How easy is home brewed E-6?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by brian steinberger, Dec 13, 2007.

  1. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    I would like to develop my own E-6. I already process my own black and white and print it. Is there a good Jobo system that can be purchased used? I'm lookin to develop 120 E-6. How are all you home E-6er's doing it?
     
  2. DarkroomExperimente

    DarkroomExperimente Member

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    with a kit of chemicals it was pretty easy...I just used regular developing tanks and kept the chemical bottles warm in large buckets of water...and had several gallon jugs of hot water for the wash steps
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Making up your own E6 chemistry from raw chemicals is not difficult, but more prone to problems and it's probably better to use a commercially available kit.

    An ordinary tank is fine, only the first developer time.temperature is critical.

    Ian
     
  4. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    It's dead easy with the chemical kits; I started with the Tetenal kits, but use Kodak's now as although there are more steps there is less washing.
    I wrote a short guide when I started - http://www.yarki.net/E6/ I think (posting from phone so tricky to check right now!)
     
  5. argus

    argus Member

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    I also use the Tetenal 3-bath kit.
    You don't really need a JOBO to develop. A tempering bath will also do the job.

    G
     
  6. Nigel

    Nigel Member

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    If you can develop B&W, you can do color; you just have to be very picky about temperature.

    To maintain temperature, I have heard about people using tempering boxes. The lower tech solution is an insulated box. I don't even go that far. I have a Rubbermaid tub in which I keep my developing gear. I put in water at the appropriate temperature in that and top it up with hot water to maintain temperature during the process. Once you are past the color developer, temperature is less important, so it is only the first 15 minutes or so that is really critical.

    I use the Kodak kit. It can be mixed in small quantities and I find the keeping properties of the concentrates to be excellent. I have used first developer concentrate that has been open for several months with no visible deterioration in results.
     
  7. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

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    I did it for years, and finally decided that it was less expensive in the long run to have it done commercially (unless you always get every possible roll out of the kit). And somehow there's not the satisfaction I get from developing B&W.
     
  8. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    As others have said, if you can do B&W, you can also do E-6; the main (only, really) extra trick is temperature control, which can be managed with a water bath.

    The biggest real problem (as opposed to tricky part) is this: Kodak's "official" E-6 process is a 6-bath process (more, really, if you count the final rinse and a couple of intervening water rinses). Thus, it takes much longer to do than a typical B&W process. Even more than the actual process time increase, there's extra time spent mixing up the seven different chemical baths for the process. I personally find this tedious; it takes me 30-45 minutes just to get ready! That said, there are "3-bath" E-6 kits that are much quicker to set up and use; however, they use chemical "shortcuts" to get it down to "three" baths (again, it's really more when you add in the final rinse and intervening rinses). You might or might not be satisfied with the results of a 3-bath kit. Price-wise, they're more expensive than Kodak's kit, too. IIRC, Kodak's 6-bath kit is $50 for a 5-liter kit, whereas third-party 3-bath kits are about $35-$40 for 1-liter kits.
     
  9. hectorpaljr

    hectorpaljr Member

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    Im with Bill (see above). I have processed E6 in both 3 and 6 bath kits and before that E2/3 and Ferraniacolor. I See no point in spending time doing it when a good commercial lab can do it fot a similar cost! I will maybe change this view once all the labs cease trading .
    I would not advocate mixing your own brews from individual chemicals unless you are some sort of analytical chemist used to precise working, have access to a good analytical balance and have the means to adjust the pH of the respective developers when they come out a bit out of the desired range as they will from time to time.
    If you insist on doing your own - then a standard tank is fine, take care with the temperatures which are pretty critical , and use a 6 bath kit rather than the 3 -bath. Good luck!
     
  10. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    Excellent! :smile: Your guide is giving me the itch to try E-6 myself ...
     
  11. DarkroomExperimente

    DarkroomExperimente Member

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    E-6 is fun...right when you're done you see your images -- no need to print or scan
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    E6 is fun, but hand mixing from scratch in the lab is quite tedious.

    PE
     
  13. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Thanks for the repsonses! I'm looking to purchase the Kodak kit and try it myself and see if I like it. I'm trying to get away from all dependence on outside sources for any of my photographic needs. I develop and print my own B&W and I'm trying to take away a step for my color work.

    As far as the water bath idea, which I would use, does the water in the bath need to be the same as the developer or warmer? What about agitation.. same as B&W?
     
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  15. domaz

    domaz Member

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    I like the independence of being able to develop my own E-6 too. It's great, and sure beats waiting for your film to come back in the mail. If your water bath is regulated well, with a phototherm or good aquarium heater you could just set it to 100 degrees (processing temperature for all solutions) put all your solutions in and come back later after everything is preheated.

    The one thing to be careful of is that your tank needs to be pre-heated as well. If it's not it will cool down the first developer, especially if you are agitating your tank outside the water bath. Agitation is generally the same as B&W, the kit you buy usually has instructions.

    That being said I recommend some form of automatic agitation to take out the drudgery of agitating for 30 minutes straight. I use a Jobo 1540 and a Uniroller (cheap on Ebay) and it works pretty well, but it can't be used in water bath which isn't good for temperature control. My next project is setting up a electric motor that will sit above the Jobo while it's in the water bath and rotate it bidirectionally. Inspired by this homemade E-6 processor.
     
  16. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Keep in mind that printing E-6 in a traditional way now requires Ilfochrome paper and chemicals, both of which are ridiculously expensive. (There used to be other options, but they've vanished.) Of course, if you want to view slides using a slide projector or scan then, E-6 is perfectly good, but for prints, C-41 is better. There are also Ilfochrome fans who are willing to pay the price, of course.

    I generally start out with a water bath that's slightly warmer than what the process calls for; however, I don't use a water heater in my bath, so it tends to cool over time. I find that when the water in the bath is a bit warmer than 100F (I use 40C, since it's clearly marked on the thermometer I use for the bath), the developer comes up to 100F, I begin processing, and the temperature in the next couple of steps stays fairly constant for a few minutes -- long enough to get through the really temperature-sensitive parts of the process. If it looks like the temperature of the color developer is too high, I remove it from the water bath a couple of minutes before I need it. If it's too low, I put the bottle under hot running water for a few seconds. After the color developer step the temperature can drop a bit. I can compensate by adding more hot water, but as temperature control isn't as critical after the color developer, if it goes up or down by a degree or two I don't sweat it.

    IIRC, recommended agitation for E-6 is slightly different than for B&W; however, to simplify matters for my brain, I use the same agitation for all processes (first 30 seconds and 5s every 30s thereafter). This seems to work fine for me -- or at least, I get results I find acceptable most of the time, and on those occasions when I haven't another explanation has seemed more likely than agitation issues (old developer, for instance).
     
  17. DarkroomExperimente

    DarkroomExperimente Member

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    One piece of advice...do NOT use a glass-bottom aquarium for yor water bath

    I had a 20 gallon aquarium full of hot water & I used 1 pound spools of lead-free solder to weigh down the bottles so they wouldn't float around too much

    well, halfway through the process one of the spools of solder fell to the bottom & broke the glass....so 20 gallons of 100F water splashed all over the floor

    the film still came out fine, but the rug was a mess
     
  18. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    Tragically, that is true...
    ...but on the other hand, I can't think of that as just an aside; viewing your slides on a projector is wonderful - it beats a piddly print any day of the week. I get more joy from a vibrant wonderful image projected on the wall by my trusty Reflecta than I ever will a print. That's the whole reason I shoot E6.
    Ilfochrome is indeed beautiful from my currently limited experience (I've only produced half a dozen.) You're right, if your desired end result is a traditional print, E6 is nuts; but Ilfochrome prints are gorgeous and you get to keep the joy of the projector.

    And I think, above all, nothing makes you realise you're a photography bore more than sending an audience to sleep through a slideshow. If you only shoot C41, you're missing out on that :wink:
     
  19. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    You can make slides from negatives! ;-)
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Both Kodak and Fuji have discontinued the print film AFAIK.

    PE
     
  21. Discpad

    Discpad Restricted Access

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    Sorry, the Tetenal 3-bath E6 hack is just that... A hack.

    Take your time and perform the seven steps needed for E6, and you'll be as happy as a clam at high tide.

    Besides, it's relaxing and fun knowing you're developing your E-6 film dead-to-nuts...

     
  22. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Some of the chemicals in the official E-6 formulation are just about impossible to get. Many years ago, the Dignan Newsletter published several substitute formulas, and others have been published since. But these are of questionable quality. Some people reported good results, others did not. And there is no assurance that the images will last as well as those processed with the official recipes. Experimenting with home brewed color chemistry may be fun and interesting, but it comes with no guarantees. The Kodak kits are easy to mix up in any amount you want, and they are quite economical. That seems to be the way to go.
     
  23. Discpad

    Discpad Restricted Access

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    While all of this is true, there shouldn't be anything stopping a hobbyist from giving it a try.

    Let's see a show of hands as to how many of us have...
    1. Shot outdated film?
    2. Cross processed?
    3. Home-brewed B&W devs
    4. Scanned, instead of projecting chrome films?
    5. Had a process go astray, and liked the results better?
    6. Used a "Bleach bypass" filter effect in Photoshop?
    I'm allergic to the Tetenal 3 bath hack not least due to the blix (bleach-fix) stage in the tail end. As I see it, as long as there's formaldehyde in the final rinse (or, if you use pre-bleach & bleach; and miconazole in the final rinse), the dyes will be stabilized just fine.

     
  24. radiantdarkroom

    radiantdarkroom Member

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    As noted, unless you have shmancy pancy Chemical Lab, brewing E6 from scratch would be painfully difficult and time consuming. Save yourself the time and buy a E6 kit. Kodak 5L single use kit works very well without many problems and and you get extremely high quality slides.
     
  25. nc5p

    nc5p Member

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    One more thing, I did a LOT of E6 back in high school right after E6 came out (I still have early memories of doing E4!). Used to buy Ektachrome on 100 foot rools. I tried the other brands of chemicals. The results at the time didn't seem much different. However, I have gone through those old slides and believe me, I can really tell which ones were processed in Kodak chemistry versus the others. The Kodak E6 slides are still quite nice, the others have faded and colors look horrible.
     
  26. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by srs5694
    You can make slides from negatives! ;-)




    You could use cine-print film. You would have to look fort short ends however...

    In addition Agfa has a RA-4 print film for copying from C-41 film (a variation of their cine print film). You would have to cut sheets into unperforated 35mm strips however...