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Do you process your own film?

Posted 02/06/2017 - 05:39 Link
Advice appreciated!

I'm looking into film photography after buying a few film cameras and I've noticed that there are a number of options for processing my own film if required. I'd be using the C41 process as it is said to be easier and can be used with colour negs (and XP2).

I'd like to read about your experiences with film processing as there are so many different kits that I can buy. It will probably be a bit of fun but is it economical? Buying all the kit would cost around 100 to start with.

Those of you who have tried it before, which kits did you use and how many times were you able to use them before they expired?

If you have any other points to make, go ahead. I'm here to learn!

Many thanks.
All the gear with no idea
Posted 02/06/2017 - 07:19 Link
Processing your own B&W film (as I do) is cheaper than having someone else do it because it's a manual process - it's surprisingly easy to do yourself but can be time-consuming, which is why it's expensive if you pay someone else to do it.

Colour processing is more difficult to do manually but cheaper to have someone else do, because they will run it through a machine. I don't know that you'd save any money processing colour film yourself.

Here in Madrid processing B&W costs at least three times what colour does so I do the B&W myself and take the colour to be done elsewhere.
Pentax hybrid user - Digital K3, film 645 and 35mm SLR and Pentax (&other) lenses adapted to Fuji X and Panasonic L digital
Fan of DA limited and old manual lenses
Posted 02/06/2017 - 08:03 Link
A good fridge to keep your paper in
Keep your chemicals some wear cool and dark
Really the expensive bit is setting up your darkroom

A good magnifying glass is a must
Posted 02/06/2017 - 08:19 Link
C41 process is exacting and high temperature, best left to the machines.

Black and white processing is an art form in itself as we choose the film, the developer, the dilution of the developer, the temperature, the ISO used.......for example, the results from Neofin Blue would be very different to the results from D-76 (ID-11).

However, start with a fine grain developer at 20C and perfect the technique, and then move onwards if desired. The results should be better than most lab processing.
Best regards, John
Posted 02/06/2017 - 10:35 Link
Is the intention to make colour prints the traditional way with an enlarger or scan the negatives and carry on in digital mode?
Should it be the former, you'd need an enlarger which allows for adjusting the light temperature. Some enlargers have that built in, or you can get a set of Cyan Magenta and Yellow gelatine filters of various strengths to achieve the same thing.
My experience of colour neg processing was with C22 film so won't confuse things with kits for that, needless to day it wasn't as hard to do as some might suggest providing the processing temperature is kept stable, Albeit C22 required colder temperatures than C41.
If you're really into it, go for it but its a big investment just to do two or three films and abandon it all.
For colour you may be better initially going for colour reversal processing. Then before attempting colour neg processing get familiar with black and white.

I will say doing your own colour neg processing these days isn't any cheaper than getting the film developed commercially and given the availability of one hour services not even any quicker.

To be honest, is it worth it when you have digital where you can simulate an image processed in film if you wish.
John K
Edited by JAK: 02/06/2017 - 10:44
Posted 02/06/2017 - 11:15 Link
I intend to simply scan the negatives once they've been developed. I have a printer that does an adequate job of photoprinting so I'd just go digital after developing the film.

Ideally I'd like to start somewhere so John's suggestion about a fine grain developer is interesting. I'll have to do a bit more research but ID11 looks like it might be worth using.

I just need to find a tutorial that explains it all properly The C41 tutorials make it look so easy though... I'd probably stick to the XP2 if I went with it, although I wouldn't do any critical shooting so it'd all be for my own amusement (and if something went wrong I'd be fine with it).

Thanks for the responses so far guys. I live close enough to Pro-Am to make it worth a journey so they'll be my fall back option!
All the gear with no idea
Posted 02/06/2017 - 12:26 Link
Here you are:
Its even got an F1 in its name. Made for you!
Unfortunately though it doesn't ever look to have been produced so maybe try this one instead:
John K
Edited by JAK: 02/06/2017 - 12:34
Posted 02/06/2017 - 12:49 Link
JAK wrote:
Here you are:
Its even got an F1 in its name. Made for you!
Unfortunately though it doesn't ever look to have been produced so maybe try this one instead:

Both of them are crazy!

I'll probably stick to messing around with chemicals in a Paterson tank. Having an automated machine would probably suit someone who needs to develop lots of film (or with regularity). If it was just about the images, then I'd stick with carrying the Q or DSLR.

I guess I missed the age where film photography was prevalent. The only real exposure I got to film stuff was either my dad's point and shoot or the number of old albums that are sitting in a large bag somewhere in the house.
All the gear with no idea
Posted 02/06/2017 - 14:23 Link
Have you actually got any film processing equipment such as a processing tank? 'Cause that's pretty well essential for 35mm.
John K
Posted 02/06/2017 - 15:07 Link
JAK wrote:
Have you actually got any film processing equipment such as a processing tank? 'Cause that's pretty well essential for 35mm.

I'll be buying a tank and changing bag (Paterson branded), and the cylinders/bottles and extra equipment. I wanted to get a bit more info on which route to follow but I suppose the core equipment won't change at all.
All the gear with no idea
Posted 02/06/2017 - 18:02 - Helpful Comment Link
I used a changing bag, dev tank, thermometer, washing up bowl (as a water bath), couple of graduate measures & chemical bottles and a large 2 litre jug (for the final wash with repeated tank fills/empties) - oh and a timer.

Film wise, XP2 is convenient for C-41 processing but not the best for B&W development - it includes an orange film base similar to that for C-41 films to help the mini-labs. This isn't as easy to scan as a 'proper' B&W film. I'd suggest films like Ilford FP4+ & HP5+ (not the finest grain but they are easy to process).

Developer wise, I used ready mixed concentrate (Ilfosol-S) instead of powder (has a shorter shelf life but one job less to do).

The hardest part is the choreography needed to prep the next stage whilst doing the current 'thing' - when the developer goes in I rinse the measures and start measuring the stop (in between agitations). it's a good idea to visualise the whole process before you start.

Sacrifice a film and practise loading it into the spiral in the changing bag (if you have problems put everything in the dev tank, close the lid and stop for a break - it can get quite hot in the bag). Make sure you have everything you need in the changing bag before you start: tank (and centre post if required), reel(s) [some multi-reel tanks need all reels loaded], tank lid, film, scissors etc. Make sure your reel width matches the film width (some adjustable reels have a minimum width narrower than 35mm film).

If you haven't looked yet, have a look at the Ilford site: link
Posted 02/06/2017 - 22:42 - Helpful Comment Link
Ilford Pan F at ISO50 is finer grained than FP4 and HP5, but really you need the right film for the job in hand. You can't realistically change the rating halfway through a film. One could take a part used film out and change it and put the other one back later. I have done that though did lead to some double exposures not quite remembering how many shots had been exposed.
FP4 is a good general use film, with HP5 the grain becomes more obvious.
My Dad used to like using Pan F under exposing it by a stop and compensating in development almost all the time. I normally preferred FP4 as it was more forgiving with regard to latitude in exposure and could use the times given with the chemicals.
When it comes to exposing B&W negative film, expose for the shadows.
John K
Posted 04/06/2017 - 11:36 Link
Conventional black and white film development is a relatively simple process.
With practice one can usually obtain the results desired. Requisite chemistry is not expensive.

OTOH C-41 is more complicated and more expensive.
Many use home processing kits for color and chromogenic BW but IMO it's just not worth the bother.

Bring back the latent image!
Edited by ChrisPlatt: 04/06/2017 - 11:42
Posted 14/06/2017 - 16:10 Link
I am very much so beginning my adventures, but I too was looking into developping my own B&W films to avoid the costs. I followed this guide and the first attempt wasn't so great, but the second attempt was visibly better. So, step by step!
Posted 09/08/2017 - 13:13 Link
ive just found out in the last few days that my mate who owned a shop in town that does developing and prints has had to close due to high rates etc.
He did a 36 roll of colour, developed and scanned for 4
The cheapest I can get it down to at the moment is 6 quid with postal fees

Looks like my days shooting analogue are numbered.

To say I am gutted is a understatement - I just cant afford to shoot it anymore

Shooting and reviewing digital images does absolutely nothing for me but I'll have to try and fall in love with it again
Learn how to live and you'll know how to die; learn how to die, and you'll know how to live.

Check out ones photographs on Flickr!

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