Processing C41 is Easy. Yes it is.

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Morgan ~ MOD54, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. Morgan ~ MOD54

    Morgan ~ MOD54 Partner Partner

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    So i'm throwing this out there, processing C41 at home is easy.

    What do you think?

    Here is a new short film showing my workflow from shooting to printing, well digital printing.

    [video=youtube_share;EETuQ0aawdQ]http://youtu.be/EETuQ0aawdQ[/video]

    In the next few weeks i'm going to make a more detailed short on the actual process of developing your own C-41.

    It would be interesting to have peoples thoughts about processing their own colour film.

    Any thoughts, musings or mumblings you have let me know. I can then construct a video that will actually help.

    Cheers,

    Morgan ~ MOD54.
     
  2. Bronica645

    Bronica645 Member

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    From experience, I had perfect results with E-6 process, 7 Step
    every film & frame from the first run with the Phototherm Processor.
    It took me 3 - 35mm films cut down as test shots & 6 runs of C-41 of testing.
    Streaks, Water Marks, Magenta Tint, you name it, it had to be dealt with.
    Finally now, I am receiving some excellent results.
    I thought C-41 would be easier than E6, not in my case.
    The last time I processed C-41 it was called C-22, the Film was Kodak Vericolor.
    Fuji didn't even exist as yet.
    One more test run for the assurance of consistency in the results, should do it.
     
  3. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Yes, I agree, C41 is pretty easy.

    RA 4 too.
     
  4. cepwin

    cepwin Member

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    I also agree...did my first roll last Friday and aside from an issue with drying it was no problem.. The main difference is temperature control...that's a challenge that is a non-issue with B/W since B/W can be processed at room temp.
     
  5. Morgan ~ MOD54

    Morgan ~ MOD54 Partner Partner

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    Thats what i think, but so many people still think colour is difficult to do. The temperature control is a little more difficult, but at least you don't have to think too much about dev times, and you can process different films at the same time.

    I'm on a mission this month to promote colour, and doing a little workshop at Silverprint in London on the 26th.

    Cheers,

    morgan.
     
  6. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Absolutely C41 is easy to do. The only hard or expensive part is obtaining the good (not blix) chemistry in sane (not lab) quantities unless you're in the EU where Fuji Hunt is readily available.
     
  7. Jeff L

    Jeff L Subscriber

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    Same issue in Canada. The chemical kits (not blix) are available in the US but shipping expensive. I use the Unicolour/Jobo (blix) kit from B&H because shipping is easy and cheap.
     
  8. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    Very timely video as I am just starting out trying to process at home. Just seeing your big tub that you use to keep the temperature of the chemicals at the proper temp helped out alot as I was wondering the best way to keep everything warm, now I know. I will be doing my work exactly as you do simply because I don't have a darkroom but have invested in scanners. And have a nice Kodak dye sub printer that I love for printing since a real darkroom is impossible right now.

    I would love to see your recommendations/techniques you use to mix the chemicals, store them, ect. Perhaps discussion of why you went one way versus another way of mixing/storing/using chemicals. Looks like you are using the Patterson System 4 tanks (which I have). Really would love to see how you pre heat your tanks and/or film, how you keep blix from getting contaminated, how you rinse negatives and expecially how you dry your negatives to keep water spots off of them. That said, I don't use sheet film (yet), but am strictly 35mm and 120 user.

    I look forward to your videos.

    Bob E.
     
  9. Morgan ~ MOD54

    Morgan ~ MOD54 Partner Partner

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    Hi Bob,

    I'm working on the above at the moment, so I'll keep you posted. One note on the water bath. Best to keep it as big as possible, helps control the temperature.

    Cheers,

    Morgan.
     
  10. phirehouse

    phirehouse Subscriber

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    While I am not ready to process color at the moment, I do want to learn how to do it. I had always assumed that it would be to difficult for me to master. Hopefully, this is not the case and I will be able to process color at home. My local Sam's Club just stopped offering this service, and I can not find another lab that offers processing as reasonable as Sam's did. Thank-you for the information.
     
  11. hrst

    hrst Member

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    It is so easy that it is mostly boring. You just follow the instructions with a few steps and voila, you have perfect negatives. There's nothing to master, and very little to learn. You just follow the simple procedure and it just works. C-41 is so well standardized. Everything it takes is to keep the chemicals and your processing tank at a water bath at 100 deg F / 37.8 deg C and pour the chemicals in and out with correct timing.

    BW film processing has much more "art" to master.

    Of course you can vary a C-41 process too, but very few do this, maybe because the standard process is a very good bet to begin with and gives highest flexibility in the printing or scanning stage.

    The magic is elsewhere; it is in the post. You can use your time to get to higher levels of color RA-4 printing; when you master the filtration, you can dodge, burn, modify print chemistry, create masks, etc. Here, the possibilities are endless.
     
  12. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    As far as the 'blix' problem is concerned I do things differently and experience no problems. After development I STOP, then FIX completely, all in complete darkness. Then, in full room light, I BLEACH in potassium ferricyanide (try 10 grams per liter) for about four minutes. Temp not critical but 'warm' does it faster than at room temp.

    (NOTE: if you want to be able to REUSE the PF make sure you rinse the negs before putting into the bleach. Either way is OK but the presence of fixer in the bleach will turn bleach bad after time. I recommend that you do NOT reuse the bleach (hence, no rinse after fix necessary). Since this bleach process is in full room light you can use far less bleach working solution than when developing by turning the reel in a 'ferris wheel' fashion in a cup of bleach. Since bleaching is done to completion, as opposed to development, you do not have to be worried about 'evenness' of this process, just make sure that when you remove the negative all is bleached fully. Excess time in the bleach will do no harm, but not 'overnight'!!!)

    After bleach I put the film back in the original fix for about half a minute, then wash. It works perfectly. I have been told not to do this but after years of success and printing old negatives without angst or deviation, I beg to differ. What works works.

    In fact, you do not even have to do anything after the fix step other than wash. The negatives will print color as beautifully but will be denser to inspect (I love using a magnifying glass here, holding the neg up to the light and placing my eye near the glass) thus a bit of a hassle to deal with on your enlarger's baseboard. Denying the bleach step does NOTHING to truncate the life of the negative, as the fix does what is necessary to remove unexposed halides. Without bleach, you simply have BOTH 'metal' silver (as with B&W) and dyes, with the presence of both actually adding slightly to the overall contrast. In fact, after fixation it might be a good idea to take the time to inspect negatives for underexposure and, for THOSE underexposed, refrain from bleaching so that the contrast will still be sufficient for printing. (This represents your 'last chance' to save a terribly low contrast negative.) I have NOT found the hues to be diluted by deleting the bleach step even though Hollywood sometimes removes this bleaching procedure in order to make colors more pastel in their print film. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 16, 2012
  13. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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  15. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    Greg, thanks for that link. Printed that info off as quick as I could. Now for the question. Where does one get the Kodak chemicals? A quick web search just gave me photowholesaler in your neck of the woods who are out of stock and Kull and Company who's prices are significantly more, but looks like they may have them.

    Am I correct that for around 300 bucks you can have the chemicals you need to process film? How long will the unmixed chemicals last once opened? And generally speaking, how many rolls of say 35mm film would this amound of chemicals produce?

    More questions......I know the blix kit I got from B&H a month ago or so, that the blix smells awful, does the more straight chemicals from Kodak not have that problem as bad?

    Greg, do you put your chemicals in a big tub too in order to keep the temperatures close to correct during developement? Just wondering how you do your developing.

    Thanks!!

    Bob E.
     
  16. hrst

    hrst Member

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    David,

    I don't see any reason why your process wouldn't work. Ferricyanide bleach (with bromide) works very well (you should be able to reuse it, too, for better economy!), but AFAIK, it needs either a sulfuric acid stop bath or a sulfite clearing bath, or a VERY long and thorough wash. (And you need proper wash anyway even after sulfuric acid stop or clearing bath.) I haven't tried ferricyanide bleach without proper stop/wash anyway so I don't know how real the risk of forming prussian blue or reacting with residual color development agent is. Apparently it seems to work for you, and that's a good bit of information. Or maybe your 1st fix is doing the thing.

    Anyway, I would increase your second fixer time from 30 seconds to at least 2-3 minutes just to make sure all silver halide created by the bleach is removed. This kind of rehal bleach absolutely needs the fixer after it and it needs to go to completion, as the bleach itself only converts the silver to silver halides, not removing them. Silver halides look milky and gradually turn black in light.

    Also, I can't see any direct benefits from 1st fix - bleach - 2nd fix procedure (instead of just bleach-then-fix), except for what you say about the possibility of examining the negative and doing skip-bleach processing if the negative for some reason is severely underexposed or the film is seriously out-of-date. The first fix is taking approximately half (or a bit more) of the silver halides and the 2nd fix is taking the rest.

    Bleach bypassing does not only cause increased density, contrast and graininess but it also decreases color saturation. This is very simple; when you mix color and B/W images on the top of each other, it is perfectly natural that this happens. However, the effect might not be as pronounced as some expect. IMO, the effect is very clear, still.

    (Most of this was probably clear to you anyway but maybe this extra information helps someone else who wants to experiment instead of using the standard process.)

    --
    Bob,

    Blix shouldn't smell "awful", but indeed it has some sulfur and ammonia smell mixed. Maybe the blix you have differs from what I have used, or maybe there's something wrong with it, or maybe you just have more sensitive nose if you find it awful. Anyway, separate bleach and fix IMO smell less, even though they are not completely odorless either. Indeed, blix tends to generate more gas than separate bleach and fix.

    Still, when the bleach reacts with the silver in the film, some sulfur smell is generated. Fixer has a slight ammonia smell. Both of these odors are very slight IMO, but I guess they could be bad in a small, unventilated space.
     
  17. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    Hrst, let me ask you additionally, do you use dry chemicals or do you use wet chemicals for your color developing. Also, where to you get your chemicals? The reason I am particularly interested about your chemicals as I see Freestyle (whom I have never done business with) has a huge selection of both color and B&W chemicals.

    I noted that the Arista has extended directions to include time for temperature and using rotary which I have if you think it is even worth doing since what, three and a half minutes developing......I'm thinking, probobly better to simply invert and keep the stuff in a warm bath to maintain temp instead.

    Thanks for the info on the blix, from what I had been reading it seemed as if the smell could be very strong.

    Bob E.
     
  18. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

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    There is a sticky in this color forum about where you can get both small and large batches of chemicals. If you want a small batch, Freestyle sells the Rollei kits and Photographers Formulary sells repackaged Kodak stuff. Both work perfectly fine and cost about the same.
     
  19. hrst

    hrst Member

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    I use Fujihunt C-41 kits sold by AG Photographic, UK, but this is a good deal for Europe only, I think. However as Greg said there are other options for the US.

    C-41 cannot be formulated in powder-only kits without compromising quality. The bleach part always involves shipping quite a bit of water with it but we have to live with that. OTOH, you can reuse bleach by vigorously shaking the used solution with air in the bottle, and then mixing half used, half new.
     
  20. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I'm not familiar with the Fujihunt kit but the Kodak bleach I use replenishes with just 8ml/36-frame roll.
     
  21. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Yes, mixing half-half new and old bleach is very conservative and on the safe side. But it's funny that many kits are sold with equivalent amounts of all chemicals; hence, a lot of fully potential bleach is tossed away. Or if you reuse, your bleach reserve accumulates... Even if you only can get kits with equivalent amounts, it is still wise to reuse the bleach, because in the future you might be able to find separate chemicals, and then you will have a reserve of bleach. It has infinite shelf life and with most bleaches, you can go up to mixing 3/4 of old bleach, if properly aerated, with only 1/4 of new bleach.

    I'm not sure, but that 8 ml figure might require a constant agitation with air of the bleach tank solution. That's why it's better to be on the safe side if a really effective aeration cannot be produced, but anyway, it is very economical even with somewhat higher replenishment rates.
     
  22. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    SIWA (and all): I honestly have NO problems with using a normal stop (1% acetic acid). And, to my surprise, there was NO dilution in color saturation without the bleach. And, again, to my surprise, all the silver came off with only the bleach after the fix, but just to be sure I put the film into the fix again, briefly, after the bleach. All I can impart is what I experience.

    To all: I get my color chemicals from a firm in Rochester, NY and they ship quickly and are very reasonable in price. It's PDISUPPLY.COM - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 17, 2012
  23. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    There are variants of all the chemicals. The replenishment rate varies. I got my 8ml/roll rate straight out of Kodak's directions for the bleach I use.
     
  24. SafetyBob

    SafetyBob Member

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    Nice to know I can get the proper chemicals in liquid form. After I use up the powder kit I will switch to the liquid chemicals. AND it's nice to know that there is a strong bunch of people using them too.

    Guess I need to try developing my first roll of color this weekend. Can't what to see the results!!

    Bob E.
     
  25. hrst

    hrst Member

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    Good to hear. On the other hand, in the standard C-41, you don't need a stop neither a rinse. You can go directly from the developer to the standard bleach. This makes the process simple and quick.

    There clearly is, but maybe we are differently sensitive to this effect. I would call it something like "saturation minus 30%". To my eyes, it is a clear effect, but indeed not as pronounced as advertised. In the motion picture business, this effect can be used at any copy stage or at multiple stages (camera neg, interpos, interneg, release print), or today, digital technologies can be combined with the effect.

    But well, to be fair, I have tested bleach bypassing only with ECN-2 negatives and RA-4 prints. The effect may vary somewhat between processes, films etc. Maybe you are right that at least some C-41 films have less pronounced effect of saturation reduction.

    No, it does not come off the film, it just changes form! It can look good without fixing, but it starts turning back to silver when exposed to light, just like your unprocessed film or printing paper gets darker when exposed for prolonged times. So the negative with only-bleach-not-fix will look almost the same as properly processed in the beginning but slowly turns towards bleach-bypassed look. This can happen in a few days if left in strong light; or if protected from light, it might never happen.

    It needs enough time for the fixer to diffuse into film and dissolve the formed silver halide. Just like fixing normally does. Now, 30 seconds may barely be enough to remove most of the silver halide created by the bleach, and if there is some residual, you won't necessarily see it until your negatives are exposed to light for longer periods. The point is, just fix it 3-4 minutes once you are at it.
     
  26. BrendanCarlson

    BrendanCarlson Member

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    I find that as long as I am careful to not contaminate my chemicals they last almost as long as my b&w chems. I have had the tetenal kit for 7 months and it's still running strong. (I'm only 12 rolls in though, and I think it'll last at least 20)