Basic Developing Kit
Old 04-28-2011   #1
2WK
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Question Basic Developing Kit

A friend and I are going to start developing our own film. I've only ever developed a few rolls years ago in high school. We are excited, yet on a budget so are looking for the most cost effective way to get started.

There are a few different beginner kits I have found, and I'm wondering if any of you have any recommendations or opinions on them.

Omega Basic Darkroom Accessory Print & Film Processing Kit:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...kroom_Kit.html

Arista Classic Darkroom Kit:
http://www.freestylephoto.biz/5055-A...m-Kit?sc=24100

Arista Premium Darkroom Kit:
http://www.freestylephoto.biz/5054-A...m-Kit?sc=24100

Beseler Printmaker Darkroom Kit:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...kroom_Kit.html

Any advise is much appreciated, Thanks!
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Old 04-28-2011   #2
CNNY
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I would prefer to buy stuff separately. For one, these kits include a of of things like stirring paddles and film squeegees, for which I don't have any use. I also have never used 'real' film clips, or brown plastic bottles.
Buy the stuff that you really need, and improvise the rest.
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Old 04-28-2011   #3
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Good suggestions. Also, I wouldn't cheap out on things like reels and thermometer.


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Originally Posted by CNNY View Post
I would prefer to buy stuff separately. For one, these kits include a of of things like stirring paddles and film squeegees, for which I don't have any use. I also have never used 'real' film clips, or brown plastic bottles.
Buy the stuff that you really need, and improvise the rest.
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Old 04-28-2011   #4
Darshan
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I started developing a few months ago.
Went to a local camera store, picked up the following items and I have been developing since with great results:
1. AP plastic tank with 2 plastic reels - approx $24
2. D76 (makes 1 gallon) - $8
3. Kodak powder fixer - $7
4. 2 x steel clips - $4
5. Thermometer - $3

I use water as stop bath and I don't use photoflo or squeegee.
I load the reels in my bathroom at night, no need for a changing bag as it's pitch dark.

Good luck.
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Old 04-28-2011   #5
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I would buy stainless steel tanks and reels. They are more efficient with chemistry, and they only need a wipe down to be used again. Plastic reels takes forever to dry. There are tons of other cons as well (and a few caveats too).

I started with plastics years ago and went stainless a few months back, no turning back, ever. I think I paid $15 for a 30 oz tank and two 120 reels on the 'bay. Bought 4 35mm reels from freestyle for like $6 a piece.
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Old 04-28-2011   #6
loquax ludens
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I bought that very same Beseler kit when I started developing and printing more than 15 years ago. My first darkroom was a plastic covered credenza in a darkened room in the apartment I was living in at the time. No running water or sink, but the kitchen was right around the corner. When I moved a few months later, I graduated to a bathroom darkroom that I had to set up and tear down every time I wanted to use it. It served me for a couple of years. Finally I built the dedicated darkroom that I use now.

It really doesn't look like Beseler has changed that kit much in all this time, except that the price is probably 2.5 times what I paid for it.

After about 10 years the tank lid cracked and started leaking. I still use the reels that came in the tank. I also use everything else in the kit except for the measuring cup and timer. I prefer plastic graduates (mine are all Jobo) for measuring. The timer ended up in my kitchen after I bought a Gralab timer.

Everyone here is right, you can get better quality and just the items you want if you buy individual pieces. But unless you are careful, you could end up spending more money that way. And when you are starting out, you don't really know what is best for you. I happen to think that a kit is a good option to get started quickly. Over time, you'll refine your equipment as you gain experience.

If I have time later tonight, I'll build a shopping list of individual pieces that I would buy for 35mm film developing and 8x10 printing (excluding an enlarger) if I were just starting out and knew what I know now. It'll be interesting to see how it compares in price.

Last edited by loquax ludens : 04-28-2011 at 11:07.
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Old 04-28-2011   #7
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I would avoid a kit. You will get a better kit by buying exactly what you want or need. First, I recommend getting a good reel & tank system, even if it means a few extra dollars; otherwise you may end up rebuying this stuff in a short while. Also, get a good thermometer.

I would go to a place like B&H or Adorama or Freestyle and get the following: Paterson tank (you decide what size tank to get based on how many rolls you want to develop at a time (1-8), and extra reels if you want them; Weston Thermometer; and a 10 pack of Delta Stainless Steel clips.

Totals:

Paterson Universal Tank (with one reel) = $22
Extra Reel = $8
Weston Thermometer (1.75") = $33
Delta Stainless Clips (10 pack) = $8

Depending on what chemical set you decide on, you will probably want up to 4 gallon jugs (that is 4 jugs at 1 gallon each) for Developer, Stop, Fixer, and Hypo Clearing Agent. You can buy jugs for a few dollars each or just use old wine jugs or the like. You will also need something to measure and pour chemicals with. I use graduates, but I am sure you could get away with most anything you know the volume of--measuring cups, old yogurt containers, etc. A funnel is helpful if you have one. Also, I find a bottle opener helpful to open film canisters and scissors handy for trimming the leader before loading in the reel. Finally, if you don't have a truly dark room or closet, pick up a changing bag--any generic brand will do (about $12-15).

Doing it this way, you should be able to get a very nice 2 reel (35mm)/1 reel (120) developing kit with a changing bag for about $85. I hope this helps!

Last edited by jljohn : 04-28-2011 at 11:12.
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Old 04-28-2011   #8
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Ok So you need a basic starter kit. Here's what you'll need or find very useful.

For Film.
  1. Changing bag so you can load the tank with film in daylight
  2. Film tab retriever or bottle opener to get film out of canister.
  3. A pair of scissors to cut film of spool.
  4. A developing tank. A two reel one is normal and get two reels. AP or Paterson or Jobo are all good but AP uses least chemistry and has good reels.
  5. A mixing Jug. 2 litre size is good for mixing powered chemicals in.
  6. A stirring rod.
  7. Thermometer. range at least 15C to 50C. (Mixing powders is sometimes done at 40C)
  8. 2 or 3 1 litre storage bottles for developer stock, partially used fix and partially used stop(if you use it)
  9. 3 600ml plastic bottles. Optional but really useful for pre mixing all chemicals ready for development process.
  10. 3 measuring graduates. 1200ml, 300ml and 50ml
  11. Film developer (note that plastic bottles above will store this mixed from powders)
  12. Stop Bath
  13. Fixer
  14. Photoflo. Aids drying of film.
  15. 4 film clips to hang film to dry (2 for each film makes life easy)
  16. paper film pockets to store developed film in. you could use envelopes but the proper thing is better.
Printing.
  1. 4 trays at the size you want, 8x10 or 11x14 or 12x16 etc. 4th is to use as a holding tray.
  2. Print developer
  3. Stop bath (same stuff as for film)
  4. Fixer (same stuff as for film)
  5. tongs if you don't want to dip your fingers in chemistry
  6. Some means of hanging prints to dry, clothes pegs or dry flat after blotting off excess water.
  7. Something to store prints in.
thats all I can think of for now.

Oh and if you buy a gallon pack of powered developer you can't divide the powder to mix only some of it to stock, so you would need a gallon container to mix and store it in instead. Same with powdered fixer whatever size that is. You can never have enough storage bottles of right size.

Last edited by tlitody : 04-28-2011 at 11:17.
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Old 04-28-2011   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loquax ludens View Post
If I have time later tonight, I'll build a shopping list of individual pieces that I would buy for 35mm film developing and 8x10 printing (excluding an enlarger) if I were just starting out and knew what I know now. It'll be interesting to see how it compares in price.
Thanks! I will also check some stainless tanks and reels. A friend offered an enlarger for free. But one thing at a time, I want to get developing and scanning down before I start printing...
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Old 04-28-2011   #10
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Here's the kit I use:
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Old 04-29-2011   #11
loquax ludens
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tlitody had a good list, and chris101 had a nice picture. If you are on a budget and want to develop film only, no printing, then there are really only a few special darkroom items you need. Several common items can be sourced from Walmart. Here is my minimal list.

Arista Premium Double Reel Developing Tank with two reels
- or -
Paterson Universal Film Developing Tank with 1 Reel + Paterson Developing Tank Reel
Thermometer
1000 ml graduated cylinder
300 ml graduated cylinder (you could do without this one, other sizes are more important)
50 ml graduated cylinder
Pint, Quart, and Gallon sized storage bottles. You'll want some large enough to store stock solutions and some smaller ones to store reusuable solutions (such as stop bath and fixer) between developing sessions. Many people use wine bottles, growlers, juice jugs, PET bottles, etc. As long as they are kept in a dark cabinet and have good closures (screw on lids or rubber stoppers), they don't have to be opaque or brown.

There are special "darkroom" analogs of some of the following items, but common grocery or department or dollar store kitchen utensils will do just as well. I'd suggest dedicating anything that comes in contact with chemicals to your film developing use.

Church key (bottle opener) for opening 35mm film canisters
Scissors for trimming the end of roll square
Plastic pitcher for mixing chemicals, 1 gallon size is ideal
Long-handled plastic cooking spoon or two for stirring
Funnel for filling your chemical storage bottles
Kitchen timer
Strong plastic or metal clips or clothespins (but weighted film clips are very nice to have)

You'll also need to buy your choice of developer, stop bath, fixer, and hypo clear. A rinse aid is not essential, but recommended for spot-free drying.

Items you can do without:

Film changing bag. Instead, you can lightproof a closet or bathroom.
Film squeegee. It can damage your film. Use the rinse aid instead.

Last edited by loquax ludens : 04-29-2011 at 21:53.
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changing bag
Old 04-29-2011   #12
joachim
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changing bag

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris101 View Post
Here's the kit I use:
Hi,

Just jumping in here, never thought about a changing bag. Would that also work for 120 film? I know they are quite sensitive to bending.

Thanks
Joachim
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Old 04-30-2011   #13
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I use a - 27 inch maybe? - changing bag for 35mm, 120, 4x5 and 5x7. They make even bigger bags, as well as boxes with arms attached if you really need the space. One caution: be careful of scissor use inside the bag, or you will end up with punctures and slices.
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Old 04-30-2011   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris101 View Post
I use a - 27 inch maybe? - changing bag for 35mm, 120, 4x5 and 5x7. They make even bigger bags, as well as boxes with arms attached if you really need the space. One caution: be careful of scissor use inside the bag, or you will end up with punctures and slices.
Hi Chris,

Thanks.

J.
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Old 04-30-2011   #15
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Other than the tank, bag and chemicals everything else can be picked up at Walmart. Use kids scissors that way you can avoid punctures. Shop around on eBay, be patient and you can pick up a bag and tank cheap. Timer, I use my watch or cellphone.
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Old 04-30-2011   #16
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I think first you should decide on a developing tank. Plastic or SS. I prefer SS, but others prefer plastic. Sacrifice a roll to learn how to load the film in your choice, and location, be that a changing bag or a closet or bathroom. Hopefully since you mention some experience in high school, you already know.

Then it is just chemicals, a way to mix them and something to store them in. Some way to time development, and a thermometer to check temperatures. You will learn as you go. Funnels are pretty necessary, plastic stiring rods are better than spoons, etc. Go for it with some thought from all the good suggestions above, and above all, have fun. Don't worry about starting minimal, just start.
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Old 04-30-2011   #17
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Here's my basic kit. I use it to develop anything from 35mm to 4x5 sheet film. The total cost for everything was $70 or so, including some D76, Rapid fix, and Fuji wetting agent.



I got the Jobo tank and 4x5 reel on eBay, and found a used 35mm reel in a local shop. These were the most expensive items, but were still less expensive than what I would have paid for a new stainless single-reel tank from a shop. The plastic reels are easier to use, and I have had no problems using them when they are wet.
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Old 04-30-2011   #18
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i know i should get a big-boy thermometer but my two aquarium models - all of $1 each - seem to do just fine. both of 'em read the same ...
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Old 04-30-2011   #19
loquax ludens
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Common household items (are aquarium thermometers common?) are fine for B&W film developing. Really, about the only specialized thing you must have is a film developing tank.

That said, I wouldn't give up my fully equipped darkroom for nuthin!
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Old 05-01-2011   #20
olleorama
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frontman View Post
Here's my basic kit. I use it to develop anything from 35mm to 4x5 sheet film. The total cost for everything was $70 or so, including some D76, Rapid fix, and Fuji wetting agent.



I got the Jobo tank and 4x5 reel on eBay, and found a used 35mm reel in a local shop. These were the most expensive items, but were still less expensive than what I would have paid for a new stainless single-reel tank from a shop. The plastic reels are easier to use, and I have had no problems using them when they are wet.
I will have to correct my statement, I find that paterson system 4 plastic reels are hard to use when they are wet. I have no experience of Jobo reels. If they work when wet they are an alternative for me too. But for now, I will continue using stainless.
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Old 05-15-2011   #21
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I use the temperature probe that came with my cheap volt-ohm meter, which I rarely calibrate, and if I do, with ice water and boiling water when I'm wondering if it's still spot on. Never a problem with it, whether developing color or B&W.

Steel reels are great until you drop one and then you're likely to struggle feeding film onto it. More expensive reels like Hewes will withstand more abuse, but plastic works great for me, as I don't usually develop more than 3-4 rolls a week, so having a dry reel/tank is never a problem.
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Old 05-16-2011   #22
David Hughes
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Changing bags can be a very useful bit of kit to carry when travelling; not only for darkroom work but for sorting out problems with films in cameras when they jam, loading film loaders etc. Also getting a room light tight is far more difficult than using a changing bag, especially if you're in a hurry/panic.

As for the rest, a tank, decent thermometer, something to measure and store liquids in and you should be ready. You can stir solutions with the thermometer and get the temperature at the same time, f'instance. For storage, stirring etc, I'd always go for glass which has less to leach out of it than plastic. And some white sticky labels and a pen/pencil are very handy.

Oooops, left out the kitchen timer.

Regards, David
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Old 05-16-2011   #23
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I thought I'd chime in here on this thread since I'm going down the same road.

1) I found it psychologically easier to work in a room I could see in with a changing bag than in a completely dark room. Even though you can't see what you're doing in either case, I found the one easier than the other.

2) In my house, I can get it dark, but I can't get it dust-free, so a changing bag is also a dust barrier.

My one question: Given a not-so-dust-free environment, what's the best setup for drying film?
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Old 05-16-2011   #24
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Quote:
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... Given a not-so-dust-free environment, what's the best setup for drying film?
Yer shower.
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Old 05-17-2011   #25
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Bite the bullet and get this:

http://freestylephoto.biz/94321-Hewe...it?cat_id=1603

You won't regret building your outfit around the above. Augment as required with additional items listed in earlier posts.

Last edited by PMCC : 05-17-2011 at 00:52. Reason: needed editing
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