Newbie Looking to process at home...

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by robert_bosworth, Jun 10, 2003.

  1. Hello... I am a student that last year took a B&W class and learned
    how to process using a Bessler tank and reels, but I just used the
    school supplied chemicals and all of the other equipment that they
    had. I just bought a dedicated film-scanner and would like to begin
    processing my own rolls and then scanning them for digital storage,
    but I'm not sure exactly what chemicals I need. Could someone give
    me a rundown on what i need to process Ilford FP4, I already have
    the tanks and reels. I also need a rundown on which chemicals I can
    re-use, and how much chemical I need per roll.

    I would also like to get into developing my own color film, and have
    no idea where to start. I am assuming that the process is similar
    and that I need different chemicals, but what do I need and where
    should I start. Any good books that would cover this? Should I be
    using C-Processs? Any help would be appreciated.


  2. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Opinions as to what developer you should use would vary. Me, I would use Kodak HC-110 developer. How much you should use may be on the tank somewhere, usually on the bottom. ("Each film uses xx mls"). Don't bother to reuse/replenish the developer, it is cheap enough just dump it. Reuse the indicator stop bath and the fixer. The stop bath will start to turn blue when it is exhausted and the clearing time of the film will start to get noticeably linger as the fixer nears exhaustion. I would suggest you use Hypo clearing agent to reduce the wash time of the film and Photo-flo to reduce water spots.<P>
    The main difference with color processing is that the development time is much higher and more critical. You can pick up a kit for color chemistry and just follow the instructions as to mixing and using. The shelf life of color chemistry is very short once mixed or opened.
  3. I started home processing color films with a stainless tank and reel, Kodak's E6 "Single-Use" 5L kit, a pyrex cooking dish (like for cassaroles), and running tap water that kept a good constant 100F. The tap water would flow into the dish to fill a tempering bath and I'd sit all my chemistry and the tank in this bath to maintain constant temperature.<p>

    I started off doing E6 because I knew my father had done his own E6 when he was my age (I'm still using his tanks and reels). I was under the impression that color negatives were prohibitively sensitive to temperature change and that the process was more complex so I avoided C-41 for years. Then I got a Jobo and got prepared for my first batch of C-41! Boy was I surprised when I found out that C-41 only had 3 main steps as opposed to E6's 6! And both were 100F processes!<p>

    Basically all you need is your own tank and reels (just like for B&W, I recommend stainless steel because of the higher temperature conductivity), a chemistry kit (Kodak Single-Use E6 kit for chromes, the Kodak Flexicolor Kit available at Adorama for negs), a shallow bucket or dish to act as a tempering bath, and a reliable faucet.<p>

    Now, you also ask about chemistry per roll, reusable chemistry, etc. I've never done any measurements for my own use, but a 120-size tank will hold 2 35mm reels and about 15oz of chemistry. Do the math and you'll see how many rolls of film you'll develop with one 5L kit. (also, I recommend the 6-bath E6 kits over the 3-bath kits.) As for reuse of chemistry, for E6 I do everything one-shot. For C-41 I reuse my bleach but dump both my developer and fixer. That's about it!
  4. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    One of the advantages of processing your own film, besides $ savings and convenience, is the contol you have over the negative. Developing should be just another aspect of getting the best image possible on the film. "Expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights" means nothing if you don't develop your own film or tell the lab how you want it developed. Did you study the Zone system in that class? If not, read this:
  5. Go to this page at Ilford's web site -- partway down the page there is a link to a PDF called "Developing your first B&W film" or something like that. It should answer many of your questions. Also try your public library and look for intro darkroom books -- there are many out there.
    At minimum you will need a B&W film developer (D76 or ID-11 is best to start with, since they work pretty well with all films) and fixer. Stop bath is probably something else you should get, although a couple of water rinses should do fine as well. D-76 and ID-11 (which are close to identical) are best used by mixing up the solution as directed on the package and then diluting this stock solution 1:1 with water immediately before use. The used developer then goes down the drain when done. Developing times for this 1:1 (also called 1+1) dilution are all over the Web. Fixer can be re-used to a point (the capacity is usually stated on the package). The amount of solution needed per roll depends on your tank set-up.
    In addition to your chemicals, you will also need a thermometer, storage containers for your mixed solutions, funnels, and graduated cylinders. String and clothespins as well (for film drying) -- as well as a dust-free place (such as a shower stall) to hang your film up in to dry.
    Colour film is another beast altogether. I wouldn't attempt it until you have been developing B&W film for a while, with good, reproducible results. The amount of control needed (in temperature and time) in colour processing is much greater than in B&W. For most people it's probably not worth doing colour at home -- you won't save much money over having it done commerically.
  6. I should add, in response to another poster, that there are several three-bath E6 (colour slide) kits out there that are relatively easy to use. The small temperature tolerances are still there, though. I worked out the economics of using E6 three-bath kits from Tetenal (500ml size) versus sending my slide film out in mailers. It worked out to be cheaper to do it at home, but only by a few cents per roll, when mounting costs are taken into account. Colour chemicals go bad quickly, so you need to have a pretty big throughput.
  7. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    I forgot to add in my previous post to your "how much chemical I need per roll." - if it doesn't say on the tank how much is needed, then just put the reels in the tank, pour in some water and measure how much water it takes to cover the reels. It will be a bit higher when there is film on the reels but not much.
  8. Another vote for the Ilford guide to start developing B&W. Other companies (at least Agfa and Kodak) have similar guides that may be just as good, but after doing it twice, you'll need nothing but the specifications for the particular chemicals you choose to experiment with. These are also available for download, if they're not fully reproduced on the box.
  9. I have used HC110- dillution B almost exclusivelly for my black and white work, thats a kodak developer that is perfect for beginners because it has a long shelf life, is a luquid concentrate, powders should be sttered clear of (D-76, D-19) when you mix those it is inevidable that you will breath in some of the dust which is not only poision but tastes awefull. HC110 produces great negatives and is very reliable, perfect for newcomers.
  10. His first sentence already established that he knows how to develop his own B&W film. I think he was asking for specific suggestions for FP4 and color processing.
  11. This is the equivalent publication on Kodak's site- read both and use whichever suits you (hint: visit your local store and see what they sell, too):

    Keep in mind, you can use Kodak chemicals on Ilford film (and vice versa), use Kodak developer and Ilford fixer, etc.

    Also, both Kodak and Ilford have data sheets on each individual film, and many of the chemicals (D76, for example).

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