Cheapest way for BW development?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by kawasakiguy37, Feb 19, 2011.

  1. kawasakiguy37

    kawasakiguy37 Member

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    I realized I can no longer afford shooting film and paying to have it developed and Id rather not only shoot digital. Whats the cheapest setup I can get that will still be decent for developing BW? I dont necessarily need to be able to do color. I do, however, need to be able to do 120 and 35....and Id like to be able to scan it. Thats where the price part really comes in......scanners are not cheap!!
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    You could probably get into processing film at home, with chemicals and all for $100 give or take. You need a Nikkor tank or two, developer, stop, and fixer, hypo clear, Photo Flo, some rinsed-out juice bottles (1 L and 500 mL sizes), some clothespins or other clips, and a thermometer.

    Printing it is a bit more money, but still cheaper than at a lab in the long run, and IMHO less of a pain in the ass than scanning, plus better quality and full control.
     
  3. kawasakiguy37

    kawasakiguy37 Member

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    I do want to get into printing as well, but for now Id like to show off my portfolio online to clients so scanning is really a must.....
     
  4. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I would look for someone selling a stainless steel tank or two and a few reels on eBay. They seem to go for pretty low prices that way and you should be set for both 120 and 35mm. The best you will hope for is to get lucky and find hewes reels or something in the mix, but most likely you will find generic or Nikor reels which will certainly do. Sometimes they show up in the classifieds here too, but it is less common. You might try a WTB listing in the classifieds since you are a subscriber. That might get someone who has some extras and does not have the energy to list the stuff.

    Edit: For chemicals, anything will do, but if you are doing pretty high volume, replenished Xtol is a real bargain and if you are doing small volume, HC-110 is a real bargain. Freestyle has good prices and is more willing to ship the more toxic stuff than is B&H for some reason.
     
  5. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    check craig's list or other sources for cheap or free darkroom equipment. Then set up a little darkroom in the bathroom to make b/w prints. Show them your original prints. You can get a flatbed scanner really cheap, or maybe even free, to scan the prints.
     
  6. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Hello,

    Photographing analog prints with a digital camera is another option. That is my "scanner," when I need to have digital copies of my prints. It is about the same cost as a scanner, if not less, and it covers all formats of film. Plus, you can copy whatever else you might need to copy once this is set up (artwork, documents, and the like). A copy stand is ideal, but it can also be done with the prints hanging on a wall.

    You can also photograph your negs directly on a light box and flip the tones in the computer, especially the formats larger than 35mm.

    A digital camera that meets the needs for this type of work will probably only cost you a few hundred dollars (Canon D30, D60, or 10D, for example), and a macro lens another few hundred. Plus you also get a camera that you could use for anything else, not strictly copying things. Hot lamps or dual speedlights on stands would not cost you that much. I use old Smith-Victor hot lamps myself that were free to me, but something like them would not cost that much more on the used market.

    As I already mentioned, digitizing prints by photographing them makes the film format used a non issue.
     
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  7. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    To buy:
    Developer, Stop, Fix, Drying aid such as PhotoFlo.
    Developing tank and reels for 135 and 120
    Thermometer to guage water temp

    Things you might have around the house:
    A pair of scissors
    Can opener (church key)
    32-ounce graduated measuring cup (1-qt cup for wet measure in the kitchen)
    Two baby medicine syringes for measuring out liquid dev and stop (useful for one shot chemistry where you mix, use and dump)
    A plastic funnel
    3 containers equal to the volume of your develoing tank (to hold chemicals during processing when not in use)
    A timer that measures in seconds and minutes
    Wire or string (for hanging film to dry)
    Stainless steel hanging clips or wooden clothespins (for hanging and holding film straight)
    Negative archival storage sheets

    You don't need much and you probably already have a few things laying around that can be put to use.

    Now, have at it.
     
  8. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    First of all , you need cheap film and it can be very easy to find short cut kodak movie negative film from internet. It costs 10 times or more cheaper than the film you order from major online shops.
    If you interested in this offer , post here and I will help you.

    Second need is a processing tank. You can buy a Paterson tank for 5 , 10 less or more dollars.

    Developer , fixer is damn cheap , you can buy D76 from Kodak in dry powder condition very cheap as a developer.


    I think with 50 - 60 dollars , you can take and develop hundreds of pictures.

    Scanning , you must find a minilab which has a automatic film scanner with bw mode. In Istanbul development , scanning and cd writing costs 3 dollars.

    If 60 dollars is steep , you can find bw Kodak or Ilford film which can be developable with color minilab.

    If you are far from all sources and if you have no money income and no chance to buy film developer each time , www.keh.com , www.adorama.com , there are panasonic cameras for 40 dollars new and guaranteed , of course digital. Load your photographs to computer and retouch with www.picnik.com free.
    You have no cd writer of course , so load your pictures to www.gmail.com , e mail address and mail to the printer.

    Good luck ,

    Umut
     
  9. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    A cheap developing tanke... $20
    A bottle of Rodinal... $15
    A bottle of Oderless Fixer... $15

    All from Freestyle.

    That assumes you have a scanner that will work with your negative size. I already had an Omega B22 enlarger that someone gave me, but I had to buy a lens, lens board, and a negative carrrier for 6x6 $50. A an enlarging easel that added $100 to the total, if you do not feel the need for a 4 blade easel you could probably add the enlarger and be in the $200 range. If you need to do 4x5 the price goes up to a minimum of about $500. We are talking used prices, of course.

    That is less chemicals and film, but those are on going expenses.

    The question becomes where is your beak even point? There is a point below which where it is cheaper to send out your film for processing, there is also a point where it is cheaper to go digital despite the high cost of the cameras. In the middle DIY film is the way to go.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Since you mention "clients", I assume you are doing this professionally or semi-professionally. Do you really have time and resources to do this yourself? True, you could get most of major equipment for almost nothing but little thing will cost you plenty. Also consumables will cost you, too. If you have to scan yourself, making clean scans eliminating dust spots will drive you NUTS too - not to mention equipment cost. Also, your time = cost as well.

    I certainly don't want to discourage this but since cost is your major motivator, I'm not sure if you are making the right decision by going DIY route.
     
  11. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Rodinal, fixer, photoflo, developing tank+reels, change bag, 10ml lab glass graduated cylinder, 100ml lab glass graduated cylinder, 500ml lab glass beaker.

    The glass should be very cheap, $3-$4 a piece, and the graduates are much more accurate.

    Rodinal, fixer, and photoflo are very cheap.


    I use patterson universal tank.. 2 reels.. they do 35mm, 127 (iirc) and 120, as they collapse/change sizes, easy to load if theyre dry, pita if theyre a little wet, becomes easier again (not as easy as dry) if theyre saturated wet.


    If you only need to show your photos at web size display online, then a cheap flatbed will do, otherwise a CoolScan, or Plustek, or Minolta scanner, is a must etc. Although, if you're getting $ for something after someone looks at something, you can send the neg away for a dedicated, imacon, or drum scan anyway. Not an issue for here, but good to point out for people instead of sending them away when money and commercial money may be involved.

    Again not an issue.. but to point you in the right direction.. the real resolution of my V500 is 1200-1300 dpi, which is 23.6-25.6 lp/mm, or if you want digital terms, a sharp 2mp dSLR image for 35mm, and 8.3 for 6x7cm. But theyre for web images only.. then its not an issue. FTR PlusTek announced a dedicated 120 scanner recently.. not on sale yet iirc.

    Again FTR, I do think it is worth you shooting film as opposed to digital only in a commercial sense, for the highlight retention you get with negatives, choice of exposure, which you can overexpose, retain highlights, as opposed to having to expose carefully on digital and drag shadows way up in post that may just not be sharp and covered in noise depending on how much you need to pull up..


    eg: My Tri-X 400 in 35mm yesterday came out nice, yesterday was pretty harsh in the city.. 5-6 stops of difference between the midtones on the sun light, and in the adjacent shade, let alone highlights in the sun to blacks in the shade.. all came out on the neg simply at EI 400 and normal processing :smile:
     
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  12. Coffeehound

    Coffeehound Member

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    To add to the wise words; check out the local Wal*Mart and see if they are still doing wet film developing ( Here in MO they (store staff) tell me that within the next 12 to 15 months film developing will end). I can drop off any C-41 process film and get it back in one hour. I do Develop only and CD and the cost is less than 6$ US including sales tax. Not the best scans but still on CD and something like 2MB size files.
    I also have a home scanner for 35mm from IonAudio (www.ionaudio.com) called Slides to PC. This does 5 mega-pixel images in TIFF or JPG. Does slides, color and B&W. Shows new on their site for $89 or Refurbished for $50. I got mine though Amazon for something near these prices. Still have not found a affordable 6X6 scanner.... still searching for that!

    Jackie
     
  13. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    As people have said, B&W dev is cheap and easy. There are a bazillion tutorials for it and 30s of searching will find them for you.

    Scanning MF negs properly is expensive - either you're paying $10s per roll for a lab to do it, or you're paying $700-2000 for a MF film scanner and spending probably an hour per roll. If you're not doing this commercially and want very high quality scans on the cheap, you should look at putting together a darkroom and scanning your prints on a cheap flatbed. That way, you can use a $150 scanner and get about 1000-1200dpi from 8x10" paper, which is as good as you can pull a 4000dpi film scanner. It does mean spending $100 on an enlarger, $1-5/frame and some labour on wet printing, but you will get a better result overall with less capital but much higher labour investment.
     
  14. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    When I started doing my own processing and scanning I wasn't really looking to do it on the cheep, I was more interested in doing it quickly and with more control I had planned on spending about $500.

    A trip to the local photo shop that was close to a college that still has a wet darkroom class got me all the wet equipment I needed. I walked out with a Stainless steel tank, 3 reels (1 for 120, and 2 for 25mm), a bag of D-76, a bag of fixer, a bottle of PhotoFlo (that I paid way too much for) and a darkbag for about $65, it was a student starter kit special. Then I went on Amazon and bought a Canoscan 8800f for about $150. I mixed the chemicals in some old water jugs and I was good to go. I have upgraded my chemical storage jugs to brown glass (for free) but all the rest of the gear is still great.

    Build your setup over several weeks and that way you can hunt down the best bargains. The best advice, if you plan on buying on ebay do not get involved in bidding wars, that is the surest way to pay too much. Use Amazon.com to figure out what things should cost, then look for bargains, they are out there.
     
  15. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    I use Nikkors for 50 years and still have the originals. They must be original Nikkors, not look alikes. People have trouble loading them, but it is like a bicycle, once you get it, you get it.

    Best to drop film into a full tank of developer with larger tanks. Single tank, does not matter much.

    Stay away from stainless with black plastic caps. They split with time and when you turn on the lights, the film is ruined. Cheap to buy though.

    Paterson Super System 4 is nearly fool proof. No filling errors. easy load, inversion is perfect because there is lots of empty space in the cap.

    Used ones come without parts sometimes like the twiddle stick which is for first agitaion ONLY. After that invert. Store with cap off so it does not stretch and leak. Takes 300 ml which is an odd amount. Stainless takes 240 or 8 oz. There are no 300 ml bottles for developer storage and you should store in one time use bottles to keep air out. Do not use Photo Flow or other wetting agent if film is on the plastic reel. It does not wash off and will eventually render the reel sticky and useless. You can`t see it so be carefull of used. Same with stretched caps.

    Water and air filters and a clean dust free room or drying cabinet are the key to clean negs. Dirt makes spotting a nightmare and it is easier prevented than cured.

    Never squeegee film. You can not squeegee off debris and you will sooner or later scratch film if it has debris on it.
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    you can pick yourself up a unicolor processor and film drum
    for maybe 50$, developer and fixer are inexpensive.
    otherwise metal +plastic reels and graduates people sell here in the classifieds ...
    and they are pretty inexpensive ...
    there are lots of different choices for developers, settle on one and use it ..

    good luck !
    john