Is it worth doing home processing ?
Hi all, Happy New Year for Monday, hope everyone had a good Christmas with lots of photo goodies .
Having had some cash for Christmas I am thinking of setting up for processing C41 and E6, with a view to printing d**i**lly at first, I think colour printing is a bit beyond me as yet. Just wondered if anyone does this, my main question is one of cost, if my local ASDA/Walmart is able to print and process a 24 exp 35mm film in two days for less than £3/$5 why should I lay out £100 to £150 for a processor (Nova dip and dunk/daylight or Jobo TBE/Duolab are the choices from a dealer I trust) and then pay for chemicals ?
OK I enjoy the processing but I can get a good many negs processed for that sort of money. The saving I can see is that E6 can be done as soon as the film is finished but unless I get a new scanner I will still need to send away for any 120 films I shoot in colour.
Any experiences or advice is as always most welcome.
The equipment lasts forever more or less. You can ignore the cost or spread it out.
The reasons to do your own
1) Time. You can do them when ever you want. Often quicker then driving to the shop and waiting for them.
2) Quality. You'll be looking after your own. Finding somebody that will put the same care into your film that you will usually means spending more then walmart.
3) Formats. Doing your own you can do what ever you like. Not just what the local shop wants to deal with.
I wouldn't go with the Jobo TBE. You can make something better cheaper on your own. All the TBE does is warm the chemicals.
Don't do it to try and save money. You won't. Do it for the reasons Nick states above. If you don't get into printing/enlarging of formats larger than 35mm it probably doesn't make sense. I process C-41 and E-6 in 4x5 and 8x10 formats with Jobo experts drums on a processor. I process RA4 prints up to 20x24. I have total control over the quality of the results. It doesn't always turn out the way I like but I do have control ;-)
That's what I expected to hear, I'm trying to convince myself (and wife) that it's a good idea .
Originally Posted by langedp
Is colour printing still feasible ? My hunch is that this is one area of analogue that digital will really kill off, quite soon.
Originally Posted by langedp
Producing a half decent outcome with your own gear is preferable to perfection by someone else, not to mention the learning you get from making mistakes :-)
Originally Posted by langedp
Again you confirmed what I suspected, I might buy a thermostatic tank heater (£20 or less) and give it a try at that. To be honest a lot of the processors sem to be overkill for my needs.
Originally Posted by Nick Zentena
Thanks for the advice.
Actually you should be saving money. Remember that shop is paying staff and rent. They still are hopefully making money. Some of it depends on the volume you do. It's not smart money wise if you shoot a roll a year but if you're shooting some volume you should easily save money. But I wouldn't focus on that.
Colour printing [RA-4] will likely be the last colour process commerically left. All those digital prints are made on the same paper and with the same chemicals. It's only the printer that's different.
Add the heater to a picnic cooler and an aquarium pump. You'll have something no worse and if you get a good heater better then the TBE.
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Pickup a Jobo CPP or CPA and you can do the film and the paper. Color printing is alot of fun and really doesn't take that much practice to turn out prints better than the cheap labs. Perfect prints are another story.
It can be cheaper to do your own E-6 (compared to a pro lab), if you process the film in batches that use the chemistry efficiently. If you do it infrequently and let, say, half a box of E-6 chemistry go bad between processing sessions, then you'll break even at best.
I do my own occasionally, when I have enough film to justify it, but I decided at a certain point that I don't care to do my own 35mm, because I'm just not into mounting all those slides, and I do prefer them mounted.
Not for proofing or for work prints but for fine printing it is feasible. The results are very high quality and impossible to duplicate with digital.
Originally Posted by digiconvert
The current generation of ra-4 photopapers like Kodak Endura can be used both with digital printers and optical printing from negatives. Also the machine chemicals can be used in Nova or rotary processors. The material supply for analogue RA-4 printing is not endangered.
Buy the Nova. Process your films with proof prints in Walmart. Then pick your favourite images and have fun in the darkroom.
I have a duolab and a 16X20 Nova. Nova is superior for slot processing. If you want a rotary processor, but a bigger Jobo.
You raise a lot of good questions. I don't do most of my own processing at the moment, because time isn't a factor in my work; I also find it difficult to be able to beat the cost that my processor gives me for E-6 processing (5x4 $1.30 sheet).
I wouldn't do it as a means of saving money, but more as a convience or time requirement factor (good if you have clients waiting). I would do it.
As for printing; there are several good RA-4 papers, but for color landscape work, I would either go with hand printed Cibachrome, or digitally printed RA-4. I only know a few photographers who do their own Cibachrom printing, like Christopher Burkett (who spends 10 months a year printing, and 2 months shooting). Color landscape work isn't like B&W landscapes - it is a different market and buyers expect different things. Most in the business have long since gone to printing on a RA-4 paper, like Fuji Crystal Archive, using a digital type printer - like the LightJet or Chromira. For very good reasons, most color landscape photographers don't have the time or means to make identical prints in sizes ranging from 11x14 to 40x50, with editions ranging in the hundreds. The markup you make on individual prints is less than what a lot of B&W photographers make - I make about $200 on a 30x40 framed print, and even less on smaller sizes.
Originally Posted by ekjt
I don't really understand this. You can't get a fine print without a work print -) If I wanted a colour contact sheet is relatively easy thing to do. I used to bang out prints at the same filter settings,f/stops and time. I knew that with my stock film an 8x10 could be made okay with those settings. Not perfect. But good enough for a proof. Later I could go back and work on improving the prints I really wanted.
OTOH now with the analzyers it's almost too easy.