Developing C41 and E6 at home...

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Ara Ghajanian, Jul 12, 2005.

  1. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Providence,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Because the digital thing is getting so huge, my local pro lab has been losing major business. Because of this they have jacked up prices on film processing (smart move idiots, give people another reason to switch to digital). I just paid $13 to have a roll of 135-36 Velvia processed only! What a rip off. C41 is $9 just for processing. I remember when it was a third of that price. Anyways, I was wondering how much more cost effective it would be to develop color at home. Can it be done in the kitchen with a Paterson tank? Or do I have to invest in a Jobo system and/or some sort of temperature controlled water system? What are the fumes like? Is it just too dangerous to do at home? I love developing B&W and would never trust anyone with my film again. Would color film benefit quality-wise from hand developing?

    I'm just looking for an option to the local overpriced lab.
    Ara
     
  2. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,005
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It costs me about .50 a roll in chems
     
  3. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,679
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do it using Jobo film tank. Motorbase. Tempering bath. I bought most of that setup used. Total cost was not much over $100 IIRC.

    It's fairly simple. The timing is shorter then B&W so you need to be a little more awake :smile: I know people that just use a sink with warm water but that's more effort then I'm willing to put into it. With my setup it's fairly simple. Almost fool proof. Just remember to use the right bottle in the right order.

    Cost depends on volume really. If you're doing a lot of film then it can be alot cheaper. OTOH if you're paying $9 per roll for C-41 it's going to be cheaper no matter what. I think the Agfa C-41 four roll kit is less then $20 Cdn [Want to say $15]. Being a small kit it's one of the most expensive options. Anything bigger gets cheaper per roll.


    If you do it yourself you'll only have yourself to blame :D

    http://www.jdphotochem.com/public_html/chemicals.htm

    They stock thier own C-41 kits plus the Agfa E-6 kit. The Agfa E-6 is I think four rolls. $15 US including shipping. Less then $4 per roll. If you're doing enough volume it only gets cheaper.
     
  4. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

    Messages:
    4,519
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Location:
    Ipswich, Mas
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    One at a time:

    1. Cost effective? -- Not especially. There probably is some moderate savings when you process film by yourself ... It has not been a great consideration to me.

    2. Can in be done in the kitchen with a Patterson tank? Yes. Temperature control has not been all that critical, in my experience. Keeping a water bath in the kitchen sink surrounding the tank should be/ has been sufficient. I have and use a JOBO processor - a little neater -- OK, LOTS neater - but "kitchen" is certainly OK.

    3. What are the fumes like? What "fumes"? No worse than black and white processing. Shortstop, if you use it (I don't in film developing) is probably the most noticeable - but I don't mind the smell of diluted vinegar.

    4. Is it "too dangerous"? I don't think so. I've done a few hundred? - thousand? - films, and there hasn't been an explosion yet.

    5. Would color film benefit quality-wise from hand development? Absolutely. Without reservation. In my opinion, one-shot "hand developing, done with reasonable care, will DEFINITELY blow the socks off ANY Commercial Lab.. Here the difference is linearly equal to black and white film. THAT is one of the most important reasons affecting my decision to process my own film and prints.

    BTW .. The Tetenal "C 41 Press Kit" costs about US$16 - all DRY chemistry, and I get eight rolls of 120 from it .. I "cheat" a smidgeon. About US$ 0.50 per roll.
     
  5. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The C-41 process consists of 3 solutions (developer, bleach, and fixer), 2 washes and a final stabilizing bath. Not too much different from B&W negative processing. The E-6 process is 12 steps. Both processes are at 38 deg C. Tolerances for the developing steps are fairly close 0.15 (C-41) and 0.30 deg C (E-6). You need a good thermometer, a water bath to keep everything at the proper temperature and some sort of a stopwatch. In the past I have done both using a large deep tray.

    Of the two processes the E-6 is actually the easiest, even though there are more steps, since the slides need only be cut apart and sealed into mounts. However, color printing is quite a chore since you really need a color analyser to get good prints and a print drum so you don't have to work in total darkness.

    All things considered, if you will not be mixing your own solutions and therefore buying kits then you will not save any money.
     
  6. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,005
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You don't need a colour analyzer -- just your eyes
     
  7. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

    Messages:
    4,351
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Whoa, that's pretty sick! My local lab here in Montreal does the processing for 6$, (yes those are our good old cheap CANADIAN dollars...), for E-6, C-41, and B&W. For an extra 6$ you can get a contact sheet (not sure for E-6, though, because they don't do ciba).
     
  8. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2004
    Location:
    Providence,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Contact sheet? That's one of the reasons I got a film scanner. A contact sheet alone was over $15. They are such a rip off. The customer service has gone down the drain also.
     
  9. thedarkroomstudios

    thedarkroomstudios Member

    Messages:
    223
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Location:
    Merchantvill
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just like b/w... if you do enough it's worth it. Do 4-8 rolls at a time and you will find the savings significant. Know yourself! If you want consistency, yet like to take shortcuts or don't tend to follow procedures, don't do it yourself (your pro-lab at those rates should be pretty dang consistent). If you are one to create a set of procedures and follow them each time, then go for it. Chemistry still isn't any worse than the fumes made by bleach and amonia mixed :wink: lol
     
  10. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

    Messages:
    726
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Rumor has it that some of the C-41 chemicals are very carcinogenic. Whatever the truth of that, it's best to keep them off your skin and ventilate well, but what else is new?

    David
     
  11. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council

    Messages:
    4,351
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Amazing. For 12 CDN$ = 9.96 USD you would get your C-41 rolls developped with a contact sheet. Compared to 9 + 15 = 24 USD, you could even mail it back and forth and still save money...
     
  12. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

    Messages:
    4,049
    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I picked up a used Phototherm Sidekick for about $300.00 which does virtually most normal process, in 35, medium format and 4 x 5, and you can do B&W, C41 and E-6 in the same machine, with chemicals and such it runs about $1.25 for a roll of E-6 35, I also picked up a slide mounter for under $100.00 and the local shop sold me 5000 mounts for $65.00 so it actually comes up pretty cheap...

    http://www.phototherm.com

    Dave
     
  13. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Messages:
    3,242
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, W
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Ara, I have never done any E6 films. I have, more than 30 years ago, done C41. C41 is not nearly as difficult as one might expect from reading the processing instructions. If you have never compounded your own developers etc and if your reaction to doing so is the same as mine you will find it satisfying to do so. Who knows you may have the spirit of Jdef lurking inside of you. Dear God, we could end up with 67 new b&W developers within the next year...what a nice thought.

    I have posted twice before and will post once again if asked the Dignan D-41 developer which is a divided C41 developer variant done at 75ºF. It has very good temperature tolerance and an outstanding shelf life and costs next to nothing. Some kits for C41 have a combined bleach fix (blix). Kodak has seperate steps. The fix step can be regular rapid fixer. If you want I could look up the formula for making the bleach. The bleaching is an important step in that you must remove 100% of the silver but one can not over bleach so that if the time was three times as long as necessary no harm would be done. I would be certain, since you are well known to produce some gems, to not skimp on the stabilizing. You need not buy an extremely expensive scale. Few are the ingredients that require precision of greater the .1 grams. For those few that are you could buy a handloaders scale at a gun shop which will read in grains..there are 453.8 grams per pound. There are two different weight classes for grains the one involved here is 7000 per pound. So if you (7000/453.8)xthe weight called for you would know how many grains to substitute. I am somewhat vague, never having been to Rhode Island, as to whether your arithmetic works the same as it does in here in Wisconsin but I think it does...it may even give smaller measures more accurately.

    Many chemicals become much cheaper by buying in quantity. I do not know if an old sourpuss, such as yourself, has any photo friends, or any friends for that matter but you can save some real bucks by combining purchases.

    I can not guarantee you that making your own chemistry is more fun than making love but it should not require any of the expensive little blue pills.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You must have incredible eyes! After I purchased a Durst color analyser my prints had a consistent color balance and density that they were previously lacking. Made printing more enjoyable when I was doing color.
     
  16. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

    Messages:
    4,519
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2002
    Location:
    Ipswich, Mas
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I handload. My scale is an Ohaus 0 -500? With a capacity of 500 grains, and 0.1 grain resolution. Next on my list will be a RCBS "digital" - greater capacity, same resolution, with the capability to shift to metric units.

    Lest anyone working with gunpowder get confused and start throwing pieces of rifle/ pistol action metal around ... There are 7000 grains to one pound. That works out to 437.5 grains per ounce, and 28.35 grams per ounce; 15.43 grains per gram.
     
  17. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The color developing agents are relatives of paraphenylenediamine and are therefore capable of causing severe allergic reactions. Potassium dichromate used in some bleach formulas can cause skin irritation. Other ingredients like hydroxylamine are known carcinogens. The use of rubber gloves is strongly advised.
     
  18. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'd be interested in seeing this. I haven't yet gotten around to doing my own color processing, but I do want to at least try it, and something that's less fiddly about temperature than most sounds appealing.
     
  19. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Wow! My local lab to do 120 just shut down, do you take mail-order requests :smile:
     
  20. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Messages:
    3,242
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, W
    Shooter:
    35mm
    OK. I will write an article about the process. I will do it now. It should take perhaps a 1/2 hour or more. I am not going to put it into this thread because as an article it will work better as a reference.
     
  21. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,005
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    I need to check that price but I believe on an 8 roll run I use about .20 in dev .30 in bleach per roll. I don't add in Fix, stab or nitrogen because they are so cheap.

    If you don't mind waiting around a week or two or if you ever have a lot that you'ld like souped I could be convinced -- OTOH I would hate to trash one of your rolls or god forbid 8 of them.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    17,922
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I do E-6 with the Tetenal 3-bath kit and it is cheaper than the lab, as long as I save up enough rolls to make a batch of sufficient size. I used to do C-41, and would say the same is true.

    If you're not doing enough volume to make it worthwhile, try A&I mailers from www.aandi.com or B&H. If you order from A&I, you don't have to worry about B&H's minimum shipping cost, but if you order other things from B&H anyway, it may be more economical to get them from B&H.
     
  23. Gustavo_Castilla

    Gustavo_Castilla Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Location:
    Bryan Texas
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    well if some one here can procces the film for 5.00 per roll with no scratches and quality I am in for it I will give you my bussines not much but it all helps
     
  24. thedarkroomstudios

    thedarkroomstudios Member

    Messages:
    223
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2005
    Location:
    Merchantvill
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    "Ferndale Color Labs: Home of the 50 Cent C-41 and the Artistic OTOH's" :smile: Send in your 8-batch of film today and they'll even throw in a FREE THUMBPRINT on your most important frame. lol
     
  25. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Messages:
    3,242
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, W
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The article is posted in the "How To" section as Dignan NCF Divided Developer.

    Anyone want to split the cost of a pound of CD4 and some potassiun carbonate with me? Well, dammit all speak up. I am deaf.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2005
  26. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,005
    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2003
    Location:
    Milan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    HEHEHE
    My beard sheds as well, but hell if you don't have a hair on your best exposure you aren't feeling the pain of photography