to process or not to process

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by enigma, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. enigma

    enigma TPF Noob!

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    to thoughs of you that have home dark rooms, do you process your own film, or do you have a lab do it, and you make the prints. (i talkin B&W)

    I am just looking to see if really save much money in the end by doing it yourself. This dark room that I am building will most likly only be up and running (for me) for about a year, as I plan on moving (but I planned on moving about a week ago, and well.... :) ) In a years time, would I have saved enough money to pay for chem, tanks, reels, ..... ?

    Thanks for any help.

    Justin
     
  2. voodoocat

    voodoocat ))<>(( Supporting Member

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    I'd say process. It's very easy and not expensive at all. ~$20 in chemicals lasts quite some time.
     
  3. oriecat

    oriecat work in progress

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    If you're already doing a home darkroom, I think the costs associated with doing the developing will be minimal in comparison. The printing is the expensive part, with enlarger and lens and paper, etc... Stop bath and fixer can be used with both paper and film, so the only things you'd need would be film developer and photo flo, and a tank and reel set.
     
  4. ksmattfish

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

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    Right now is a great time to set up a BW darkroom if you are into doing it yourself. Digital has convinced everyone with a darkroom setup stashed in the closet/basement/attic to get rid of it. EBAY is flooded with stuff. Enlargers that went for $1000 in 1995 are lucky if they can pull $200. You can find huge boxes of darkroom stuff at garage sales for a few bucks. People will give it to you just to get it out of their house; they need the space.

    I have two enlargers, and all the neccessary equipment to process and print 16mm, 35mm, 120, 220,and 4x5 film. I can print, drymount, and mat up to 16"x20". Not counting film, chemicals, and paper, I have only spent about $500 or $600 on my darkroom over the last few years. The stuff is laying around everywhere just begging for a good home.

    If you are only keeping track of supply costs, then there is no doubt that it is cheaper to process and print your own BW film; maybe by half. Once you start considering the value of your time involved, only you know if it's still a good deal.

    I am always backed up on film development, so I usually take the stuff I'm being paid to shoot to the local pro labs. They do a great job developing the film, and I consider their charge when I give the client a price. Also I have a hard time getting my water to drop below 78 or 80 degrees F in the summer. So sometimes it's either the pro lab or wait for the fall.

    Prints are another matter though. I have yet to find a lab that is interested in giving my prints the tender loving care that I give them. Most labs have a single contrast grade (high), and don't do burning and dodging. At least without really upping the price (often to an hourly charge). The difference between a machine print and a well done handprint is huge. I've had many clients change their minds about shooting the wedding or portrait in color when they see my BW handprints.

    I think it's great fun. I think the real question is would you get more use out of a digital photo lab setup, and should you spend the money on that. I want to have both worlds, but I find magic in silver that I doubt I'll ever find in silicon.
     
  5. Tyjax

    Tyjax TPF Noob!

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    Very eloquent reply.I like the verbiage. And I agree! :)
     
  6. enigma

    enigma TPF Noob!

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    ksmattfish... were about in kansas do you live?? I too live in Kansas.

    also, thanks for reply.
     
  7. ksmattfish

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

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    I live in Lawrence, KS.

    If you are anywhere close to Lawrence, another option is to take the "Open Darkroom" class at the Lawrence Arts Center. It's a class for folks who mostly know their way around a BW darkroom, but there is a photo instructor (me) hanging out to answer questions, find/install equipment, etc...

    The LAC darkroom is pretty nice. There are about ten enlargers; most are 35mm only, but several can be set up for medium format, and there is one Omega D2 for 4x5. Standard processing chemicals are included in the tuition.
     
  8. enigma

    enigma TPF Noob!

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    I live in KC, half hour or so away. I have open lab at school (jccc) but for some reason they are not open at 2am, and if you wouldnt know it, thats when I want to print :)

    I am going ahead with my darkroom. I will set up print stuff first (as I can just process a bunch all at once at school. Then later on I will set up the other stuff.

    Thanks, and you never know, I my just ended up taking that class at some point.
     
  9. ksmattfish

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

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    I love the JCCC darkroom. I want to take the color class again just so I get to print color in their darkroom.

    I love having my own darkroom. As I write this I have prints washing. I just printed my first pics from the Rolleiflex I got a week ago. I have a new favorite camera!
     
  10. enigma

    enigma TPF Noob!

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    yes, im taking a color class, made my first print the other day, didnt look to bad for the first one. I just need to get used to working in such darkness :)

    I think if I got a Rollei, I too would have a new favorite camera.

    By the way, I have notices that is seems 120 film is about the same price as 35mm.... would you say that the price for doing med format, after buying the camera (ad lenses) is close to that of 35mm.

    This semester We will be able to check out some hasselblads, and I know once I shot with that, and that HUGE film... I will have a hard time going back to my tiny little 35mm. :)
     
  11. ksmattfish

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

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    Most of the films I use seem to run about $2.00 for enough to make an 8"x10" contact print: 35 exposures of 35mm, 8 to 12 exp 120, 4 4x5 negs.

    If you are asking about per roll price to process then it's 80 square inches of film worth of chemistry whatever format. The per neg price to develop 120 is three or four times that of 35mm negs.

    I've learned to use my chemistry more efficiently, and I easily make up the extra expense of 120 there. Use hypocheck; fixer is your most expensive, and long lasting chemical.

    Do web research on vintage cameras to learn about inexpensive (or at least cheaper) medium and large format cameras. Most of them were built with amazing lenses to compensate for crappy film quality. There are good working, 120 film cameras suitable for BW photography for as low as $75.

    Also hit those garage sales and newspaper classifieds. You never know when someone will put out a bargin. EBAY is faster, but I got my Rollei for $150 at a rummage sale, and it would have been $350 on EBAY.
     
  12. oriecat

    oriecat work in progress

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    If you really want to work in medium format and want to go cheap, then get a Holga! They are like 15 bucks and a lot of fun! I am loving mine. :) I got mine from www.freestylephoto.biz, plus 5 rolls of 120 film to get up to the $25 minimum purchase.
     

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