Developing C-41 film (Jobo?) tips/advice/etc
First of all let me apologize ahead of time in case these questions get asked too often, I haven't checked .
Here's the deal. I've been developing my own b&w film for a while now with great results, my C-41 film always went to one of two places. Most of my "consumer"/waste/randomfundailyshots 35mm C-41 film usually went to a cheap minilab and all of my "good" 35mm and 120 C-41 film goes to a local pro lab. The cheap minilab recently shut down and I didn't want to start paying almost 2x for developing my "fun" film at the pro lab. I've always been interested in souping my own color neg film too, so this was as good a time as any to give it a try.
I managed to purchase a 1L Unicolor C-41 press kit from Freestyle and now have the kit sitting in my room boxed up waiting to be used. I was originally planning to hand-develop it using the same Patterson tanks that I do my b&w film in, but I now realized that I have another option. I just realized that my photo club at my uni (the place where I do all my developing/printing/etc) recently got a working Jobo machine, it is a "lift" machine which is a model CPP-2. Now, I've never used it before, but I'm getting a brief introduction to it this week from another member. My questions are:
1) Which method should I try first, hand-developing or attempting to use the Jobo? I plan to run a test roll or two of b&w through the Jobo to get the feel for it.
2) I know that rotary drum processing requires you to alter the development time, what will I need to do in that case? Anything else I should consider?
3) I haven't mixed the chems yet as I don't have any bottles to store them in. What are some decent bottles to use? Will the basic 1L soda/pop bottles work or will they not be air-tight enough (I plan to use this kit for a few months at least seeing how I don't shoot C-41 as much as b&w)? How about the location of chem storage? I've read that a dark and dry place is best, correct?
I will also gladly hear any other tips/tricks/advice that you can offer with regards to souping my own color neg film. Thanks!
1 - use the Jobo - it has the temperature control and consistent agitation you want. Probably best to try it out on a B&W first.
2 - Kodak have a wealth of info in their tech publications on this; they usually have a section on 'rotary processing'. Not sure if/how this will apply to the Unicolor kit.
3 - bottles should not let light in and if possible be compressible so you can remove as much air as possible. Oxidation will limit the life of most chemicals.
I use my Paterson tanks with my 1L kit. Works great so I haven't wanted to mess around with machines so far. It takes just 20 minutes to do a tank so why use machines I ask?
I would use the Jobo because of the temperature control. I have done it in the past by hand and have gotten perfectly fine results, but the Jobo is far easier to keep the temp right on.
I use Kodak's times with a Jobo and get very good results (seem perfect, but I don't run test strips so I can't confirm).
Store your chemicals in thick PET (soda type), or better yet glass bottles. The fix and bleach won't go bad from oxygen before the developer does, so the developer is the on to watch. You can compress the bottle to squeeze out the air, or add glass marbles to fill up the space. I use a can of dust off product and try to displace the oxygen with the compressed gas. Nitrogen would be better, but I don't have a tank. My developer lasts at least a month this way, but I try to use it up in a few days. Dark storage is probably best, but I don't think dry matters if it's in a bottle. I keep mine at one end of my sink.
The standard time for C41 films is 3mins 15 secs in a rotary processor at 100F.
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Use the Jobo because it has temp control. Use the standard time (3:15 for fresh chems, follow the table thereafter) as they're intended for continuous agitation. Since it's not your Jobo, you will need to be ultra-careful that you don't have chemical contamination from other users in the bottles, tanks, spirals and lift. Wash everything in very hot (65C) water before you use it, including pouring a few litres each way through the lift. Bottles should be marked as for dev, bleach, fix, etc and never used for other purposes. Lift the lift+tank by the aluminium roller rails instead of the lift-lever; the latter is prone to snapping off and you don't want to be the one who does it.
Do not buy accordion bottles because they are oxygen-permeable (dev will go off in them even if they're contracted so that there's no air in there) and impossible to wash because of the corrugations. PETE/HDPE bottles (not LDPE) are fine as long as you squeeze the air out and/or top the bottles off with a good long blast of butane; glass is even better. I store my (Fuji) C41 dev working stock under butane in the fridge (2C; do not allow it to freeze) and it's as strong as the day I mixed it after about 8 weeks.
The bleach and fix won't go off (I hope you don't have a blix kit though, it will eat itself just sitting as concentrates on the shelf). The bleach in fact enjoys a good blast of oxygenation to rejuventate it.
Make sure you measure the dev temp in its bottle to be 37.8C; it will come to temperature much later than the bath. Use a 5:00 prewash with 38C water (two changes thereof) to bring the tank internals+spirals+film up to temperature, plus it will wash out some of the anti-halation dyes so your dev won't go ugly black as quickly. Wash your film very well both before and after fix. You can bleach and fix for longer than recommended just to be sure; timing and temp is critical only for developer. Don't get stabiliser on the spirals; apparently it will make them sticky and hard to load though I suspect that a good hot wash will get rid of it, just like it gets rid of photoflo.
I just posted the URL to the Kodak reference for rotary processing in another similar thread. Kodak does not recommend any change in development times with the Jobo or similar equipment.
Make sure you use at least two prewets to bring the tank to 100F.
Thanks for all the advice, everybody! My Jobo introduction/training got postponed until next week, but in the meantime I have to find some suitable bottles for the mixed chemicals. As much as I would like to buy some bottles from Freestyle, I would have to wait until I do another group order with some other people because the shipping cost is very high for a few small items ordered by one individual. I'm going to try the main local film/analog/etc photo store this upcoming week, but they might not sell bottles directly, we'll see. Thanks again for your insights!
If you and your friends want to buy a lot of bottles, this website looks to be a decent source:
Note the case quantities and $60.00 minimum orders.
“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
So I mixed up the chems yesterday and managed to develop five rolls of color negs (I did it manually in some Patterson tanks as the Jobo is not ready yet). They look fine, but I have not had a chance to scan them yet. I did a 120 roll of Fuji Pro 160S, a 120 roll of Fuji Pro 160C and three 35mm rolls of Superia 400. I have one problem though, the 35mm negs came out with some gunk marks after drying, they look like marks left by the water. I followed the kit's instructions and finished off the developing process with the stabilizer before putting the negs up to dry in a film dryer. The weird part is that only the 35mm film seemed to be affected.
What would be the best way to clean the negs now? Also, what can I do to avoid this in the future? I've read of people using photoflo, but I didn't want to mess around and just followed the instructions given in the kit.