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BW film development question


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Well, after losing my nerve with my local lab (rip-off prices and lousy delivery deadlines) I've decided to go back to old home film development. Las time I did that was... 15 years ago (oops)! Anyway, I just purchased all the materials again and was planning on starting this very morning with a couple of 120 Neopan rolls but then, a doubt came into my head. The horror. :D


It's about the temperature of the different "tap water" washes during the process. I know my chemicals must of course be at 20ºC, something I will do by having all the bottles and developing tank in the sink fill up with water at that temperature. That applies to developer, stop bath and fixer. But, what happens with the parts of the process that demand running water (hypo clearing wash, final water wash and wetting agent) Must that water be a 20ºC too? Because, as at most homes, I don't have a accurate-to-the-degree tap. I've measured cold tap water today and it's at circa 13º.


What do you guys think?



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For B&W I have the mixed chemicals at room temperature or in a water bath to bring them up to approx 20 deg if necessary and also a supply of clean water also at the same temperature (or the water in the water bath). I use this for an initial couple of washes and then use running tap water afterwards so the temperature change has no effect, as the images are already fixed/washed.

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Films don't like significant variations of temperature. So keeping the wash water as close to the temp of the chemicals is a good idea but a few degrees variation wont matter.


This is good advice.


There are two possible problems. The first is reticulation. If the water is too cold, the emulsion can exhibit a cracking effect, that looks like fine hazing in pottery. 13 degrees probably wouldn't produce this, but 10 degrees might.


The second is, in my experience, a degredation of sharpness and grain. I can't state this as a hard fact, but my experience is if I am sloppy with inconsistent temperatures between developer/stop/fix/wash, the negatives seem to me less fine grained and sharp. I personally keep temperatures within +/- 1 degree. I must be honest - I do not do this much any more - I mainly use XP2, which is developed in C41 colour chemicals at the lab.


The Ilford approach works very well. Many years ago Leica suggested the same approach - no running water, just (as I remember) 8 rinses with agitation of the wash water. It also requires very little water, which means you can store your wash water (5-6 changes) in another container at the same temperature as the dev/stop/fix. While Ilford does not state it, I am also a fan of hypo clearing agent between the fix and wash.

Edited by Michael Hiles
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You may want to read this (scroll down to the middle of the page and download the pdf document.


Photography links, Filmwashing ILFORD film washing, temperature, temperature measurement


My final steps are then


rinse in distilled water


NO wetting agent


hang up


dry off with a piece of good quality kitchen paper (never had a scratch mark or dust mark

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Fill a gallon jug with 68 Deg water. You do not need running water.


Use the Ilford archival wash sequence from the website.


Short version- fill tank, remove and replace reel 10 times-step two repeat step one- step three, same except 20 times.


My version- two reel tank and 8 oz of water+ one empty reel. Invert instead of remove and replace.


With a single tank- use 6 oz water and do step one two times.


I have been doing this for decades and no film ever went bad.


When I originally built my dark room, the cold water supply is piped from both hot and cold supplies with ball valves on each side that act as temp control. The cold fawcet acts as a volumn control. The hot side works normally. Close the hot ball valve and the system works normally.

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Thank you to all of you guys for your advice. After 15 years, my first rolls have come out quite well. I gave the film a quick pre-wash with cold tap water (13ºC) for 10-15 seconds. For developer, stop bath and fixer I was very accurate with temperature (between 19.5ºC and 20.5ºC at all times). At the end, I just washed the film under running water at about 13ºC (cold from the tap again) for 30 mins. Not very enviromentally friendly, though. With the next rolls I will try the ilford approach or maybe some hypo-clearing agent. By the way, I DID give the film a final rinse in distilled water with wetting agent (tetenal mirasol 2000) for 30 seconds. After drying, the film was very clean with almost no marks of water, quite perfect to go in the scanner.


I had almost forgotten about the magic of home film development. It makes you feel so much in control. I just love it.


Thanks again to all of you!

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Hey guys!


For those curious, I posted a couple of pics from the fim I developped following your wise advice! They are on the "neopan" thread. Any further advice to improve the technique is much appreciated!


Thanks again to all of you, you guys are just priceless!



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