Finer Details and Purchase Guide to Developing Colour Negatives


Developing labs cost so much now that anything that made it cheaper to get a good result interested me! Here are some interesting resources and a few tips from my experience of developing your own colour negatives.

A few months back there was a tipster about developing your colour negatives at home. This tipster is excellent and covers nearly everything you need to know, I thought I would add to it with the following.

~A list of places to get equipment needed (mine is the cheapest I could find as I was on a tight budget)

~Quick few tips on the earlier stages (mounting films into development drums, making up the working solution)

~Some little extra bits of info on the developing process, also some thoughts on scanning in.

First off is a list of places to find equipment.

You will need a changing bag, I found a nice cheap one on eBay

eBay is a pretty good place to look for one, my advice here is to make sure it is a large one because you do have to do a fair amount inside it with a lot of different objects. Next is a development drum, I have no doubt that jobo is the best for this but if like me your on a budget then here is the one I got, this link takes you to a pretty cool photography store, they have everything you could ever want so I recommend book marking it.

A few things to note here, I recommend a tank that develops two rolls of 35mm this way you’re more likely to get your maximum yields from the developing chemicals. Although it’s true you might be able to get a cheaper tank on eBay this is also the site I used to get the chemicals from and I felt that with the delivery price being £7.99 I would get the tank from there too.

Next your chemicals, there is a lot of choice out there and it can seem very daunting, I’m going to recommend the ones I got for a couple of reasons, it has the least amount of development steps, it’s reliable, it can develop a lot of films, the results have always been good. It’s a good first one to try out.

1litre kit works well with a drum that develops two rolls of 35mm. (also this drum means you can develop 120 film which is a nice option)

Making up your working solution.

I did mine following the instructions on the leaflet that came with it, but they are very vague, I pre-heated the water to mix the chemicals with in a plastic storage box in the same way shown in the tipster link given above. I think that the main reason why the water needs to be hot when making up your working solutions is so you can develop with them right away. I used some cheap old fizzy pop bottles for this as they were a litre each, your going to need three of them, in the future I’m going to buy some proper storage bottles but they’re not exactly cheap. Pour in the measured amount of water then the chemicals in the order given, don’t forget to label each bottle in case you forget which chemical is what. You will then have three bottles of different development solutions each one being a litre, please keep in mind when your pouring these into your drum that your drum will hold less then a litre so be careful not to over fill, waste not want not!

The temperature needed is 38c, I found that as long as the water is feeling very hot to your hands but not enough to burn you then this will be fine.

Loading film into the drum.

I hate to see film wasted but it’s kind of necessary especially if you have never done it before. Find some old or very cheap film you don’t care much for so that wasting it doesn’t hurt as much. I recommend two rolls. First off get a bottle opener and pop the top off, pull the film out of the canister, cut off the tab so you left with a nice straight edge, then open you drum and remove one of the developing reels, slide the straight edge of film in and then move the reel (holding the top and bottom) backwards and forwards, your notice the film loading into the reel.

Little video giving a demo of this. Once you have done this once take the reel apart and try again, practice makes perfect. Once you feel you have got used to it load up your changing bag with all the equipment and the other film your going to waste (eeek) now have a practice doing the whole process in your bag, again take it apart and reload a few times in your bag to get used to it. Once you have got used to all of this your about ready to load your drum with your actual films.

Now then I’m not going to write a complete guide on the process of developing negatives This guide here is very good for that .Also the instructions on your chemical booklet (that you get with the chemicals) is pretty clear. None of the chemicals need to be poured in the dark, your drum is light tight. The temperature needed for the process does not need to be as exact as people would make out, pre-heat your bottles for half an hour in water that is hot but still able to put your hands in.

Have some where ready to hang your developed negatives before developing them. Use safety gear, don’t get hurt! (goggles and gloves)

Here is a helpful video on the process:

Please note, don’t rinse after the last stage (stabiliser, like the bloke does in this video) Also when pouring stabiliser back into your bottle from your developing drum it’s rather frothy so pour slowly. So far I have developed 8 films with my first set of solutions and still going strong the booklet says I can do 16 with iso of 200 so I’m going to push that one and see what happens.

Once you have got the hang of it and developed a few rolls it does end up working out cheaper then most development places, (ones near me charge about £8) plus it’s fun and a bit more personal and so far I have had better results the then professionals.

Some notes on scanning, has loads of great tips on this subject, including this one here

This is how I went about it bearing in mind I had no scanner and not a lot of cash,

It’s cheap it’s cheerful and it’s doing the job ok at the moment, the software is easy to use, the bad thing is if your going to scan in something from a sprocket rocket you will lose the sprockets, and don’t bother if it’s panoramic in any way, unless maybe you hacked it and took out the dividing frames in the holder, might try that one day.

Right I think that everything I can think of for now, I hope it’s of some help, I really recommend trying it out. Don’t hesitate to message me if you need any extra help.

Here are some photos developed and scanned using all the equipment and process mentioned in this guide.

written by parktreeone on 2011-01-22 #videos #gear #tutorials #35mm #color #colour #lab-rat #equipment #loading #scanning #tipster #cheap #development #chemicals #buying #film-processing #top-tipster-techniques


  1. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    Great!! Thanks for all these details! :)

  2. kylewis
    kylewis ·

    Can't understand why you only have three likes, great article!

  3. simonh82
    simonh82 ·

    Really great article, thanks for all the detailed info. Makes me want to try it, but do you really think it works out cheaper?

  4. simon-hedge
    simon-hedge ·

    Great article with useful links

  5. parktreeone
    parktreeone ·

    Hey thanks a lot :-) and simonh82, it really does depend on what your lab can offer, the one near me charges about 8ish quid at the moment depending on what I want, so with the first lot of films I developed it meant the equipment paid for it self with the money I saved. The otherthig I have noticed is I seem to achive higher quality, at the very least a more constant one, another is it's great for crazy half shots and unusual frame advancements with a Dianamini, these used to really confuse my Lab

  6. cornpony
    cornpony ·

    I just bought all my gear four days ago. Will definately be bookmarking this page for when I begin to teach myself how to process. Amazing article!

  7. olgats
    olgats ·

    you're a life saver!! Thank you for the links. I've spend the weekend trying to find a way to buy all the needed gear since the only lab in my area is going to stop developing negatives.Thanks a lot!!!

  8. parktreeone
    parktreeone ·

    You are more then welcome, I completely understand what it's like trying to find things when you first look into it

  9. worried_shoes
    worried_shoes ·

    I can´t believe that starter kit is 15 bucks in, while in Sweden I have to pay 65 bucks :/. Thanks a million for posting. As soon as I find a decent priced chemicals I will start developing c-41 at home.

  10. sammy_a
    sammy_a ·

    great tip, i got the equipment for self developing and a scanner for christmas (lucky me) though havnt got round to developing... i have been waiting to find out how many times i can reuse the chems so would you let me know how you get on after 8ish times ?? :)

  11. slumbrnghok
    slumbrnghok ·

    I'm going to develop my 120mm films at home. It's about 12 in Glasgow to have the film developed and burnt to a disc. Not even any prints! So expensive. Brilliant article. Thank you!

  12. parktreeone
    parktreeone ·

    Thanks everyone! Slumbrnghok, wow, 12 quid, that's so much money!I'm guessing it's a bit more for 120, that never accured to me, if that's the case then home developing is even more of a money saver (for 120)

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