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Process your own B&W film or lab?


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Now I have a new Barnack, I'm thinking about developing my own film. I no longer have any wet darkroom kit and have no intention of printing but I thought I'd ask a couple of questions.

 

Firstly, how easy (to get chemicals) and cost effective is it to develop the film one's self these days? Secondly, how do the results compare with lab developed film and if it's better how much so?

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It's very simple and a lot cheaper than having the films developed by a lab. There's a 'how to' guide produced by Ilford here...

 

http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/200629163442455.pdf

 

I've attached the PDF to this message.

 

[ATTACH]171250[/ATTACH]

 

Steve

 

Thanks for this. I used to develop and print all my own B&W from the age of 15 or 16 but I haven't done any for over 20 years so I think I'm going to give it a go again, on the developing side, mrs p would go nuts if I said I wanted to set up a darkroom again.

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All you need is a changing bag, no need for a darkroom. Once the film has been loaded into the tank everything ele proceeds in daylight - as I'm sure you're aware.

 

B&W chemistry has more or less disappeared from the high street shops such as Jessops, but it's still available mail order.

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All you need is a changing bag, no need for a darkroom. Once the film has been loaded into the tank everything ele proceeds in daylight - as I'm sure you're aware.

 

B&W chemistry has more or less disappeared from the high street shops such as Jessops, but it's still available mail order.

 

Still have my old changing bag but I'd need to get a jobo or something similar. Biggest issue for me was aways drying film properly without leaving streaks and these days I don't have an airing cupboard that's heated

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If you're only processing B&W there's no need for a Jobo, a standard development tank will be ok - I used Patterson ones.

 

To avoid drying marks I always use distilled or deionised water for the final rinse with wetting agent. You can buy the water from Halfords or a large supermarket. One other thing, you only need 4 or 5 drops of wetting agent per film, that's less than what is written on the bottle.

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If you're only processing B&W there's no need for a Jobo, a standard development tank will be ok - I used Patterson ones.

 

To avoid drying marks I always use distilled or deionised water for the final rinse with wetting agent. You can buy the water from Halfords or a large supermarket. One other thing, you only need 4 or 5 drops of wetting agent per film, that's less than what is written on the bottle.

 

Ah of course, the jobo is the 'lab' - you can see how out of touch I am these days

 

Thanks for the other advice.

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Now I have a new Barnack, I'm thinking about developing my own film. I no longer have any wet darkroom kit and have no intention of printing but I thought I'd ask a couple of questions.

 

Firstly, how easy (to get chemicals) and cost effective is it to develop the film one's self these days? Secondly, how do the results compare with lab developed film and if it's better how much so?

 

As others have said, it's no problem. You can also do what I do and make up your own developer. Some Metol, and some Sodum Sulphite, plus water gives you D23 (one of Ansel Adams' favourites). You just need the kind of digital scale that's used for weighing letters. 7.5g metol, 100g. sulphite makes a litre of dev. Produces excellent negatives - full film speed, fine grain, semi-compensating.

 

David

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Having myself developed film as a teenager, and left it for many years, I can attest that the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment of doing it again is much sweeter now. I encourage you to take it up again for the sheer enjoyment. Compared with commercial labs, a little practice will get you just as good, and probably better results. There's the matter full control of film speed, contrast, and grain appearance. And genuine care about your personal films beats impersonal lab processing, once you re-learn the basics. You have a stronger stake in avoiding scratches, dust, fogging, and other processing problems.

Edited by richam
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Guest aurora_borealis

Develop your own film. Of course. Then you have full control and can get the exact look you want. You don't need more than a few accessories which are very cheap. You don't need a darkroom for that. And it is very easy and fast.

 

If you get a large developing tank you can develop 3 or 5 films at the same time and speed things up a little.

 

In EU, I recommend getting your accessories at Fotoimpex in Berlin (they have an online shop and delivers worldwide).

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I've not actually developed my first film yet, but a week ago I bought everything I need from Jacobs in Leeds for just over £100 - changing bag, tank, second reel, measuring cylinders and chemicals. They didn't have it all in stock, but it took them 3 days to get it in. When I ordered it the store manager said that they had been surprised by the level of demand for darkroom stuff....

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I started developing my own film a few months ago and am very happy I took the plunge. I was also twenty years removed from my darkroom experience, but working with the film and reels came back quickly. I think developing your own film and having a decent scanner is the perfect compromise to having a home darkroom.

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I too used to do my own D&P, including C41, colour prints and Cibachrome. I packed it in when I was in my early 20's due to lack of time and loss of the darkroom space I'd been using.

 

After a few very disappointing experiences with commercial processors I decided to try my own B&W again, also prompted by buying some discounted chemicals from Jessops.

 

It's easy to forget just how easy it is! One tip I picked up on a previous thread here was to dry the film with a piece of kitchen towel, folded over to make a pair of 'tongs' and just wipe it gently down the length of film, then hang to dry in the bathroom.

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Still have my old changing bag but I'd need to get a jobo or something similar. Biggest issue for me was aways drying film properly without leaving streaks and these days I don't have an airing cupboard that's heated

 

Never had a problem with streaks using Photoflo solution. And, never used a drying cabinet. Old negs still pristine. Enjoy.

 

Jeff

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The main investment will be time, I should warn. Maybe it is good to start with a less important test film (can be also used to calibrate the equipment) - I messed up the first film I developed after a long brake - one can't beat good old practice...

 

However seeing you self-processed film coming out of the spool is a very satisfying experience.

 

For drying film, I'm confessing to the the DI-water-with-rinsing-agent faction. I would add the tip to mix rinsing agent and water first, before rinsing the film and wipe the film once with lint- and colourless kitchen tissue.

 

Stefan

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