Recommended Color Film Developing Chemicals

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by gwendolyn_white, Oct 2, 2006.

  1. I'm going to start developing my color film soon and I want to know if anyone here has any recommended chemicals they think I should use. I've seen a lot of Kodak, but I'm really big on quality so I'd like to hear what people here suggest.

    And also, do you prefer powder or liquid? Is there really that much of a difference in the end? As in, is powder a pain because you have to mix it etc.

    Thanks for any opinions/advice!
  2. You dont mention which colour process you are going to do. Could be E6 or C41. Both are
    only available as liquids. The quality you will be able to obtain isn't related to brand.
    Its down to your ability to do things consistently. That's chemical mixing, temperature
    control, agitation etc. And don't forget trying to get your run on-line to start with. For
    that you'll need process control strips, a densitometer and the process control manual.
    To be honest, unless your going to be developing large quantites and have got the time to
    learn the process, its just not worth doing at home. Find a good professional lab if you
    want quality.
  3. Indeed, a pro lab is probably more cost-effective. It will be hard to do "better" than a good dip & dunk line.

    If you want to do it yourself, the Kodak and Fuji-Hunt chemicals are the only ones that have all the trade-secret technology that makes for a true C-41 or E-6 process. All the others are only approximations. The Kodak chemicals are far easier to buy in retail/hobbyist quantities.

    What it IS worth doing at home is the printing, be it via the digital darkroom path, or optical/wet with RA-4 paper and chemicals. You can learn to do better than a lab there. See the digital darkroom forum for the digital path. You don't even need a printer, there are many places that accept digital files and produce RA-4 prints without messing with your color balance and exposure.
  4. I develop black and white film, which is why I figured I could develop color film - from
    what I have read/researched it is not that different, except for some added things
    (bleaching) and different temperatures, sets of chemicals, times etc.

    I could always go to a pro lab but I really prefer to do it myself. I've done a lot of research,
    like I said, the only thing I don't know is what chemicals are recommended etc. I actually
    haven't found that big of a variety of chemicals which is probably why I don't know what is

    Of course, the way you do it matters most when it comes to quality, but I figured some
    people would have something to say in their experience, with certain brands or chemicals
    or... something along those lines. You never know until you ask.

    Thank you for replying, anyway.
  5. I forgot to add, I plan on developing color negatives ? not slides or transparencies.
  6. Gwen,
    I plan on trying Tetenal's Powder C-41 chemical for 120 Reala this month. The kit was
    $15 a B&H. There is a lot of discussion in previous posts about using the genuine
    stuff "Kodak" vs the imitators "Tetenal / Photocolor". Its hard to tell which opinion is
    right, so I am going to try it myself and see how it works out.
  7. An important difference between colour and black and white processing is TOLERANCE. It
    is possible to develop a satisfactory black and white negative with a wide range of techniques
    and resulting contrasts (c.curve shapes). This is NOT so with colour materials. There is an
    optimum process and deviation from this produces poorer results.
  8. The big thing will be temperature control. A water bath will work fine (at least it did for me) although thigns go a lot easier with a jobo.

    I've used the paterson concentrates (although I thikn they're discontinued now) and the Tetenal powders. When compared to results from a pro-lab I couldn't tell any difference--of course I don't have control strips, densometer, etc. But the point remains the same, for my purposes I could do it just fine. It didn't save me a whole lot of money, but it did a little, and it was more convenient and fun.

    My only complaint about the Tetenal kit is I've had a hard time getting the Blix to dissolve completely. Maybe my water is too hard? IN any case, give it a try. What have you got to lose but a few dollars?
  9. It is quite easy to develop color negative and color slide film with small tanks and small
    batches of chemicals. You will have to have an accurate thermometer and a way to control
    the temperature of the chemicals. Both processes work at 100f, so you won't need to do
    any chilling. I started out developing my color materials in my bathroom at home, using a
    washtub put into the bathtub, with the small quart chemical bottles in it, with hot water
    trickling into it constantly to maintain the proper temperature of the chemicals.

    Other comments above about "control" of the processes are valid concerns if you are
    running a "replenished" processing line, where you add replenisher after each processing
    run and continue to use the chemicals for extended period of time. This is only valid if you
    are running a larger tank line, with at least 10 litres or up of each chemical. If you are an
    amateur that is going to process just a few rolls of film from time to time, and you start
    with fresh chemistry each time, then you have no need of these elaborate procedures. Just
    don't exceed the capacity of the chemistry. C-41 and E-6 chemistry is "in-control" when
    mixed fresh. It only gets "out of control" when it is used for extended period of time and
    not replenished correctly. If you are processing with a quart "kit" you have no need for
    elaborate "control" procedures. You just have to be accurate on your temperature and
    processing times in each chemical.

    McCluney Photo
  10. If you don't have a tempering bath set up I would forget it. But, if you have a jobo or Nova then have a go. I have used various C41 chemicals with good results. Patterson used to do a one solution concentrate that was very good, however, Most third party kits include a bleach fix or Blix bath. These are bad news. You need to bleach then fix then stabalize in seperate baths. My advice is to go for Kodak flexcolor. If you get the temperature right and the chemicals mixed correctly, you will not find a better developed negative. I use 150ml per 36exp 135 or 120 roll developed which is less than Kodak recommends but gives me consistent and perfect results. You will need more than this if you don't use a rotary processor. And do not expect great results first time. Learn and modify your process and then keep it bang on to the nth degree when you are satisfied.
  11. Thank you all so much for replying. I'm taking in everything that has been said and I'm going
    to find some chemicals that were mentioned and give it a go.

    If it turns out to be more of a hassle then I'll just go to a pro-lab, but personally I like the
    development process, and I think being able to control having the picture right then and
    there when you're done, is a god send when it comes to film -- I'm not a very patient person
    when it comes to waiting for labs. :p

    So thanks again to everyone who replied!
  12. My tempering bath is a rectangular bucket that just barely takes up half my darkroom sink. I bought an immersion heater for about $100 from B&H and keep it set at 100 degrees F. I made a rack for inside the bucket out of a dishwashing thingy that you use to dry dishes when you do them by hand, available at most junk stores like Wal Mart, etc. I mix my Tetenal chemicals by the liter, use replenishment, and obtain far superior results to anything I have seen in the Denver, Colorado area. But then....I am a trained custom color printer now retired.
  13. For what it's worth (three years later, I'm still doing my own c-41 and E-6 processing at home with great results - I began because the local lab couldn't get the E-6 push/pull down as precise as I would have liked), I do my developments in a heated bath, and control the temperature with an aquariam immersion heater. It only cost about $20 at my local pet store and is quite precise (they have to be for tropical fish to survive!) Hope your development was fun, and that others are still developing out there! I'm doing 4x5 film only, and it ends up being MUCH cheaper and, frankly, for the E-6 stuff, of better quality (once you've got your method down).
  14. I'll chime in after Eric...maybe we can revive this thread. Years ago I had a color darkroom. Very enjoyable. Renewed interest in film, but this time I'll go hybrid (Photoshop will be the darkroom). Still want to be involved with the chemistry, so that leaves film processing. I can see the affects of digital...stuff is getting scarce. Freestyle remains a reliable source, which pleases me because back in the day I lived in California (PA now) and I'd ride my Honda up to their store in Hollywood for supplies. Nice to see they're still around. BUT...what to use. Same question Gwen asked. I have a Unicolor C41 kit on the way from Freestyle. Almost have to take a course to understand Kodak, and then where do you get it? I suppose I could drive up to NYC and buy it from B&H (they don't ship), but imo NYC is a foreign planet and not my favorite place to visit. Adorama sells some Flexicolor, but the bleach seems to be the problem...maybe some shipping restrictions on that. B&H sells a 5 liter Tetanal kit, but that's 13.99/liter versus 12.50/liter from the Unicolor 2 liter kit. Not a big difference if Tetanal is clearly better. Anybody tried both? The 1 gal Arista kit from Freestyle equates to 17.99/liter, but I suppose I'll have to try that sometime.
    I get a little put off by people who answer the question of "what to use" with the response don't try it, it isn't worth it. Jeezama...that ain't the question. Just answer the bloody question. Maybe it wasn't worth it to you. (In every classroom there's always somebody who just HAS to raise their hand...ever notice that?).
    As for temperature control, the Jobo units look nice but overkill. And for $500 used on ebay, well, keep it. I have a Unicolor film drum and Uniroller from "the old days", and a well-equipped woodworking shop. I built an insulated cabinet (quite small) with a heating unit and a temperature controller. Therein resides the Uniroller and the chemistry, and it's a simple matter to remove the drum, change the chemistry, reset the timer and roll some more 'til done. The Unidrum is double-walled, which helps with the temperature. Works well with b&w, which is maybe more temperature tolerant than C41, and that's the next test. I used the Unidrum/Uniroller in CA with Beseler 2-step with good results. I will update.
    Would be interested in hearing from those who are using these C41 chemistries.
    Cheers. apologies if I've hijacked your thread.
  15. I am looking for the chemicals to develop C41 (eventually E6). I was wondering if it's worth going with a kit or getting individual chemicals?

    I suppose I could get a kit for learning then buy the Kodak or Fuji chemicals as I get the consistent results. Are there any benefits to having a separate bleach & fix? It looks like Blix is much more common.
  16. [Carl] "Are there any benefits to having a separate bleach & fix?"

    Carl, if you want to process any significant amount of film over time, the separated bleach can last a long time, and even
    be replenished. The fixer can be replaced as needed, and is relatively inexpensive.

    I've never used a C-41 blix, but internet posts tend to indicate that it has a short usable lifespan, and even then, it's
    performance may be marginal. But if you want to process a small amount of film at one time, the blix may be pretty convenient.

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