Processing my own color Negatives.

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by madhatphotographer, Aug 3, 2006.

  1. madhatphotographer

    madhatphotographer Member

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    Hi, I was wondering what the real benefits were (economically and aesthetically) of processing my own C41 negatives? I tend to shoot mainly 35mm but also 120, averaging 3-5 rolls per week on my personal work.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    At that rate, unless you save up film for processing in larger batches, I'd say there is no economic advantage.

    If you do a lot of push/pull processing or want to use processing time to control contrast, which can be done in a limited way with C-41, then you have more control if you do it yourself, presuming you can control the temperature.
     
  3. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    not worth it unless you do a lot! at a dollar a roll for negs its is better to drop it off
     
  4. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Processing your own C41 is worth it, if as David says, you save up and to do it in batches.

    I process C41 in a rotary processor and do it very well at 4 rolls at a time and 500ml of solution.

    If you do a search on this site you should unearth a treasure trove on C41 processing.

    If you are particular about your B&W processing, then you can do C41 easily, providing you follow procedures carefully.

    One of the main benefits of DIY processing is the lack of scratches on the negs. Nothing like enlarging a scratch and blemish free negative.

    Mick.
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I don't/ wouldn't process my own C41 for economic reasons. I'll let others calculate: I can process eight (8) rolls of 120 with one Tetenal C41 Press Pak ~ US $16 ... Roughly, US $2 per roll.

    There are two MAJOR advantages;

    First, Quality - Everything I do is "One Shot" and I've found that, by using fresh chemisrty all the time I can easily surpass the *best* of the commercial labs. I would include flexibility here. Close comparisons would be Handloading Ammunition, or Fly Tying - or black and white processing.

    Second, Security - As many know, I do a lot of figure studies, and I will not accept ANY risk of placing my model's work - and privacy - in jeopardy by giving others the opportunity of mass-printing some of the more awkward poses - without my permission, or knowledge. This HAS happened (not to me - and it will not), with lots of grief for the model and photographer.
     
  6. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Two more reasons why it's a good idea:

    First, many labs don't give a final water wash, just a stabilizer. This has implications for the long-term life of the negative.

    Second, unless you pass by the lab on the way to something else, or use mail-order, doing it yourself is quicker and cheaper. My nearest pro lab is 100 km away in Tours; my nearest good amateur lab, 25 km away in Thouars; my nearest lab of any kind, 17km away in Loudun. In other words that's a minimum of 25 minutes each way, plus waiting time for the processing, and a minimum (for the round trip) of about a gallon/4 litres of petrol. If I'm somewhere there are pro labs handy, I'll use them -- I had a lot of film processed in Beijing, for example -- but otherwise, I do it myself.

    Even if I don't use a kit to capacity, it still makes economic sense to process my own C41 and E6.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Five rolls a week IMHO is more then enough volume to make it cheaper. Developer is the big worry with it going off but all the other chemicals keep fairly well. At that volume you could easily buy the bigger jugs of chemicals and save quite a bit of money over the kits.

    OTOH the main reasons to do things is control and choice. Want to cross process? Fine go ahead. Want to try bleach bypass? Nobody will stop you. Want to do sheet film? No worries.
     
  8. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I managed a 1h lab about 20 years ago, and if most labs operate the way I did, I see no need to develop my own C41. However, since most labs nowaday don't develop a whole lot of film, I found that in many cases their processing have become inconsistent. I start thinking about processing my own film now, even though the cost would be higher as I always use the chemicals only once.
     
  9. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    It is worthwhile, but only if you mix your own solutions. There are formulas on the web for the C-41 process. The small commercial kits are outrageously expensive for what you get. Years ago I used to do this a lot but don't do much color any more.
     
  10. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    The minilabs are so common and cheap that it usually doesn't pay to process your own 35mm C-41 except for the occassional roll when you are doing other sizes. Larger sizes are a different story. It's getting hard to find local processing in many areas for 120 and sheet film, and when you can find it, it may be expensive. Doing your own becomes a viable and sometimes a necessary alternative. The down side is the time it takes and the fact that you have to scan or print the negatives yourself. The time is not too bad with c-41, and I usually scan my negatives anyway.