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The CP800 is a modular, all-in-one film processing machine from FilmNeverDie

When it comes to film photography, the development process tends to have two extremes: it’s either done by hand in small batches or with large, expensive machines. FilmNeverDie, an Melbourne-based film photography company, is hoping to change that though with a new product they call the Compact Processor 800, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter.

The main CP800 unit, without the tank section attached.

This machine, nicknamed the CP800, is the company’s latest fully-automated rotary drum film processor. It can process up to eight rolls of 35mm film or four rolls of 120 film at a time and works for nearly every development style you’ll come across: black and white, C41 negative, E6 positive and ECN-2 motion picture processes.

Film reels (it’s compatible with Paterson, AP and Jobo 1500 reels) are loaded onto spindles which are mounted inside a ‘semicylinder’ wherein the film is aggitated through the chemistry. Film development chemicals are delivered to the development cylinder via a set of 12 hoses (six inlet and six outlet) that run from removable two-liter and five-liter storage receptacles. The machine offers the option to salvage chemicals that can be used multiple times and dump single-use chemicals.

The main CP800 unit, with the tank section attached.

Between each step of the development process, the CP800 performs a one-minute rinse cycle to prevent cross-contamination of chemicals. This rinse also doubles as a maintenance step to keep the machine clean running smoothly.

The CP800 offers built-in presets for various film stocks and chemicals, but nearly every setting can be customized with help from the onboard buttons and LCD display (because, as FilmNeverDie notes, touchscreens don’t work with wet hands/gloves). There are also onboard sensors to alert you when there isn’t enough chemistry.

Below is a demonstration video of the CP800 in action:

The machine is also designed to be extremely modular. It can be used as a desktop machine or ordered with a mobile stand. It can also be hooked up to external tanks if you don’t like the idea of manually filling and emptying the tanks each time. ‘You could plumb CP800 to an Olympic-size swimming pool if you like’ says Mike Liu, Product Developer/Project Manager at FilmNeverDie. ‘We also have the ability to stretch our processing drum [10x paterson reels] in the future’

Illustration of the CP800 mounted on a mobile platform with the chemical tanks below.

As for why FilmNeverDie decided to build this rather niche piece of machinery, it says the following:

‘We have endured the trials & tribulations of running a film lab in the 21st century – there are simply no service technicians to call on & spare parts are thin on the ground. In fact – CP800 was first conceptualised in 2019 when our ‘faithful’ Photo-Therm Super Sidekick-4 kicked for the last time. A suitable replacement was difficult to come by, the large majority of second hand/classifieds were incomplete, untested & or harshly overpriced. Instead of rolling the dice on another obsolete processor we decided to make our very own.’

FilmNeverDie has shared the following timeline for the project, detailing how it will spend the next year to help bring the CP800 to life. According to the chart, the first batch of 30 CP800 units will ship out in May 2022.

Mike Liu, Product Developer/Project Manager FilmNeverDie

If you’re interested in securing one of the first units, you can make a pledge of AU$3,500 (plus $300 shipping outside of Australia), which would amount to about $2,721 or €2,328. You can find out more about the CP800 and make your pledge on the Compact Processor 800 Kickstarter campaign.

Note/disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project before backing it. Pledges to crowdfunding campaigns are not pre-orders. DPReview does not have a relationship with this, or any such campaign, and we publicize only projects that appear legitimate, and which we consider will be of genuine interest to our readers. You can read more about the safeguards Kickstarter has in place on its ‘Trust & Safety’ page.