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11-01-2010, 07:09 AM   #1
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Jumping into the b&w film developing world

Hi there,

After doing some math and figuring out that b&w film development was way to expensive here where i live, i decided to go the DYI route and i started buying the gear to develop b&w at home, in the long run it will be cheaper and it sure seems like fun

I know there's a lot of info on the web.. i've been reading it, nevertheless i decided to open this thread to check if anyone as any good advice, here's my shopping list:

HP5+ and FP4 film rolls (it's the cheaper i can get here, around 4~4.5)
LC29 developer (i can also get ID11 and Ilfosol 3)
Ilford Stop Bath
Ilford Fixer
Stainless Steel Developing tank
Thermometer
Tweezers
Graduated Recipients
Planning to buy a Epson V500 Scanner (That's best i can find sub 200)

Am I on the good route? I've been reading some sites, checking some youtube videos and studying the film and developer fact sheets but if anyone has some good sites to recommend that would be great.

Any advice is much appreciated

Cheers.

11-01-2010, 08:45 AM   #2
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Have a look at this Getting Started Film Development thread. Good info there.
11-01-2010, 11:16 AM - 1 Like   #3
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7dayshop mails stuff from Jersey, and they are selling Fuji Neopan 1600 off at 2.99 a for a 36 135 roll. I've just ordered some for the first time, but they are a good source of TRIX and TMAX which are pretty good films.

This is a good site and another would be Apug. For artistic inspiration, something like the RPS website is better than Flickr. Some photographers I want to buy books from shortly include Steichen, Salgado, Frank, Feininger. I've been reading a Cultural History of Photography recently, and its had a bigger impact on my taking photos than any websites. I found websites useful from a technical perspective, but in terms of content, looking at things has a more powerful influence. I think in one of Hicks and Schultz book they say photography is a mix of art, craft and science, and all 3 areas need to be addressed. I find that the art aspect is the one that I addressed least in the beginning.

LC29 is good for pushing HP5+, which will still perform well if you lie to your camera and tell it that its got 1600 film in it. Ilford chemicals are expensive...but LC29 stores well. You could have a look at Kodak's XTOL developer, which works out as about 30p per roll, Fotospeed stop and fixer are about 40p roll combined. Ilford films are old tech and have fat grain and lower resolution. But they are easy to process, you are less likely to come out with completely blank frames, which happens sporadically to me when I push Kodak TMAX.

ebay is a good place to get hold of a paterson drum, dont get into a bidding war, it should cost less than a tenner for a drum, otherwise try secondhanddarkroom or nova. I had a look at a stainless steel drum in Nova and I'd be concerned about reflections around the light baffles, and the sealing.

if you are shooting 35mm film, a V300 will provide the same quality scans as the V500 as they have the same heads. These can be had from shops like ebuyer for about EUR 100. trouble is how do you intend to print? scanning is good for posting photos to the web, but it introduces spurious amounts of grain I find...a cheap enlarger with something like a Componon S or Nikkor f2.8N 50mm enlarging lens will give good results. You just need a way to darken a room, or a light tight 2830 Jobo drum and away you go. It will work out cheaper than the enlarger, and you will have a bit of fun in the process. I find a good balance is to shoot both colour and BW and let my local lab print my colour stuff, and do the BW myself. I binned my Epson scanner and have my eyes on an Imacon.

Dont kid yourself, film is not cheap...the camera equipment is, if you restrict yourself to a 50mm prime. (Which is unlikely to happen!) But this myth that film kit works out cheaper than digital as digital devalues is just not true. If you get into film, and keep tabs on your expenses...its scary. Printing materials and film development add up. But I figure I have wasted money in worse ways in the past, and you get something to show for it for your kids to enjoy (provide you've washed the prints well).
11-03-2010, 07:11 AM   #4
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QuoteQuote:
Printing materials and film development add up.
I hope that I am not hijacking this thread, I feel this is relevant enough without having to start a new topic.

I'm starting to gain interest in film development too. I wouldn't do prints all the time though. My goal is develop the film so that it can be scanned into a computer, then post-process it - and maybe print out the photos that turn out really well. Basically treat my film camera like my digital, but adding the fun of developing the negatives versus importing them from an SD card from a camera. I don't really print my photographs, at least not at this point.

That said, if you just focus on developing negatives in order to scan them instead of creating prints, do the costs really add up? In my initial research it looks like there is some small upfront costs for things like a tank and setting up a dark place - but after that you just need to get new chemicals every now and then.

Coming from a reef tank hobby which was mad expensive (I replaced that hobby with photography) and beer brewing - well, beer brewing is always around $80 a pop for me, because I always find supplies to buy. So beer brewing turns out to be ~$2 a beer.

That said, what do you consider average cost per roll of film?

11-03-2010, 07:16 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by barbosas Quote
LC29 developer (i can also get ID11 and Ilfosol 3)
Ilford Stop Bath
Ilford Fixer
Stainless Steel Developing tank
Ilford chemistry is a good bet to start with - they provide a lot of info and help on their website. When I tried Ilfosol 3 it was good - but by the end of the bottle the developer had gone bad. The specific developer (this is a bit heretical) doesn't much matter when one's starting out - more important are ease of use and repeatability.

Instead of a stainless steel tank, I recommend looking at the plastic ones as the loading of the reels is much easier to learn.
11-03-2010, 09:19 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Capslock118 Quote

That said, if you just focus on developing negatives in order to scan them instead of creating prints, do the costs really add up? In my initial research it looks like there is some small upfront costs for things like a tank and setting up a dark place - but after that you just need to get new chemicals every now and then.
...
That said, what do you consider average cost per roll of film?
A roll of 135-36 BW film varies in price. $3-$6 USD is common. Infrared is expensive. I worked out the chemical costs for PMK Pyro per roll of film and it was $0.32 for the developer and about $0.18 for the fixer I use. I only need water for a stop bath with this developer. I'm sure many other developers are in that ball park.

I'd say long shelf life, one-shot developers can be cheaper in the long run. If you find yourself not shooting for a while, you won't be tossing out unused, mixed, developer that has expired.

I wouldn't say digital is an inexpensive hobby either. Look how many here on PF are upgrading to a new camera every two years.
11-03-2010, 09:50 AM   #7
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Hi Barbosa, equipment list is very good start. Agree with hoojam, can be expensive.
With scanning what it is these days, is good work around compared with prints.
But, think Tuco alludes to a break even point, which I also agree with.
Could always contact print neg's a few times to help you decide, without
much additional capital outlay.(gives head start on print process)

Site down below Ive heard of, offers a lot of good stuff... chemicals, etc.
never bought from before, have a one-shot E-6 kit from them heading here,
Ill find out I guess.

Freestyle Photographic Supplies
11-03-2010, 03:10 PM   #8
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I think focussing on the cost is only relevant initially, as you scout out the idea of what it may do to your budget. But once you are committed to something, you tend to take the view "in for a penny, in for a pound". I don't think photography is particularly financially expensive, in comparison to other areas of life. It would be "expensive" if it was not rewarding, but once you establish its worth it, cost is secondary.

11-03-2010, 06:26 PM   #9
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Thank you all for your inputs

Also bought this small beauty to play with, took a couple of hours to open it, clean it, change the light seals, it's great now

11-06-2010, 01:45 PM   #10
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Nice cam !
11-06-2010, 06:15 PM   #11
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Thanks.

My K2 died sent it for repair, bought a couple of cheap rangefinder's, my 1st non pentax camera in a long time.
12-27-2010, 01:30 AM   #12
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You will never, ever get the same quality of B&W print out of a computer you will in a wet darkroom unless you have a very, very good printer and use good paper. The problems include colour casts (some printers use grey and black inks to avoid this), metamerism and not being able to print a really good deep black.

However there is a huge amount of skill to producing good darkroom prints, starting with getting a well-exposed original and continuing forwards. I saw a talk at a camera club where a couple showed some of their old B&W prints which were stunning, and some had a lot of artifice involved as well.

If you want to try wet printing then good kit is going begging these days as people switch to digital.

Scanning B&W is also not without it's problems - the residual silver interfers with D-ICE so you have to take a lot of care to make sure the film is super-clean when it's scanned. A couple of things you haven't listed that might be useful are cotton gloves for handling film, and negative envelopes for storing it in. Make sure you have some sort of numbering system you carry through to the name of the scanned image so you can always go back and rescan if necessary.
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