Sunday, January 8, 2012

RIP Dieter 1998-2012

Last week we said our sad goodbyes to an old & trusted friend. The amazingly consistent, efficient JOBO ATL-2 Automated Film Processor, affectionately given the moniker "Dieter" after the Michael Meyers German VJ character on SNL ("... now eet ees time on SPROCKETS ven vee dance..."), has served me well over the years... at least 15 of them. Purchased long ago after a disastrous incident when Maui's only Custom Color film lab offering E-6 Transparency processing managed, in an unmonitored processing run, to shift 250 sheets of 4x5 sheet film approximately 40 points cyan. That incident convinced me, since I already had an in-house black & white lab in my studio, to add color E-6 processing... eliminating, or at least minimizing, such disasters as the one described above.

An amazing example of German engineering, Dieter could process up to 10 rolls of 35mm. film, 10 rolls of 120 format film or up to 10 sheets of 4x5 film in under an hour using minuscule amounts of chemistry. Simply program the processing run with times for the 6 different chemicals used based on what film emulsion I was processing, load the film into tanks (or drums for 4x5 sheets), snap the tank or drum onto Dieter, push a button and walk away to do some other task until you were summoned approx. 55 minutes later to inspect the goods.

Dieter was reliable. Dieter never let me down. Dieter always amazed me producing rolls of film of processed transparency sheets of incredibly accurate & consistent color & vibrancy... far better than I had ever been accustomed to getting back in the days when I used the local lab. It was always a marvel to crack open the tank or drum to remove the first roll or sheet & hold it to the light for first inspection... wow!

As we all know, film based photography has all but fallen to the wayside in recent years with the advancements in digital capture technology. There are some instances where I still shoot film, especially large-format film. Unfortunately, now that Kodak has closed their H'lulu warehouse, the costs involved in shipping chemicals to Maui has become prohibitive and it is now easier, though far more time consuming, to simply FedEx exposed film to Los Angeles for processing.

Dieter made his last process run maybe a year & a half ago. He is still in perfect working order. I have tried to find him another home... even offering to give him away to a couple of film enthusiasts I know. Alas, there were no takers.

Last thursday, I unbolted & removed Dieter's computerized control head and dropped it off at the local electronics recycler. Dieter's body, tubes, lift arm, etc. were loaded into the bed of the pick-up and hauled off to the dump as we begin the process of cleaning up and ridding ourselves of accumulated gear & junk that now fills my current, crowded studio space in preparation to move into the new studio space... construction should begin in March - with any luck we should be moving in by end of summer.

I will miss Dieter. He made life simpler, more productive and more profitable. He was a friend.

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