice the strength of a Yellow 23, but half the strength of a Yellow 25. A Magenta 36 was equal to eight Magenta 33 filters.

 Yellow  1 off 24 filter = 2 off 23 filters
 Magenta  1 off 34 filter = 2 off 33 filters
 Cyan  1 off 44 filter = 2 off 43 filters
 Yellow  1 off 25 filter = 2 off 24 filters (or 4 off 23 filters)
 Magenta  1 off 35 filter = 2 off 34 filters (or 4 off 33 filters)
 Cyan  1 off 45 filter = 2 off 44 filters (or 4 off 43 filters)
 Yellow  1 off 26 filter = 2 off 25 filters (or 4 off 24 filters, or 8 off 23 filters)
 Magenta  1 off 36 filter = 2 off 35 filters (or 4 off 34 filters, or 8 off 33 filters)

The labels on the packets of Printon stated a trial filtration, such as: “Recommended filter combination for use with this emulsion: 1 - 23 and 1 - 43”.
This meant that the first trial print should be made with a Yellow 23 filter combined with a Cyan 43 filter.

Colour casts were removed by placing the opposite colour filter to the colour cast in the filter draw. If the test print turned out with a “Blue” cast, a Yellow filter was placed in the filter draw for the next trial print. The strength of the filter was according to the strength of the colour cast, a heavy colour cast would need a strong filter to bring the colour balance to neutral.

In an article published in the British Journal of Photography Almanac for 1954 on making and processing Agfacolor prints, there is a table giving comparative strengths of Agfacolor printing filters, Kodak Compensating filters, and Ansco Color Compensating filters. The weakest Ansco filters, Nos. 23, 33, and 43 are given as equal strength to a 10 value Agfacolor filter, or a CC05 Kodak filter.

The highest value Ansco filters, Nos. 26 and 36, have an equivalent value of an 80 Agfacolor filter, or a CC40 Kodak filter.

The author of the article wisely states that “…the table of equivalent filters are probably not identical to those of Agfa……”. Kodak Colour Printing filters were not in existence in 1954 but the “CC” range was being used for colour printing. The Agfacolor filters at that time would have been separate glass filters, and although Agfacolor Heads incorporating “dial in” filters had been in use for about five years; it is fairly certain that the article refers to the glass filter set. The article also states “……….Ansco Printon correction filters have proved quite satisfactory to eliminate even serious colour casts.”

Ansco suggest in their literature a method of writing filtrations by listing the filters used in columns equivalent to the Nos. 23, 33, and 43 filters.
An example of a filtration of one Magenta filter of 34 plus one Cyan filter of 45 is as follows:-

 M 33  C 43
 33  43
   43
   43

Athough this appears to be a very laborious way of writing filtrations, and prone to errors when copying the figures is concerned, it may have been suggested to help beginners in colour printing to become proficient at filtering colour casts and to work in “eights” of the 26 and 36 filters.

Ansco mention that it was never necessary to include yellow, magenta, and cyan filters together in the same filtration, as this only served to increase the exposure of the print.
For example:

 Y 23  M 33  C 43
 23  33  
 23    
     

This filtration was equal to two 23 Yellow filters and one 33 Magenta filter, as the top row cancelled itself out.

     

The rear label of an Ansco Printon box dating from 1961.

A “starting filtration” is suggested of one 10 Magenta filter and one 10 Yellow filter. By the late 1950s the earlier Ansco Color Compensating filters of 23,33,43, series (see above) had been replaced by this more conventional numerical system of filter designation.

     

Exposure factors for Ansco Color Compensating Filters
Each filter added to the filter draw of he enlarger increased the exposure time of the print according to the density of the filter. When adding filters of Nos. 23, 33, and 43, the exposure time was multiplied by a factor of 1.1. A factor of 1.2 was necessary for the 24, 34, and 44 filters, and a factor of 1.4 was used for the 25, 35, and 45 filters. For the strongest filters, 26 and 36, the exposure time was multiplied by 1.8.

When removing filters, the exposure time was divided by the appropriate factor. These exposure factors applied to each filter regardless of the colour of the filter.

In practice, as the printer gained experience in colour printing, he often disregarded the factors and worked out the exposure times based on his experience on making previous prints. If a large change in the filtration was necessary, a stepped exposure test strip could be made. Colour reversal print materials generally had much more latitude in their exposure times than negative – positive printing papers.

     

End of Printon in 1973
The manufacture of Printon ceased in 1973, possibly because by this time there were faster, more attractive, and more efficient ways of producing prints directly from colour transparencies. Eastman Kodak’s Ektachrome paper gained a waterproof base in 1969 (Ektachrome RC paper), thus enabling a total wet processing time of less than 22 minutes for Ektachrome RC paper Type 1993, introduced in 1973 (See Ektachrome section).

By the early 1970s, Ilford’s Cibachrome Print material was making a favourable impression. The total wet processing time of the Cibachrome Print material had been reduced from 47 minutes for the 6 solution P-7A process of 1969 to 16½ minutes wet processing in 1974 using the, then new, P-18 process with only three solutions.


Ansco Plenacolor Negative Film

Ansco Plenacolor was a colour negative roll film, publicized by Ansco in 1946 but not marketed until 1949. It featured a positive yellow mask in the dye forming green sensitive and red sensitive layers. Processing was complex, and was only undertaken by Ansco. The negatives may have been printed onto an Ansco colour printing paper suitable for masked colour negatives or Ansco may have chosen the technically simpler option (avoiding the need for their own research) of printing onto Kodacolor Type II or Type III paper. Plenacolor negatives would have looked yellow, where Kodacolor negatives would have looked orange, as Kodak used a reddish coupler as well as a yellow one. Hence, Kodacolor paper wouldn't have been entirely compatible but would have been closer than a paper used for unmasked negatives, such as Agfacolor CNIII.

In Ektacolor/Kodacolor negatives, the mask was generated by a yellow coupler formed in colour development. Where the layer is exposed, the mask loses it’s yellow colour and the magenta dye generated from the exposed areas absorbs blue in place of the yellow coupler. The mask was a yellow positive of the negative image.

The Plenacolor mask was put into the film after the camera image was formed by the colour developer, and then the dye was bleached out of the negative areas of the camera image's exposed areas, to leave a positive mask.

Possible processing procedure for Ansco Plenacolor film
Before the exposed film was placed in any chemical solution, it was given a flash exposure to coloured light to increase the speed of the film to 26 Scheiner. It is not known how much this flash exposure increased the speed of the film, but presumably it was in order to expose the film in the camera at 26 Scheiner, the equivalent speed being about 25 ISO (ASA).

This method of increasing the speed of photographic film is known as Latensification. It works by increasing the density of the latent image already formed by the camera exposure. Any developer, black and white or colour, then forms a very slight extra density of developed silver on top of the image made by the camera, thus effectively increasing the density of the original exposure made by the camera. At best, Latensification would increase the film speed by around a stop, i.e. double the original speed of the film.

The film was then placed into a colour developer, which developed the three dye forming layers to produce yellow, magenta and cyan images in their appropriate layers. This step was similar to the colour development step in Kodak's C-22 or C-41 colour negative processes.

The next step was a Blue Light exposure. The emulsion side only was exposed to blue light to form a latent image in the blue sensitive layer, which already carried a developed, but not bleached or fixed, image formed by the previous step.

Black and white development followed the Blue Light exposure step. As the blue sensitive layer of the film was the top layer, i.e. furthest from the actual base of the film and had beneath it a yellow filter, the blue light exposure could not affect the middle green sensitive, or the bottom red sensitive, layers. The black and white developer then only developed the exposed silver image formed by the blue light exposure.

In the blue sensitive layer, after the black and white development step, there was a colour developed negative yellow dye image, and a black and white developed image. The black and white developer couldn't form any coloured dye image. In fact, part of the image was a black and white positive, caused by its exposure during the "Blue Light" exposure step. This 'part image' was not exposed in the camera and thus was not affected by the initial colour development step.

All layers in the film were then dyed yellow in a yellow azo dye bath.

The film was then treated in a Silver Dye Bleach bath. The Silver Dye Bleach bath removed any dye from wherever developed silver was present, i.e. in the exposed areas of the film, but left the dye in the unexposed areas. All three layers had developed silver in them, formed by the colour development step producing a negative coloured dye image. The Blue sensitive layer had the colour dye negative image formed by the camera exposure plus a positive black and white silver image formed by the blue light exposure. The Silver Dye Bleach removed part of the yellow dye from the red and green sensitive layers where developed silver had formed the colour negative image, and in the blue sensitive layer the Silver Dye Bleach removed the yellow dye from the colour negative image plus it also removed the dye from the exposed and developed black and white positive image. The Silver Dye Bleach only removed the yellow azo dye, and not any of the cyan, yellow and magenta dyes generated by the colour development step.

The film was then bleached and fixed to remove the silver images, leaving the negative dye images in the three layers. At this stage the film now had a yellow positive dye mask in the green and red sensitive layers, but no mask (i.e. yellow dye) in the blue sensitive layer. The black and white positive image and any other exposed and developed silver was removed in the bleach and fixing steps.

Processing Steps for Ansco Plenacolor Negative Film

1. Latent image flash exposure (Latensification)
2. Colour Development
3. Blue Light exposure to blue sensitive layer
4. Black and White development
5. Yellow Azo Dye bath
6. Silver Dye Bleach bath
7. Bleach
8. Fixer
9. Final Wash

Notes:

  1. It is certain that there would have been various wash steps between the main processing steps, plus stop baths, possibly hardening baths, and maybe a final wetting agent or stabilizer.
  2. The yellow mask below the blue sensistive top layer corrected the overlapping absorptions of blue in the magenta and cyan dye layers of the film (green sensitive and red sensitive layers). The magenta dye should have absorbed only green light, but the dye also absorbed a certain amount of blue light. The positive mask (from the blue light exposure and black & white development) together with the negative magenta image, absorbed blue light uniformly. Together, these masks acted like a yellow filter to correct an imperfect magenta dye.

Printing Ansco Plenacolor Negatives
Ansco introduced a colour printing paper as long ago as 1943, but this was for printing from separation negatives, or unmasked colour negatives such as Kodacolor film at that time. It had been withdrawn by the time Plenacolor film was introduced.

The following is taken from issues of Popular Photography magazine, June 1949, December 1948, and September 1951.

The mask works in a similar way to Kodak’s Ektacolor film masking. In Plenacolor, the full amount of Magenta dye, as generated by the colour development step, is present in the highlight areas of the negative, dark areas of the negative where it has been fully exposed. This is where the Silver Dye Bleach has removed most of the yellow dye.

The least amount of Magenta dye is in the shadow areas, light areas on the negative where it has been least exposed. This is where the Silver Dye Bleach has not removed the yellow dye.

The full amount of yellow dye in the unexposed areas absorbs the same amount of blue light as the full amount of magenta dye in the fully exposed areas (see Note 2, above).

In June 1949, Ansco Color Laboratories at Binghampton, N.Y. were processing and printing Plenacolor films on equipment installed by Pavelle Color Incorporated. The sizes of Plenacolor prints were similar to Eastman Kodak’s Kodacolor prints. All prints were made on 3½ inch wide rolls of paper, the length of the print being proportional to the length of the negative.

(Author’s Note: It looks as if the printing paper, if made by Ansco, was only used internally by Ansco for prints from Plenacolor negatives, much like Kodacolor paper in those days. Maybe it was Kodacolor paper they were using, as I doubt if Pavelle were making a colour printing paper in 1949. Kodacolor paper is a possibility, as there were no back markings on Kodacolor paper then, (e.g. "A KODAK ® PAPER"), only a date stamp, put on after the print had been made. And Kodacolor paper would, probably, have had an increased sensitivity to blue light for printing from masked negatives.)

Plenacolor films were produced in 120 and 620 roll film sizes, and a 6 exposure film, 120 or 620, cost $1.91 including the processing to a negative, but not printing. Prints cost 36 US cents each. (It is not clear whether these prices included the “Federal Tax”.)

In December 1948 “Gamerman’s for Cameramen” of Baltimore were advertising Plenacolor and Kodacolor 120 and 620 roll films for sale for $1.92 per roll.

In September 1951 Plenacolor roll film cost $1.45 per roll of 120 or 620 film including “F.E.T.” F.E.T. may have been the “Federal Tax” at that time.

It was reported in the British Journal Photographic Almanac of 1953 that:
“Ansco negative-positive materials were given a limited area distribution during the year and some sample prints taken from production batches show that this film and print material are probably capable of better colour reproduction than any of the negative-positive processes yet available anywhere in the world which do not use integral masks.”

The “year”, in the above BJPA statement, was possibly 1951 or 1952. Ansco may have been using their own colour material to make the prints or printing onto Kodacolor paper.

In September 1953, The British Journal of Photography reported that ”Ansco Plenacolor was generally not available in the United States, although it has been given a limited area distribution for evaluation.”

Plenacolor was never listed in the section “Colour Materials for Still Photography”, printed annually in the British Journal Photographic Almanacs of the 1950s.


Ansco Anscochrome Colour Transparency Film

The Amateur Photography diary for 1959 gives information relevant to Ansco colour transparency film. Further appears in a Focal PhotoGuide booklet, "All about Colour with Anscochrome", written by Keith Hornsby and published in 1959 (see cover image, left).

Subtractive colour material with colour couplers embodied in the emulsion. Processed by the manufacturers or their agents or by kits which they supply, but discouraged as being uneconomic unless a user wished to process several films over 'a short interval'.
Not freely available in Britain.
Made in two speeds, Super Anscochrome 31°BS or Weston 100 (=100 ASA = ISO) and Regular Anscochrome 26°BS or Weston 32 (=32ASA = ISO).
Both films made in two forms, one for use in daylight (use blue flash bulbs) and one balanced for Tungsten lighting (use with clear flash bulbs plus a Wratten 81D filter).
The Regular Anscochrome tungsten balanced film only available in sheet film format. All types were otherwise made in 35mm and roll film.

In 1959, Super Anscochrome was the fastest reversal colour film available but could be speed increased to 200ASA by using a modified processing technique involving increased time in the first developer (step 1;16mins becoming 23mins) and the colour developer (step 6; 14mins becoming 16mins). All at 68°F = 20°C.

By 1971, Ansco transparency film was being imported into the UK by GAF (Great Britain) Ltd; Photo Products Division, PO Box 119, 99 Camberwell Station, London SE5.
All these films were balanced for daylight or could be used at a colour temperature of 3,200°K (artificial light) using an 80A filter (needing +2 stops exposure) or with 3,400°K lamps with an 80B filter (needing +1 stop exposure).
Three films were available:
Anscochrome 64 (64 ISO) in 120, 126 and 35mm formats.
Anscochrome 200 (200 ISO), in 35mm format only.
Anscochrome 500 (500 ISO), in 35mm format only.

Michael Talbert recalls using Anscochrome 500 film in the mid 1970s, to photograph tube trains in the deep level lines (possibly 1938 tube stock at stations on the Bakerloo line). The light was so dim that even at 500 ASA he could only just use a short enough exposure to 'freeze' the movement of passengers. The 35mm transparencies were extremely grainy, with a “gritty” appearance. Contrast was high.
Although Kodak's High Speed Ektachrome film could have been “push” processed to 500 ASA, it would have given a lot worse result, and the fastest colour negative film at the time was still only 100 ASA, this being before Kodacolor 400 arrived.



FOOTNOTES

Michael Talbert started making colour prints in 1969, using Kodak Ektacolor Commercial paper. He was a photographic colour printer in the 1970s, printing colour negatives mainly onto Agfacolor paper. He also had experience using about 10 types of Kodak paper, plus other makes, Gevacolor, Fuji, Paterson, Konica.

Michael now sets up and takes “Retro” fashion pictures, but prints them digitally.


This page last modified: 30th November 2016