Processing your own color negatives is fun and can expand your creative control and save a bit of money as well. If you have already developed your own black and white film you may want to try your hand at colour processing.
If you have been processing your own black and white film, you may want to give color processing a try. Give black and white processing a shot first since it is less daunting than color and still quite rewarding.
Why process your own color film? Savings in processing cost, but this is not the main reason I got into processing color film. Processing color film has opened up a lot of creative opportunities. For example, it can be difficult to find a photo lab that will cross-processes color slide film (E-6 process) as print film (C-41) – most labs where I live will refuse to do this. The few that will, often add an extra charge. I would also like to make my own redscale film; the tape used to attach the film upside down can gum up photo lab machines. Then comes the really crazy stuff like running the film through the dishwasher.
The processes is very similar to black and white. The kit I used, Tetenal Colortec C-41, makes a liter of each of the three working solutions and is good for about 20 rolls of 35mm film or 14 rolls of 120 films. You will need three 1L plastic storage containers for the working solutions a thermometer, graduated cylinder and a film developing tank and real. Open the film in a black bag or very dark room using a bottle opener and load the film onto the reel then place in the reel in the film development tank with the lid on. The rest of the process can be done in the light.
• Fill a sink with very hot water and soak the developer and Bleach Fix until the developer reaches 38°C (100°F)
• Warm the film and developing tank with water from the sink for 5 minutes.
• Pour out the warm water and pour in the developer for 3:15 min agitating for 10 seconds then every 30
seconds invert the tank (with the lid on).
• Pour the developer back and then pour the Bleach Fix for 4 minutes.
• Agitate for the first 10 seconds and invert every 30 seconds (open the lid to let out trapped gasses that
this process produces between inverting the tank.)
• Rinse the film with warm water for 3 minutes; I do this by filling the development tank and dumping out
the water over and over.
• Add the stabilizer (it works at room temperature) Agitate for the first 15 seconds, and then return to the
• Give the film a final rinse and hang the negative to dry in a dust free place.
The negatives looked cloudy however this went away as the dried. Note the chemicals are not environmentally friendly and must be disposed of at a proper disposal center.