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As I start to get into quite a few roles of film with my Leica MP (and my recently acquired M7 which is another discussion altogether), I am starting to contemplate developing film at home. I have not developed at home for over 30 years, so I certainly have lost the art of doing so. However, there is no local lab to bring in my film so I either need to drive a bit or send it in via post - both which seem to be a bit of a hassle. 

I am curious whom also does their own film development? Just the film as I would scan to digital once developed (an enlarger would be an extra step that I am not prepared to do at the moment). And what is the best approach to develpm film?  B&H has a film development kit which seems to have almost everything I need; but given how long its been since I last developed film I am wondering if a more efficient approach has been created. 

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. 

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I had a similar lapse after moving and family obligations left me without a darkroom. After retiring and life settling down I re-modeled a guest bathroom so it would be suitable, even with a place to leave an enlarger set up and ready. I don't do much enlarging and printing, but do shoot, process, and scan about a roll a week. So far only doing B&W, though I used to do color.

I still had my stored equipment, but as I've opted for one-shot developers this time for simplicity and shelf life, I added a small Nikor tank so a single 35mm roll only takes 250mm of solutions. The films and chemistry I used to use are largely obsolete now, but I've found Freestyle Photographic to be a great on-line resource. My film switched from Kodak to Ilford, as I find their films now dry with less curl and are easier to handle. I've used largely PanF+ (ISO 50) film in Rodinal developer for the fine grain and nice tonality, and use of less than 10 ml stock developer per roll. However, for faster film (HP5+ @400) and T-grain film (Delta or Kodak TMax) I find Ilford DD-X developer does better, keeping the HP5 grain from getting too intrusive. 

Our Texas tap water gets too warm and varies temp with use, so I bottle a couple of gallons and store with the chemistry for consistent temperature. With the small tank and Ilford's 3-tankful (with lots of agitation) rinse instead of flowing tap water, I use less than a half-gallon water per roll. (But use tap water for cleaning equipment afterwards.)

This chemistry keeps the "wet times" short, so I can process a roll and clean up in a half-hour so not to take too much time away from my wife.

I normally use a changing bag now instead of total darkness to load the tank, so a real darkroom isn't a necessity. Everything stores in a small cabinet.

For scanning, I like my Epson V700 flatbed scanner, which can batch-scan 24 frames at once. The newer V800 takes 3 6-frame strips instead of 4, but the film holders are better made. There are also dedicated film scanners that take less space, but I've been happy with the Epson for my use. If I find a frame worth wet-printing for better quality I can still do that.

So it's still very feasible to process and scan at home, with little intrusion on space and family.

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Posted (edited)

I started with a Paterson tank and change bag, but then decided to build a small darkroom, which was a fun and rewarding exercise. Home processing is simple and reliable. I now use a JOBO ATL for processing, have several enlargers and use split grade techniques, and a Paton 135+ for scanning etc etc, but none of that is required to just do some simple home processing. 

For BW I’d Recommend HC-110/Ilfotec HC for great results and one shot use (especially economical with the JOBO admittedly), but there are lots of options and everyone has their favourites. 

Consider a daylight tank as well, like a Rondinax, Rondix or JOBO, or the new one by that Italian company, eliminates the change bag...

Edited by 105012

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Good advice above, no need for me to regurgitate it. Just do it, it's only been a few years, and it's like riding a bike, once done not forgotten.

This thread is possibly better in the Film Forum, or the I Like Film forum, heaps of home-developers in the I Like Film thread.

Minimal gear required, and while I have no idea where you are???, I did get a not recently from MacoDirect in Germany who are now stocking/selling the Ilford home development kits.

Gary

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, TheDot said:

I am curious whom also does their own film development? Just the film as I would scan to digital once developed

If your intended practice is to scan negatives then you have left traditional darkroom printing and everthing it means. Once into the digital domain, ignore conventional film development guides. I am sure will find a lot of support for your effort, but not from old phartes like me.

Edited by pico

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I swiched from D-76 to Rodinal principally because I do so little darkroom work these days. The basic processing of B&W  film, of course, is still similar to what you did 30 years ago: developer, stop bath or water, fixer, with a final dip in photo-flo after the last rinse. I no longer do my own prints, although I still have the enlarger, trays, timer, etc., but rather scan the negatives onto my computer. IMHO there is one interesting change in the development process, if you are interested in experimenting, called "stand development" - which some people deride and other really like for its simplicity. I'm not taking sides in the argument having periodically successfully used it.  Enjoy coming back to the fold and doing your own processing. FWIW I've never done color, so my comments apply solely to the B&W processes.

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So is your main concern stand development? (It is not new.)

 

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2 hours ago, pico said:

If your intended practice is to scan negatives then you have left traditional darkroom printing and everthing it means. Once into the digital domain, ignore conventional film development guides. I am sure will find a lot of support for your effort, but not from old phartes like me.

I am not ruling out eventually converting my laundry room into a proper darkroom, but I need to take baby steps. I don’t have any of the gear I had from 30 years ago, so I need to go through the motions of a) relearning what’s needed and relearning the actual processing techniques, b) configuring the laundry room to accommodate an enlarger and related processing equipment, c) having the time to do it and d) procuring the equipment.

Thanks for the other advice. I will do the proverbial dive in and see where it takes me! 

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I would second the DD-X suggestion for developer, as it gives excellent results, keeps well and is easy to mix and use. I mostly develop B&W using a dilution of 1+4 as a single-shot developer. Kodak D-76 or Ilford ID-11 are pretty much equivalent and cheaper, but mixing the developer from the powder is a pain...

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I used to have a complete darkroom thcat do even do Ilfochrome 17" wide dry to dry in two minutes/print. But now I only have B&W film development tools.

To do B&w film only, I simply acquire a Paderson tank set, starting from a single height unit (taking 2 135 rolls or 1 120 roll) and now I have a 5-height tank too. I have a dark bag (for loading the film into the development reel). I don't even need darkroom at all. 

For B&W film develop chemical, since I shoot Tri-X, I have HC110. It is the most convenient choice due to the liquid form and the one-shot. I also have Rodinal but I found HC110 suites more to my tastes on the tonal rendtion. YMMV.  (If you shoot Tmax, you may find Ilford DDX or Rodinal a better choice).

To control the development time, download the Dev It apps to you smart phone.

 

   

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Are the bags hard to use? Having only developed in a darkroom setting, I imagine this will need some trial and error?

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Just get a roomy enough bag. It may take a few rolls to get used to it, but then it’s as easy as a darkroom. Some people find they do better working in a bag if they keep their eyes closed!

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I have a changing bag, but honestly find it a bit cramped. So if you buy one, buy bigger rather than smaller.

However our walk in wardrobe is a perfect darkroom every night. Just means I have to plan ahead but little hardship.

Gary

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20 hours ago, TheDot said:

Are the bags hard to use? Having only developed in a darkroom setting, I imagine this will need some trial and error?

...or get a daylight loading tank, then no need for the change bag...

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Lots of good advice already posted.  I'm a rookie home developer and I use a Paterson changing bag and Paterson tanks and reels.  I like the bag because I can keep it in a drawer so it stays dust free. The Paterson tanks and reels (I have a one-reel tank and a two-reel tank) work good enough for me so I have not tried other brands or styles.  

By personal experience, if you decide to get a changing bag get a round-tipped set of scissors.  Otherwise, be sure to get a sewing kit. ☹️

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HC-110 as developer. Kodak fixer in powder to make one gallon. Kodak stop and photo-flo.

This is it for chemicals. 

Paterson developing tank. Plastic reels allows more than 36 frames. 

Plastic archival sleeves. 

Plustek scanner, Epson inks printer.

Or and darkroom enlarger kit with flatbed scanner.

Couple of bulk loaders.

Film like Ilford and or Kentmere in bulks.

I'm using clothes hangers at the bathroom lamp to dry the developed film.

Once you will get used to film developing again, get thermometer and add C-41, ENC-2 and E6 films. They are no big difference from bw and in South Florida you will not always need to heat water for it :).  

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I've just started back into film processing and am mainly using Ilford chemistry; I trained many years ago in a laboratory environment, so that I think helps although the chemistry used for photographic development is relatively tractable to error and different techniques

Using this type of what is really industrial chemistry, the chemicals in use are relatively safe although many wear gloves and of course you must keep the chemicals away from food and wash your hands (after you have handled the chemicals - yes I have seen it done the other way round..😵) and the processes are fairly tolerant to variations in measuring, temperature and even technique but probably less so to errors in timing.

The one thing I have done is that I've approached it fairly thoroughly (diligently) because if you don't that's where the errors come from; consequently I use developer, stop bath, fixer, hypo clear and rinse aid in the final wash for B+W and have bought a second-hand water bath cheaply from a laboratory supplier so that I have the temperature control that I believe is important for both B+W and colour chemistry; I've started by using a Patterson kit for basic equipment and again raided the laboratory supplier for extra measuring cylinders, pipettes and a few flasks to help me get the measuring right.

One really good piece of advice came to me from forum member Ferdl Hüber (Ferdinand), which was to use an app called The Massive Dev Chart to help with mixtures and timings - it really is very good indeed and made the whole process much easier for me.

A set of YouTube videos that are quite reassuring if you are returning to development after a long time come from ex-Ilford manager Dave Butcher (Darkroom Dave) who gives a very good set of free tutorials on developing and also printing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfqz-p-EMEs&list=PLRCzs4hqbbBQdGxCitXCDjZNSMg4G6OgO

http://www.darkroomdave.com/tutorial/    

It is a very tolerant set of processes and you will be surprised at the results

 

Edited by robert_parker

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1 hour ago, robert_parker said:

I've just started back into film processing and am mainly using Ilford chemistry; I trained many years ago in a laboratory environment, so that I think helps although the chemistry used for photographic development is relatively tractable to error and different techniques

Using this type of what is really industrial chemistry, the chemicals in use are relatively safe although many wear gloves and of course you must keep the chemicals away from food and wash your hands (after you have handled the chemicals - yes I have seen it done the other way round..😵) and the processes are fairly tolerant to variations in measuring, temperature and even technique but probably less so to errors in timing.

The one thing I have done is that I've approached it fairly thoroughly (diligently) because if you don't that's where the errors come from; consequently I use developer, stop bath, fixer, hypo clear and rinse aid in the final wash for B+W and have bought a second-hand water bath cheaply from a laboratory supplier so that I have the temperature control that I believe is important for both B+W and colour chemistry; I've started by using a Patterson kit for basic equipment and again raided the laboratory supplier for extra measuring cylinders, pipettes and a few flasks to help me get the measuring right.

One really good piece of advice came to me from forum member Ferdl Hüber (Ferdinand), which was to use an app called The Massive Dev Chart to help with mixtures and timings - it really is very good indeed and made the whole process much easier for me.

A set of YouTube videos that are quite reassuring if you are returning to development after a long time come from ex-Ilford manager Dave Butcher (Darkroom Dave) who gives a very good set of free tutorials on developing and also printing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfqz-p-EMEs&list=PLRCzs4hqbbBQdGxCitXCDjZNSMg4G6OgO

http://www.darkroomdave.com/tutorial/    

It is a very tolerant set of processes and you will be surprised at the results

 

I will take a look at these videos and thanks for the suggestions. I have watched some other videos and still am trying to decide on the approach to take. Seems like the chemical basics are consistent but everyone have their own nuances to process.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/22/2019 at 12:47 PM, TheDot said:

As I start to get into quite a few roles of film with my Leica MP (and my recently acquired M7 which is another discussion altogether), I am starting to contemplate developing film at home. I have not developed at home for over 30 years, so I certainly have lost the art of doing so. However, there is no local lab to bring in my film so I either need to drive a bit or send it in via post - both which seem to be a bit of a hassle. 

I am curious whom also does their own film development? Just the film as I would scan to digital once developed (an enlarger would be an extra step that I am not prepared to do at the moment). And what is the best approach to develpm film?  B&H has a film development kit which seems to have almost everything I need; but given how long its been since I last developed film I am wondering if a more efficient approach has been created. 

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated. 

I have been doing for last year and half for BW. I use single load Paterson tank with plastic reel. DD-X (1+4), Ilfostop, ilford fixer and settled on Kodak films. Scan using Plustek.

Use of changing bag requires some practice. Out of 30+ rolls, I have messed up only two rolls. They got stuck in the reel and I had to unload it back into the cartridge to start all over again (didn't lose any pictures). Just sacrifice one roll and keep it for practice. As for water temp, keeping 20c in summer is not a problem (I am in San Francisco area). In winter I have to mix tap hot water to bring it to 20c. I also use it to create a bath in a large deep tray to bring other chemicals to same temperature. One large jug, one gallon water jug for extra water, two glass 500cc mug for mixing developer and stopper and one 1 liter dark chemical bottle for fixer (since it gets reused). And yes, one good glass thermometer. Tap water is good and for final wash I keep a gallon of distilled water bottle that lasts for many rolls. Add few drops of photoflow in last wash. I never use squeeze. It dries nicely in bathroom. That is all you need. 

Most important lesson I have learned is to stick with smallest set of variables so that your results are consistent.  You can see my flickr set for my results (in film album).

Edited by jmahto

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