AGO, a home-development film processor launched at the beginning of October, is in the last stages of its fundraising campaign.
The processor has a motor and advanced temperature sensor which means the film is automatically agitated and the developing time is constantly updated according as the temperature of the developer changes.
Vintage Visual, the company run by designer Arno Peever, said the processor can be used with a Paterson tank – film is loaded as normal into the tank in the dark, the AGO is connected to the tank, and the chemicals added to the AGO processor.
The user can select the correct recipe needed for their preferred results on the AGO’s panel, and then mix and add their chemicals. The chemicals can be poured out and used again after the film has been developed. AGO’s creators have said it dramatically reduces the amount of chemicals needed to develop film.
The Estonian-based project has already raised more than £50,000 – nearly twice the amount it was hoping to achieve – and is the campaign runs until 7 November. The AGO can be bought for £280 plus shipping from the Indiegogo campaign.
Kosmo Foto spoke to Peever after the campaign reached its funding goal about the AGO’s features and what its creators plan next.
What prompted you to make this processor?
“Long story short, I fell in love with analogue photography around 2018, around the time when I was traveling in Australia for 1.5 years. Coming back home to Estonia I had to finish my masters thesis in design studies. I already knew that analogue photography has several problems that need to be solved to ensure its sustainability. It was a good match and gave me an opportunity to research deeper myself into this topic.
“As I like to create new things and develop concepts I started looking what can be done: it seemed that we still have plenty of film cameras left, film digitising part is holding up quite well with the new DSLR camera scan setups, but film developing part of process is still heavily dependent on disappearing labs and developing film at home, especially colour film, is for the most of us seemingly quite challenging undertaking.
“So initially I wanted to make some solution which is easy to start using at home and would make it a bit less tedious for most of us.”
How long have you been working on it?
“Research started autumn of 2021. Spring of 2022 I got the first working prototype and from there on main effort has gone mainly to product development, testing and finding right people with whom to get it where it is today.”
What are the AGO’s features?
“In essence AGO is a small and portable device which aims to make film developing less time consuming and easier by eliminating some key inputs important in hand developing. AGO´s main feature as its names suggest is automated agitation, it uses Paterson tank and it rotates film reels inside the tank, making it a rotary processor. Most innovative is the time compensation feature, the idea is that you won’t need to monitor anymore so meticulously the developer temperature. Instead, it measures the chemical temperature and adjusts time. For instance, with C-41 you have to be in a range of 30°C to 38°C, during the process it measures the temperature and adjusts the time, ensuring a hassle-free experience.”
It uses less chemicals?
“Yes, correct, by positioning the Paterson tank horizontally it transforms the set-up into a rotary processor. In this configuration, there’s no need to fully immerse the film reels in the chemicals. Instead, the film continuously rotates through the solutions, resulting in chemical savings of 14-60%, depending on the tank size.”
Who are you aiming this at?
“AGO is aimed for those who are passionate about analogue photography and seek an automated solution to streamline their film development process. Its compact design and ability to simplify colour-film processing encourage more at-home development, reducing the reliance on professional labs.
“Also as Paterson has up to eight-reel tanks it makes it a good solution to small labs or community centres managing day-to-day film developing needs.
Can it be used with all developers?
“It can be used with all developers to carry through pre-programmed step-by-step development processes where you can make your own programs with different amounts of steps with time and agitation parameters. Although time compensation is compatible only with those which are stored in AGO. At a moment these included B&W: Ilford, C-41: Tetenal, Bellini, Cinestill. Implementing more of these chemicals is easy with ones which have specified development times at different temperatures, otherwise its bit more testing if it’s doable and diving into the densitometry.”
Which formats can you use with it?
“With AGO you can develop 35mm, 126, 120 or 220 roll films and 4×5 sheet film.”
The system has been endorsed by Paterson?
“Yes, they like the idea that someone has made a product that extends the capabilities of their already good tanks.”
You’ve reached your Indiegogo target – what will you use extra funds for?
“Extra funds will mainly go into product development. We have many ideas on how to bring the cost of the product down and how to make it an even better product. Such as implementing more time compensated chemicals and building a user interface where it is possible to build your own custom programs.”