Can I Develop Color Film like I would B&W?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by jenn_carroll, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. Hi,
    I have access to a black and white darkroom at my college. I was wondering if I developed color film following the directions for b&w film will they come out, just in black and white? Or will they not come out at all? I shoot all b&w for my class, but have a few person rolls in color that I wouldn't mind developing and having come out in b&w.
  2. SCL


    Sort of. Google and do a little research on the term "cross processing" to improve your chances of success based on others' experimentation.
  3. Alternatively, since you have access to a legitimate darkroom, you can carry out a full C-41 process without too much trouble (I'm assuming you've got C-41 film; E6 is slightly more complicated, but not terribly). Look for the Tetanol C-41 press kit (B&H, $25). Although C-41 works best with excellent temperature control, you can get away with +-1 deg. Only a few minutes of the process are that temperature sensitive, and so you can easily achieve that level of stability in a water bath in your sink.
  4. Yes, you can, but the film will be very dense, as the colloidal silver yellow filter won't be removed by bleaching, and you will only have a low-contrast black-and-white image. It's not really "interesting" in any way, so just stick with processing B&W film in B&W chemistry.
    It is possible to do color processing, particularly C-41, in ways similar to B&W. But the color developer is very short-lived when mixed, so it's pretty close to impossible to do it cheaper than a commercial processing lab, unless you process a lot of film in a short period of time. As Chad mentioned, temperature control is critical, unlike B&W.
    Also, most hobbyist C-41 processing kits use a "blix" solution, instead of separate bleach and fix baths. A blix solution is also a time-bomb hell-bent on self-destruction after you mix it, the bleach and the fix are trying to kill each other. Those kits were designed for press photographers in the field, who would mix the kit, process the day's film, and ditch the chemistry that day or after a few days.
  5. With the problems already noted, it can be done, and is virtually all that can be done with films for which the chemistry is no longer readily available (Kodachrome, E-4. etc.).
    The results will usually be a somewhat murky B&W, no color, of course.
  6. If you want black & white images it would still be best to process in C41. You can make black & white prints from the color negatives (a little tricky) or scan and desaturate and go from there.
  7. As John noted, the C41 press kit chemicals (and virtually all home color developers) have a short shelf life once mixed. The processed film may also have a shorter shelf life than it would have if you sent it to a lab, because archival negs weren't a typical requirement of a press photographer.
    If these particular rolls of film are important to you and you want long term archivability, send them to a lab (I use NCPS for C-41, but there are many others that are also perfectly good). Since you were willing to cross-process them, I assumed the pictures they contain weren't anything critical. The press kit will produce perfectly serviceable negatives; they may just not survive for 30 years.
  8. Color negative film? Get some c-41 chemistry and follow the directions (you can find them on line) . Color neg in C-41 is
    even more straight forward than B&W.
  9. I did it time ago, and results were as described by John. A brownish too dense negative with a extremely soft, low contrast image, useless for printing.
  10. What is a black and white darkroom? No such room exists in which you can only develop B&W but not color.
    Also, you don't need a darkroom to develop anything; the only thing you need "dark" for is to load the film onto the spool.
  11. Developed as black and white, you will get very low contrast images and also the film will have an orange cast due to undeveloped dye coupler (known as the mask). However, if you develop long enough you may be able to increase contrast satisfactorily.
    It was stated earlier that color developers have a short life. This is not true if they are stored properly. When stored in full, glass bottles sealed tightly, they can last much longer than what the manufacturers say. Months instead of weeks.

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