Developing B&W Film

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by andrew_miller|10, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. Okie so iim gonna try developing my firts roll of film:
    ILFORD HP5 PLUS 125 & 400 iso film
    I am going to use the 125 first,
    I am so confused on where to begin, i went out and bought myself a:
    ILFOSOL 3 Film Developer
    Rapid Fixer
    Measuring Cup
    Can Opener
    So I know how to take out the film, one question though, can safelight be used while doing this?
    Im stop on the developing part.
    I diluted my chemicals I sure hope I did it right, i put 900ml of water and 100ml of devlop. to make a 1l jug
    i made a .7l jug of fixer with 560ml water and 140ml f
    i made a 3L Stop bath with 2l of of water and 300ml of SB
    I can do it in light right? I read the back of my development sticker and it says a certain time, then my box fo my film says another.
    Im going to stick with using this type of film so can somebody just please tell me how long do I develop for? how long do i put stop it? and how long do i put the fixer in after for this certain film.
    after i put these three stages in, and rinse with water and hang up to dry.
    Also last question, what temp should i keep everything at? I see it the tiem of develop matters on this, any ti[ps on hwo to keep the temp of the water n chemicals at 20 or 24, or what ever you recommend.
  2. These films are panchromatic meaning sensitive to all colors therefore best not to use a safelight. A dim green safelight is available but it is so feeble that mainly it might keep you from tripping over something. Practice removing the film from the cassette and loading it onto the reel with the lights on. Do this again and again until you are sure you can do this. It might require that you sacrifice several rolls this is true because after several practice runs the film will likely become deformed and impossible to load. Remove the film from the cassette and load it onto the reel in total darkness. Test the integrity of the total darkness by practicing with the lights out. To complete the process go through all the steps substituting water for the chemicals. You need to figure out how much fluid you will need to cover the film. The fluid lever must exceed the reel height. Fill the tank with water in the light to make this determination then measure the volume required. As to temperature, it is my advice to work at the temperature of the running water. Likely this will be above 20° C in the summer time. If the water coming out is say 26º C then go ahead and adjust your chemical to this temp. It is better if all chemicals and the wash water are nearly the same. The instruction sheet for the developer will have a time/temp chart. The chart will give the time based on temperature. Once the film is in the tank, turn on the lights. Pour in the pre-measured developer. Agitate continuously for 30 seconds. Set down the tank. Now agitate for 5 seconds every 30 seconds. At the end of the period pour out the chemicals into a bottle using a funnel. You can use running water as the stop. You can use a purchased stop bath. You can use water with an added teaspoon of vinegar per liter. It makes no difference. Time in the stop is not critical. As soon as the fluid has covered the film, agitate and discard. Now pour in the fixer. Agitate continually for one minute. Remove the tanks top and lift out the reel. Observe the film. Is it opaque or transparent? The film will soon turn transparent between frame and on the edges. Fix time is twice the time it takes to go from opaque to clear. Likely 5 minutes will be more than adequate. Wash 30 minutes in running water. If water availability is a problem shorten the wash time using a hypo clear solution. Add a drop of wetting agent like PhotoFlow or liquid detergent to the tanks allow to soak 30 seconds. Carefully remove film from reel and suspend with clip at both ends. Allow to air dry. Best of luck!
  3. SCL


    NO you cannot use a safelight until the film is developed* (with certain tanks everything can be done in open daylight, including loading them...probably not yours however). The safelight is really for printing more than film developing. Once the film is in the tank, you can generally turn on your normal room lights if it is a daylight (lightproof) tank. I'm not sure what dilutions your chemicals call for, but your numbers add up for the developer and fixer...but not the stop bath (2L + 300ml do not equal 3 L).
    If your film or developer has specific instructions...a good starting point is to follow them exactly, including the temperature and agitation schedule. Development times generally decrease dramatically with increases from the recommended temperature and vice versa. Try to nail the temperature for best results in terms of density, contrast and grain.
    Typically, the stop bath is around 30 seconds. The timing for the fixer and subsequent rinsing should be shown on the varies among manufacturers typically between 4-10 minutes fixing, and 10-30 minutes rinsing. If you use Photo-flo to reduce treaking while dryingh your film...the immersion time is about 30 sec. Drying time should be hanging with slight weight on the bottom for at least an hour for the emulsion to harden. DON'T touch it afterwards...handle the negatives only by the edges with clean hands or dust free cotton gloves.
    Good luck and enjoy the results.
  4. Where are you located? If possible, it's best to have someone who's experienced watch you the first few times. They'll keep you on the right track and you'll gain experience and confidence. If that's not possible, these may help (note that you *must* spool your film in complete darkness even though it's done in daylight in the video):
  5. There's some useful basic info here:
    Also, I'd advise you that the level of darkness required for moving film to spool is very difficult to achieve at home - you really need to seal the crap out of a room, not just turn the lights off - so if you're not very confident in your darkroom just get a changing bag from You load the film, spool, scissors, churchkey (if you have to pop the cartridge because you don't have the end of the leader to pull on), tank and tank lid into the bag, close both zippers, put your arms in the armholes, transfer the film to the spool and get it in the tank and close it, then you can open the bag and you're good to go. Because the tank is light tight you don't need to work in the dark after the tank is closed.
  6. all good advice.a couple of things though
    1)loading the film: a real darkroom is good but a closet can be used. just be sure they KNOW you are loading film and any light would cause a disaster.
    you can in a very dim at night, use a large coat reversed un a table and the collar turned in.
    it will make a "sort of" changing bag. Developer: often mizing developer as a " one shot" More dilute and then used once and poured down the drain.
    this leads to more consitent results. You have to use enough " developer chemical" to provide enough strength to develop the film.
    the manual will tell you.
    a bit of whitre vinegar can be substituted for the stop bath.
    I strongly suggest some kind of " hypo clearing" solutio to remove the last traces of fixrt yjsy will eventually cause your negatives to become stained.
    temperture: important for more thann one reason
    time tem determined proper and consitent development.
    temperures below 65 degrees ( don't work well) or over 80 degrees ( can doften the emulsion.
    a varying temperture, say 70 deg development followed by a 50 frgtrr wash can cause " reticulation" or wrinkling of the emulsion
    but Ilford films are modern and tend to be resitant to this effect.
    adjusting to a certain temerture can be vexing. better to use a time/temp chart and adjust the time.
    keep a notebook.Loading 120 roll film is a pain 35mm is much easier. kinking the film while loading can cause small cresent marks on the film.
    don't let this scare you it is not that hard, I started in 1947. I was 12 years old.
  7. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    You have to load the film into the tank in complete darkness. After that you can turn the lights on and do the rest in daylight, if you have a light tight developing tank such as made by Paterson.

    My references show the development time to be 5 minutes with 1:9 ILFOSOL 3 film developer at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees fahrenheit).

    Mix one part developer with nine parts water at 20 C (or 68 F)

    Dump the developer in the tank and tap the tank sharply to remove any air bubbles and agitate for 1/2 minute. Give about a 5 second agitation every 30 seconds thereafter.

    After five minutes, dump out the developer and add the stop bath. Agitate continuously for 1/2 minute then pour the stop bath back into the bottle (it can be reused).

    Dump in the fixer and do the same agitation procedure as the developer. Pour the fixer back in the bottle; it can be re-used.

    The fixer time should be indicated on the fixer. 5 minutes should be enough. You can open the tank and look at the film now. If you look at the film and it looks milky, fix it some more.

    I would wash film by filling the tank with water and dumping it out about ten times in five minutes.

    Hang the film to dry.
  8. awesome. Thanks a lot guys
    I was confused with diluting the chemicals-i tried following the 9:1 for developer
    so i ended up addinh 2700ml of eater and 300ml of developer.
    stop bath at 1:19 and i ended up making 2.5l with 125ml stop and 2375ml water
    and fixer at 1:4 .7ml total with 140ml Fixer and 560m water

    i mixed it trying to keep the water at 20.
    I dont know i thought 9:1 meant adding 900ml water and 100ml fluid
    and same with 1:19 (100ml fluid 1900ml w) 4:1 for fixer same thing

    but my g/f did this weird equation minusing it from what my tank holds (350ml) and all that and got this weird numbers to work with.

    can somebody tell me what the dilution way is, i am just filling them into almost 3.8ml water jugs...

    and if my jugs are unbalanced can i jsut re-adjust ti by adding more fluid or more water if i have too?
  9. reading the inside of the film box i dont know which is the developer... ILFOSOL S..... at 20? it says go 7minutes on El 400/27, which my guess is 400iso 27exposure? but my film is 24 exp.

    So if it would be 7mins of develp.
    30seconds of stop
    then... my filmbox says RAPID FIXER/HYMPAM at 20 is 2-5minutes. what time do you recommend?
    after fixer, i use my photo flo for only 30 seconds. if ti was water onyl ti be 30mins?
    then i can pull it out and squeegy and hang up to dry for how long? and hour?


    if you do the precise time for the 400iso and 125iso for develop. and fixer. at 20 degrees. let me know to save me reading this confusing chart haha. is there a link for a better 1 online too?
  10. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    EI 400/27 means 400 ISO or 27 DIN. DIN is another measurement of film speed. Most people use ISO. It doesn't matter whether your film is 24 exposure or 36 exposure. You just need to put enough developer in the tank to cover the film on the reel. What make tank do you have? If it is a Paterson film developing tank it will have on the bottom how much to use to cover the film. "Each film uses xxx ml"

    The 400 ISO film will take 7 minutes.

    30 seconds of stop bath

    Then 2-5 minutes of fixer. I would go the whole 5 minutes. After two or three minutes you can open the tank to see if the film cleared. If it hasn't, it will have a milky appearance. The general rule is, the fixer should be used for twice as long as it takes the film to clear, lose the milky appearance.

    You should wash the film for 30 minutes. Washing is not really the right word. You are actually soaking the film to get residual chemicals out. You don't need that many complete changes of water. The method I use to wash, as I explained above, works well, I have used it for thirty years and my old films have no trace of left over fixer stain.

    After washing, then you use the Photo-flo. Just dip the film through. It provides a sheeting action that floats the water off without leaving water drops on the film that will spot as they dry.

    The film should dry after an hour or so.

    You should just mix the fixer up all at once according to the instructions. You pour enough fixer in to cover the film and then after five minutes you just pour what is in the developing tank back into the bottle. It is re-useable. Same for the stop bath. The developer used has to be discarded.
  11. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Ilford FP5+ is a 400 ISO film. If you have a 125 ISO film that is most likely Ilford FP4+. That should only take 4 minutes developing time. Does it say anything on the box about that?
  12. okay i understand the procedure now,
    i'm just still iffy on the chemicals i diluted.
    my gf says the development might be wrong becuz we didnt do the formula we read on another forum

    I was confused with diluting the chemicals-i tried following the 9:1 for developer
    so i ended up addinh 2700ml of eater and 300ml of developer.
    stop bath at 1:19 and i ended up making 2.5l with 125ml stop and 2375ml water
    and fixer at 1:4 .7ml total with 140ml Fixer and 560m water

    i mixed it trying to keep the water at 20.
    I dont know i thought 9:1 meant adding 900ml water and 100ml fluid
    and same with 1:19 (100ml fluid 1900ml w) 4:1 for fixer same thing

    can somebody please explain what 9+1
    and 19+1 means

    is it just adding like... 900ml water and 100ml development, or like 300 and 33
    or is does 9+1 mean something else?

    please i followed the 4+1 with the Fixer, when my development i followed the 9+1, should I have kept the 9+1 for the fixer too to keep the same strength? or something like that?
  13. The advice you got above is quite good. Standard developing temperature is 68 degrees Fahrenheit, and all liquids should be close to the same temperature--you can go to 72 or 74 if you shorten the development time. I agree with the suggestion of using a changing bag, rinsing quickly after fixing and using hypo clear (hypo neutralizer) to shorten your final rinse time. If you're not going to be doing film development regularly, you might look into a one-shot developer system which will keep a little longer--the fixer should last in storage indefinitely.9:1 simply means nine parts water to one part whatever--developer or fixer concentrate.
    And if your jugs are unbalanced you need to consult a plastic surgeon, unless your girlfriend likes them that way. ;-)
  14. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Developer, stop bath and fixer are all different things not related to each other. You don't need to use Ilford stop bath or fixer with Ilford developer. You can just mix up all the stop bath and fixer at once and leave it until you need it, then pour in the amount needed to cover the film.

    I used to use the Kodak Fixer that came in packages in powder form. I would mix it with water to make one gallon (3.8 liters) and then just dump some in the developing tank as I needed it to fix the film. What I used in the tank I would just pour back into the gallon bottle of fixer that it came from. Same for the stop bath. Your developer you have to cut 1:9 with water before use and then it has to be discarded after use.

    I will ask again, what developing tank are you using?
  15. A side question: I live in a high altitude desert (7,000ft and people talk when the humidity gets as "high" as 20%). Any precautions?
    Cooking here: Stouffers Lasagna says 55-57 minutes at 350. OK, we need 75 minutes at 400.
  16. Gordon, I think the answer is going to be no, it won't matter. As long as you can measure the temperature of the solution, I would think you would be okay. Have a look at a temperature conversion chart. There's one over at Ilfordphoto There is a graphic one over on the Massive Development Chart
    I would suggest the answer is no because it has more to do with the activity of key components at a given solution temperature. Metol works real well on the colder end of things (at 20C or below), but hydroquinone thrives on the warm end of things (great power above 24C, but weak to ineffective below 18C). When they are both working together at a suitable temperature, they become a "superadditive" developer; working together in the right way, they are five times more powerful than either component alone. This means that less of each can be put in the developer solution; but, working in combination, they will get more done. Chances are most of the developers you encounter will be HydroQ and Metol combinations, or a combination of other compounds that were found to work similarly. If I remember right the Phenidones will work a lot like the hydroquinones; but, I'd have to look it up or receive counsel from someone who knew well to be sure.
    Point is, solution temperature tells us about internal activity. Since the molecules are bouncing around more, some kinds of compounds will thrive in the hotter solutions, bouncing against the negative briefly, but a lot. Others will want the colder, slower bouncing against the negative to promote their reactions. Boyle's Law shows us about the interchangeability of pressure and temperature, but there's also the idea that the tank is a sealed, steel wall tank; and, how does that affect how atmospheric pressure interacts with the solution? I'm not sure, but suspect that there will be changes so small as to be negligible. Anything less than a 30 second difference in the lapse of time will be so small of an affect as to not be practically observable. Even then, it would be hard to tell. There's more to the relationship of time to solutions, but I think that'll do for now.
    The amount of energy transferred with be more of an atomic exchange. You won't have to transfer so much energy that there will be a perceptible increase in heat; the small quantities of energy exchanged might negate the effect of compensating for ambient air pressure. It takes a lot of energy to do a good heat transfer. The transfer of energy in developing will be much smaller; more efficient.
    Like, you might need to adjust cooking times, but doesn't a cup of sugar dissolve in a couple of liters of water just as well at altitude as it does at sea level? I don't know, but I suspect it would. Solubility is an example of these smaller energy exchanges.
    "Run a test strip," which sounds like lame advice, but works for a lot of darkroom problem solving. Keep processing practices standardized, so that you can use logic to help solve the problem. Do two negatives, they could be as short as a four inch strip; do one at the manufacturer's recommended times, adjusted for temperature of your solution observed; do another with the atmospheric compensation for temperature factored in. If the atmospheric compensation is as large as the example is above, proportionally, you should get one negative that's okay, and another that's either cleared off of burned black. [Exposed way too long or short to the chemical energy in the developer.]
    The only environments I've heard of that would require substantial changes are: tropics (for humidity), desert (for extreme heat) and arctic (for protection against extreme cold). I could be wrong, but even if I am, the test strip bit should show up an answer you can see for yourself.
  17. The more I think about it, the more I suspect I'm wrong; but, my gut instinct answer is No, Gordon. My guess is that if you can observe the temperature of the solution, and know what that means even in an unusual situation, then the data from the development charts should be applicable just fine.
  18. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Temperature of 68 F is 68 F whether at 0 feet or 7000 feet; the molecular activity should be the same. If your stove thermostat is accurate or your neighbors complain about the same thing, then the problem is steam generation. The boiling point of water varies as the pressure. The higher the pressure, the higher the boiling point. The lower the pressure the lower the boiling point. I worked in plants that had 600 PSI steam pressure and the boiling temperature of the water was around 480 F. At normal atmospheric pressure the boiling point is 212 F.

    You can add all the heat you want and the boiling water will stay at 212 F. You can put a paper cup of water in a fire place. The water will boil in the cup but the cup won't burn. The 212 F water keeps the paper below the paper combustion point of 420 F.

    You can put a cup of water in a 450 degree oven and it will boil/steam at 212 F and get no hotter. It could be that the steaming of the components of your lasagna due to the lower atmospheric pressure is keeping the temperature of the lasagna much lower than would be the case in a lower pressure area and hence the lasagna is cooking at a lower temperature.

    One thing bothers me about altitude and atmospheric pressure. Air has weight so there is more air pressing down on land at sea level than on a 5000 foot mountain top. Charts I have seen show the pressure at sea level of 29.92 inches of mercury and at 5000 feet of 24.896 inches of mercury (in. Hg). Water boils at 212 F at 29.92 in. Hg.and at 203 F at 24.896 in Hg.

    I can accept that but what I can't figure out is, I looked at the Weather Underground web site and at 8:00 o'clock the result for Denver (the mile high city) was 84.2 F; Atm pressure = 29.65 in. Hg (Steady). At the same time the result for Savannah (at sea level just about was 79.2 F; Atm pressure = 29.66 in. Hg. (Rising).

    I don't think I have ever seen Denver as having 24.9 in. Hg. nor do I ever expect to. Perhaps the weather people factor in a correction so all city heights are in the same keeping.

    If you get a chance, boil some water and put a thermometer in it and tell me the result. At 7000 feet it should boil at 200 F.
  19. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Engineering exam question : How would you use a barometer to determine the height of a building?

    Answer: Go to the owner of the building and say,"If you tell me how tall your building is, I will give you this nice barometer".

    (I flunked)
  20. Most any black and white film can be developed using most any B&W developer, stop bath and fixer. Lately I've been doing Kodak Plus-X with Agfa Rodinal (1+25), Arista Indicator stop bath (1+31) and Sprint fixer (1+4). The stop bath and fixer, I prepare the dilutions and keep them in bottles. The developer, I dilute right before I use it.
    Now, some film and developer combinations work better than others, and different developers are good for bringing out different characteristics of the image, but you can see a large number of possible developer/film/EI/dilution combinations at:
  21. Yankee 9oz for 35mm film
    1 reel
  22. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    The Yankeee plastic developing tank and reels look like the Paterson tanks and reels. A ball bearing device in the reels provides easy walk-in loading, very easy . None of that trying to load a stainless steel spiral reel in the dark. The "9 oz" I assume means it uses 9 oz. of developer solution, 9 oz. of stop bath and 9 oz. of fixer to cover the film and reel.

    My old Paterson tank says on the bottom, "Each 35mm film uses 290ml / 10 oz." so that sounds right.

    To make things simple, I would start with 9 oz of water and add 1 oz. of developer. That makes 10 oz. but pour 9 oz of that into the tank and throw the extra 1 oz away if it won't go into the tank. You are only wasting 0.1 oz of developer that way, no big deal. Or have your girl friend do the math.

    You already have your fixer and stop bath mixed up in gallon jugs (I used to use cleaned anti-freeze gallon containers) so after the developer stage you just measure out 9 ounces and pour that in the tank. As I have said before, the stop bath and fixer is just poured back into the gallon jugs from the developing tank after it has been used.
  23. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    BTW, the plastic reels have to be perfectly dry when loading them, otherwise the film will stick and jam.
  24. i c, so does 9+1 mean what had to be in the tank to develope, because my dilution jug has 2700ml of water and 300ml dilution, but that wont be 9+1 pouring into a tank if im only pouring in 250ml...
  25. "i c, so does 9+1 mean what had to be in the tank to develope, because my dilution jug has 2700ml of water and 300ml dilution, but that wont be 9+1 pouring into a tank if im only pouring in 250ml..."
    Why did you make up so much chemicals? If it's 1+9 and you know you want a litre, for example, you would divide the 1000ml by 10 (1+9 = 10) which equals 100, so it's 100ml developer and 900ml water. Why make up 3 litres when you only want 1 litre?
    Also, once it's mixed it's mixed - if you mix a litre at 1+9 then no matter how small a quantity you use it's still 1+9. It doesn't suddenly unmix itself
  26. Andrew -- First let me say how great it is to see someone go into black and white negative processing and learn photography from there. You have been getting some great responses on the basics here but I will put in a few extras for them.
    Before I add my 2¢ worth --- For a really great guide to BW film processing get the Ansel Adams book "The Negative". I have used is over and over for years and still can find subtleties of processing or something new to try to refine my development. It has lots of detail technically, but is easily understandable by the beginner. Here's the link to Amazon so you know which book I am talking about:
    Ok, since film development is a chemical reaction, everything you do for development, you can control to make it consistent. Keep a record of everything you do each time and break it down to: Film ( your exposure should have been noted somewhere else and this one rule is important=expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights ), developer ( this controls the negative overall ), dilution ( controls contrast, grain increases with more dilution, sharpness-more dilute, detail in shadows vs highlights ), temperature, agitation ( gets fresh chemicals to the emulsion so the reaction is even throughout--as you progress you will learn that the developer reaction for the highlights slows down or becomes more exhausted faster than the shadows because it has more to process, this can be used for even more control but the agitation frequency is less=you need to gain an "eye" for contrast and detail first which takes time and repetition ). Once you can get consistent with the same repetitive development and the negative comes out consistent, you can change one factor -- this is usually the development time to change the contrast for proper density to print and for detail or for effect. Until you can actually judge how the negative density looks (it may be thin - very little density or thick meaning the darkest part will be the highlights but difficult to print through) by holding it up to a light, you really need to do test prints on #2 paper. Once you start making these dev changes, see the difference in the print. This is after all why you control the negative in the first place... to print an image that you like subjectively which includes the technical and the subject matter. Ansel was the master at this and so a great teacher.
    Small tank development temperature needs to be as consistent as possible. Once you pour in the developer, the combination of agitation and surface temp of the tank can change the temp as it is processing. To check this, measure the temp after the dev to see how much it has changed. To minimize this get a tray or bowl a put water in it that is the same temp as the dev to keep the tank in when not agitating. This will keep it more consistent.
    Doing the small test strips can be important as reference materials and records to refer back to and see how your processing is changing. Keep these well labeled. Don't forget to keep the test prints with the same neg strips. This will help you SEE what is going on as your negatives change. If you would like to get more technical - to help your dev - get a gray scale strip or page to shoot for testing your exposure and processing. This will speed up the learning about contrast even if it take more time to do. You can see the grain better this way for comparisons. Personally, I always shoot extra frames( full roll if possible ) on a subject to use as a test strip(s) for processing before I process the important images. Even with all my experience, it still can help make the image better.
    You may be a little frustrated in the beginning because there is so much to absorb but once you get the basics ( repetition ), the fun will just increase when you see what you can do. Last but not least is having a friend(s) you can to share the whole process with. You will learn faster and have more fun and will imagine more and more possibilities as time goes on.

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