Colour Film Developing

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by Marctwo, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    I've decided to give film a go just to see how I get on with it.

    I'd like (eventually) to develop my own films and have found a few 'how to..'s on the subject but wandered how people get along with it in practical terms.

    Is it cheap?
    Is it a pain in the ar$e?
    Do the chemicals require specialist disposal?
    Is there much difference between chemical brands?
    Is there anything else I need to concider?

    And is it actually worth it? :)
     
  2. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    As far as color film, my opinion on developing is that it is a pain in the ass. I don't hesitate taking color film to a photo lab. Not the nicest chemicals to handle and they are very touchy when it comes to temps.

    B&W is another story. I don't let anybody touch my B&W.
     
  3. alexecho

    alexecho TPF Noob!

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    I find it's no cheaper than taking them in somewhere to get the developed. And I find digial cheaper than film, so it's about the most expensive way of doing things, unless you are working in huge bulk.

    My personal opinion is that it's not worth it. You have to put in a fair bit of time and effort just to get a colour balanced print, and you can't make much adjustment in the way of contrast or saturation that you can do easily in a computer.

    In other words you can, when you get it correct, only produce what you can get done at a store. However, it does let you recompose your images when you print them. But so does a computer.

    Don't let me put you off. It's worth trying. I personally don't find it at all rewarding. Black and White in the darkroom however is another matter entirely. It works out much cheaper than getting them done at a shop and you can change a lot about the image in the process. Colour processing is a science, not an art!

    The chemicals don't need specialist disposal, but do smell and stain, so you have to be careful with them anyway. I always opt for an outside drain.

    I'd suggest trying a course at a local college, or you could spend a lot of money just to find you don't enjoy the process.
     
  4. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    Cheers guys. Maybe I'll just stick to the labs then. :lol:

    Of course, I'm only talking about developing the film. I'll still be doing all the image processing on computer. ;)
     
  5. alexecho

    alexecho TPF Noob!

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    Only the film? Then it's worth trying, but everything is VERY temperature critical, so you have to be systematic and consistant to guarenttee good results. Otherwise you'll end up using your image processing time just to make the image look correct...

    Just as a side note: If you are using computerised image processing by far the cheapest and most convienient way is to go digital! On that note I'd say it's not worth it... But that is just a personal thing.
     
  6. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    Yes, I completely agree. And that's why I want to try film for a while - I think it may help me become more diciplined in my photography.

    Not that photography should be very diciplined, but I think dicipline is an important part of getting the best out of yourself in any field.
     
  7. ksmattfish

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

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    With C41 and E6 development I think you will find it more expensive to do yourself, at least right now. Five or ten years from now, when digital has reduced the need for a huge film developing industry, it may be cheaper to do your own.

    Compared with BW processing the chemicals are more expensive, expire quicker, and are much more toxic. It's not really much harder than BW processing, although I think you'll notice it more if you are sloppy with the times and temps than with BW.

    For me the big advantage to developing my own BW is the control and manipulation that is possible, both in the development and printing stages. I took quite a bit of color darkroom in college, and while it was a lot of fun, there wasn't much that I could do myself that I couldn't get done just as well (and cheaper) down at the local pro lab. With BW it's a whole 'nother story; in fact, even most pro labs don't offer the services/materials that I can do/use in my own darkroom.
     
  8. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    ... "they can have my film when they pry it from my pale, chemical-wrinkled hands!" :gun: Kevin, I salute you sir!

    No darkroom now :( I have to take it to the shop - can't afford pro labs, can barely afford standard processing at the local shop :cry: (cue violin)... as with pretty much everything else, processing in the UK costs about twice what it should. Last time it took them a week to do black and white, they still wanted to charge me £11 (about $20!) and when I went to pick up the prints I was instead handed a Japanese gentleman's (colour) holiday photos. Although really I would have been better keeping them, because when I swapped them for my prints I was less than completely happy with the contrast and tonal range - by which I mean it looked like every one of my subjects and the entire backgrounds had been spray-painted a uniform grey :irked:.

    With colour on the other hand, they can't ever seem to put a foot wrong - I can't see myself trying colour developing any time soon; can't think of a particularly good reason for wanting to and plenty of reasons for not wanting to. I'd have to go with the consensus here - sticking with the lab or going fully digital are probably better solutions than trying to develop colour film. In short, is it worth it? Probably not.

    Don't let that put you off though :mrgreen:
     
  9. Mumfandc

    Mumfandc TPF Noob!

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    I develop my medium format color films with the Tetenal C-41 kit. I paid about $54 for the 5 liter kit I believe. I HONESTLY find it to be only slightly more difficult than developing B&W film.

    I process about maybe 10 rolls per month. And photo labs here in NYC charge about $6-8 usually per roll. So I save A LOT of money.

    I usually only mix 1/2 a liter of solutions at a time. And develop 5-6 rolls for each stock of mixed solution. More or less.

    So if you calculate that, I save about $400 by going with the kit, instead of labs.

    People seem to always make a really big deal about temperature control. But from my year of experience of color printing, I see consistent results with a relatively wide latitude of temperature change. When I use Kodak Ektacolor RA-4 solutions, they recommend you process the color devloper at 45seconds @ 94 degrees F. But you can still make changes depending according to their spec sheets.

    Usually I will have the thermometer go up to 105 degrees, to as low as 80 degree. I just adjust the processing time accordingly shorter, or longer. And basically all the prints are very consistent. In fact, I was thinking of an investing in one of those expensive electric temp. control units. But I didn't think it was necessary, because I devloped my own method, where I only change the hot water bath ONCE during an entire printing session. I start and 105 degrees, then just keep changing the rotary drum duration accordingly as the temperature drops.

    Another thing I love about doing my own color printing is FUJIFLEX paper! i love it so much. I paid about $99 for a box of 100 8x10s. So it's about $1 a sheet. But if you go to online photolabs who print on the material they usually charge somewhere between $50-100 for a SINGLE 8x10 print on Fujiflex paper.
     
  10. ksmattfish

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

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    Yowza! If you are having to pay those kind of prices it would probably save money. Out here in the midwest it's $3 for 35mm C41 develop only, and $4 for 120 develop only, and they'll knock a buck off those prices if you get prints too.
     
  11. Marctwo

    Marctwo TPF Noob!

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    The more I read about it, the easier it sounds. :) It seems that once you know what you're doing, it's a simple 15 minute job to put a couple of films through. Maybe I'm getting the wrong impression, though.

    As for price: I'm looking at kits until I find my feet and they seem to work out at less than £1 per film - which is ok.

    Equipment? I get the impression that I'll only need a developing tank and spirals. Would I need a seperate tank for each process ie. 3 tanks or would I just swap the chemicals over? Is there any other specialist equipment I'd need apart from sundries like clips, thermometre, etc?
     
  12. DocFrankenstein

    DocFrankenstein Clinically Insane?

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    Why would you want to do processing yourself? If you're getting 10 bucks an hour at your day job, it's simply not worth it in terms of time and space involved.

    Get a 6 mp DSLR and a calibrated monitor, and your workflow will improve dramatically.
     

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