Developing C-41 in BTZS tubes
I am starting to wonder if I am crazy, but I am about to embark on developing my own 4x5 color negatives. I did some research and bought a 5 liter Tetanal c41 kit. I know that using the blix supplied with the kit is likely to yield slightly lower quality results than an individual bleach and fix step, but I just want something relatively easy to become familiar with the process and decide whether it will work for me before buying all the chemicals individually in larger quantities.
For what it's worth, I am averaging about 8-12 sheets of film per week. My decision to develop at home is partly based on economy (it costs me about $3 per sheet to send it out), and partly based on turnaround (it takes about a week to get my film back). Hopefully I will be able to eventually produce results on-par with a good lab.
My method for developing black and white 4x5 is in BTZS tubes, which works very well for me, so I am hoping to use the tubes for color also. I am thinking that I can keep a water bath at 100F give or take .5 degrees, so it seems like this should work. Has anyone tried this before? Can anyone think of an obvious reason why it wouldn't work?
I have a few questions before I get started, though.
I'm not straight on the amount of chemistry needed to develop the film. Will 2 oz (the usual amount for 1 tube with 1 sheet of film inside) be enough? Does the ISO of the film matter? I am using Fuji Pro 160s.
As far as keeping the temperature consistent, I am going to fill up a big sink which should keep the required temperature for the necessary 3-4 minutes. Should I just put the mixed chem. into a bottle and leave it in the sink for 10 minutes or so to bring it all up to temperature? And just put the film in the tubes and do the same?
Finally, how long can I expect an opened bottle of developer concentrate to last? I've used dust-off to preserve my HC110 in the past...will this be effective to preserve c41 chem also?
Thanks for the help, I would love to discuss my results after I have a chance to play around. Oh, and happy Thanksgiving!
Last edited by daltonrooney; 11-22-2007 at 12:15 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I also started developing color films. And it can be done, and quite easily. I have the Jobo 1520 tank for roll film and also have developed color C-41 sheets in HP CombiPlan tanks. Worked reasonably well for me with the water bath as you mention it.
As to the amount of chemistry, for the Jobo tank and rolls, it's easy - just follow the instructions, 500ml of chemistry, and you can run up to 6 rolls in it. The HP tank takes 1l of chemistry (for 9x12cm sheets. For 4x5 it should be 1250ml) and I convert it according to the surface area. I calculate, that a roll of 120 film is approximately 480square centimeters. For sheet films, one 9x12cm is roughly 108square centimeters. So I calculate that 1roll is equivalent to 4 sheets.
And you can develop 6 rolls in a 0.5 l of chemistry, and that should be the same as 24sheets. But for my HP tank, I need 1l of chemistry, and that is 48sheets.
My reasoning and calculation could be wrong, but I have developed C-41 films this way. And all was OK.
Just 2 days ago I did also my first run on E-6 rolls, first six of them. In Tetenal kit. Also came out OK.
As far as keeping the temperature, I would recommend buying those plastic temperature keeping box for food. I fill them with water at around 45-50°C, put the chemistry in bottles, close the lid, and let it temperate for around an hour (with checking the temperature not to drop bellow 40°C). The box keeps the temperature much better, and also, you need less hot water.
I start with the developer at 39°C, and if the during the development the temperature drops to 37°C, everything is OK, the average is required 38°C.
To see the results, check my gallery, those two color pictures are both developed at home in a C-41 chemistry...
I use BTZS tubes for 4x5 B&W. I will tell you how I do that and it might give you some ideas for C41. As I recall, the color developer is the first step and that is the temperature sensitive step.
I bought a large plastic storage tub with a lid. I used a dremel tool to cut a hole in the lid so that the BTZS tray can be dropped in the top. I notched the top edges of the tub to accommodate some electrical cords. I fill the storage tub almost to the top with water and temper that with a Dev-Tec immersion heater. You could also use a large aquarium heater which is cheaper. The contraption keeps the BTZS tray at the desired temp so that I can do consecutive runs of film.
Adjacent to the BTZS tray, I have 3 11x14 trays for stop, fix, PermaWash. When the tube of film is done with development, I remove the top, drain the chemicals, and set the tube in the tray of stop bath and rotate vigorously for a few seconds and then periodically. I continue the development until all 6 tubes are finished and the 6 tubes are in the stop tray (with amber safelight on). Then, I remove each sheet from the tube and place it in a slosher in the fiver tray. Then I turn on the room lights and watch the film clear in the fixer, then move the slosher to the Permawash tray. A bit of a production, but no problem with residual anti-halation stains and it is fun to watch the film clear. Apart from stop bath, my hands never touch the chemistry. No film scratches using the slosher. For color, might not be economical for a few sheets of film, but perhaps for 12.
Thanks for the advice so far, I pulled everything together and developed two sheets of film yesterday. The results are promising, but not great. One sheet looks pretty good, although the color strikes me as a bit off. The second has some streaking on the edges. I think I'll need to pre-soak to avoid this in the future.
I found that keeping the temperature stable in the sink was a bit more difficult than I expected. I got an aquarium heater and found a large stainless steel chafing dish set in the garage, so I expect I'll do a better job with the temperature on the next round. I'll post more results as they come along. As far as I can tell, there's no reason not to continue using the tubes to process in color.
This is the one that looks good, but I'm not sure about the color. There are some purple/bluish areas in the shadows that I couldn't get rid of in Photoshop. It also took a lot more color correction than I'm used to to.
OK, a bit more work on the process and I think it's coming along fine. The aquarium heater does a very good job of keeping the water bath right at 100F. I was getting streaks on the corners of some negatives which I attributed to uneven flow of the developer, so this most recent batch includes a pre-wet step. Further reading on these forums suggest a pre-wet may be detrimental, but I did find a signifigant reduction in streaking during the second batch. I also shook the tubes much harder for the first 15 seconds of development and blix steps than I normally do for black and white development, so that may have helped.
I've also been including an acid stop bath between development and blix, which I've read may be unnecessary. Anyhow, I'm pretty happy with the results so far, so I will keep working on my process.
A second exposure from the same scene as above. This time I think the temperature was more accurate. Much easier to color correct this one and I think the overall result is better.
And another with fairly nice color reproduction.
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