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  1. #1

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    C-41 Processing Options 1Q 2013

    Moderator: Is this worth a "Sticky?"

    A few months ago I critiqued the sticky about color neg chemical sources and was challenged to "go for it," meaning write up my own list. So, here it is, early 2013. And we all know how fast the film biz is changing, so if you read this in a year or two, things could be different. Again.

    My ground rules are:

    First, this is strictly about C-41 color neg processing as I have zero interest in RA-4 print processing.

    Second, I admit, despite lots of research, confusion on the many Kodal Flexicolor options. But I will make a few observations.

    Third, I'm going to presume that posters on APUG will mostly be looking for complete developer-fix-bleach-stabilizer kits or individual phases. Alternatively, mix it yourself for one or all steps.

    Fourth, that you live in the USA. Sorry, not trying to be America-centric, but please, whatever your geography issue is, it doesn't reflect on my research. I'm not familiar with vendors in Zambia.

    Fifth, that some vendors have issues shipping liquids or alleged hazmat chemicals. The most well known is B&H. Yet, for someone in NYC, that's not a problem, so they are included here.

    We all know and love Freestyle, in Hollywood, right? My first order with them was from the back pages of Popular Photography in 1965. Around 1981 I found myself living in L.A. and spending many a Saturday AM in their store. Heaven. So, I'll start there.

    The C-41 processing options from Freestyle, early 2013, are:

    1. The Arista kits, liquid formulation, 1 quart or 1 gallon, $28 or $70. This is the liquid Unicolor chemistry. How do I know? Look at the instructions for it and the dry version, and they are identical except for the mixing part.

    2. The Unicolor dry chemical kits, 1 liter or double down. $19 or $33. This is what I've been using with fully satisfactory results. The least expensive kit available.

    3. The Rollei/Compard/Maybe Fuji liquid kit. This product was removed from Freestyle's online catalog in January 2013, right between first draft of this piece and the final version! And has been confirmed since then, no longer available in the USA.

    4. The Tetenal liquid kits, 1 liter or 5. The one liter is a bit pricey at $40, but the big boy is pretty reasonable at $75. Go figger.

    Moving on to B&H, they offer a number of Kodak products, but with long order times and no shipping, store pickup only. But buried in the offerings is the venerable 1 liter dry Tetenal Press Kit, a somewhat less active version of standard C-41 chemistry: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...s_Kit_for.html Twenty dollars buys you a kit that allows a processing time at 45°C at 10:30 minutes, or at 38°C the time is 13:15.

    www.digitaltruth.com has the same Tetenal kits as Freestyle at the same prices. Rollei/Compard "Out of stock."

    If you want to peruse processing instructions prior to purchasing, you are out of luck with Tetenal products. I have scoured the intertubes for this information, including the English language home site of Tetenal. I also asked Digital Truth for them, and they could not supply them either.

    On to the Great Yellow Father, Kodak. The opinions I offer here are from my observations, not use. I readily admit the possibility of error or differences of opinion, so take my advice cautiously.

    Way back, Kodak had a Flexicolor kit for home use. Long gone. The many problems in buying Kodak Flexicolor products boil down to this: They are meant to be used with specific machine models and not for tank or tube processing. Sometimes products similar by name, i.e., "Kodak Flexicolor SM Developer" are radically different when comparing stock or part numbers.

    As a recent sub-discussion here showed, even a Flexicolor disciple didn't understand the role of developer "Starter." Which, bottom line is important for start-up consistency.

    Another problem, generally, is that you have to buy in case lots.

    One Flexicolor product that might hold perfect potential for home users, developer only, is Kodak Flexicolor SM Tank Developer #1756337. It is a 12 liter kit and several vendors sell it, that with shipping, puts it in the $80 price range. Use your Google/Bing to find current sources. It comes in a case of six bottles each of each component, so you can mix only 2L at a time. Of course, there are no instructions because it's meant for a machine. And further of course, you still need your own bleach, fixer, and stabilizer/final rinse.

    The Trebla brand of color chemistries keeps popping up here. The implication is that they have simplified the Kodak chemistry. Some say it is Kodak repackaged, but I can't see anyone getting away with that w/o Kodak's permission. But the bottom line is that Trebla is still marketed to the minilab user, all case lots and the same confusing product lines.

    http://www.minilab.com is one source for both Kodak and Trebla and other lesser known chemistries. Another apparently popular supplier is http://www.pdisupply.com/ as is http://www.uniquephoto.com .

    Mixing your own C-41: Using what seems to be a solid C-41 developer formula, and the chemicals available at http://www.artcraftchemicals.com, I determined it would cost about $100 to make enough developer to develop about 45 rolls. IIRC, that sucks up the CD-4 developer in its entirety and you will have various amounts of the other chemicals left over. So, let's call it $2/roll with no fixer, bleach, or stabilizer.

    Two bits of my c-41 philosophy:

    Cost Per Roll: Yes, you can buy bigger and bigger lots of chemistry to reduce the cost per roll. But it's all diminishing returns. The 5L Tetenal kit will conservatively process 60 rolls for a cost of $1.25 each. Is it worth bulk buying, figuring everything out, to get to, oh, 50 cents? Not for me. YMMMV. (Your Mental Mileage May Vary.)

    Blix vs Bleach & Fixer: Oh, the gnashing of teeth! Best recollection of many discussions on this earth shattering topic here, is that there is a remote hypothetical possibility that separate chemicals might be somehow a little better, or under certain conditions. OTOH, blix has been working great for the low volume user for over forty years.

    The reason labs use separate chemicals is simple: It's the only way to control replenishment and get product consistency in high volume. It's not superior per se.

    I did backchannel Photo Engineer for his thoughts on this topic, and here is what he said:

    "A blix cannot be made potent enough to remove all silver from films. Therefore some silver remains behind in dense negative areas (highlights in the print) and this increases grain and decreases color saturation. The effect is not noticeable looking at the blixed result, but can be seen in direct comparisons of blixed and bleach then fix examples. Also, part A of a Blix is not necessarily a bleach in and of itself. There are chemicals in bleaches that drive the oxidation of silver metal that are made up for in a blix by the hypo in part B. This issue is touchy and I agree that many have used a blix for film for years, but hey, if a company can sell it, why not go for something that almost works. Right? Especially if no one can detect it without a side by side comparison."

    YMMV! (If you aren't familiar with this, it meand "Your mileage may vary." The caveat automaker throw on the TV screen when they claim specific fuel mileages. )

    If you want separate chemicals, perhaps for bleach bypass experiments, all the kits provide a Blix A and Blix B to mix for a complete Blix. One is bleach, the contents being some form of EDTA. The other is fixer, with ammonium thiosulfate. You can mix them separately, although in theory there will need to be pH adjustments for each bath. But that's out of my league to advise on such.

    So here we are at this point in time.

  2. #2

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    I will add my 2cents (and first post on this forum) for those of us who live in Zambia aka Australia.

    I've just purchased a 5 liter Rollei kit from Macodata and had it shipped to Australia. The shipping can be quiet expensive, since they charge at 1kg, 2kg, 5kg and higher steps.
    The 5 liter kit was 5kg and I had to buy lots of film to pad it out and make it worth the price. The good thing is, they have quiet cheap buil Rollei and Fomapan film.
    Not to mention I got the last 20 rolls of e100vs film they had.

    Since they are in Germany, the prices include VAT, but when you create an account and your country is outside of EU, it will atuomatically subtract the 18% or something similar of the prices. Making everything cheaper.

    The Rollei kit is here:
    http://www.macodirect.de/digibase-co...4_534_620.html

    And Fuji Xpress kit is here:
    http://www.macodirect.de/fuji-c-416_404_621.html

    I'm not sure if it's worth importing to USA, but it's worth taking a look if you are after this specific kits, since they seem to be discontinued in USA.
    The shipping prices are on this page: http://www.macodirect.de/cms.php?cID=1

  3. #3
    Kevin Caulfield's Avatar
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    Hey, Nuff, welcome to APUG from Melbourne. When you get a chance, why not introduce yourself to APUG on the "Introduce yourself..." forum.

  4. #4
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    A China report:

    Tetenal kits are readily available in China. They are more expensive than in the US (around US$100). In Beijing, you might find it at the Wukesong camera mall, or possibly find a box at Wande photo. They are readily available online through the local buy anything site www.taobao.com (type Tetenal in the search box). In Shanghai, the big photo mall (I forgot the name) has it.

    I've not found any other kits in this country. There may be a Chinese knock-off, but I've not yet identified it. (There is for everything else...)

  5. #5
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    Hello Nuff, welcome to APUG.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  6. #6
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    Thanks for this Paul! I agree it should be sticky'ed, with the caveat that it may need to be unstickied and updated in several months or so when availability changes. The other sticky thread on this (that we've both contributed to) is approaching two years old and requires a lot of digging and note-taking to figure out what's current.

    Too bad there's not a wiki style page format on APUG that could be edited so that the top post stayed current as things changed.

    I think I'm still going to try to gather the Kodak Flexicolor chems and give them a whirl. I'll report my experience if it varies from what others have already said. EdSawyer seemed to summarize things nicely here: http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1471473

  7. #7
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    Flexicolor SM processing units F1 and F2

    I don't know if others would be interested, but I just bought one F1 and two F2 kits on evilbay for $74 shipped. These kits were short date and just out of date. The regular lab instructions indicate that you would use one F1 and three F2's in processing 600 rolls of 135-36 or 120.
    The F1 contains the developer parts A, B and C and the final rinse concentrates. The F2 contains the bleach and a fixer concentrate. I want to say up front that I have not used these yet, as I want to save up my exposed C-41 films and process them in a batch. I anticipate no problems though. This developer requires no "Starter" and the processing should go just like the regular SM chemicals only cheaper.
    I have translated the Kodak mixing and processing instruction down into a recipe format that I will post it as follows with the caveat that it is not yet tested with a processing run and may be subject to later revision. Use in the experimental spirit.

    To make 1 Liter. Capacity of solutions: 10 rolls of 120 or 135-36

    Mixing Instructions:
    Developer:
    To 500ml water add:
    74ml Part A & stir
    9.5 ml Part B & stir
    34ml Part C and top to 1L with 384ml water & stir
    Keeps 6 weeks unused in a full brown glass bottle.

    Bleach:
    No mixing, use straight. Store in a 1.75ml bottle and aerate after use.

    Fixer:
    Add 500ml of concentrate to 500ml of water & stir.

    Final Rinse:
    Add 18ml of concentrate to 982ml of water & stir.

    Bleach, Fixer and Final Rinse will keep 8 weeks unused in a full brown glass bottles.

    Process times:
    Preheat the tank at 100°F for 1 minute.
    Developer: 3 minutes 15 seconds at 100°F [Initial agitation for 30 seconds, followed by 2 seconds of agitation every 15 seconds. Use last 10 seconds of this step to drain tank.]

    Bleach: 6 minutes 30 seconds at 75°F to 105°F [Initial agitation for 30 seconds, followed by 5 seconds of agitation every 30 seconds. Use last 10 seconds of this step to drain tank.]

    Wash: 1 minute 30 seconds at 75°F to 105°F [Use running-water wash at rate that will fill tank every 4 seconds. Or fill tank with water, agitate for 5 seconds, and dump. Repeat cycle throughout wash time.
    Use last 10 seconds of this step to drain tank.]

    Fixer: 6 minutes 30 seconds at 75°F to 105°F [Initial agitation for 30 seconds, followed by 5 seconds of agitation every 30 seconds. Use last 10 seconds of this step to drain tank.]

    Wash: 3 minutes 15 seconds at 75°F to 105°F [Use running-water wash at rate that will fill tank every 4 seconds. Or fill tank with water, agitate for 5 seconds, and dump. Repeat cycle throughout wash time.
    Use last 10 seconds of this step to drain tank.]

    Final Rinse: 1 minute 30 seconds at 75°F to 105°F [Initial agitation for 30 seconds; no further agitation required.]

    Dry: As needed. Not over 140°F

  8. #8

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    Good work, oldlincoln!

    I hope I never implied that Kodak chems aren't great, but users have to take the initiative (and risks) as you have.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by drumlin View Post
    Thanks for this Paul! I agree it should be sticky'ed, with the caveat that it may need to be unstickied and updated in several months or so when availability changes. The other sticky thread on this (that we've both contributed to) is approaching two years old and requires a lot of digging and note-taking to figure out what's current.
    Yes, this is a changing topic. That's why the sticky that's there and that I criticized should be removed. I'm not trying to have a pissing contest or anything, it's my info is much more complete and up to date.

    And, when much changes, maybe a year down the road, it should be rewritten.

  10. #10
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldlincoln View Post

    Bleach:
    No mixing, use straight. Store in a 1.75ml bottle and aerate after use.
    Should this be 1.75 litre bottle?
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

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