View Full Version : I finally did it!
Well, after talking about it, I did go out and get the things necessary to process my own B&W film, and last night I developed three rolls of 120, HP5+. I am very happy that they came out (my goals were low for this first go around). Thanks you to everyone here for supporting this latest endeaver of mine.
I was doing some cleaning and saw this bunch laying on the floor.
Let's try this again.
Here is the picture.
Congratulations on starting a new adventure!
(Is the photo attached from a strip you developed yourself?)
Yes, congratulations, Rover! This is a grand step, good luck with it!
Welcome to the evils of processing your own film. A tip from an old and jaded B&W lover, if your going to shoot several rolls of 120 at a time, get a taller tank that take 2-4 rolls at a time rather than one. Makes life easier.
However stay well clear of processing your own LF negs... your fingers will constantly smell of Sodium Thiosulphate.
PS. Are you doing digital proof sheets or traditional proof sheets?
(eyes sadly the 3 rolls of 120/220 and another of 35mm I'm running today)
It's fun, it's awesome, and cheap. It's also time consuming and you've got to be conscious of dust... Which means that whilst the film is drying, NO cleaning.
let me add my kudos also!
i have a fully set up darkroom in the basement and have not used it in ages. maybe your enthusiasm will inspire me.
i still remember the first time i saw an image start to emerge while my print was in the developer.
Richard, yes, I shot this with my Hassy. Just loosened the tripod head and pointed down. Looks like I was focusing on the rug and not on Bessa. The 80mm lens was wide open, so DOF didn't help me any. Photographer's error. Hopefully I will get to scan more shots. My son was up before 6:00am today, so my time was cut short.
Stu, I have a Paterson tank that will handle 3 35mm reels and 2 120 reels. I was definately thinking of batching when I went shopping.
I have did not set up a darkroom, so I will "dry print" and take any keepers to be printed at a pro lab. I found this page in a post on Photo.net. I need to get around to ordering this film holder which allows for batch scanning of 120 film strips on a flat bed scanner. I have an Epson 3200.
JD, I have 4 cats and 2 dogs. Talk about dust and hair!!! I went out to target and got a $20 enclosed garment closet. Tube construction, it zippers closed in the front. A very economical solution, and much easier than keeping the cats shaved since they still have their claws.
"Keeping the cats shaved"?? Geez rover that would create a fog of tiny cat hairs you'd spend a year filtering out! Horror story! They'd sure look funny too, and they'd probably all go hide under the bed.
We have a Honeywell SEPA air filter that helps reduce the car hair floating around, but with five felines here it's still a struggle. I keep cats out of the darkroom which helps a little.
Just a though - if you haven't already I very much recommend the split sceen microsprisms focusing screen for the 'blad (I think it's screen #42215). It's about 150-200 dollars but it made a word of difference for me when it comes to focusing accuracy for portraits.
Does that mean I can send you my rolls now?
Congratulations, rover! I'm green with envy, but happy you can do this now. Pass the wisdom this way soon! :) :D
I think it's great to see people do their own development, but I'm really curious as to why. Individual processing of sheet film I can understand, but for roll film I don't see the merit.
Still as said, and if you can manage to keep the cats away from the drying negatives, it's great to see craftmanship!
B&W and Roll-Film is cheaper and faster to do at home. C41 35mm store-processing is hard to beat.
Does Honeywell still make their negative dryer? If not, EBay. Mine turns 30 this year, and still works. It has a re-usable desiccant cartridge and filters. Just drop the whole processing reel into it, close it up, and plug it in. 15 minutes later, dry negatives.
For a cheap 'n easy neg drier...
Apparently Radio Shack sells something called a Squirrel Cage Fan Heater, dirt-cheap apparently. Don't ask me the part code, the nearest Radio Shack is on the other side of the Pacific! Basically itís a fan with a heating element.
Anyhow you get one of these Squirrel Cage Fan Heaters, a wide pipe slightly longer than the length of the longest film you use (i.e. 35mm 36exp). Stick a length/s of sturdy wire across the top or through the side at the top of your pipe, this to hang you film from. Hang your well-washed film on the wire with a peg or similar. Attach a loop of some wire or strong thin rope to hang the pipe off something (exposed beam in garage).
Attach the Squirrel Cage Fan Heater to the top of your pipe and... Voila! Film drier.
You can get creative and add air filters (those bits of black foam found in some computer cases or air conditioning units) to your fan's intake. Split the pipe, attach hinges and latches for easier access, permanently attach the fan, etc etc.
If the pipe ever gets dust in it, cat hair, chemistry spots or whatever, just hose it off with the garden hose.
And hoorah to Rover, another 'blad user. I've thought about using my flat-bed attachment for proof sheets (mind came with the scanner!), but I just love the smell of sodium thiosulphate. Plus once I get proof sheet in the wash, I end up deciding to print two or three pictures from the back log of exposed 6x6 I've caused.
Dirt-free neg drying can be a challenge. My solution is pretty basic, but works well-- the shower. I cut a piece of wood to span the distance from the top of the door rail to the opposite wall. It has a smaller piece on the bottom near the door end to keep it propped against the other wall at a slight angle. On the bottom surface of the wood are 5 of those common brass screw-in hooks.
So I can hang 5 rolls to dry at the same time. I put clamps at both ends of the roll; the lower ones as weights. As I hang each roll, I pour over it some of the final rinse water with wetting agent.
I have used a clean rubber squeegee to clear excess water and speed drying, but I know this is a controversial practice. There is a danger of scratching, but I do make sure the squeegee is clean, dip it in the Photoflo rinse, and use it gently. Pouring the rinse over the negs helps, and before all this I run the shower spray to wet down the walls and suppress dust. Then I close the shower doors and go to bed!
There is some personal satisfaction in doing your own film processing. No need then to remember to tell the lab not to cut your negs (strips of 4 are pretty inconvenient). It also prevents having the lab lose your negs, or embellish them with scratches or dirt. :-(
So there's reason to do your own C-41 processing as well as B&W. Plus, outside of real custom labs, I think most use one developer for all traditional black & white films. It works ok but will not be ideal unless you accomodate your own film usage to their developer.
Have fun, Rover!
Boy... you, home developers, are springing from under every rock there is... I want to learn the tricks of this trade, and developing is the one I consider essential.
Yes, home-developing certainly beats the lab when it comes to B&W. However, I've read that, if you get into doing this, you must develop film fairly often because these chemicals "expire" a bit quickly, and their usefulness goes down the drain as they get old. Is that true?
If it is black and white that you interested in, it depends on the chemicals. Some can be stored for many years in their concentrated form without significant deterioration. With these you mix up a diluted working solution for a few rolls of film just when you need it. Developers such as Kodak HC-110 and Agfa Rodinal are two examples.
Other solutions can be purcahsed in small sealed packages which only make up enough solution for an evenings work in the darkroom. Kodak Dektol for printing paper is an example.
There are probably many others that I am not aware of. Carefully done, it is possible to put together a small photolab outfit that does not take up much storage space and does not waste materials through spoilage or oxidation.
I am not upto date on color home-processing.
Paul, I'm interested in doing black and white. Your post is reassuring... Now, I must find some place and somebody who wants to teach the tricks to me during the summer, or later in the fall. I'll keep an eye on my local community college offerings.
Rover, you have started something here...
i started doing my own b&w processing from a book.
it is really a simple process. it's all time and temperature.
once you have been doing it for awhile you can start to play around with different chemicals, times, temps etc.
i'm no magic man in the darkroom, but i can tell you this...almost from my first roll of film and my first print, i was producing results better then the camera store where i was getting my film processed prior.
the hardest part is learning how to get your film onto the dev. reel, and that's just plain old practice. get a user roll of film and a reel - practice in the light till you're comfortable and then try it in the dark.
plastic or stainless steel is the biggest decision at first. i have used both and now prefer the plastic.
so, here is your homework sir, head out to the library and get a darkroom book and start reading!
Since I read Rover's post that I started to become green with envy too :D
BTW, I think it's in Dante Stella's site where he mentions a solid developer that you must solve in water and is more or less independent to temperature... sounds interesting, as controlling temperature seems (at least for me) the most annoying part of the whole process...
Someday I have to try that, I promise. Unfortunately, some other people at home wouldn't find too fun to find hanging rolls of negatives drying in the brand new shower... :p
Francisco and Oscar, just jump in. I do want to, and will take a community college class on B&W Darkroom Photography at some time in the near future, but in the mean time, it is easy. For now I will work with HP5+ and Tri-X with HC-110. I downloaded the data sheets from the Kodak and Ilford web sites. Ilford also has a good document on first time film processing. There are a zillion websites that have basic how to guides. I did procrastinate for a little while after I bought the supplies, but if my negatives came out alright then it can't be that hard. Believe me, surely there are benefits to having a precise process down, but there was enough latitude in the process to put up with my all thumbs performance.
I learned how to develop B&W negatives and enlarge photos from my father over 40 years ago. He set up a darkroom in the basement room we used for a fallout shelter. Winter 1962 was cold and a little tense because we lived so close to Washington DC, and temperature control was a little tricky in an unheated basement.
Many years later I volunteered for a couple of summers at a hospital medical illlustration studio/lab, and learned some of the more technical aspects of photofinishing.
These days, all of the information you really need is available on the Web. The rest is just gaiining experience by doing it.
This is one of the better web sites with a succinct guide to B&W film processing. There are probably hundreds more out there. My suggestion is to just start somewhere and get a fee for what it is like. As you gain experience yo u will be better able to judge what works for you best.
However, once you start, you will use A LOT of film! You may also want to start bulk-loading 35mm film. It will cost you less in the long run, especially when you are learning, because not only is it cheaper per exposure, but you can customize the length of your rolls in order to avoid wasting film. For example, if 16 exposures is about all you can shoot during lunch, why waste the other 8 shots or keep the film in the camera until tomorrow? Roll what you need, shoot what you need and develop a roll every day.
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