Beginner Questions - Processing B&W Film

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Darren Guy, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Darren Guy

    Darren Guy Member

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    First post on APUG, so first of all hello. This forum looks like it can, and will, be very educational.

    I have been shooting 35mm B&W film for a short while now, about 1-2 rolls per week, and for the type of photography I do I am enjoying the process so much more than I did with digital. Last month, I decided that I would like to start processing my own film at home, and then scan it myself as well. I've decided on either the 9000F or V600 for the scanning task at a sub-$200 price point, and now I'm digging in to the processing side of things. Eventually I could see myself setting up a darkroom for printing, but that is a little ways off. I want to start slowly.

    Yesterday, I purchased a spiral tank on e-bay - 2 35mm reels which fit at the same time, and one 120 reel. It should be here at week end. My initial thoughts are to stick with either ID-11 or DD-X developer, and Ilford for the rest of my chemistry as well - for no other reason than because I'm shooting more Ilford film than not, and I need to start somewhere. I need to purchase the remaining equipment as soon as I can put a list together. I've researched it a lot online, and I think I may have a good start. Looking for some confirmation.

    Tub
    Beakers for developer, fixer, stop, and maybe one to pre-mix my last wash with Ilfotol
    3 funnels
    stirring rods
    thermometer
    film clips x 4

    My initial thought is to process 2 rolls at once - so about once a week or so.

    Do I want to pre-mix at suggested 1+1 all at once and then store in the brown storage bottles, or just mix up what I need each week?
    Would it be "better", or easier, for me to stick with powder developer or liquid? Of course the powder seems much more cost-effective.
    What size beakers should I purchase?
    When finding the temperature of the liquids, do you just take that from the developer or do you test all three?

    That's all of the questions I can think of at the moment, and thank you in advance for helping me out. I'm excited to get started!
     
  2. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I would recommend starting with a ready to dilute concentrate. I seem to recall that ID-11 was sold as a powder packet in varied sizes to make a stock solution.

    ID-11 is very similar (some would go as far as the same ) as Kodak d-76. You do not need to stick to the same vendor of chemicals as the vendor of the film, but it is also not a bad idea to start there.
    Most ID-11 I have seen makes up 3.8L stock solution. There may be smaller packets that make only one litre at a time. Don't mix it to 1:1, initially, even if that is how you plan to ultimately use it. The dilution means there is more dissolved gases to degrade the dissolved photo chemistry faster. Plus more liquids to have to store.

    Tub is an 'assessory - do not freak about tempering the chemistry unless your processing location is over 80F.

    Beakers - don't go overboard. A set of 4cup/1L plastic measuring cups from the kitchen section of the dollar store will be a good place to start.

    Storage jugs: Storage jugs for developer mixed to a stock solution are best if they are glass, and stored in a cool dark place. Buying something sold at the grocery store in glass is usually the cheapest way to go. I have heard of prune juice, and Groelsch (sp?) beer bottles being used sucessfully.

    Stop bath is usually diluted just prior to use and discarded, although it can be reused if you wish to store it.

    Go with a liquid rapid fixer, and mix only enough to make 1L of working solution. It is used over again, and you should get about 15 rolls as a minimum before its silver level rises above what is good if you mix it at a 1:4 dilution.

    Wash aid I suppose could be reused or mixed all at once. Alkaline fixers really don't need a wash aid.
    Wetting agents (photo flo, or maybe Ilfords calls theirs ilfotol) are usually mixed and then used and discarded, although, again they could be stored for a short while, but why bother?

    I use one funnel, but rinse it in/with water between process steps.

    I have a pair of stirring rods, again plastic or stainless ( I had a stainless round rod for many years, and a dollar store plastic mixing spoon for a while too, before going for 'official' ones. Mostly I just mix developers from powder with them.

    Do look for a photo thermometer, preferrably not mercury; they are a bitch to clean up properly if/when they break. I have used digitial one that was from a hardware store with a remote sesnor suited for reading liquids, but it refreshed its display too slowly.

    Don't flip out trying for 76F. Look to the tables of equivalent time/temperature combinations, and you will go fine.

    Hope that these comments get you seeing beyond the formal supply options.
     
  3. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Sorry, I missed the same temperature question reference. The developer is the critical one here. The stop can be about the same temp - it is difficult with modern films to hurt them with temperature changes unless you torture them. Efke's offerings are about the only films I can think of as being out there that I would not call modern.

    The fix can also be about the same temp. Unless your storage location is 90F. Then going from 76 or so for developer, and suddenly warmer for the fixing. If fix gets too cool, it just takes longer; likely not a problem in texas heading into summer.

    There are many good instructions out there. Ilford, as I suspect you have found, has a good online set of pdf instructions

    There are also valid older texts from the 70's to 90's. Horstein is one clear author I know of. Vestal in his Craft of Photography began me with processing on my own in a smaller place, pre this internet age.
     
  4. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Do not mix the ID-11 to 1+1 right away, mix according to directions and you can store it in WELL LABELLED recycled generic type 2 liter soda bottles that you can easily squeeze the air out of. If you have hard water, it would be best to use distilled or deionized water to make the stock solutions, it also is very nice for the final rinse with one drop of wetting agent per tank full to prevent water spots.

    Edit: One thing you will find is that soda type bottles don't break when they accidentally fall over on the concrete slab floors found in most parts of Texas and the southern parts of the US.
     
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  5. LJH

    LJH Member

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    I'd avoid getting to know Kodak chemicals; who knows if they'll still be available next week?
     
  6. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Tubs, beakers and miscelaneous utensils: Wal-Mart, Target or whatever discount store is in your neighborhood. I bought four glass measuring cups, a plastic cat box, a digital timer plus a few other things at Wal-Mart.

    Containers for chems: Empty 1 gal. plastic milk jugs. (Well washed.) They're free and, when they get icky, throw them in the recycle bin and get more. BTW: Your chems will keep well in milk jugs for a couple-few weeks but not much longer. If you don't use your chems up in a short time, get glass bottles or jugs with screw tops. Your developer will last longer if you use containers that seal well.

    Stirring rods: Chopsticks. Can be had by the dozen from the grocery store or you can just eat at the Chinese buffet for a week straight and get all you need. :wink:

    Reusing stop bath: I use it over again only when I'm doing multiple batches of film. Otherwise, down the drain. If you want to save it longer, you can reuse it as long as it hasn't turned color. ("If it's yellow, then it's mellow. If it's blue, then it's through!" :wink: )

    Temperature: Does not have to be perfectly 20ºC/68ºF if you adjust your development times according to the charts. The important thing is to hold your temperature constant. Try to keep your development temperature to within 1ºC or 2ºF. Try to keep the temperature of all your other solutions within 5º of your developer temperature.
    Developer temperature is the critical one. If that temperature goes off, you can screw up your pictures. If the temperature of your fixer, your rinse or other things drifts off by a few degrees it's no big deal. Besides that, the thing to be careful of is sudden changes in temperature. If you have your film under a running water wash and the temperature drifts, it's not a problem as long as it happens slowly. If you have your film at 70ºF and you suddenly run freezing cold or scalding hot water on your film you will probably wreck it but, if the temperature changes, say, 10º over a period of fifteen minutes, it's likely not a problem. Bottom line: Do your best but don't get OCD about it.
     
  7. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    You don't yet have a darkroom? Then you will need a changing bag. They can be a bit fiddly, but once you get the hang of it, it's quite easy.
     
  8. zsas

    zsas Member

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  9. Darren Guy

    Darren Guy Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies thus far.

    I think a trip to the store either tonight or later this week is in order. I'll take my checklist with me. From a recommendation from an APUG member, I think I'll work in batches of 2-3 at a time and reuse the developer (figuring adjustments) as I go. My tank holds two reels, so that should work out nicely. I didn't know I could do that, and it will really save me some money over the long haul. I don't have a darkroom set up for printing/enlarging, but I do have a really small windowless bathroom that will work for preparing the film and spools.

    When I get the chemistry here, and after it has been opened, should I store the concentrate in the bottle that it comes in or transfer it? I do have a cool dark place in the house that I could store them in. I was also wondering about checking the thermometer and the stirring rods. Should I get one each and wash after each use to avoid cross-contamination? Can I assume that if all chemicals are stored in same place that if the developer is good then the rest should be good as well?
     
  10. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Developer at working strength usually has a relatively short life.
    You'll get the most consistent results using a liquid concentrate and diluting the required amount just before each developing run.

    DO NOT mix partial quantities of powdered developers.
    The package contents are not (and cannot be) thoroughly mixed, so a portion thereof will not have the right amount of each chemical.

    The fixer can be mixed and stored for use over an extended period of time. It really doesn't go bad, but it does exhaust. Same for stop bath.

    - Leigh
     
  11. zsas

    zsas Member

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    You can store em all in a five gal bucket from Home Depot/Lowes for $3. Make sure to keep chems locked, out of reach/knock of kids/animals

    One thermometer shd suffice, give a rinse after each dip in the chems
     
  12. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I would suggest one funnel and one or two beakers (or measuring cups). Use two only when you have to mix liquids 1:1. Otherwise, using only one at a time (for whatever the next chemical is) will prevent you from dumping in the wrong chemical at the wrong time and potentially ruining your images. Use the funnel for whatever is going to be returned to a bottle next. Rinse the beaker and funnel between steps.

    To me, wooden clothes pins are preferable over film clips.

    I like liquid concentrates as long as the costs can be similar; it's nice not having chemical dust in the air or about the darkroom. You could mix outdoors if needed. Powdered products sometimes take a while to dissolve too, which is either a delay or a boring wait. You should have a wash bucket and a big ladel/spoon or something to mix up to a gallon of liquid in too. I don't share these with the kitchen.

    Dilute the developer before use. I use plastic juice/gatorade jugs for chemicals. (off limits to children of course)
     
  13. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Depends on how fast you use it.

    When I get on a roll, I can use a gallon of D-76 in less than a week. That's mostly in the summer when the weather is warm. In the winter, I might process a couple-few rolls per month.

    When I'm using it fast, I don't bother decanting into smaller bottles. I just keep it in a gallon jug.
    When I'm using it slowly, I decant into half gallon or quart bottles and screw the lids on tight.

    According to the film gods in the land of Kodak, D-76 will keep for six months in a full bottle with the lid screwed on tight but it will only last for two months in a half-full bottle.

    When you're talking about liquid concentrate in bottles from the manufacturer, I suggest a similar approach. Don't bother decanting unless the bottle starts getting empty and you don't think you'll use the stuff before it gets old. If you think you'll use it up, why bother pouring into other containers?

    Besides, leaving chemicals in their original containers with all of the instructions and safety information is a smart thing to do.
     
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  15. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    In reference to post #9, I would advise against re-using the developer when you are new to this. Particularly when you're first learning, you want to eliminate as many variables as you can to keep things as repeatable and consistent as possible. There are enough variables to manage without adding adjustments for developer re-use. Use the working solution one-shot. This will help you get better starting points.
     
  16. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I have two completely separate sets of utensils... one for developer and one for everything else.

    Always thoroughly rinse containers immediately after use to avoid chemical residue build-up.

    - Leigh
     
  17. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Have a read of the FAQ in my signature, it answers many of your questions. Some additional points:
    - start off with one-shot developers and no re-use
    - Leigh's points on no-partial-mixes and diluting stock/concentrate immediately before use are important
    - if you're buying liquid concentrate devs, just use the bottle it came in
    - thermometers are generally only used in developers (as that's the only temp-critical step); don't put them in fixer or stop bath
    - have dedicated separate (and well-labelled, including the lids) containers for dev/stop/fix to prevent contamination
    - dev is the only thing that will really go off. Stop is just acid (using water is fine, you don't need stop for film) and fixer will last many years as concentrate.
    - track the number of rolls through your fixer so you don't use exhausted fixer and read this
    - while Ilford chems are excellent, they can be expensive and matching dev/film brands is a silly reason to pick a chemical
    - just one 500mL (with 50mL marks) measuring beaker/graduate is about all you need for measuring, plus a couple smaller (5mL, 25mL) syringes
    - mix up your fix in PETE or glass bottles (buy 1-1.5L water, use scales or beaker to pour out 20% of the water, replace with rapid fixer concentrate to get the 1+4 dilution)

    You can pour developer (diluted heavily) down the drain, but exhausted fix is silver-rich and toxic to sewer/septic processing systems. Take it to a film lab; they will extract the silver and dispose of it safely.
     
  18. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Member

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    That's a good strategy to ensure that they won't be...

    :whistling:
     
  19. Darren Guy

    Darren Guy Member

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    Wow. Lots of good information to digest. I thank everyone for their responses, and I feel much more comfortable with the purchases I need to make as well as the processes to take. Hopefully by the end of the week I'll be ready to start. Can't wait.

    I'm sure I'll have more questions as I go, and I'd glad I've found such a helpful forum.
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    With regard to temperature ....

    If your room temperature is somewhere between 68F and 74F, the easiest and most reliable approach is to use your chemistry (including wash water) at that temperature.

    The developing time will change with different temperatures, but there are charts to deal with that.

    Personally, I like having multiple graduated beakers, because I like having the option of setting up all my chemistry in a line before starting, but the alternative approach works too, and helps prevent using the chemistry out of order.

    Have you seen these two documents?:

    1) Kodak: http://wwwtr.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/aj3/aj3.pdf

    2) Ilford: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/200629163442455.pdf
     
  21. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Sorry to disagree... but I disagree.

    I prefer to use film and chemistry from the same company. At least you know that the developing time recommendations are as accurate as they can be.

    Ilford is strongly committed to black & white photography. The other folks are strongly committed to maximizing their profits.

    The only yellow-box chemistry I use is the stop bath. I haven't used any of their sensitized products (except Kodachrome) for many decades.

    - Leigh
     
  22. welly

    welly Member

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    That is an awesome and useful resource for someone line me who's developed a few rolls (less than 10) and sheets (between 10 - 20) and so while not a complete novice, still getting my processes in place. Thanks very much for the resource!
     
  23. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Well then you're losing out big time on some awesome films Leigh. Why do you gotta bring that funk into this thread anyways?

    To the OP, add Tri-X and Tmax 3200 and 400 to your list of things to try out. Ilford makes great films and I use them as well, but you want to also experience the best of what Kodak has to offer right now.

    Everything else is pretty straightforward. Mix before you use, except for stop and fix which can be mixed and reused until exhausted. Fix should not be overused to capacity, though.

    Also, plan on screwing up. It's part of the learning process. I recommend the Hewes 35mm reels if you want to stay sane. Avoid the plastic tanks.

    Once you get serious, start thinking about storage of negs using polyester fold-flaps rather than the sleeves. But don't worry about this until you're shooting stuff worth preserving.
     
  24. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    So you object to me stating my opinion, but you feel quite free to state yours? Slight disconnect there.

    I'll say what I please, without your interference.

    The only thing I'm "missing out on" is a huge advertising budget.

    - Leigh
     
  25. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hello Darren and welcome to APUG. You may want to read and follow the info that Kodak and Ilford has on line, or in books as it may be helpful to the beginner. Good Luck.
     
  26. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Except I didn't malign one or the other because I use Kodak, Ilford, Fujifilm, Efke, and Agfa and appreciate the various things that they have to offer. I guess my point is that it's probably not the best to turn off a beginner from a company which still has great things to offer. Tri-X is one of the best films ever made, no need to crap on the legacy of what remains.