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developing color film

Tiffany Stover , Oct 26, 2010; 02:37 p.m.

I recently acquired a developing set. I have no experience or knowledge besides helping my mom as a kid when she played around with it. She only ever developed black and white film and I am trying to do color. the set came with some color chemicals so that is why I decided to start with color.
But....it has developer and fixer only. From what I have read online I need blix and stabilizer? Or are these the same as fixer?
Anyone one who can help me would be a saint. I have poured over the internet and can't find the answers I am looking for.
Thanks in advance.

Responses

Larry Dressler , Oct 26, 2010; 03:02 p.m.

Well there are 2 types of color processing C-41 for Color Negative film and E6 for color positive film.
Sounds like you have only part of what you need.

Bob Sunley , Oct 26, 2010; 03:48 p.m.

If you tell us exactly what you have, someone should be able to help. What type of color processing do you want to do?

Charles Monday , Oct 26, 2010; 03:53 p.m.

For negatives you need Color Developer, Bleach (not household), Fixer (sometimes combined with the bleach and called Blix), and Stabilizer. An easy to use chemical kit is
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/109267-REG/Tetenal_T109306_C_41_Press_Kit_for.html
Color processing be it negative or positive film is more difficult than B&W. In color processing you have to keep all chemicals at higher temperature than B&W thorought the complete processing session with less than 1 degree variance between chemicals and at least the developing step requires constant agitation.

Tiffany Stover , Oct 26, 2010; 05:31 p.m.

It sounds like I need to complete my set before I can really get started. Plus alot more learning to do......some of the terms used here are way out of my league.
I will check out that link.
I didn't know there was a difference in processing, negative and positive. It definitely sounds like I need Bleach and stabilizer

BeBu Lamar , Oct 26, 2010; 08:14 p.m.

you didn't say why you want to process your film but if the reason to save money than don't. It costs more to do it yourself. If you want to do it for other reasons, start by looking at websites for chemical kits and find one that isn't too demanding for your film.

Barry Sanford , Oct 26, 2010; 08:35 p.m.

Like Charles said, you'll need to get your chemicals in premeasured concentrate kits. There is a C-41 kit for color negatives, and an E-6 kit for slides (aka transparency, positive, or reversal film). Most kits typically make either 1-Gallon or 5-Liters of all the needed chemicals. There are techniques available for hand development (where you are pouring the needed chems in/out of the film container, timing with a wall clock, and agitating by hand), and also mechanized rotary development where you are using a Jobo-type processor to do all the agitation, timing, temperature control, and chem management for you.

Color development (either C-41 or E-6) is extremely time and temperature sensitive. Timing must be within +/- a few seconds and the temperature must be within a degree or two. I'd say that attempting to do it by hand will have a high probability of inconsistent results if not outright failure. There are many levels of Jobo processors for sale on eBay. Depending on the level of automation and chemical management you want, you can spend as much or little as you wish. I'm running a Jobo ATL-1000 (an older version of the newer ATL-1500) to do E-6 color and have never had a processing failure. I simply pour in the diluted kit chemicals, load the film in a drum, and let the Jobo do the rest... An hour later--perfect results :) The ATL-1000 can develop up to 3 rolls of 120/220 or 5 rolls of 135 (35mm) film per 60-minute run.

As for the cost, I received an E-6 kit last week at approximately $71 delivered. The concentrates in this kit will make 5-Liters of all the necessary chemicals, which is enough to get 20 rolls of 220. That ends up being $3.55 per roll total cost.

Dave Redmann , Oct 26, 2010; 11:09 p.m.

Some thoughts:
(1) You need to decide why you want to develop your own film. If it's to save money, or to get better quality, those can real advantages for black and white but probably not for color. If it's for creative control (e.g., cross-processing) or because there is no (or no high-quality) commercial film developer near you who does what you want, then you have to do it (or else shoot digital).
(2) For learning, black and white is much easier. The process is simpler than either color negative film processing (commonly called "C-41") or regular color tranparency (positive or "slide") film processing (commonly called "E-6"). The chemicals are easier to find. The degree of precise control required is less. Once you get good at processing black and white film, color will make more sense, and you'll have a leg up on the learning process.
(3) If you really want/need to process color film yourself, there are machines designed to help you. Not sure any are still available new, but Jobo and other rigs are available on eBay. I'm sure you can process color film by hand, but doing a really good job by hand would be a PITA, and difficult.

Milan Zamazal , Oct 27, 2010; 03:06 p.m.

I develop my C-41 films by hand and it's not hard. But I'm only an amateur and I develop only about dozen rolls per year. Compared to commercial development there are some advantages: I always get back my film and not other person's film, there are less scratches, there are no garbage spots and I don't have to travel anywhere to get my films developed. On the other hand it's time consuming and I sometimes get very annoying spots from drying water. The price is about the same, home processing would be cheaper if I took more pictures. I would use services of a commercial lab for film development if any competent was available in the nearby city (there is not). If there is a reason to make C-41 development at home, it's definitely possible without buying any expensive equipment, assuming you don't need excellent results not provided by an average lab.

Frank Schifano , Nov 03, 2010; 10:01 a.m.

I agree with Milan that color processing isn't any harder that B&W, but I also agree with the others that color DIY doesn't make much sense if you have relatively easy access to the service. Yes, timing and temperature control are far more critical that the B&W process, but with a little ingenuity, you can solve those challenges. And you can get excellent results with the process by doing it yourself. I have, but it's not cheaper and it is a pain in the ass. Anyway, the chemicals you already have in your kit may very well be old and expired by now, so you'd have to start out with fresh chemistry.

Jobo machines, aside from the fact that they're out of production, are expensive even on the used market with replacement parts sometimes difficult to find. I've read lots of reports about them being trouble prone. Not a good idea unless you're handy with tools and electro-mechanical devices. There's another unit, called the Phototherm, available new, which looks like it would be nice if you've got around $5K to throw at it. No thanks, that's not for me.

If you really want to do this however, I do suggest you get your feet wet with the B&W process. Many of the skills and techniques you'll learn transfer over to the color processes easily, and learning them won't cost you an arm and a leg. And you'll have fun doing it too. Who knows, you might even like it better.

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