5 Frames - Fuji Eterna RDI

  • Where: Maisingert Schlucht
  • Camera: Nikon F4
  • Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D
  • Film: Fuji Eterna RDI
  • Scan: Nikon Super Coolscan 9000

A long time ago, in 2021 according to this blog, I finally got around to experimenting with Fuji Eterna RDI. I got many 2000ft rolls through the bay for 5 dollars (pun shamelessly taken from @grainydaysss) an even longer time ago. Back in 2021 in my first blog post, I tried to figure out reasonable exposure times and how to develop the ECN2 film stock with C41 chemicals. RDI is designed as a “digital intermediate” that is supposed to be “written” with a laser. There were no exposure times to be found anywhere on the internet, so I did my own exposure tests (see old blog post ”Experiments With Fuji Eterna RDI”). I followed instructions for developing ECN2 film in C41 chemicals that I found in the Emulsive article ”Developing motion picture film in your own darkroom”.

The idea in that article is to emulate the pre-bath of the ECN2 process that is used for softening the remjet layer on motion picture stock by mixing an alkaline solution based on baking and washing soda. A few months ago I learned from messing up some holiday rolls of ReflxLab 250D and 500T that the pre-bath may have a significant effect on the outcome of the development. I am using a rotary processor to develop film which ensures even coverage for the chemicals on the negatives. That processor is fully automatic and does not include a program for C41 development with a pre-bath step. Thus, I have to do the pre-bath with the development drum standing in the kitchen sink. I managed to mix up too little of the alkaline pre-bath, and after development there was a clear difference between the top and the bottom of the frames right where the waterline sat at the top-most roll in the drum.

After reading a bit more about developing motion picture stock in C41, nowadays a more widespread process thanks to a lot of Kodak Vision 3 being re-spooled by companies like ReflxLab, it turns out that given that the developer is an alkaline solution too, one can stop development right after fixing and remove the remjet layer mechanically. (Please note: Removing the remjet layer after fixing means that the chemicals will be contaminated with some of the black gunk of that layer. Reusing the chemicals may leave some black residue on the negatives, which is hard to clean off the emulsion side.) That approach worked like a charm for the next rolls of ReflxLab 250D and 500T that I shot and developed. The remjet layer could easily be removed with a sponge under running tap water. Any residue of the remjet layer that did not get removed with the sponge could be removed with vinegar (only on the non-emulsion side) after drying the negatives.

Now that I have figured out the process that gives me the most reasonable results, I decided to take a roll of Fuji Eterna RDI for another walk so that I can see what results I get when it is developed “the right way”. Exposure was at ISO 6 +2 stops, so effective ISO 1.5. After scanning, I imported the images into Adobe Lightroom and converted them with Negative Lab Pro. Without additional white balancing, the images turned out to have a strong blue cast (see Exhibit B). Looking at the negatives, which are very yellow, that looks about right. After using “Auto Neutral” for the white balance setting in Negative Lab Pro, we get an image with colors that look off (see Exhibit A).

The strong blue cast in the positive images makes me wonder if a warming filter (e.g. an 85B) could work as a countermeasure. I am currently waiting for one to arrive in the mail to be able to do more experiments. If that does not help, I think Fuji Eterna RDI is still a fun film stock to shoot once in a while.

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