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  1. #1
    TheToadMen's Avatar
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    How To: start with C-41 processing? what brand and what temperature?

    Hi everyone,
    I have developed B&W films for several years now, but never did C-41 color development. I don't have a Jobo Colorprocessor machine.
    I shot some color films for Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day, but wasn't able to show anything yet since I have to get the films developed in a store. Someone suggested to me that it was really easy to develop color film myself. I always thought it was complicated, very temperature sensitive, ... so I never tried it.
    But: my curiosity was peeked and I read several threads on APUG.
    But before I get myself into it, I would like to ask your advice. I have a simple darkroom, so no Colorprocessor, no fancy heaters for chemicals, etc. I have two standard Jobo tanks for 120 roll film. Is it still doable in these settings?

    What I would like is to develop 1 or 2 films at the time in a simple tank (as I use for B&W film) and develop at lower temperatures (like 20 or 25 degrees Celsius) because this is easier to maintain constant for me.
    I read on this forum that several people find it is not that temperature sensitive and some even develop at 20 degrees Celsius.
    If it all works out I might get me a Joboprocessor, but it seems there aren't that much around 2nd hand over here in Europe.

    These are the kits I can get from Germany (Maco Direct) of France:
    - Rollei Digibase© C41 MINI KIT (kits for 500 ml, 1 ltr, 2.5 ltr of 5 ltr)
    - Fuji C-41 Film X-Press Kit for (5 Liter)
    - TETENAL Colortec© C-41 Negativ Kit Rapid (kits for 1ltr or 5 Ltr)

    Can anyone tell me what kit is easiest to work with or has the best results (at lower temperatures)?
    I'm considering to get me a small kit from Rollei to test first before I get this large bulk kits or anything.

    BTW:
    - negatives will (mostly) be scanned, not printed
    - I use mostly old Fuli Superia 400 and old Konica 400 film with pinhole cameras
    - colors being (slightly) off will be no problem for pinhole
    - I might also try cross processing as well when I'm at it

    Thanks for the help!!
    Bert from Holland
    Last edited by TheToadMen; 05-01-2013 at 02:52 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Have fun and catch that light beam!"
    Bert from Holland
    my blog: http://thetoadmen.blogspot.nl
    my Linkedin pinhole group: http://tinyurl.com/pinholegroup


    * I'm an analogue enthusiast, trying not to fall into the digital abyss.
    * My favorite cameras: Hasselblad SWC, Leica SL, Leica M7, Russian FKD 18x24, Bronica SQ-B and RF645, Rolleiflex T2, Nikon F4s, Agfa Clack and my pinhole cameras

  2. #2

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    I have used Tetenal C-41 kit 1l extensively. Developing colour film is not harder than developing b&w film.
    The only important difference is the working temperature. You got to keep it at 38°C for C-41. Follow the
    instructions to mix chemicals with water and you get Developer, Blix and Stabilizer. After you get the
    chemicals ready and warm them to 38°C do the following:

    1. Rinse for 1 minute
    2. Develop for 3 minutes and 15 seconds
    3. Blix for 6 minutes and 30 seconds
    4. Rinse for 3 minutes
    5. Stabilize for 1 minute
    6. Short rinse and dry

    (Agitate as if you're developing b&w film.)

    and that's it. Take care that not a drop of blix ends in developer as it would spoil it.

  3. #3
    RPC
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    Toadmen, C-41 processing isn't hard to do. But it is temperature sensitive and if you develop at low temperatures such as you mention you will get crossover which results in degraded colors but they may be acceptable to you nonetheless. Try it and see.

  4. #4
    heterolysis's Avatar
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    I recently started doing it myself with the Tetanal kits. They are pretty easy to make up and work with in my opinion, though I can't say if they are better or worse than the others.

    The developer and blix always need to be tempered as far as I am aware, but the stabilizer can be left at room temp. Here is a picture of my somewhat crude setup for which I used your basic Patterson tank. It takes a while, but just adjust the taps until you get slightly above your developing temp (~5 degrees F for me) and the bath will be pretty close. Keep in mind developing is 3.5 minutes, so even if you turn the tap off once you reach the right temperature, it won't change much.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    As for how precise temperature control needs to be, I'm sure there is much debate over that. My first kit (Unicolor) said to develop at 108F, my next said 110F. I do my best to keep the bath within 1C. Some people are pickier. I'm really not sure how low you can go with temperature, but keep in mind that C-41 is an established process from which you would be deviating significantly---that is, you may lose a few rolls trying this type of thing.

    I would really suggest just trying it as is first before you commit to it. If you can get a bucket of water at the right temperature, you'll be fine! Personally, I think it's really straightforward. Make sure you wear gloves though.

  5. #5
    TheToadMen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heterolysis View Post
    The developer and blix always need to be tempered as far as I am aware, but the stabilizer can be left at room temp. Here is a picture of my somewhat crude setup for which I used your basic Patterson tank. It takes a while, but just adjust the taps until you get slightly above your developing temp (~5 degrees F for me) and the bath will be pretty close. Keep in mind developing is 3.5 minutes, so even if you turn the tap off once you reach the right temperature, it won't change much.
    Hi Heterolysis,
    This set up could work for me ;-)
    But I was wondering. Do you keep the Patterson tank - while developing - also inside the bath to keep it at the right temperature? Or do you keep only the bottles with chemicals in the bath at the right temperature?

    And how do you go about tilting the tank: continuous or every XX seconds?
    "Have fun and catch that light beam!"
    Bert from Holland
    my blog: http://thetoadmen.blogspot.nl
    my Linkedin pinhole group: http://tinyurl.com/pinholegroup


    * I'm an analogue enthusiast, trying not to fall into the digital abyss.
    * My favorite cameras: Hasselblad SWC, Leica SL, Leica M7, Russian FKD 18x24, Bronica SQ-B and RF645, Rolleiflex T2, Nikon F4s, Agfa Clack and my pinhole cameras

  6. #6
    Muihlinn's Avatar
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    Don't fiddle with low-temp process until you know what you're doing.

    There are a number of water jacket temperature controlled processors on the cheap side compared with jobo equipment. Nova did some for patterson tanks, AFAIK.

    If you decide to go with the tub setup [nothing wrong with it] do yourself a favour; buy a calibrated thermometer for such temperatures (true readings are important), and a decent thermostatized heather. Nova had one [novatronic] which althought seems expensive compared with a fish tank one, does its job with enough accuracy for photo processes without headaches out of the box, being somewhat thoughter than fish ones; also, price isn't over the roof. Given current prices of film and chemicals, I find those justified.
    Luis Miguel Castañeda Navas
    http://imaginarymagnitude.net/

  7. #7
    polyglot's Avatar
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    There's a C41 howto in the FAQ in my signature that explains the differences between the kits.

    The tub method works fine, especially if you have a big tub with lots of water so that the temperature is stable. Insulated walls help too.

  8. #8

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    I shied away from color processing for a long time thinking it was "difficult".

    I don't have room for a dark room so I use film changing bags, a scanner or two, and process my film in my kitchen.

    To do color I actually use a shallow baking pan that fits over my sink and run warm water in to it. I put my developer and blix bottles as well as my processing tank in the baking pan.

    I put a thermometer in the pan and bring the temperature up. I then leave the water on slightly higher than the temperature I need and move the faucet in to our out of place as need be to keep the temperature correct. I can maintain +- 1 degree of my target temperature this way.

    I'm actually beginning to prefer color processing over black & white. It's quicker and I think it's just as easy to do.

    What got me started was I bought a used camera, an old Kodak Signet, and found a roll of color film in in and figured I'd have nothing to loose by processing a roll of film I had not taken myself.

    I find my results to be quite good though my first attempts weren't as good as I'd have liked.Click image for larger version. 

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    I took this photo last week using an old Canon 110ED 110 pocket film camera. I think the results are very good.

  9. #9

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    I'm seriuosly looking into developing color too. Just went into Walgreen looking at disposing my fixer. The clerk at the photo dept told me that they got rid of thier film developing part of thier service they provided. So now they ship out any 35mm roll to be developed. So I'm left with the delemia of getting my 120 color processed. The only place I can do it is a place sort of by my work. They charge 7.00 a roll develop only. I think getting on board with Tet kit from Freestyle, I might be the ticket.

    Todd

  10. #10

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    I went with the Press Kit Tetenal at B&H Photo. I've been using those chemicals from that kit for maybe five months but fewer than a dozen rolls of film so far. My results so far are pretty good, but don't go by my word, I'm strictly a novice photographer.

    I really do like though how little time it takes me to process color film, it's very quick.

    Time for me to quit hogging this thread, but it's hard to do when I find an interesting subject.

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