Finally! A Photographic Kickstarter Worth Backing.

Long time Phogotraphy advocates will know all about our eternal struggle to find a decent camera, film or even lens based photography Kickstarter. If not ego-inflating projects, the vast majority of crowd funding attempts tend to be little more than money spinning cons.

Then we discover this. A no frills 4×5″ film loading system.

Introducing the Sp-445, the smallest, lightest most proficient home developing system for 4×5″ film. Its inventor, Timothy Gilbert is an engineer who has gone to great lengths to redesign the traditional method reducing chemical usage by over three times!

We were frustrated by the lack of an easy to use, affordable film processing system for large format sheet film. After several prototypes and lots of experimenting, we’re ready to launch the SP-445 processing system. It will process up to four sheets of 4×5 film in only 16 oz (475 ml) of solution.

We love that Timothy has seen a market, discovered a problem and addressed it with such simplicity. There’s no glossing over with a fancy video advert either. We’re treated to the inventor himself sat down in front of a video camera (hello 360p we meet again) explaining the project. There’s no music, no attractive models, no skateboarders, no beard trim champions in sight. Just Tim and his SP-445. And we’re going to back it.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 19.24.20

At just $47 this is affordable and we dearly hope the funding goal is reached. As of posting this article it is roughly 33% funded with 33 days left to go. The only nagging point is the expensive ($27) shipping to Europe. We’ve reached out to Timothy to see if we can help rectify this.

If you want to back the SP-445, the funding goal must be met by mid January 2016 with shipping expected three months after.

You can join Phogotraphy in backing the campaign right here.

UPDATE: 17th December 2015 17:35 GMT 

After several potential backers expressed concerns with regards to the agitation solution, Timothy has responded  with an article from Practical Photography that discusses agitation. He has also promised to release a short video over the weekend with a further demonstration.



4 thoughts on “Finally! A Photographic Kickstarter Worth Backing.

  1. Michael Finger December 16, 2015 / 11:55 pm

    I don’t trust the evenness of the agitation with this device. The only way to guarantee the evenness of tonality across an entire sheet of film is to have the developer moving at the same rate of speed and the same turbulence characteristic over the entire sheet of film at all times. Your method will give you eddy’s of greater turbulence, and lesser turbulence, and different rates of flow throughout the processing time. The same thing that was wrong with the old tank you showed us at the start of the video. My guess is you will have greater density at the edges of the negative than you will in the middle, especially in the narrow space between the two holders.

    In my history of developing sheet film I first solved this problem by developing film one sheet at a time in a tray, being careful to slide the film into the developer solution rather that to push it in (creating eddies of turbulence again) as I agitated. This was effective (for the most part) but tedious as death. I could spend hours developing a day’s worth of negatives – and ending up with scratches, and other problems from so much handling of the film. Then I read about the tubular method of film development. I made my own tubes out of black (opaque) plastic piping and end caps. The end caps are glued onto one end and merely squeezed onto the other end. The end cap holds about 3oz of developer, which is plenty to do one sheet of film. It is filled with developer before the lights are turned off. Then you load the sheet into the tube, shove it onto the end cap with the developer and turn the lights on. When you tip the tube over the film is in the soup, or at least that part of it that is on the bottom. Start the tube rolling on a countertop, keep it rolling until you are done. When you are done, pop the cap off, toss the developer, and plunge the tube into a tray of stop bath.

    In this way I can work with up to 10 sheets of film at a time (because I made only 10 tubes), and I can stop development of any of these tubes at its’ own time for full zone system control. I have a programmable electronic timer that will hold multiple times so I know right when to stop each tube. The challenge is to remember the proper sequence as you are working, but we’re all clever enough to manage. The evenness of development is guaranteed because the developer is in contact with the entire sheet of film at the same rate of movement, everywhere, at all times. You will need to recalculate your development times for the constant agitation, but it is well worth the time in doing so.

    Michael Finger

    Liked by 1 person

  2. davidkachel December 18, 2015 / 2:33 pm

    I agree. Even processing with this should be impossible.


  3. Diego James Robles January 12, 2016 / 11:15 am

    Michael, I kind of don’t get it. You don’t think this will work but you have a better idea? One he should adapt or we should make ourselves at home. Perhaps you are just venting a frustration you’ve had with developing film. I backed this project because this guy has put a lot of time and money into this thing and since he is seeing it through, bringing it to market, I am guessing he is more trustworthy than random commenters on the internet, like me.

    David, what does should and impossible have to do with each other?

    Does it sound like I’m pretty invested in this thing? haha


    • Michael Finger January 13, 2016 / 1:41 am

      It’s pretty simple, really. The tank system, while solving the problem of using too much chemistry, still has all the serious problems of uneven agitation. I spelled that out in some detail. The system I use solves all those problems, and uses very little chemistry, with the added benefit of complete zone system control on every negative.

      Go ahead – invest. I wish you success! I just don’t see the need for the product. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade; I’m just giving my honest feedback on the product proposal that was placed before me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s