A lazy old sod writes - slow colour film developing.

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Adrian Twiss, Feb 5, 2009.

  1. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2004
    Location:
    Wigan (oop N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am considering getting back into colour printing and as I work in 120 I am thinking about developing my own films. I am going down the paterson tank route as my one and only attempt to use a Jobo was a complete disaster. All down to me I'm afraid not the processor.

    I am looking for colour chemistry where the developer takes longer than
    C41s 1 minute 50 seconds. Apparenlty if you are 10 seconds over then you've had it and if you are 10 seconds under you've had it. Am I searching in vain. Is there an experienced colour worker out there with an answer? I live in hope.

    Thanks in advance

    Adrian (possibly the worst colour film processor in the world)
     
  2. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

    Messages:
    9,154
    Joined:
    May 3, 2006
    Location:
    Ryde, Isle o
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You only think that because you have never seen any of my colour prints.

    I tried it in 1983 then gave up.



    Steve.
     
  3. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

    Messages:
    1,936
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Location:
    Greece
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Groups:
    Hi Adrian. Shouldn't C41 development be 3min 15 sec? Where did you see that number?
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2004
    Location:
    Wigan (oop N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    From a photographer friend of mine whom I have known for many years. He is an exceptional colour printer but does not develop his own films. Me thinks he may have made a mistake. 3:15 is a lot better than 1:50 but is still a very short time when you are used to semi stand processing (b&w obviously) of 10:30. Mind you it makes it worth a try.

    Mind you I may have mis heard him - hang on I'm not that senile yet.

    Is that nice Mr Churchill still Prime Minister?
     
  5. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

    Messages:
    1,936
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2008
    Location:
    Greece
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Groups:
    If I were you, I'd give it a try. My major concern would be getting everything at the correct temperature. But then, keeping that temperature shouldn't be that hard. It's only 3:15. A tempering bath should do the trick. Bleaching and fixing can be done at slightly different temperatures.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2009
  6. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    9,299
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It is 3 mins 15 secs and in my limited experience a few seconds over, say 5 secs, makes very little difference. 5 secs sounds as if it is involves a very fine judgement but if you are keeping an eye on an accurate clock then decanting the dev to within 1 to 2 secs should easily be possible. There is filling and decanting time to take into account but most tanks are filled and emptied very quickly. Consistency is the most important factor here. If you start the clock only after filling up then ensure you do that each time. Likewise with decanting. You can estimate times for filling and decanting with water first to see how long this takes and then adjust accordingly.

    If you were to be concerned about fill time and were using inversion processing you could load the reel and "feel" your way to the open tank already filled., drop the reel in and close the lid. That way the "fill" is instant. That still leaves the emptying but as this is a few secs only then it is unlikely to affect the development to any appreciable degree.

    Even here, switching off the lights at say 3 mins 10 secs, prising off the lid and lifting the reel on 3 mins 15 secs exactly and dumping into another tank of stop bath is possible. Most timers have an alarm setting so seeing the clock for 3 mins 15 secs isn't required.

    I suspect this is carrying accuracy much further than you need to but it depends on how much you feel you need accuracy to say less than 1 sec. An interesting experiment would be to try it both ways and see it there was any difference in the look of two films and the subsequent print quality.

    pentaxuser
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,079
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi,

    Normal C-41 dev. time is 3:15 to 3:30 min. A little over or under with time will not matter as much as a little over or under with temperature. It sounds more difficult and finicky than it really is. If your situation allows, I would invest in a nice, accurate in-line thermometer, so you can easily maintain a water bath of 100 F. I have one at school, but not at home, and when I process color at home, it is sorely missed.
     
  8. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,640
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Location:
    Melb, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do my own colour processing and use a Paterson Auto Colortherm, so I use the Paterson tanks and reels. The Auto Colortherm is really intended to process only 35mm films, but the water bath is deep enough, and there are enough plastic cups so that you can split the CD between two cups and the BX between another two to do 120 films. The thing with C41 processing though is that it is fairly tedious, for example the Tetenal instructions call for agitation every 15 seconds. But the Colortherm will hold the temperature well.
     
  9. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

    Messages:
    1,749
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    Tufts Univer
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It's not as bad as you think. I usually use anywhere from 3:15 to 3:45 depending on how spent my developer is. I use steel manual tanks and reels, a plastic bin, a digital thermometer, and a sink. The only variable hard to control is the exact temperature because of transfer variations. You have to run tests and maintain the same levels of water or else the heat transfer varies. I don't bother using a processor. It seams like a lot of investment for a fishtank heater and a motor.

    Honestly, if you majorly screw up (1 degree F either way) nothing really happens. To control time dump out 20 seconds early and begin pouring the bleach 5 seconds before 3:15 arrives on the clock (per kodak instructions.) Agitation is continuous for the first 30 and 4 lifts every 30 seconds thereafter. I recommend replenishing the developer to preserve activity and to make sure the bottle is always full to prevent oxidation.
     
  10. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,009
    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Location:
    Tokyo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi, I do my C41 for 8min to 8min 15sec @ 30 degrees celsius (depending on how many times ive reused the solution - which is a fair bit usually).

    I dont do temp control, as the ambient here is 26-27 for liquids sitting in a room, so i warm the solution to 30.5 in a bucket of hot water and start processing, since its only a few degrees from ambient it takes a long while to cool down, when it gets to winter i might sit them in a bucket of water and control that...

    i do hand inversions every 30 seconds, and a short quick swirl every 15 seconds before and after every inversion, i dont do any agitation at the start.

    I use a plastic tank and plastic reels
     
  11. mtjade2007

    mtjade2007 Member

    Messages:
    378
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    C-41 processing at home is quite doable. I have done it for more than a decade. I have many, I mean many, success and failures. I am so seasoned in doing it at home I basically see that the quality of the chemicals is far more critical than the process itself. A few seconds +/- or a few degree +/- will not ruin the film. To me it was always reuse or over use of the chemicals that ruined my films.

    The first step in C-41 processing is the only critical step to keep a tight control of time and temp. All the rest can be done with wide range of time and temp without affecting the result as long as they are done with enough time. In my early years of doing C-41 at home I often had the color development step done between 97 - 103 degree F in 3 min. 15 seconds to 3 min. 30 seconds range. Some times my images are denser but they all printed fine. However, it was always problematic when I tried to reuse the developer instead of one shot. That's when colors got really messed up. I very often over used the bleach and the fixer. The resulted negatives were very poor and I had no clue what caused that. When that happened I dumped all the chemicals and started with fresh ones. Everything would be fine for a number of rolls until I started to reuse and over use the chemicals again.

    Now I always use the developer one shot only and use enough of it for the films I process. I stock enough bleach and fixer as well as final rinse so that I won't make the mistake to over use the chemicals. The resulted negatives are so good that makes the home processing a joy to do once or more every few weeks.

    Chemicals can be had quite economically. I use only Kodak chemicals. They have the quality that you can trust. I called up a chemical distributor which only sells to mini labs. I told them I need bulk chemicals to use on a JOBO ATL processor. After filing an application I became one of their customers. I only need to look up their catalog on their web site then call to ask for price. I then orally give them my purchase order. Within 2 or 3 days I would go to their warehouse to pay and pick up the chemicals. I spend no more than $150 per year for chemicals for all I need for the year. This is quite affordable really. It was the gasoline cost that put a dent on the number of my summer trips to Yosemite National Park which resulted in fewer rolls of films than I would like to shoot and to process.

    Shooting films and processing them at home is still quite feasible in the next 10 years. After that it may become history. So if you are still wondering if you can do it or not you better hurry. Don't miss it.
     
  12. panastasia

    panastasia Member

    Messages:
    625
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    Location:
    Dedham, Ma,
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    It's been years since I've used C-41 but I remember developing at least 4 120 rolls in 500ml and strict temperature control. The results were always consistent.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2004
    Location:
    Wigan (oop N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Many thanks to all those who responded. Your advice is very valued. Luckily I have a Nova film processor with integral water bath. That should take care of temperature control. I am going to give it a go very soon. Who knows I may be adventurous and try 5x4 film processing as well.

    Watch this space (but not too closely)

    Thank you once again


    Adrian
     
  14. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,640
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Location:
    Melb, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You're welcome. Good luck and keep us posted.