B&W processing at home?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by nymtber, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. nymtber

    nymtber TPF Noob!

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    for those who develop b&w film at home, how much would it cost to get started, and just do the film? then how much more for prints? Im not even sure i could get a set up to work, but, i could do it at my dads, in his spare bathroom, it has no windows and would be cake to block out all light. however, its small lol. i just want to know how much equipment would cost, along with chemicals. thanks!
     
  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Most of the answers you seek are in the Darkroom forum. The chemicals themselves are not really that expensive but building a darkroom with access to an enlarger does cost some $$$. In the end, its probably still cheaper to have your B&W negatives sent to the photolab. Those that develop and print at home don't do it to save money. They do it at home for the joy and quality control over their final product.
     
  3. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    At the moment, it's very cheap as people are switching to digital. Get yourself a book on basic darkroom technique and then make a shopping list. Chances are that you can pick up everything you need for about $200. The chemicals aren't very expensive - it's just a bit tricky to get hold of them these days!

    Rob
     
  4. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    You don't need a darkroom to develop film. What you need is a changing bag, like this:

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=NavBar&A=search&Q=&ci=786

    or $15 to $20 on eBay. Once you have the film in the developing tank and the lid is on, which you do inside the bag, everything else can be done in the light.

    This guide from Ilford, called Developing your First Black & White film, tells you almost everything you need to know:

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

    It's a good document, and it has a list of "essential" equipment, some of which really is essential, and some of which you don't have to spend lots of money on if you recycle household items and utensils. My comments in brackets:



    • developing tank and spirals (Yes, you need these. No need to spend more than $10 on eBay for a Paterson System 4 tank and spiral)​


    • ILFORD film cap remover (No. Bottle opener)
    • ILFORD film leader retriever (Nope, not if you have a bottle opener)
    • plastic measuring cylinder (yes, ideally you need several sizes and you can often get all of them on eBay in a single lot. Under $10 maybe on eBay and probably about the same new from a chemical supplies place)
    • plastic beakers (yes, 3 of them so you can pour the different chemicals into the tank, but they don't have to be anything special - just don't use them for drinking out of when you have finished)
    • plastic storage bottles (yes, because you will buy concentrated chemicals and dilute them to working strength, and you need somewhere to store those working solutions. Used glass bottles with a good cap work well, or used plastic drinks bottles with a good seal. New ones from chemical supplies stores are really cheap)
    • funnels (yes, helps when pouring chemicals back into the storage bottles, get 3 so you can have one for each kind of chemical. $5 new?)
    • stirring rod (Yes, but it doesn't have to be a special photographic one. I use a long plastic spoon that I liberated from a kitchen drawer)
    • thermometer (yes, and a model designed for the darkroom is useful, loads to choose from on the B&H website. $20?)
    • stop clock/watch (yes, but don't waste money on one of those triple timers for darkrooms, because only the development time is really critical, stop and fix times have more latitude. A $5 stopwatch from a sports shop will do. I have one on my wrist watch and just use that)
    • film clips or pegs (Pegs are fine, and free!)
    • scissors (You'll probably have some of these around the house)
    • negative storage bags (Yes, and a file to keep them in, $20)
    • squeegee or chamois cloth (I use my fingers instead - less chance of scratching the film)​

    So, I make that $85 on equipment, then you need developer, stop bath (many people just use water), fixer and wetting agent (a kind of detergent that helps prevent water marks on your negatives. Browsing around the B&H website I found the Kodak version of everything you need to get to started for a total of $21, although that is with powdered chemicals you mix with water, which are cheaper to buy and ship than the liquid concentrates. So what's that, a grand total of $106.​

    Prints. Hmm, can I leave that for someone else to answer?​

    Thomsk​
     
  5. fadingaway1986

    fadingaway1986 I Burn Easily :(

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    I added up what it would cost for me to set up for processing B&W at home, and it came to around $100AU - that wasn't including the likes of thermometer, stirrer thingy, etc, as I already had to buy them from tafe.


    That was also buying the tank new, and the chemicals in liquid form.
     
  6. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ^^^ Great advice.

    Just remember that so much of this stuff can come from the kitchen wares department of any discount store. Graduates or beakers can be simple Pyrex measuring cups, a stirring rod can be a cheap plastic spoon, photo clips can be clothespins. No need to spend $5 on a funnel from a photo store when the same thing can be purchased for $1.99 elsewhere. I know people who have used kitty litter trays to hold the chemicals when making prints, as opposed to buying *real* photo tray sets. Think about what the actual tool is for and you can save a lot of money, rather than buying everything from a photography store/site.

    That said, take special care of everything you purchase, and never let it be used for any other purpose. Contamination is a killer in the darkroom, and cleanliness is always next to godliness!

    Have fun! :)
     
  7. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    Cat litter trays and marbles. That just brought back some memories!

    Rob
     
  8. bigfatbadger

    bigfatbadger TPF Noob!

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    I used a paint roller tray for a while, cat litter trays sound better though!

    Also, if you're printing in the bathroom, dont buy one of those expensive print washing things, buy a plastic box, drill a hole in it, stick it in your bath, bit of hose from the tap to box, bish bash bosh
     
  9. nymtber

    nymtber TPF Noob!

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    this sounds like a deadly hobby to have, kind of like my shotshell reloading for skeet :D i only make 9.35 an hour, but you better believe i make the most of my money. ya cant take it with you...

    got my canon A2 today (obviously used) and I LOVE the way it actually fits in my hands, that lil rebel G was too small...

    i guess at some point ill look into a developing tank, and do b+w negatives for now, till i get enough good ones to get an enlarger and do prints or scan. i love b+w and i can save a bit of money by only doing negatives i think. sure scanning isnt perfect but for my use, id get by till i can afford a canon 5D!
     
  10. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    You can archivally wash prints in trays too. Search terms like "archival print washing soaking", and you'll find some good info. No need for a print washer at all.

    ___

    Once I had the gear, bulk loading and developing my own cut my BW film costs in half, not counting time. When you start considering the cost of time, it's hard to beat lab prices. But saving money is not why I develop my own BW film. I develop my own film to have increased control over the finished product.

    Prints are almost always going to be cheaper from a lab, but they aren't really even the same kind of print, and once again it's giving up a lot of control. If you need a bunch of small prints, take your negs to the lab. If you need a couple of nice enlargements, print them yourself.

    The key to saving money is going to be to getting the most out of your time. Don't buy a 2 roll dev tank, get a 4 roll tank. I like an 8 roll tank. It takes just as long to develop 1 roll at a time as 8 rolls at a time.
     

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