Minimalist C-41 Setup?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by keyofnight, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. keyofnight

    keyofnight Member

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    Right now, I've got a very simple B&W setup: Adox Adonal, Formulary TF-5, and…um…Photo Flo. These chemicals have been working out for me: they're easy to use, versatile, easily acquired, etc.

    I've been trying to decide on a similar C-41 setup, but I'm having trouble picking chemicals that'll serve similar functions. I guess I just have a few questions about C-41 chemicals in general.

    I've heard good things about the C-41 "press kits" (Rollei/Digibase, Tetenal/Unicolor, etc.), but I've also read that the bleach, fix, and stabilizer included in such kits will all outlast the developer—so, it sounds like I could save money by figuring matching up the chemicals myself, using replenisher, etc. The entire setup sounds complicated.

    Here are a couple questions: Can I use TF-5 on C-41 films? Is the stabilizer necessary? What's the simplest setup I can put together with the best quality?
     
  2. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    If you want one concentrate for all fixer, start with a colour fixer that has the right pH for colour work, over here Kodak E-6 Fixer is really cheap - http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/110229-REG/Kodak_1545466_E_6_Fixer_Replenisher.html

    Stabilizer isn't necessary unless you want to cross-process E-6 in C-41 as a regular occurence, I'd probably recommend stabilizer then.

    If you want a single wetting agent for all films (B&W + C-41), I'd probably go for Tetenal Mirasol 2000, it has fungicidal and anti-bacterial properties which is of benefit to C-41 film.

    I'd pretty much would just assemble a Flexicolor/Flexicolor LORR kit.

    Dev Replenisher+Starter
    Bleach III Replenisher (quantities may be expensive)
    Fixer Replenisher

    Otherwise you could look for smaller bleaches such as SM bleach or C-41Ra bleach, and get the bleach regenerator which would be economic.

    Or mix up an EDTA bleach and get the regenerator. Also the regenerator may be a working bleach in itself (though I think the pH would somewhat low to use straight up possibly).

    MSDS of regenerator lists:
    15 - 20% Acetic acid (64-19-7)
    5 - 10% Ammonium bromide (12124-97-9)
    5 - 10% Ferric ammonium propylenediaminetetraacetic acid (111687-36-6)
    1 - 5% Ammonium nitrate (6484-52-2)


    Sorry to over complicate things! The other thing to do is just get one of the kits and replenish the developer if you're up for that!
     
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  3. landscapepics

    landscapepics Member

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    It is possible to buy the components of the Rollei Digibase C41 kit separately - I've done so when I've accidentally wasted one of the components. This can help to achieve a consistency in life-span. I bought mine from Maco Direct in Germany, shipped to the UK.
     
  4. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    I'm on my phone so I can't look up and reference it, but David Lyga has posted before about using store-bought color developer, and then preparing a potassium ferricyanide solution for the bleach and using regular B&W fixer. I haven't had the opportunity to try it yet. Maybe he can chime in and enlighten us about his process.
     
  5. keyofnight

    keyofnight Member

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    lol…it looks like it's going to be pretty complicated either way.

    Alright, so here's what I'm getting so far:
    • Stabilizer is unnecessary. (After more research, it looks like modern C-41 films are engineered not to need it…but there is a higher risk the dyes will fade if you don't? I don't know if any of that is true.)
    • If I use a fixer with the right pH for color, that fixer will work just as well for black and white.
    • I have lots of options for bleach. (;
    Interesting! I did a cursory search for David Lyga's method & advice. He seems like an interesting person, and his method seems very interesting as well. I've put together a quick list of his recommendations from various threads.
    The only problem is that I can't find any examples of the results. I guess a lot of people don't take his advice (or give thanks)? I'll keep looking.
     
  6. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I use the Rollie/Digibase C41 kit. It comes complete with bleach fix and stabilser. I have no problems with it what so ever and it is cheaper than the equivalent Tetenal kit. Just get your temperatures and times accurate and there should be no problems.
     
  7. RPC

    RPC Member

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    I would suggest not trying any alternative types of processing until you do it the official way first. Then you can compare them.

    As far as fixer goes, Kodak C-41 fixer is cheap, just about the cheapest you can get, and can be used for b&w film and paper as well. Very economical.

    Final Rinse is used with today's films in place of the old Stabilizer to prevent fungal growth.

    It all may seem complicated but it is not really, if you don't mess with the regenerators to start with. Just developer, bleach, fixer, final rinse. See the sticky at the top
    of the page in this forum for more help on finding chemistry.

    Lastly, mixed color developers can have a long life if you store them properly. If stored in glass or high quality plastic containers filled to the top, they can last years.
    The key is minimizing oxidation. I reuse bleach and fixers 2-3 times.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 11, 2012
  8. agfarapid

    agfarapid Subscriber

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    I can understand your request to mirror the same simplicity you have with your black and white set up, but I strongly suggest you stick with the plain vanilla processing of the Jobo (it's marketed under Unicolor as well) kit which contains the basic 3: Developer, Blix and Stabilizer to make 1 liter to process about 12 rolls. Regarding stabilizer, I have had situations where I failed to use it and my negatives wound up with various drying spots and other issues. Once I included the stabilizer, no problems. The Tetanol is a great kit and I've had much success with it. The Rollei Digibase also gives excellent results but they have some quality control problems; several times kits have been received with leaking containers. It's been replaced by the shippers but no one needs that kind of aggravation. Suggest you mix with distilled water just to insure consistency. With the Jobo kit you still have the simplicity you're looking for but you're going to have to keep 3 separate chemical bottles to store your solutions. I'm basically pretty conservative in terms of my chemicals: black & white stays with black & white and color stays with color--that way, when things go wrong you can track down the problem pretty easily.
     
  9. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    "I would suggest not trying any alternative types of processing until you do it the official way first."

    Agreed!
     
  10. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Simplest cheapest way is to buy a complete kit to start out, e.g. Fuji or Rollei. Yes, the bleach+fix has greater capacity per litre, so in some cases you can then go about buying the individual components.

    Assembling C41 from individual Kodak items is an expensive hassle as you need to buy huge quantities and the quantities generally don't match at all in their capacities.
     
  11. pukalo

    pukalo Member

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    Simplest, highest quality, and least expensive C41 option is the Tetenal or Fuji Liquid kit, which includes the essential, and required, stabilizer. Your BW chems are for BW, dont bother trying to jerry rig something to sort of work. Do it right, and get the Tetenal or Fuji chems.
     
  12. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    I'm looking at the prices here (Aus prices for local stock, but B&H is similar, but cheaper for some things, different bleach options and sizes etc). Though your 5L tetenal kits in the U.S. are fairly inexpensive.

    Fuji
    $88 for Dev Replenisher, $11 for starter (20L of replenisher, and 500mL of starter iirc, which uses 50mL per litre of dev iirc)

    $253 for 8L of bleach (which is used straight, not diluted).
    $187 for 8L of fixer (again used straight, though probs can be diluted for longer times)



    Kodak:
    Flexicolor Developer LORR Replenisher (makes 10L of replenisher, working solution is more diluted than rep, so about 13.1L if used as one shot), replenished is around 25-35mL per 35mm/36exp or 120 roll iirc. So a few hundred rolls capacity.
    $46.80

    LORR Starter: $12.95 (1.2L of starter - a lot of starter, which uses 30mL per litre of dev iirc)

    Flexicolor Bleach III - 10L (working solution), $68.16 (cant see this on the website, but it's on the system, and have confirmed that it's still supplied to Australia with the new Kodak local distributor) - the Kodak Cat code for this is #6600258, so if someone doesn't have it, you can give them the Cat Number to order it for you (which they can do if they have other Kodak stuff as they have a Kodak account).

    Flexicolor Fixer - $41.82 (50L working solution)

    or

    Kodak E-6 Fixer $6.25 (10L working solution iirc) (I use this at 1+4 for T-grain films)


    Mirasol 2000 250mL LC (used at 1+400) - $6.60



    By comparison the Tetenal 5L kit is $112.29 which has a stated capacity of 60 films (but that is with reuse and extended times with reuse that degrades over all image quality, and is also a combined bleach and fix - not as good as separate!). Also the times/reusage rate for the Kodak stuff is the same, so you can treat them the same, but get more capacity out of the Kodak stuff per $ no matter which way you go, one shot vs one shot, reuse vs reuse, or the the highest capacity with consistent quality: replenished.

    vs $140.76 with Kodak stuff

    Kodak also has a guide for mixing smaller quantities right here - http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/cis49/cis49.pdf


    It is pretty much the same story with E-6. Fuji is large quantity and expensive. Kodak is inexpensive and low quantity.

    It's generally just the bleach that seems to be hard to find (find listed that is) on retailers sites.



    There's multiple bleach options on B&H I'm looking at, plus they also sell Bleach Regenerator cheaply too.
     
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  13. keyofnight

    keyofnight Member

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    It looks like everyone either buys a kit or looks for bulk Flexicolor chemistry. Cool. I'll probably do one or the other—because I'm a noob and it's good to start where others have started (so others can help you out).

    However: when I started this thread, however, I really did want to know if it's even possible to get as simple a setup as we can get developing B&W. David Lyga seems to have the most interesting minimal setup: Flexicolor + Sodium Carbonate for a cost effective developer solution, Potassium Ferricyanide for bleach, and any ol' Fixer. I'd like to know about others—no matter how unwise it is. (It's good to know this stuff, right?)

    Thanks for the cost breakdown. There's a fairly large photo supplier in downtown Seattle that sells Photoflo (along with all kinds of Kodak film). I'll see what they can do about getting me the chemicals (especially the bleach) I want for under $150. So many places seem only to ship cases of bottles (not individual bottles)—maybe I can convince the local shop to help me out. (;
     
  14. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    keyofnight: That's why I mentioned Lyga's method, since it seems to be the least expensive option. I plan to try it sometime, although without the sodium carbonate, since I'll be developing at regular dilution and temperature.

    But as far as the kits go, I like the Rollei Digibase kit. It adheres to C-41 standards (bleach & fix instead of blix), and the liquid concentrates make for indefinite storage and the mixing up of however much you need.
     
  15. keyofnight

    keyofnight Member

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    Have you run into any of those terrible quality control problems?
     
  16. RPC

    RPC Member

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    No harm in knowing this, no. But remember the earlier caveat about trying the official process first.

    If you use a ferricyanide bleach, you absolutely must use a stop bath, preferrably a clearing stop bath, and wash between developer and bleach or a stain will occur on your film. So going that route adds complexity.
     
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  17. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    If you mean the issues I've heard of regarding people getting spoiled/leaky developer parts in new Digibase kits, then no. I've always ordered my kits from Freestyle and I've never run into a problem. Your mileage may of course vary.

    My one caveat about the "mini" kit is that it makes a lesser volume of stabilizer, so you may have to roll your tank instead of inverting it to ensure proper coverage of the film. And of course, with any kit, the reuse schedule of the various chemicals varies widely, so be conscientious of that.
     
  18. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    No problems here either. I think when Freestyle first started offering the kits, there were problems with poorly sealed bottles. In any case, even if nothing leaks, check the Part C of the developer. If it's dark or black, it's bad.

    Dump the stabilizer. Not only do they give you too little, but it leaves gummy spots when drying (my experience mixing with distilled water). Kodak Final Rinse is ten dollars or so for enough concentrate to make ten liters. Totally fuss free -- super clean negatives and the concentrate lasts indefinitely.
     
  19. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Which vendor?
     
  20. TooManyShots

    TooManyShots Member

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    What? No one mentioned the Tetenal C41 kit from BH for $20???? Or the liquid, concentrated version from Freestyle Photo???
     
  21. keyofnight

    keyofnight Member

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    What about the Flexicolor SM processing units F1 and F2? From what I can tell, it'll be a lot more convenient for my local photo supplier to get the Flexicolor SM chemicals that way. It'll also cost a lot less ($200 instead of $400). I've found a bit of information on these forums about these units—and I'd rather not buy more than that.

    (I didn't mean for this to become another "What chemicals should I buy?" thread. Oh well. (; )
     
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