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DR5 B&W Chrome Process
Old 12-13-2006   #1
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DR5 B&W Chrome Process

I've always wanted to try the DR5 process since coming home to film a couple years ago. DR5 is a lab in Colorado (used to be in NY, then CA - they're a nomadic lot over there...) that makes positive slides from most black and white films using a proprietary proess.

One of the reasons why DR5 appealed to me is that while I enjoy shooting black and white, the sheer number of prints to be made from 24 or 36 exposures is more than I can deal with. I'm an amature, and six to eight prints in a darkroom (in my case, "dark area") session is the most I can handle on a good night. I found that I often left too many prints that I wanted on contact sheets "to be printed later" - and of course, they never are. I'm not one to scan prints (hence you won't see samples here, sorry), and having a lab make B&W prints is prohibatively expensive, plus it's on small 6x4 paper. I've started using Ilford XP2 Super, a reasonable compromise, but to my eyes it's not quite the same as a traditional film. It's okay, but something's missing imo.

Anyway, I got my first roll of Tri-X chromes back from DR5. ...just a test roll of some pics of the Mrs and kids at a nearby park. I used Developer 1 (neutral) of the two available developers (Developer 2 produces a sepia tone pic). I am very pleased with the results and impressed. Slides (this is the first roll of slide I've ever shot) enable you to see your pictures LARGE (obviously), and there are no "to be printed later" exposures wasted. The quality is fantastic. Nice tonal separation, sharp, "right" contrast, and tight grain.

Now to the price. The bottom line, including $4.00 shipping, price for a roll of plastic-mounted ($2.00 for mounting) slides was $20.05. While I've read posts of folks who balked at this, I think this is very reasonable. One has to realise that a speciality lab is not going to be able to process black and white slides or prints for the same price as color prints are spit out of the C41 machine by the corner chain pharmacy. The last time I had B&W prints made from a local lab the cost was $30 and change for 6X4s without shipping (I drove to pick them up...). Why is it (and I'm as guilty as anyone here) that you might consider a particular lens or (yet another) camera that you get very little practical use out of, that costs perhaps hundreds of dollars, "cheap" but then balk at processing. We'll get "GAS" and spring for our 900th camera "just to have" or our 4th 50mm focal length lens... but cringe at processing charges. I've decided "enough equipment" already, and made the leap that I'll put those GAS dollars into processing black and white slides via DR5. Professional development by experts will have more effect on the output than the incremental differences between lenses. A roll a month of DR5 slides won't break the bank. A year's worth of processing = "some gear" pick-up I really don't need at KEH or on eBay. And - yes, for whatever reason, I consider $20 with shipping reasonable, and $30 for 6x4 prints too expensive to use on a regular basis.

It should be noted, if you don't have one, used 35mm slide projectors and viewers are plentiful and inexpensive. (Medium format projectors are another matter...)

I know this sounds like an ad. It's not. I have nothing to do with the DR5 lab. I'm just a satisfied customer, and thought I might pass along my experience, especially to amatures, like me, who shoot more than they can print and want to get the most quality out of their gear. I look forward to using DR5 again, and it will likely become my first choice for 135 processing. Roll film - large prints fewer exposures I'll develop and print myself, 135 off to DR5 for slides.

Here's their site: http://www.dr5.com/
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Old 12-13-2006   #2
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I 've been using them for a while (through all their moves) and concur. They do a very nice job on a great range of films. I've even got a couple of rolls of Tech Pan that I'm saving for a special occassion. Seeing a good Tech Pan posiive projected is not to be forgotten.
Regards, Gerry

Happiness is a CLE with a collapsible Summicron, loaded with Scala.
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Old 12-13-2006   #3
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I was going to use them, but the roll of film that I sent fell out of the envelope in the mail... shame too, because I was looking forward to getting prints of a few of those shots and they were mostly taken 3000 miles away so I can't exactly reshoot.

I'll try again, this time most likely with dime-a-dozen snapshots that aren't worth paying $20 bucks to develop the roll, but I'm interested to see how well the B&W slides project (and scan!)
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