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In the late 1990s, I encountered an exposed cassette of 135 film. (I am not the original purchaser or user of the film.) Curious about what might be on it, I sent it to a lab for processing. I was surprised when it came back dark green, in its entirety. It has been a mystery to me ever since.

Unfortunately, I neglected to document anything about it, and the lab kept the cassette. I keep a segment of the film around to muse about and occasionally attempt to re-scan and color correct to gauge how much my skills or technology (color dynamic range) has improved. The blue-green mask has always been a hindrance, and I have never been able to correct the images, because the color channels are strongly affected by it.

Why is the color mask of this 135 negative film dark blue-green instead of orange?

Can anything be done to fix it?

(I am looking mainly for a chemical or physical solution that can be applied to multiple frames simultaneously. An unusual, nonstandard digital fix may be acceptable. Anything obvious like changing white balance, levels, curves, and multiple exposures has been tried already. Converting to gray and colorizing is not acceptable.)

  • Have you tried to scan the film as a negative film using a film scanner? It is not unlikely that the scan software can more or less correctly remove the green mask just as it removes the orange mask from a proper negative film. – jarnbjo Jul 3 '18 at 21:41
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Although Polaroid did produce (or remarket) a lot of 135 film (35mm) that used the C-41 process, at first glance this film does not look like an example of such. The edge codes on Polaroid C-41 135 film listed here were HD2 100, HD2 200, and HD2 400 for ASA 100, 200, and 400 film, respectively.

This film shows an edge code of OF1 200-2 and an emulsion number of 400B.

The barcode on the bottom of the strip translates to 0110001-01011-010011100 binary or 49-11-156 decimal (21 digit bar codes on film were three numbers using 7-5-9 digit binary numbers). The additional first six and the last four positions are start and end markers that are always the same. As of 2008, 49-11 was the code for Agfacolor Optima 200-2 Professional. The same number may have been used for another type of Agfa film before or after it was used for this particular film, though. A lot of Polaroid 135 film was rebranded Agfa product.

This seems to be some 'Polaroid OneFilm'.

Flickr Folk

Polaroid OneFilm was made from 1989 to 1991. According to The Big Film Database, it was made by 3M for Polaroid. According to the 'Dexter' database, it was made by Agfa-Gevaert. Both sources list its 6-digit DX code as 007953.

Polaroid 35mm OneFilm

I remember totally ignoring it at the time, and apparently many others did as well. There's not a lot of info about it online. But there are some funny commercials for it on youTube!

OneFilm was also offered in the 110 and 126 format as well as the 135 (35mm) format. Both 110 and 126 were popular "instamatic" formats with many cameras having few or no user controls. Focus was fixed and a moderately narrow aperture was used with such cameras designed to be used outdoors with 100 or 200 speed film. 400 speed was recommended for indoor use, possibly with optional chemical flashbulbs.

enter image description here

The idea of a "universal print film" was popular at the time. This article, titled Universal Print Film? and subtitled: Ektar 25, Super HG 400, Gold 200, Reala 100, Maxi 24+3 XRC 100. You're driving me crazy!!! Where's my Polaroid OneFilm? ran in the June, 1989 issue of Popular Photography.

enter image description here

It has some good-natured fun poking at the idea of marketing a 200 speed color negative film as, "... right for man, beast, or camera."

Dashing to the local supermarket to buy a roll of film, the hapless homemaker confronts a pegboard wall of blister-packed film choices with no one in sight to lend a sympathetic hand and advice to "buy that one."

The man of the family traipses down to Clador, K-mart, or J.C. Penny from whence cometh everything in the house not edible. There he throws himself on the mercy of the person behind the film counter, who may or may not know which side his film is coated on. Green Fuji boxes, orange Agfa, blue Konica, black Scotch, and yellow Kodak - it's enough to make a fellow throw away his camera and grab a sketching pencil.

But now there's a ray of hope for all those stranded in film-choice darkness. Polaroid, seeking to serve the unknowing, the confused, and the store unable to catch up with all the brands, types, and film speeds, proudly presents the answer to everyman's dreams: a "universal," single-emulsion color-print material.

The article went on to compare the performance of Polaroid OneFilm to other 200 speed films popular at the time. The entire article, including the "continued on page 64" jump from page 28, can be read at the link above.

The color of the film substrate notwithstanding, Polaroid OneFilm was a fairly pedestrian example of 200 speed color negative film that required the C-41 process for developing. It was a "true" 200 speed film where most consumer oriented films at the time were a little faster than their rating to somewhat protect the casual photographer from underexposure. The main distinctive feature of OneFilm was in the way it was marketed to the "clueless" snapshooter in a way that probably made many photo enthusiasts roll their eyes. On second thought, there's no probably about it. When seeing some of those goofy commercials, I was among the eye-rollers back then.

Why is the color mask of this 135 negative film dark green instead of orange? Can anything be done to fix it?

From the above linked Popular Photography article:

According to Polaroid optimum results are obtained by printing OneFilm on the 3M/Scotch filter channel, though standard-run, let-the-lab-pick-'em blind tests we conducted also yielded fine results.

If your scanner has a preset for 3M/Scotch film you might try starting there. Since at least some OneFilm was made by Agfa, it wouldn't hurt to try any Agfa color profiles you might have available as well.

If one pulls the white balance a little closer to the middle, it becomes plainly obvious that the image was either shot under some very mixed lighting or the exposed film had some significant color shift between the time it was exposed and when you sent it off for developing.

enter image description here

It's not that far fetched that the film might also have been influenced by exposure to stray X-rays, since the content of the example image shows things one might find in a dental office. There are also all kinds of different light sources in dental offices. From fluorescent or incandescent (or a mixture of both) overhead lighting to the bright, dental exam and operatory lights, there are a wide variety of light sources in most dental offices.

Another early guess while researching this, based on the color of the film backing, was that it was one of three types of Polaroid instant slide film that was offered in 135 format (35mm) back in the 1980s-90s:

  • PolaChrome instant color slide film
  • PolaChrome HC instant color slide film
  • PolaBlue monochromatic instant slide film

Most likely it would have been the first, PolaChrome. Since any remaining stock is very old, color shifts due to age/storage conditions of both the film and developing pack are almost guaranteed. If the film was mis-processed using, for example, C-41, then there's no telling which ways the colors have shifted.

Each film came with a developing pack that could be inserted in a small, hand cranked 'autoprocessor' machine and developed by the user immediately after shooting.

This instructional video covers the 'instant' slide film system pretty well.

Although it would be a very long shot, I'm wondering if some PolaChrome accidentally got coded/marked and packaged as OneFilm? The lab that developed it would have had no way of knowing not to process it using C-41. Cross processing tends to produce magenta←→green shifts as well as yellow←→blue shifts. Combined with very mixed lighting, possible exposure to X-rays, and wildly varying environmental conditions during a long time period between exposure and developing, there's no real way to predict which way everything would shift.

enter image description here

  • OneFilm was C-41, but the backing on a strip posted at flickr (linked in the updated answer) looks blue. But also appears to not be lit as brightly as yours, which is more of a blue-green. – Michael C Jul 4 '18 at 5:08
  • @xiota Other than the appearance of the film strip posted at Flickr (shown in the answer above), I have yet to find any reference anywhere to the odd color of the film substrate. And it is really more of a blue-green than a straight green. – Michael C Jul 4 '18 at 21:38
  • I'm wondering if it isn't so much the color of the film itself as it is a color shift over the entire emulsion. Have you thought about trying to scrape the developed emulsion off the top of the film layer in an area not containing image information? – Michael C Jul 4 '18 at 21:41
  • Your sample above looks like there is some typical orange showing through at the edges of some of the sprocket holes. With the emulsion completely scraped away, I'm wondering if the film substrate itself will have a light orange tint as expected with most C-41 film. – Michael C Jul 4 '18 at 22:48
  • Since you used an LCD monitor as a backlight, all bets are off with regard to what the rest of us can see. We can't tell the difference between what is actually part of the film and what is an artifact (including color moire) of the interaction between your camera's Bayer masked sensor grid and the LCD screen's grid. – Michael C Jul 4 '18 at 22:55
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In 1977 Polaroid introduced Polavison, an instant color motion picture system. This film modeled after Dufaycolor, a color reversal film that came out in 1910. This film was a black & white reversal film overlaid with red, green, and blue ink dots in a mosaic pattern. These dots acted as filters when the film was exposed. When the film was projected or viewed by illumination from the rear, a full color transparency resulted. The Polavison version used microscopicallynarrow colored strips. Polavison was a commercial failure.

What followed was Polachrome, a slide film that could be loaded into standard 35mm film cameras. Introduced in 1983 it came with a packet of processing chemistry. After exposure, the film was loaded into a hand-cranked device called an “AutoProcessor”. You dropped in the chemical packet and 5 minutes later you took out a fully developed, ready for mounting, roll of slide film. The slides were OK but very dark because a black & white negative image was superimposed atop the positive image. When viewed, the colored stripes were visible.

Again, this was basically a black & white film. If processed using liquid chemicals, likely the results are unpredictable. The green hue present in your sample is likely due the dyes that makeup the matrix running and staining the film base (a guess on my part).

  • @xiota - I am only guessing as to the green stain. This could be residual antihalation dye or sensitizing dye. If black & white film is processed as a color film, the bleach step followed by the fixer, most of the silver, some silver is retained. – Alan Marcus Jul 5 '18 at 3:28

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