I've never developed C41 myself before, but I do a lot of b/w and also print b/w and RA-4. I'm looking at two Tetenal kits, and I'm not sure if there are any drawbacks or quality differences between them, or compared to other brands. The links are below.
In general, what chemistry will provide the best results? I'll probably test a few films, but I will likely be using Fuji 800z, 400H, and possibly the consumer versions (once I test them). I plan to rig a temp bath with an aquarium heater. I'm looking to get the cost down to $1 - $2 per roll, so these kits are attractive, but I don't want to sacrifice image quality. Thanks for any help.
There's a ton of information on the forum here about C-41 in general, as well as Tetenal, so you'll definitely want to spend some time searching first.
Based on quite a bit of research I've done myself in the last few weeks, I've come to the conclusion that, at least for a hobbyist living outside of Europe, Kodak is quite a bit of a stretch to do economically. Fuji makes a kit, but is only realistically available in Europe (import shipping to the U.S. was at least 50 _pounds_, roughly $80, not counting the cost of the kit itself). So... I went and bought the Tetenal 5L kit from B&H, which should be arriving today.
From what I've gathered, the Tetenal kit uses a blix, which may or may not produce as good results as Kodak or Fuji bleach + fixer combos. I use the Kodak E-6 kit at home, and get great results, and have a local lab who processes C-41 on a minilab, so I have some basis to compare with when I try the Tetenal, and will try to report back. But one thing I did learn from another thread is that, most likely, the two liquid components of the blix, which are separate in the Tetenal kit, are not, literally, bleach and fixer. But combined, they form blix... so, it is most likely not feasible to derive a bleach & fixer combo with any of the Tet kits.
As for temp control, it seems that in C-41 it is even more critical - the tolerances are certainly tighter, by the book, than E-6. But, the film develops faster, so you only need to control the temp for about half the time. You're going down the right road by using some sort of heating element... I use a Jobo CPE-2 Plus, and get reproducible results every time with E-6, so that's one large part of the equation that I don't need to worry about when I try the C-41.
Even without a heater tho, as long as you can reproduce a developing time that averages out to the target temp, I believe you will get the same results - i.e., the temp swings themselves won't kill the film, but ending up with an average result that is out of bounds will (to a degree - of course - this is all analog after all!)
As a hobbyist, I approach this as something that is fun to do - when it becomes un-fun, then I've gone too far... so try to have fun with all this, and remember, a large part of this is art rather than science.
Try a search for "C-41 for dummies"...there is a thread called that with a lot of good info, and links to other extensive threads within that one. In brief, people on APUG seem to generally agree the powder mixes are not as good as the liquids, but there are people posting on Flickr that they've had good consistent success with the powders.
I have the Tetenal 5L kit, but am thinking of switching to Kodak in the future. The only part that's prohibitively priced is the bleach, but different brands can be purchased more cheaply. The developer, fix and final rinse from Kodak are actually pretty reasonable.
The only reason I want to switch is the constant discussion of bleach + fix being better than blix. It may be one of those things that's just difficult to truly believe until you try it yourself, and since the Silverpixel bleach makes the costs of Kodak vs. Tetenal more on par, I might as well give it a shot. Only problem is I shoot so slowly AND shoot more b/w than color ... it will be a loooong time before I need to buy those Kodak chems.
As for costs, I am mixing 1L at a time and have developed 11 rolls with my first liter (a mix of 35mm and 120) and had it mixed for about a month. I am in New York so I paid tax rather than shipping on my Tetenal kit, making it about $76 total. If the first liter is any indication, I can successfully develop 55 rolls with this kit, bringing the cost to about $1.38 per roll. However, I plan to use it a few more times just to see if there's any color shifts rather than giving up at 11 per liter...I'm not developing anything of importance right now so it's a good time for testing. The price per roll could drop even more. Although the chems are supposedly rather time-sensitive compared to b/w chems, some people report using the chems for a pretty long time.
Here is the most recent sample, the 10th roll, developed 3 weeks into that first liter. Fuji 800Z.
Thanks to both of you. I think I'll look into the liquid Tetenal kit, since it's ok to mix partial contents. I usually develop many rolls at once, so that's not a problem.
I've been doing some reading about the blix issue, and am curious to see if it really does noticeably desaturate my negs. That might actually be nice, if it's not too drastic.
Nancy, we're neighbors
There is also an article on the Creative Image Maker website written by Ian Carsten regarding mixing partial amounts of RA4 chemistry. Might wanna check it out.
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alternative C-41 is possible also
I mix my C-41 from scratch using well-tested formulae (see the alternative C-41 thread), and have done so for over twenty years. Once you have a proper chemical stock and the necessary experience to formulate your chemistry, you need not rely on kits.
I mix my chemistry in 1-liter size and process typically 500ml per run in a Nikor tank using a simple water bath for temperature control. I reuse my chemistry and find that developer lasts at least 4 weeks and processes at least a dozen 24-exposure rolls. I usually toss it after about 6 weeks although it is not yet exhausted.
Bleach and fix I reuse until they exhaust as indicated by lengthening of the time required for completion, that is by increase in time to significant result to more than half the specified times. I positively suggest using separate bleach and fix with good rinses consisting of several flushes of the tank following each solution. I use a sulfite stop bath following the developer before the first rinse. In my experience it is good practice never to rely on blix if chemistry is reused.
Here is a negative scan from Fuji 160S exposed at EI-125 and developed for 3.75 min @100F in chemistry I mixed. The film was processed 12-16-09. The developer was mixed 11-20-09 and used for 12 prior 24-exposure rolls. I get excellent results for both Kodak and Fuji, and have also processed Arista C-41 in alternatives to packaged chemistry. Nor am I able to detect degradation to films as far back as 3M color negative and Vericolor III that were processed years ago.
No doubt sensitometry would show differences as the chemistry ages, but the effect is not a problem for both hybrid and chromogenic printing.
By denying the facts, any paradox can be sustained--Galileo
That looks about perfect to me. Nice color.
I have read mixed reviews on mixing your own and found some comments on each formula to point out problems. However, based on what you said and the photo posted, I would like to try out the formula your using.
Can you point me to a site where its listed or send me a PM with it? In any case, thank you for sharing your info.
Originally Posted by cbphoto
Well, I don't know about that! I live in BK, also.
Originally Posted by naugastyle
I hand mix like Maxwell, but I have toyed with buying flexicolour developer, and then hand mix the stop, bleach and fixer. Stop is simple, bleach can be simple if you go C-22, and fixer is pretty straight forward. Developers are the tricky bit.
MTS has mailed me his list of formulae, and a lot of the stuff was very similar from what I had gathered, but still very useful. Old BJP annuals and writings from Ron Speirs on usenet and people passing on Dignan's stuff were my original sources.
my real name, imagine that.