Developing Color Film – What I’ve Learned

DCF-2

The film is Superia 200, and this is a mish-mash of the last week or so…

Don’t ask me what the gear was, as that is an intriguing topic for another day.

I believe I have now used eight of the Tetanal kits…which means around 120 rolls of film (MF and 35mm included).

I thought I’d take the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions regarding color development, and share some of my insights thus far.

So in no particular order, here they are (for what they’re worth!)

  1. No, you don’t need a darkroom.  (But you knew that already!!)
  2. No, it is not any harder than developing B&W film (there is actually less variability, as long as you control your temperatures properly).
  3. No, you don’t have to do inversions (I use agitations instead, as every tank leaks; I do not note any uneveness in development).
  4. No, you should not push your kit beyond 14 or 15-36 exposure rolls. (I use the last few for monkeying around with Cinema film and cross-processing and such…nothing mission-critical for sure).
  5. No, you cannot skip the surfactant step (Photo-flo or whatever…you absolutely have to do it after your Stabilizer; Your negatives may not last a million years, but at least they won’t have streaks or water spots).
  6. No, you do not need distilled water (unless you are developing MF negatives…then it actually actually matters).  I use cool tap water with the Photo-flo, and the negatives are streak-free.
  7. Yes, it is worth the extra effort; and…
  8. The Pakon F-135 is a darn fine scanner for the price and convenience.

DCF-1

DCF-3

DCF-4

DCF-5

DCF-6

DCF-7

DCF-8

DCF-9

DCF-11

DCF-12

DCF-10

DCF-15

DCF-16

DCF-17

DCF-18

So there you have it.  Plenty of time and money down the drain, and this is the best I have to offer you.

Does Baby J get photographed too much?  Maybe so…but there is no harmful radiation involved, and the others won’t sit still long enough!

Oh and one more thing: You really should “give it a go” if you’re considering it; You don’t really need an immersion circulator or anything…but it certainly helps.

😉

All the best,

-M.

(Footnote: Photos 13 and 14 copyright The Producer)

8 thoughts on “Developing Color Film – What I’ve Learned

  1. mewanchuk says:

    Thanks very much!

    If you’re doing B&W, it is easily within reach–much less decision making! Feel free to give me a holler if you have any questions.

    All the best,
    M.

  2. bijansabet says:

    such gorgeous photographs!

    i still don’t have the courage to develop my own film — i already find it hard to remember to remove the dark slide half of the time before a shot 🙂

    • mewanchuk says:

      …you see Bijan? You’ve already (almost) mastered the difficult part!

      🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to view and comment during your fantastic vacation–you have made me really want to visit that part of the world.

      All the best,
      M.

  3. mikeyjive says:

    Thanks for all the effort and documentation. Your photos/process are quite inspiring in a totally unassuming and unpretentious way. I appreciate that! I’ve been using the same immersion circulator and I’m never 100% satisfied with the color I’m getting. But things have improved quite a bit from when I started. I still find a slight color cast in the shadows and highlights… not impossible to correct but kind of a drag trying to get a roll of 36 to appear color-consistent. Interesting that recently I re-scanned some negatives I had done by a pro photo lab (whose Noritsu scans were great). I was surprised that, using the v700 and Silverfast (with about ten seconds in Photoshop for final color balance), I was able to pretty closely replicate the end result from the pro-lab/scanner when it came to color. It was just a quick test but interesting in that it tells me the big differentiator might just be the chemicals. I guess that’s not so surprising but I’d always thought my scanner could be the bottleneck.

    • mewanchuk says:

      Thanks MJ,

      I really appreciate your comments.

      I think you’ve given me an idea for my next post; rather than address each one of your points here, I think I’ll devote some time to a cogent response. Give me a day or two to put something together…

      All the best,
      M.

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