Stand Developing C41 film in B&W chemistry

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by imsphotos, Sep 25, 2018.

  1. I'm just posting this for information. I did look for some online guidance regarding doing this but found little that gelled with my curiosity. Why bother wasting colour film by developing it as B&W, especially using stand developing? Well, I have a bit of a surplus of just in date C41 film but my local processing shop has closed so I have to mail films off to national lab. costs of developing are higher but the postage is as much as processing AND my surplus films are all 24 exp.

    I do a fair amount of testing of old film cameras so image quality is second priority to ensuring that the camera will operate correctly or any limitations are discovered. So, my question, to myself was '"Can stand processing C41 in B&W chemistry yield an acceptable image to check a camera's functions?" I had processed some C41s as B&W in 'emergency' situations but I had never used stand processing at all, not even with B&W film. My initial reaction on hanging up the negatives was ' nothing to see, oh, yes … very faint image there … but VERY tricky making out the frames to cut the negative strips.'

    However, although it took a bit of time getting the scanning set up right I got a fine set of images from my scanner. I was using my personal camera which operates and exposes correctly. The film was exposed for low key shots in dark, old Tack Room of local riding stables using a close focusing 24mm lens, mainly at f2.8.

    So my own answer to my question is 'Yes', for my first time at stand processing, B&W chemistry works just time.

    Yashica FX3 / 24mm ML / Agfa Vista 200X24 / Adox F39 II / 5 cm to 495 cm at room temp (18C) / Agitate, 30 min Agitate, 30 min STOP / Epson V700 + Silverfast SE
    VistaStandTest_07 (2)_01_1024.jpg VistaStandTest_08b_01_1024.jpg VistaStandTest_16_01_1024.jpg
  2. I had to look up what "Stand development" was! I had never heard of it before. Is there some significance to using that on C-41 film? How do you know what chemicals and times to use developing C-41 film of varying types and ASAs as black and white? Did you pick stand for a particular effect, or so you wouldn't have to sit there and agitate it? I have to admit this makes me curious.
  3. Its a fairly well documented technique for B&W film. There is a lot of on line debate about the quality of negatives you can get but there is no doubt that you can be 'lazy' about time and temperature and that it reduces the cost of developer. Normally you would dilute F39 to 1/9 or 1/14 but here it is diluted 1/99. I had picked up the odd reference to using it on C41 film and became curious, especially as little information was available. I had processed C41 in B&W, using the normal methodology, previously but that was just for a rescue situation on a film (and that was a well out of date film) that had got chewed up in a faulty camera. The images were usable but not great (the camera was also misbehaving).

    My reasons for doing it was to see just how well it could work if exposed properly and with the added challenge of using stand (more accurately 'semi stand' as I gave it some agitation half way). I could not find any reliable information on how to modify the stand process for c41. I want to try another roll soon and would make a couple of small adjustments but as you can see it is possible to pull reasonable images from the scanning process. I can't imagine wet printing the negatives but I don't have a print darkroom anyway. Its not something I would do for quality but for film tests, where I have cheap c41 X24 exp film that costs a lot to get posted and processed, it is a good method.

    Anyway I thought it would be good to get this information out as I could not find anything that made it clear. here are another couple of my shots … I was deliberately exposing for low key shots.
    VistaStandTest_18_01_1024.jpg VistaStandTest_19_01_1024.jpg
  4. One reason for stand development is to bring out shadows without blowing highlights, or in other words reduce contrast.

    But C41 films are already much lower contrast (gamma) than usual for black and white films.

    My old favorite developer is Diafine, which has a similar effect to stand, but doesn't take as long.

    So far, my only try at black and white C41 developing is with HC-110 on Kodacolor 1000.
    (The roll came in a camera that I bought.) The pictures were pretty bad, a big reason probably
    being that the film was in the camera for a long time, in less than ideal conditions.

    I think I would use more ordinary development, once you figure out appropriate time and temperature.
  5. An informative thread. I was gifted some old cameras by a friend, and some out of date C-41. One roll was partially used in a camera, and I tried to develop it with Ilfosol 3 (1:14 for about 20 minutes; 4 inversions on the minute). Could barely get the very faintest of images. I've now put another out of date C-41 thru a P&S (which was part of the gifting) and will try the stand method tonight. Any suggestions for developing time using Ilfosol 3 would be appreciated, as would dilution rates. Imsphotos, did you use ferricyanide to clear up the fog?

    Regards, Arthur (apiarist1)
  6. What I learned from this experiment was that 'normal' stand development times and dilution ratios apply to c41 as well as to B&W films. Next time round I will seek out more high contrast scenes and increase exposure by half a stop. What did surprise me was the low contrast shot of the game bag.

    The Adox F39 was just what I had to hand. Most of the 'stand' reports I read are from Rodinal users but there are no local suppliers of that here so part of the experiment was to see if the F39 would work. I'm very happy to stick with it for now.

    Another relevant point is that I now feel less guilty at pouring highly concentrated one shot developers down the drain. F39 is claimed by Adox to be low in toxicity and at 5cc per film the stand process is much kinder to the environment.
  7. - That doesn't sound like a good endorsement to me. Barely visible images aren't usually what anyone looks for in an easily printable or scannable negative.

    Hardly surprising though if you diluted the developer 1:99. You'd probably need to use at least 1000ml per film to have sufficient active ingredients present for normal development.

    Arthur. Ilfosol has a bad reputation for dying without warning. It sounds like that might have happened to yours, and stand development won't help in the slightest. Personally, I'd buy a fresh and more reliable developer and use it at a sensible time, temperature and dilution, but it's your film to risk.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2018
  8. Thanks rodeo_joe. Yes I thought it might be exhausted (it's happened to me before), but I subsequently developed some FP4 with the same stuff (using up the last of it, and will replace it with chemistry suggested to me by Bill-Bowes; a catechol confection), and it worked a treat. I will try the last of my Ilfosol, at standard dilution. No loss here - everything was a gift. I'll try a longer development time, though. It's out of date (considerably) C-41 film. No harm done - just pictures of trees and shrubs.

    Thanks again. And I agree about Ilfosol. It is the only developer my local camera house (in rural Oz arcadia, hinterland - yes we recently had electricity put on, and most people, most of the time, wear shoes. Although it is a place that dentistry forgot) has for sale, though.

    And thanks imsphotos for your response. Will let you and rodeo_joe how it turns out, or not. I'm going to try and develop to-nite.

    Regards, Arthur (apiarist1)
  9. Hi Joe, no endorsement was intended.

    This was simply an experiment to see that happens when B&W stand processing is applied to c41 colour films. Yes the negatives were thin and the orange mask was hard to penetrate. Despite that the usual weak developer solution used for the stand methodology, over the extended time allowed, gives reasonable prospects to scan acceptable images. The images posted are a good representation of what I was seeing.

    Most of the references I came across agreed that 4cc of Rodinal ( the most commonly used stand developer) is sufficient to develop a single 36 exp. film. My first experiment appears to confirm that my 5cc was about enough. I will stick with that next time but will extend the time slightly to see what happens.
  10. From the MSDS of Adox F39, it appears to be a fairly bog-standard M-Q developer bearing little resemblance to the metol-only Beutler developer it's supposed to imitate. It's nothing like Rodinal, and 5ml of F39 concentrate contains nowhere near enough developing agent or alkali accelerator to properly develop a 36 exposure 35mm roll. As evidenced by your thin negatives.

    Developing is a fairly straightforward reduction-oxidation exchange reaction. Silver halide crystals in the film are reduced to metallic silver, while the developing agent(s) are oxidised and become exhausted. If there is insufficient amount of developing agent to reduce the exposed AgX crystals, then it doesn't matter how long you extend development. The reaction will go to finality and no further.

    Extending the immersion time may actually reduce contrast even further, depending on the sulphite content of the solution. Silver will tend to be dissolved out of the emulsion and then plated out to form a dichroic fog.
  11. Hi Joe, very interesting but, relative to the purpose of this post, what point are you making?
  12. Well, it sort of worked. Exceptionally grainy. The film was stale. Here are four samples. The camera was Nikon AF600 P&S. An interesting experiment. Thanks imsphoto. Arthur (apiarist1)
    C41 1.jpg C41 2.jpg C41 3.jpg C41 4.jpg
  13. - The point I'm making, is that if anyone's tempted to follow your procedure with such a small amount of FX-39, they should be aware that they'll never be able to get negatives of normal density.

    4ml of Rodinal contains about 0.3gms of Paraminophenol and uses caustic potassium hydroxide as its activator. Whereas 5ml of FX-39 contains no more than 0.2gms* of developing agents, together with the much less alkaline potassium carbonate as activator.
    (* absolute maximum according to MSDS - exact formula not published.)

    Therefore there is no way that 5ml of FX-39 can substitute for 4ml of Rodinal. Doing so will result in underdevelopment regardless of time or temperature.

    At the maximum dilution recommended for FX-39, there's a documented loss of film speed. So why would anyone think they can totally disregard the manufacturer's dilution (by a factor of 4!) as well as time and temperature guidelines, and still get acceptable results?
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  14. Hi Joe, thanks for the chemistry lesson. I'm sure you are absolutely correct in your calculations. However I am more interested in practice over theory and my post was merely to outline the physical outcome of my little experiment. The B&W images posted are representative of the entire film shot. I only see it as a starting point that others might like to explore further. I know that few people would be interested in degrading colour film to B&W, and to do so using just a spoonful of basic developer. But it is what it is and it appears to fill a gap, in my experience at least.
  15. Hi Arthur, thanks for posting these. Like you, in the past, I have played around with old, stale and variable film and got mixed results. In this case I used a reliable camera and reliable, though basic, c41 film. It was ISO 200 Agfa Vista shot at box speed but deliberately exposed to be low key. I can see some granulation in mine but not excessive.
  16. You guys were talking about developer going bad. Is there one that has the reputation for sitting on the shelf for years and still working? I’m kind of assuming if you have one in a powder in a good sealed package that would be pretty long lasting in powder form. But what’s the story?
  17. Not me. The developer I was using was fresh bottled and fresh 'brewed' .... one shot of 5cc. Adox F39 is a tradition formula that can be stored for a long time and is relatively non toxic. Here is some basic information on it from my uk supplier. Note that this 0.5 litre bottle is sufficient to process 100 films by the method I used : ADOX Paterson FX39 500ml This is NOT the method recommended by the manufacturer but I did it this way (stand process) as an experiment, particularly in respect by applying it to c41 colour film.
  18. I have had powder go bad in the sealed bags. The powder was slightly brown, and dark brown in water.

    I didn't see a leak in the bag, but suspect that there must have been one.

    The capacities given are somewhat conservative, such that the results are mostly
    independent of the density of the film. That is, fully exposed film will use the developer
    up much faster than unexposed, and that isn't supposed to affect the results.

    For consistent results, follow the recommendations. If you don't need consistency,
    you can use somewhat less.
  19. PMK stock solution will last for years without losing effectiveness.
    carbon_dragon likes this.
  20. Powers can clump, oxidize or just get damp even through the packaging. Liquids can usually do the same although sealed glass bottles and lack of movement inhibit oxidation by limiting the surface area exposed to air. I believe that I have used some old TMax developer but we are talking a few years, not a decade or more.

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