C-41 Development at Room Temperature With Stand Processing and Optional Bleach Bypass for Cool Effects


I love being a lab rat. And I love xpro. C-41 DIY turned me off until now because of the reports that temperature is crucial and temperature management is somewhat problematic when lacking a processor.
Well, it turns out that’s all irrelevant. Read on to see how you can develop C-41 similar to b&w at home at room temperature without fuss! Find new XPRO FREEDOM!

Everyone already developing b&w will have absolutely no problems developing C-41 at home, at room temperature. You do not need anything to control temperature, you only need patience. I developed some of my runs in water as cold as 18 degrees Celcius, right out of the tap end of winter.

I used the Digibase C-41 Maxi kit and bought an extra bottle of stabilizer to experiment with batch processing rolls in an old JOBO developing tank holding 1900 ml of solution for 5 135/36 rolls. Mix all your chemicals according to the kit instructions. Be careful and use adequate protection! These are dangerous chemicals! Use protective glasses, gloves and an apron at the least! Work only in well ventilated rooms as the fumes are poisonous! Do not develop when pregnant!

I used empty distilled water containers to store my chemicals. I used distilled water for some of my b&w processing and kept the empty 5 liter containers. The 5 liters of distilled water were about 3 Euros each from my local supermarket (look in the automobile section, it’s often sold for cars) and for a free container, you can’t beat the price. I used my 1900 ml solutions for 10 films until now and I have another 40 films left (when I find time again).

Disregard anything the manual says regarding temperature.However, I take no responsibility should your experiment fail because of other circumstances ;)

Let’s get it on!

Put your films on the reels and in the tank in complete darkness, like accustomed.

Presoak for 3 minutes with tap water, or, if your tap water is >5 degrees Celcius colder than your room temperature, always use water that has been left at room temperature overnight for everything. This is important to prevent film reticulation!
Presoaking helps development by saturating the emulsion and facilitating later developer penetration into all layers, especially with 120 film. I do not agitate during this step.

Pour out the presoak water. Pour in the developer at room temperature. Continuous agitation for 1 minute, then three taps on the workbench to dislodge bubbles. Leave for 45 minutes! This is the stand development.

Important: The Digibase instructions have omitted the crucial washing steps! I omitted them once, too and the films didn’t come out nicely. So, after pouring the developer back into its container for reuse wash for 3 minutes.

The next step is the bleach. Pour in the bleach at room temperature, agitate continuously for 1 minute, tap 3 times to dislodge bubbles and leave for 45 minutes. Omit this step for bleach bypass alternate processing!

Pour the bleach back into its container and wash for 3 minutes, if you did not omit bleaching for bleach bypass.

Now is the time to fix. Pour in the fixer, always at room temperature and now agitate continuously for one minute and then intermittently for 10 seconds every minute. Pour the fixer back into its container and wash using the Ilford method, i.e. one tank full of water and 5 slow inversions, then one tank full of water and 10 slow inversions and then last one tank full of water and 20 slow inversions.

Last comes stabilizer at room temperature. Pour it in and do not agitate, just leave for one minute. Make sure beforehand that your kit gives enough chemicals for your use, as I mentioned I bought more stabilizer, because otherwise I would not be able to fill my huge tank with the kit stabilizer. Pour it back into its container and voilá ready are your negatives to hang to dry for at least 3 hours.
To minimize dust, you can spray the room beforehand with water using a sprayer (I bought mine for 1 Euro from OBI). The water droplets bind floating dust. A dust-free environment like a shower is best.

That’s all there is to it! And you get this (all images shown in this article are with colour negative film to illustrate effect of development on colour; of course you can also use the process to xpro):

Not bad for stand development at room temperature without hassle, eh?
Actually, I find the colours are true and the quality indistinguishable from that at mass labs!
Who needs (semi-)automated processors worth a kindney??

The Digibase kit has separate bleach and fixer, instead of a combo chemical (blix) like other kits, which means an extra step. It also means, however, that I was able to experiment with something I wanted for a long time: Bleach bypass!!!!

This effect has been used in several movies, even Hollywood ones! Just google it! Maybe your favourite one is one of them! Also, eliminating one 45 minute stand step was much to my liking, because I am busy and rather impatient (yes, I admit it!) when it comes to my negatives. So, for bleach bypass, just omit the bleaching step and depending on film used and exposure given you will get such funky colours as here:

So, have fun developing C-41 at home at a cost of as little as 50 eurocents per roll without hassle and let me know of your results!! :D
Lomo on!

written by cyan-shine on 2011-08-25 #gear #tutorials #diy #c-41 #lab-rat #tipster #development #darkroom #stand-development #xpro #crossprocess #processing #bleach-bypass #film-processing #gupexperiment #room-temperature


  1. explorette
    explorette ·

    i use the digibase kit also, but i dont prewash anything and i use much higher temperatures to what it says on the info sheet. i end up with super bright colours and less contrast. i may try this one and see how it goes :D

  2. wilfbiffherb
    wilfbiffherb ·

    you shouldnt wash between developer and bleach, only after bleach and after fix.

  3. cyan-shine
    cyan-shine ·

    @explorette can't wait to see your results!
    @wilfbiffherb most sources say to avoid bleach contamination by developer via adding a wash or even an acidic stop bath, otherwise the developer shortens the life span of your bleach by lowering its pH. What does your source say?

  4. maxwellmaxen
    maxwellmaxen ·

    interesting technique! any info if this works with tetanal as well?

  5. xxxanderrr
    xxxanderrr ·

    Need to try this, along with Max's development method. Expenses, expenses, expenses.

  6. cyan-shine
    cyan-shine ·

    It should work with any kit :)

  7. ki7
    ki7 ·

    Great article, I only miss the duration of the fixing step. Should I do it like in b/w: double the clearing time?
    I would be happy about responses

  8. cyan-shine
    cyan-shine ·

    @ki7 it should be mentioned in the kit instructions.

  9. alexdecker
    alexdecker ·

    Hi. I was just wondering – do you dilute the C41 chemical further when stand developing? I mean, with the B/W process, you dilute Rodinal at 100/1 or something like that. Just wondering if I should go with the standard dilution per the instructions, which will give me 1 litre of concentrated developer, or how should I proceed?

  10. cyan-shine
    cyan-shine ·

    @alexdecker no, no dilution.

  11. jfminor
    jfminor ·

    This article inspired me to try developing film at home. Thanks. I have a question, my kit came with a blix. Do I follow your instructions for the 45 minute bleach and disregard the fixer instructions, or is there a different process for the blix portion? Thanks again for the great article.

  12. mihailvanderhill
    mihailvanderhill ·

    Hi! Very inspiring and useful article! Same question as JFMINOR. My rollei 1 liter kit coms with Blix mixture. thanks!

  13. frank_alfa
    frank_alfa ·

    Hi, great article!

    About Pushing: How much time shoud I add if I wanted to push 1,2,3,4... Steps, in other words, which is the subdivision that each new step would have?

    Knowing this, I can do the math by myself of how much time it take to 3 step pushing, 4 step pushing and so on...

  14. frank_alfa
    frank_alfa ·

    *it would take to a

  15. frank_alfa
    frank_alfa ·

    *it would take to a

  16. netjas
    netjas ·

    Tried the C-41 stand developing process. Worked out fine, but I got bromide drag marks at the sprocket holes. Have you ever experienced that?

  17. davidkachel
    davidkachel ·

    So, Kodak and Fuji didn't know what they were talking about and all those manufacturers of processing chemicals didn't know either. And all the manufacturers of expensive and complex processing equipment wasted their time and money and none of them knew anything about what temperatures to use or anything else to prevent color curve crossover. But YOU know all these things. Too bad all those stupid photo scientists didn't know to ask you instead of wasting all that time and tens of millions of dollars on research and development.
    You really shouldn't write articles for public consumption when you have not the slightest idea what you are talking about!

  18. davidkachel
    davidkachel ·

    @netjas And yet bromide drag is the LEAST damaging effect of so-called "stand development", which was debunked a century and a half ago.

  19. hugommn
    hugommn ·

    @davidkachel why so mad ?

  20. borrel
    borrel ·

    @davidkachel, The reason for the short development time (and all the research and development that was put into it) is that the average consumer could deliver their film and come back for prints after an hour of other chores. Not of course, to forget that it made for lots of profit from the sale of the machinery (and maintenance service) to do the automated 1-hour development and printing.

  21. borrel
    borrel ·

    Has anyone tried a quick final Photoflo rinse to avoid the drying stains?

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