e6 (and c41) processing at home temp. control

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by bruce_erickson|1, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. For those of you who do home processing of slide film (E6), how do you maintain temperature control? I would rather not have to purchase special equipment but my usual b&w film temp. control methods probably won't work with E6. (I use a developing tray with water at 68 deg. F and put my beakers with developer, stop, fix in that and wait until developer temp has reached 68. I have a jug of slightly warmer water that I use to maintain the water temp in the tray. Sometimes, but usually not, I also pre-wash the film to bring the tank up to temp.)
  2. Same thing for E6/C41, just use a dishwashing tub or other plastic container.
  3. In a 550F room on a ceramic tile counter top I placed a 6 inch deep plastic storage box, filled it half full with 1100 F water, inserted a second plastic storage box and filled it half full of 1050 F water into which I put a manual roller base and Jobo tank with 18 sheets of Portra film. The chemicals were brought up to temp in a sink of hot water. Chemical temperature shifted 10F from the start of processing to the end of processing. Chemicals were up to processing temperature of 1000 F prior to filling the plastic storage boxes with hot water.
  4. Bruce, look on ebay and try to get a Precision Model 183 or similar sized Water Bath. They are used in laboratories to precisely control water temp. I picked one up a couple of years ago for about $30 plus maybe $20 for shipping. Look in Business/Industrial -> Health Care/Lab and Life Science ->Lab Equipment -> Heating and Cooling -> Water Baths. There is one there now, a model 180, for buy it now price of $55 + $23 shipping. It is slightly smaller than my 183, but will easily hold your chem bottles. It will hold temp to +-0.5 degrees, without messing around with plastic tubs full of water, etc. Actually, I looked closer at this one, it's a model 184 which is a bit larger than mine, so it would also hold a gallon of wash water too.
    Now if I could just find E-6 chems for sale somewhere in the US...
  5. Michael. Thanks for the ebay link. You posed a question about getting chemistry -- is that a big problem?
  6. Well, Kodak no longer makes the E-6 5 liter kit, which was my standard for years. I am looking into the 10 liter chems, and splitting them up somehow, but no one seems to carry all the various chems needed at any given time. Freestyle has the Arista 3-step E-6 kits, but they are expensive, and I have never used one. I may try a 1 quart kit, run 8 rolls through it and see how it goes. I have used Tetenal kits in the past, but they are not available in the US.
    C-41 seems to be no problem as far as chems are concerned.
    Just a sidenote for you Bruce. I developed E6 for years without the Precision water bath. It was always a pain adding more hot water, etc, when making a longer run and keeping the temps stable. For me the $75 or so was a no brainer. It's also much cheaper than getting a used Jobo processor, if you can find one, and also more accurate temperature was and better built.
  7. Bruce, most of your home kits have a temp between 80-104 degrees. Warmer the temp the shorter the developing time. (Its in the instructions that come with the kit) I warm up the chems in the microwave, prewash at 105, add developer@ 104 degrees, at the end of 3.5 min of developement I have lost about 1-2 degrees. Still over 100 degrees. Have never had a problem.
  8. While there is reason for the tolerances that Kodak and Fuji publish for the processing steps, they're tighter than you probably need, and exaggerated. The FirstDev really is critical, too warm and you're pushing, way too warm and you'll pucker the emulsion. However, E-6 is run at 38 degrees. Note that body temperature is 37 degrees. Your skin is incredibly sensitive to temperature changes within a few degrees of your target, so a basic thermometer clipped to a corner of the water bath combined with having your fingers in the bath make an outstanding alarm system.
    Keep a source of hot water handy. If you sense the bath is cooling during the bleach and the thermometer confirms it, pour some hot water into the bath. I have never seen reticulation, I don't think you really run any risk of that unless you absurdly overheat the water or walk away during the wash and forget about it overnight.
    Also note that once you've rinsed the FirstDev out, every single step is "run to completion" and all you have to make sure is that you give it enough time and enough temperature to fully complete. I've always found that the published time for ColorDev was way low, the manager of one of the late pro labs in Seattle (ProLab, actually) suggested six minutes instead of four, and I've never regretted it. I jacked up the bleach from six to ten, the fix from three to four, and added at least one extra wash. I don't think the stabilizer needs any extra time.
    The extra time on those three steps goes a long way to compensate for any weakness of chemistry (like using ColorDev that's two weeks old when experience says to only keep it for ten days) or lowering temps. I never had a single disappointing batch after making those time changes, either by hand in SS tanks, in a JOBO, or in my Sidekick.

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