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How to develop color film? Are there big differences between developing color or B&W film?

J Smith , Jun 17, 2005; 10:31 a.m.

I would like to develop negatives on my own. Developing B&W negatives is cheaper and you don'y have to go to the lab. Yesterday I read article about developing B&W negatives. I mostly make color photos so I would like to develop color negatives on my own too. there is one problem: I don't know how to make it :)

1. Is there big difference in developing B&W or color film?
2. What to do to have proper temperature for example of developer? What to use?


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Bernard Miller , Jun 17, 2005; 10:53 a.m.

YES there are big differences. The chief one is that the temperature is much more critical with color processing than with black and white. It can be done, but you need to have a way to control the temperature accurately and consistently.

You could use a water bath in a sink to temper the chemicals; I have the luxury of using a JOBO processor which keeps things at a constant temperature quite nicely.

In 95% of cases, especially since you sound as if you are just starting off, you will be better off letting a lab process your color neg film (unlike black and white, which you *should* process yourself, for a number of reasons).

I process my own because (1) I just happened to get the processor thrown in when I bought a fella's darkroom setup (they are somewhat expensive); (2) I can push film or cross-process slide film quite easily if I need to; and (3) I don't have to worry about scratches from the lab's processing machine, something that you probably won't notice too much until you start scanning film or doing your own color darkroom printing.

I don't want to discourage you--it is fun to do, and easy if you have the right equipment--but it's not something you just want to jump into.

You will probably hear from Ron Mowrey also--he is really the expert here.

J Smith , Jun 17, 2005; 11:33 a.m.

Thank you for answering.
The quantity of scrathes on my negatives is really big... After two years of making photos I'm thinking about developing them on my own but I can't find any article how to make it.

danny liao , Jun 17, 2005; 11:37 a.m.

I just started processing my own color with my JOBO CPE. If you like processing film, weather it is b&w or color, I highly recommend you get one. They are running about 200-300 used on ebay. This will keep your temp consistant throughout the run. Once you have that taken care of, everything else is easy.

Ilkka Nissila , Jun 17, 2005; 12:11 p.m.

Michael, you can avoid most scratches by using a better lab. Doing it yourself may or may not be worth it for color.

J Smith , Jun 17, 2005; 12:36 p.m.

Thank you for so many answers.

JOBO CPE - What do you think about this one? It's from german. I have translated the text using: Dictionary.com

J Smith , Jun 17, 2005; 12:42 p.m.

one more from USA: (link)

Jordan W. , Jun 17, 2005; 01:11 p.m.

I would recommend that you first learn to process B&W negatives at home (and practice enough so that you are very good at it) before trying colour film, which is much less fault-tolerant.

Chad Bender , Jun 17, 2005; 01:20 p.m.

Hi -

I process my own C-41 all the time. I used to do E6 too, but decided that from a cost perspective, it's not worth the trouble. A lot of people say that processing color film is very hard because you have to keep the temperature constant. But honestly, it's not that hard! Once you figure out how to hold your temp constant, C-41 is easier and faster than B&W. The processing is a cookbook receipe, with no options for varying times.

I've been using the Jobo C-41 press kit, with good results, although I'm considering switching to the regular process (not combined bleach/fix). Until this month, I used a homemade water bath (basically a rubbermade tub with a super-duty fish tank heater). It worked fine and would hold the temperature to +-0.5 deg but was slow to heat up. I processed many many rolls with that setup, using a patterson hand-inversion tank.

I recently upgraded to a CPE-2 and it works fantastically, but if you're not absolutely sure that processing C-41 is for you then a JOBO is quite an investment. Honestly, I no longer need the rubbermade tub. If you're interested, I'll send it to you for free, if you pay the shipping. It does have a small leak in the seal around the heater, but that's nothing that a very small amount of high-end bathroom caulk won't fix. I was just ignoring the leak, and mopping up the few tablespoons of water that would run out onto the counter during each run. If you want to build your own, I can offer tips. Finding the proper heater is the hardest part - most fishtank heaters don't go up to 100F (cooked fish).

Chad Bender , Jun 17, 2005; 01:24 p.m.

Perhaps I did jump the gun there a bit. I neglected to read the part where you say you've not yet done any B&W. I agree with the other posters that you should probably at least go through the motions with B&W first. That said, I hold by my earlier post that color is certainly doable at home.

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