Bathroom Darkroom ?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by josh_levine, Apr 11, 2003.

  1. Hi All

    I have recently become interested in B&W photography again.

    A couple of years ago i took a photography course at a local collage,
    i learnt how to print, develop etc.

    I find the price for developing stupidly high, so I would like to
    make a small develping setup in my bathroom, so that i can spool bulk
    film (35mm), and develop both 120 and 35mm.

    If i liked the photo's then i would either scan them, or send them
    off for developing.

    Is this type of this possibe, and if so how much would it cost for a
    basic setup.



    I find the price for developing stupidly high,
  2. If you only want to load bulk film and process film, you don't even need a darkroom, just a changing bag or changing tent. Everything else can be done in daylight with daylight processing tanks and a daylight bulk loader.
  3. Sorry, i forgot to say that i was going to do it in a changing bag.


  4. You can get into this pretty cheap if you just need the basic supplies:
    Paterson tank (does 120 and 35mm) $22.00
    Watson film loader $18.00-22.00
    35mm cassettes 10 for about $5.00
    D76 about $5.00 (gallon)
    Fixer about $5.00 (gallon)
    Stop about $7.00 (makes many gallons)
    Graduate about $5.00
    So about $60.00. That's for all new stuff. Shop around and you can probably knock off about 30% of that price.
    This is for the basic items to get your film developed. There are some other things you will want later, but this is all you need to start.

  5. For bulk loading get the discarded cassettes from a minilab. About 1/4th of an inch will be sticking out. Butt, don't overlap, the bulk film to the roll. use scotch tape to marry them together and wrap the tape under each side. I use them once this way and discard them. scratching is not a a problem nor are ends popping off.<P>
    If you get reels do yourself a favor and get Hewes (King Concept). They are the best. I've never lost a frame due to them plus they are easy to use
  6. You can also forget the stop and just use water. Never had any
    problems with that.

    I would add Permawash and Photo-flo to cut your washing time
    and keep your negs nice and clean.

    Go with stainless steel tanks and Hewes reels. Much better than
    the Paterson plastic stuff once you get the hang of loading them.
    They don't tend to leak as much and they don't have to be bone
    dry to work with. I switched recently and am much happier.

    You could probably get all this stuff for $50 or so. I've been
    developing like this in a small apartment and just renting dark
    room time to print my negs.
  7. I can get Patterson 2nd hand and cheap :D

    Do i need a loader for bulk film or can i do it by hand?

    Can chemicals be reused, or is it best to just them once?


  8. Personally I'd just make the bathroom dark. Or do it in a closet. The added room will be easier then trying to work in a changing bag. Once the tank or bulk loader are loaded then you can do all the rest anyplace you want.

    Which model paterson tank is it? The older tanks are kind of famous for leaking. I find the latest ones pretty good. If it leaks it's my fault now. Get a bulk loader. Unless you're really worried about the few frames at each end that you'll waste the added convience is worth it. Just make sure it's clean. Don't buy things like 1litre measuring graduates from photo shops. Buy them from the kitchen supply aisle at the local store. Only the smaller ones will accuracy really matter.

    You can reuse all chemicals but it's better not to reuse developer.
  9. Making the room dark would be hard, but a cupboard should be ok. I was thinking of a changing bag, coz i could just pack it all up after, and no one would have to know ;)

    The tanks that i have seen second hand are :


    What are those like?


  10. The Paterson tank that holds two rolls of 120 (or 220) or three
    rolls of 35mm is a good size, and the smallest one I'd fool with.
    Paterson reels adjust to take 120 and 35mm film, and maybe
    some other sizes, too. The main thing to look out for with used
    Paterson tanks is cracks in the plastic tank or center column.
    Don't buy anything but Paterson reels. I have some so-called
    Paterson reels from another manufacturer that don't fit the film
    well enough to work at all.
  11. I was thinking i would get the universal one, as it only does one roll of either 35 or 120. That should save me a lot on chemicals

  12. If you buy your measuring cups in the housewares dept. or a dollar store they won't be accurate if you "put in 8 oz. of developer and then add 8 oz. of water". Instead, measure 8 oz. of each seperately and pour into another beaker. You'll probably discover you're off by 1/2 oz. or so one way or the other, but you can't really trust that one either! You're better off working in the kitchen than the bathroom. More counter space next to the sink and bigger flat bottom sink.
  13. Accuracy is nice. Repeatiblity is IMPORTANT. If you do things exactly the same way every time you'll get the same results. Isn't photography older then lab grade measures?
  14. For non-critical measuring, look in the paint department of the hardware store for mixing cups. I found one liter plastic cups for 50 cents apiece. They have markings in 100ml increments. You can always get one very accurate beeker for more critical measuring and use a permanent marker to add smaller increments to the mixing cups. I skipped the expensive photo thermometer and picked up a couple of cheap acquarium thermometers.
  15. As for a changing bag, I'm told to buy the biggest one you can afford. Space runs out quickly. I use a small closet however. I go in at night and do my loading and stuff. You'll also want some clips to hang your negatives to dry. Al Kaplan made himself a spool dryer, and while I envy him, you don't need to go that far. Photoflo is good to have, and hypo clear is too, IMO. As for reusing chemicals, stop and fixer can be reused no problem, just keep track of how many rolls per liter or half liter (whatever size your tank holds) that you use, and toss when you've hit the capacity. I don't know about D76, but I do one shot with my HC110, I do 4 rolls and dump, same with hypo clear. Graduates really are nice. You can simplify dilutions and its only $5. I'm kinda in the same boat as you, don't really want to do the printing in-house yet, so I just stick to contact prints after the negs are processed. Some kodabrome paper and dektol is all you need to add to your supplies, plus a sheet of glass. I develop this in a used $20 jobo drum that i rotate in daylight. Oh also, I like metal reels for film, but I'm not in the hewes camp. I got by with the kalt reels from adorama ($10 cheaper per reel).
    Good luck
  16. Thanks for all the help guys

    Here is my "round-up"

    1) 2nd hand Paterson 2 reel tank - £10 (it comes with the spirals, and i don't think that i will be doing 3, so i can save some chemicals)

    2) New 30"x27" Changing bag - £15 (i could not trust a new one)

    3) 2nd hand Paterson thermometer - £3 (it is cheap so why not)

    4) 2nd hand 600 ml grad - £3

    4) Some cheap kitchen measures - £3 (to pour from)

    5) Some black bottles - £3

    6) Chemicals - £15

    I will use spent reels etc for now, and then get the bulk film stuff when i have some spair cash.

    Total - £ 50 or $ 77

    Is seems steep....wonder why :D

  17. Josh, you've got to 'amortize' the up-front cost of your developing equipment into the long-term, keeping in mind the periodic cost of chemicals, once you run out of the first batch. Compare that with the continued escallating costs associated with commercial developing, and the unknowns regarding quality and custom processing for contrast control.

    In the long run, its really cheap. If the up front cost is too costly, you've got to reconsider the personal importance of photography. You can't really do it much cheaper than this.
  18. You're prices look reasonable. It looks like you're getting a good deal on 2nd hand stuff. If you want cheaper.... use a darkened room instead of a changing bag (you're right not to trust a used one) and get yourself the bulk film at the start. My trix bulk roll will pan out to about 50% savings than factory rolled. I also avoided the cost of loaders by rolling by hand (just be very delicate). I agree, it does seem steep up front. My fiancee said that too, 'cause I kept telling her that I wasn't spending *THAT* much money. Grin.

    But hey, once you've recooped from this first equipment expense you're set for the next one (which happens to be much bigger).
  19. Thanks

    It only really seemed expensive to me in comparison the USA $. I was expecting somthing like £50.

    I will be saving about £29 by buying bulk film, and without the cost of cassetts and a spooler, i will be saving even more.

    By developing it here i guess that i would be saving somthing like £2 per film, which adds up to a heck of a lot.

    I would like to get the changing bag, so i can not worry about it, and i can take it on holiday to fish out those lost film ends etc.

    Does what i have on the list look ok?



    P.S. I have access to a full dark room with 5+ enlargers etc at school, but the art students get proiority, and if i can do some at home all the better ;)
  20. Looks like what you plan to start with is a good start, Josh. You can eliminate a few things if money is tight. You don't need dark bottles if you keep your chems in a dark place (under the sink or in a closet). Just use plastic Coke bottles with the screw on lids and squeeze the air out of them. The 600 ml grad is all you should need for measuring so don't get the kitchen measures. You can use any clean jars to hold your working soultions (peanut butter, pickle, and mayo jars work great). It's true that you don't have to have stop, water will do. I use a stop mostly from force of habit, I suppose, although it will help your fix to last a bit longer. Speaking of fix, Paterson's Accufix is very economical, even cheaper than Kodak here in the States, and it works faster too. I use the Paterson for film and Kodak for paper (another habit). You're wise to get the large changing bag, the smaller ones get crowded in a hurry. So anyway, without the black bottles, stop and kitchen measures there's another 10 pounds off the cost. Buy more film!

  21. Developing tanks and reels and such like lasts for ages. I've still got a Patterson tank I bought in 1972.
  22. um,

    you don't need a changing tent or bag. just a dark place, bathroom's fine, just put a towel under the door. save yer money fer film and chems. there's all kinds of tanks and reels and i've tried a bunch, ss and plastic, and i prefer plastic. yankee reels suck and their tanks leak, patterson inner lids are flimsy and feel as if they'll wear out then pop off when you dump out yer dev, and costar no longer makes the best tank and reel in the land(you can't have mine, i'll never give it up), but the samigon(13 bux) is the same design. stainless is a headache... believe me, i loaded thousands upon thousands of rolls of 35 and 120 onto stainless for burst processing. get a good thermometer. don't cheap out on yer therm. good advice on graduated cylinders above but remember, it's not rocket fuel, a quarter ounce or so here and there won't make a diff to you. specially if you'll be sending them off fer printing.

    have fun,

  23. Thanks Guys

    I will save money on stop, thanks.
    What exactly do Permawash and Photo-flo do?

  24. Don' forget film clamps to hold your negatives while they are drying...

    Photo-flo (or similar) is used to not get water stains on your negatives when they are drying.

    // nick
  25. Thanks

    I planned on using some clothes clips to start with (free !)

    Is there any harm in using less well known fixer and wetting agent? My local photo place is jessops and they make some "econo" fixer and wetting agent, as well as bulk film. Could i use that to get started, and get used to the equiptment, and the upgrade (i would still use D72 for developing)?

    Thanks Guys

  26. Jessops econ-fix works well. Also the combinition of Ilford FP5 or FP4 plus with Developer ID11 works really nicely. Mixing ID11 seemed difficult at first but, its not that bad eventually if you wear rubber gloves. The results are much better than ready made liquid developers in terms of tonal gradation and general quality. I find that using a stop bath can help me reuse fixer atleast 10-15 times (you can test the fixer by timing how long it takes for it clear a leader and then double the time for the fix time). Also using coffee filters on a funnel to filter every chemical after & before use reduces the chance of particles on your negatives.. Enjoy it!!
  27. Like Josh, I'm also starting out with developing B&W. I had a freind recommend an "auto feed" reel. He said that it would come in handy, especially when a beginner is faced with trying to load a stainless reel in a bag. My concern is making certain the film isn't touching any where along its 5 foot length. I've practiced with some film on a regular SS reel, but I find I can't be sure of consistancy.

    He dosen't remember the brand, but the only one I found was the Samigon.

    Any suggestions?

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