Detecting when your C-41 Developer working solution is approaching depletion

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by chuck94022, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    I'm using the Tetenal C-41 3 bath kit, and have been using my working solution far past its advertised life in terms of calendar time. However, I haven't run too much film through it. I store it in collapsing PE bottles with the air squeezed out, so not perfect, but not terrible in terms of oxygen exposure during storage.

    So far the old working solution keeps on working. In the past I've just thrown it out when I approach the recommended keeping time, but being a bit curious and perhaps a little greedy, I've decided this time to keep on using it until it fails.

    What are the signs of imminent depletion? Does it fail all at once, or would I begin to see reduced quality? Does the developer fail before the blix? (My water based prewet is used one shot - I'm not THAT greedy! :tongue: )

    I'd like to see how long I can continue to use it, but cringe every time I introduce new film. I would mix a new batch but I'm just too curious, plus I'm not developing anything I couldn't afford to lose at the moment.
     
  2. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    What does Tetenal say as to the capacity of their kit in total number of rolls?
     
  3. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    60-80 35mm rolls.
     
  4. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    The issue though is I think I will hit age/oxidation issues before capacity issues, because I am a hobby/home developer, with a mix of bw and color.

    My interest is whether it will fail suddenly or gradually, and if gradually, what will I notice?
     
  5. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    You'll probably see color fidelity start to lapse as the developer becomes exhausted. As for age, I generally find that C-41 developer lasts roughly six weeks in plastic Datatainer bottles, but others have posted longer lives in different storage.

    When I mix up developer and have a stockpile of films to process, I save any chromogenic B&W (Kodak BW400CN, Ilford XP2 Super) films toward the end, since color accuracy is of course not a concern.
     
  6. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    To reduce oxidation to a bare minimum store the developer in a glass bottle not a placstic one. All plastics are permeable to oxygen to a greater or lesser degree.
     
  7. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    Yes, understand and totally agree. PE is not the best, PET is much better (and cheap, just soda bottles). But PE is not terrible, as plastics go, considering that these are the collapsable bottles that let me remove all the internal air, so that all that remains is through permeation, which is low with PE plastic. I've avoided glass, because I don't have a clue where I'd find marbles in Beijing to fill up the void. I'm ok with losing a little life to minor oxidation. So far, my PE bottles have kept the stuff alive for longer than the rated life according to the Tetenal manual, so I'm satisfied.
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    There are 2 ways it can fail. Overuse, which cannot be detected except by the bad images you get, some of which is described in the posts above.

    The other failure is when the developer begins to look like tea and then coffee (assuming a prewet - all bets are off if you don't use one because you cannot judge this one then) colored. When this color changes, then the developer is oxidizing and is going bad.

    PE
     
  9. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    Thanks PE for the expert tip. I'm at "tea" now, so it will probably be "coffee" soon... I do use a prewet based on previous posts you made, and am sold on it.

    By the way I hope you weren't erroneously attracted to this post by our discussion of plastics! ;-) I appreciate your attention.
     
  10. madgardener

    madgardener Member

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    Just to satisfy my morbid curiosity, the prewet is the optional presoak with water?
     
  11. Rudeofus

    Rudeofus Subscriber

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    That's correct. Its appeal is that one gets the whole tank up to correct temperature very quickly, that one washes out all kinds of (no longer needed) dyes without getting them into the developer, and that one gets the gelatin uniformly wet before the developer enters the stage.
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    And therefore, not optional IMHO.

    PE
     
  13. madgardener

    madgardener Member

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    Sounds like this could help fix some of my C-41 problems. I have just about given up on the process.
     
  14. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Do you have wine bags in boxes in China? If so drink a few of them, clean them and re-use. I haven't tried C41 chemicals in them but trad B&W keeps very well. No oxygen gets in and better than that you can dispense the chemicals and the bag just collapses with no opening and closing as per bottles be they plastic or glass

    pentaxuser
     
  15. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    Great idea, Pentaxuser, but they aren't at the wine-in-a-box stage here in China yet. Wine is getting popular in Beijing, but not that popular. I'd give it another 5-10 years before the first wine box appears.

    I'll be back in the USA by summer anyway, and all this China strangeness will be behind me.

    Drinking a few bags of wine can't hurt wherever you are... :tongue: