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  1. #1
    Graham_Martin's Avatar
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    How difficult would it be to develop my own film?

    I keep reading about how easy it is to set up your own darkroom at home. Since I shoot film for the pure enjoyment of it, I started wondering if I should go to the next level and start developing it myself. So, please tell me what is involved and about how much should I expect to spend? I shoot both 35mm and MF including B&W and color. I have read in several places that B&W is easier to process than color.

    So far as the physical property is concerned, I live in Florida and so no basement. The garage is way too hot to set up there. We have an extra bathroom, but my wife wouldn't be too thrilled with an extensive makeover. In other words, I need to be able to do this in the second bathroom while being able to pack it all up and store it away after each session.
    Graham from St. Augustine, FL

  2. #2
    zsas's Avatar
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    Not too hard at all! I have a 5 gal bucket with lid that I got for $3 or so at Home Depot. Buy some liquid dev (HC110, Rodinal, Ilford), buy some stop $10, or use a water stop, rapid liquid fixer and you are done. Throw out your dev after every run, keep the left over stop and fixer in a collapsible container or glass bottle till exhausted. The rest is history. Just need a tank. If you search craigslist, there are many garage sales this summer with tons of tanks. I found a few stainless tanks and reels for next to nothing the other day. Load your film in a dark closet, bathroom with blanket/towel covering light. Crack the 35mm spool open with a beer bottle opener.

    Get some rubber gloves, apron, goggles of course. If you decide to get dry dev and fix and want to mix up 5 liter amounts, sure that is great, just the volume of items to store will might out grow that 5 gal bucket. So get two and stack them when you are all done.

    Yeah you will need some graduates, mixing rod, etc. Lots of this 'consumable' stuff like I said are going next to nothing on Craigs.

    I am sure others will chime in with great ideas! See what fits your situation best, appropriate, ask questions, its such a joy to run your film!

    When you are done, lock up your 5 gal lidded bucket(s) in a cabinet away from kids/grandkids or whomever should be near. You can do it so simple for not much, maybe less than $100.


    You can do it!

  3. #3
    zsas's Avatar
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    The above was for B/W. Color is not too much harded, just more supplies. I run my own c-41 using Rollei Digibase kit. $50 kit will do 50 rolls of film. With color you just need another 5 gal bucket to store the dev, bleach, fix, stabilizer for your next run, you do not throw it out at the end of the session like most do w b/w dev. With B/W you need less 'working solutions' which makes B/W simpler. But heck, color is not that hard. I, like most, started w b/w, got confortable, moved to doing both b/w and c-41. But I guess starting c-41 then going b/w would be interesitng to hear if someone did.

  4. #4
    zsas's Avatar
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    Last, get to the library or book store and get Henry Horenstein's B/W manual. Great companion!

  5. #5
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    You'll get allkinds of parts lists. But bear this in mind. Do not confuse intimidating for difficult. It's easy. You just gotta take the plunge.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
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    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  6. #6
    Newt_on_Swings's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zsas View Post
    Last, get to the library or book store and get Henry Horenstein's B/W manual. Great companion!
    I'll second this, every B&W photographer should have read this atleast once.

    Tanks and reels are cheap when they pop up on craigslist, but depending on how close you are to an urban area, the drive might not be worth it. I also recommend you getting the larger tabbed plastic reels for 120 film, will save you a boatload of trouble later.

  7. #7
    Graham_Martin's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for the helpful input. Are the reels you are referring to those Jobu reels that I see advertised. I think I also need to get a proper black bag for removing the film don't I? I'll check out the library and see if they have Horenstein's book.
    Graham from St. Augustine, FL

  8. #8
    Newt_on_Swings's Avatar
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    You want to get a patterson tank with 120 wide tab reels, not the plain 35mm reels.



    I have used a bunch of different tanks, and patterson holds up the best over time without leaks or cracks.

    You should start with D76 (1Gallon size), any plain indicator stop, and Ilford Rapid Fix. and you should be good for a bunch of rolls. You can use any tight fitting bottle made for carbonated drinks for storage. a simple thermometer to mix the chemicals is a must as well.

  9. #9

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    One of the moderators here has some good videos on the process; http://www.jasonbrunner.com/videos.html

    Carbonated drink bottles are fine for storage, and actually work better than many alternatives. Just make sure you remove the original labels and keep them out of reach from any kids that might get access, or else make sure they understand it's not food.

    You will need a light-excluded place to remove the film from the spool or cannister to load reels. The bathroom will work, especially if it has no window and you can seal the door adequately. Or else, use a changing bag.

    If you want to make the room slightly less makeshift add a door sweep and weather stripping around the door to make it light-tight. Except for making it slightly harder to close, it won't affect the use otherwise.

  10. #10

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    Dear Graham,

    Check out the thread Darkroom Portraits. You will see plenty of examples of how people have solved the problem of temporarily using a second bathroom as a darkroom.

    Neal Wydra

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