Preferred C41 Kit for "Best Results"

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What C-41 Processing Kit have you preferred for "Best Results" over last 12 months?

  • Arista

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • Cine Still

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • Fuji

    Votes: 2 10.5%
  • Rollei

    Votes: 2 10.5%
  • Tetenal

    Votes: 6 31.6%
  • Unicolor Powder

    Votes: 8 42.1%
  • Individually Selected Mix

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • Custom Chemistry

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • Other Off-the-Shelf Kit

    Votes: 2 10.5%

  • Total voters
    19

JWMster

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As opaque as color processing seems to be and as transparent as B&W seems to be by comparison because it's so widely discussed, I didn't see a prior poll here, so thought it might be worth a hoot and perhaps even helpful. So for developing your own films in C41, I'm curious which kits (if any) meet your standards, and I'm putting up a list of what's currently available here in the USA (source: Freestyle), but acknowledge this might not be complete by allowing selection of "Other". I've used Unicolor and am about to mix up some Tetenal for 16 rolls I have waiting for me at home.

I've purposely left "Best Results" ambiguous, but welcome comments on how you interpret that: Consistency, Saturation, Contrast, Clarity, but I acknowledge there will always be someone who defines "Best" as "cheapest". That's fair, but if that's the deciding factor rather than some other, that would be go to know explicitly. Defined similarly to the "best camera is the one you have with you", I guess the "best" C41 kit is the one you use and never lets you down; that keeps easily over time and recycles cleanly.

I guess it could make sense that some might have an every day C41 and reserve a special, more expensive C41 for specific sorts of image. But I'd tend to think that might be uncommon. Nevertheless, I'm allowing for 2 responses in this case, but 2 and not three is the limit.

Please feel free to comment.
 

faberryman

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I haven't processed C41 since the 1980's so my knowledge may be completely out of date, but shouldn't all C41 kits contain the same chemicals and steps for processing, in which case the choice should be based on availability, cost, and quality control?
 
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JWMster

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Dunno. I'm not a chemist. Good question though, and if true, would certainly simplify selection.

BTW, I will vote after I do my Tetenal processing.
 

TonyB65

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I've used both the Bellini and Digibase (Rollei) kits and had equally good results with both of them, as long as you use them fresh and batch develop I don't think there's much between any of them.
 
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JWMster

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Freestyle pricing for 1 liter kits shows Arista, ($24.99), CineStill (25.99) and Unicolor (22.99) very close. But then Rollei (42.99) and Tetenal (53.99) aren't probably almost 2X surely on the basis of "branding". Similarly, in the 2.5 liter kits, Rollei and Tentenal are considerably more expensive than the 2 liter Unicolor kit. Arista has a 1 Gallon kit (69.99) and compared with the 5 Liter kit where we have Fuji (129.99) and Rollei (72.99), it seems something more than simply what the market will bear. If pricing is simply a matter of what we call "market inefficiencies" than these should even out if volumes are sufficient. Maybe the latter is a problem?
 

Punker

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I've noticed no difference from any of the 3-bath kits I've tried, which I suppose is to be expected, since C-41 is a standardized process. The only difference you're likely to notice is archival quality many years down the road. None of my negatives since coming back to film are old enough to tell; so for now I use the Unicolor kit because it's inexpensive. I've shelled out twice the price for the Rollei and noticed absolutely 0 difference. BTW, I believe the Arista and Cinestill kits are identical just with different labeling. However, the instruction sheet in the Cinestill kit is much more informative and gives a good table for push-processing (though the other kits cover push-processing too to a lesser extent).
 

destroya

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the best results and what I now use exclusively, is Kodak flexicolor chems from unique photo. that way I get individual bleach and fix. I also use the fix for B&W so it gets a double usage (but different bottles for each). I mix up all 20 liters of the developer and store in wine bags. They are on 2+ years and still no problems with going off.
 

grainyvision

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From my own observations, the real test of any C-41 kit is not how good it develops the first batch of film, but really the 2nd or 3rd batch is what matters. I have always used the Unicolor kit because it works, but have noticed that the colors (including base color) seems to change after just the first batch. I assume it's correctable stuff, but if I want peak quality, then I want to figure out a way to use it one-shot, or find a new kit. So now I'm trying the Fuji X-Press kit.. other than being time consuming with unclear instructions, it seems pretty good so far. The real test of course is if the second batch looks the same as the first.
 

RPC

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C-41 may be a standardized process but that does not mean the chemistry is the same among manufacturers. In order to get the best possible result in terms of color, contrast, sharpness, grain, and stability the chemistry, especially the developer, must follow an exact formula of Kodak's (known as Flexicolor) that has never been officially published as it is propriatary. Any chemistry that is not Kodak's, (or perhaps Fuji as well, according to some}, may only be a close approximation. It may give pleasing results, and one may actually prefer it to Kodak's, but just how close it is to the real Kodak chemistry would have to be determined by testing.
 
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Rudeofus

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There appear to exist three types of commercially available kits:
  1. liquid concentrate kits with separate bleach and fixer
  2. liquid BLIX kits
  3. powder BLIX kits
The difference between each category appears to be mostly shipping cost, which in turn appears to be dominated by red tape when these kits are moved between continents. The answer to the original question is therefore highly dependent on region. I personally would get the cheapest kit from the top most category which is available in my region.
 
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JWMster

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Kodak Flexicolor.... okay. That's a "new" old one. Glad to see it mentioned. Also glad to see someone take up the matter of differences in chemistry and their impact on development. THank you all.

As to Flexicolor, I see it offered in the UK (though that may be a stale offering), but not here in the States... at least not from my usual suspects. Is this still offered by Kodak? Do you have a source? or is mention of Kodak simply point of reference?
 

RPC

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Kodak Flexicolor.... okay. That's a "new" old one. Glad to see it mentioned. Also glad to see someone take up the matter of differences in chemistry and their impact on development. THank you all.

As to Flexicolor, I see it offered in the UK (though that may be a stale offering), but not here in the States... at least not from my usual suspects. Is this still offered by Kodak? Do you have a source? or is mention of Kodak simply point of reference?

See post #8.
 
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JWMster

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RPC: Thanks for that. Didn't know Unique Photo (NY?), but will have to study their website and go back to read my Jobo manual. Kodak.... might be very price competitive if it'll work with the Jobo. Have to research this. Clearly, I'm overly used to the dumbed down kits. These have their virtues, but we'll have to look more closely when I get the chance. THanks!
 
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