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12-09-2010, 02:04 PM   #1
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Medium Format Film Processing

Just curious how many people roll their own, so to speak, and who sends it out. I've been toying with this MF dream off and on over the last six months or so, but I don't know much about it. Explain your process or who you send it out to. What films do you use, and why? I find this type of photography very interesting and would love to hear from the community what your process and choices are.

12-09-2010, 02:18 PM   #2
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B&W I do myself, color negative either at a minilab in Hoboken or I send to Dwayne's - slides, when I rarely let myself into shooting, to Dwayne's. Many minilabs can 'develop only' 120, it's worth asking.

And for true rolling one's own - I re-roll 120 film onto 620 spools for the Medalist.

I find developing and scanning 120 much easier thant 35mm, actually. You just unroll the film with the paper, onto a plastic reel (very easy, if you get the kind that has the larger tabs) and develop. With 35mm you need to open the cartridge, cut the leader etc etc. Flatbed scanners do a better job with 120 than with 35mm.

For color film, the 160 speed films from Fuji and Kodak are all very good, with different flavors.

B&W, again, there aren't any really bad films out there, the 120 film size makes a big difference. Most 120 film won't curl and gutter like 35mm film can, so I even shoot Kodak in 120...

It really is a back to basics form of photography, especially using a vintage camera. Apart from the Pentaxes, a great way to get started is with a TLR - there are several inexpensive good ones out there in the used market.
12-09-2010, 02:22 PM   #3
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I've thought of going that route. I suppose the initial hesitation is that I'd rather get frustrated with my skill than with camera function. That's why I'd thought of 645 up front. That and if I decided down the road that I was rubbish at it, I could probably get my money back minus film and supplies.
12-09-2010, 02:29 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rory Quote
Just curious how many people roll their own, so to speak, and who sends it out. I've been toying with this MF dream off and on over the last six months or so, but I don't know much about it. Explain your process or who you send it out to. What films do you use, and why? I find this type of photography very interesting and would love to hear from the community what your process and choices are.
As with all black and white, (which is mostly what I do with film, particularly since I have digital for color where I might once have just used for quick, utilitarian things, ) I prefer to do my own negs. Back home, I'd occasionally go to pro labs I used back when I was doing some weddings, (those that still existed, anyway,) And of course, there were times when I could just bring it to work, though I couldn't afford my own services, there, or much film, quite often.

There's gotta still be some good stuff in Chicago, though.


(And, in general, Rory, if you process yourself by the numbers, you'll probably do as well with some D-76 as most labs: all you have to do is be careful. Labs I'd trust my B&W to would get my occasional business for being quick and competent negs and proofs regardless of quantity. (or me having facilities.)


Speaking of re-spooling, by the way, Nesster, it'd occurred to me that with the general unavailability of 220, I'd been thinking about the practicality of converting 120 to short rolls of 220, for the sake of old cameras and magazines made just for that.


Last edited by Ratmagiclady; 12-09-2010 at 02:40 PM.
12-09-2010, 02:50 PM   #5
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I develop B&W negs, color negs and slide, all on my own. I use a Jobo CPA-2 with lift. I shoot & dev 35mm, 120, and 4x5. For debeloping B&W, I like DD-X, XTOL, Rodinal, D76. For color negs, I use Tetenal C-41 kit, and for slide, I use Kodak E-6. For film, I just use whatever I can get cheap (expired).

I currently have in the fridge: Provia 400X, Astia 100F, E100VS, E100G.
12-09-2010, 02:51 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ratmagiclady Quote
Speaking of re-spooling, by the way, Nesster, it'd occurred to me that with the general unavailability of 220, I'd been thinking about the practicality of converting 120 to short rolls of 220, for the sake of old cameras and magazines made just for that.

Not worth the hassle. Just throw the 120 in the 220 back. You'll definitely get 11 frames no problem, and usually 12 just fine. The frame spacing will be just bigger.
12-09-2010, 03:31 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rory Quote
I've thought of going that route. I suppose the initial hesitation is that I'd rather get frustrated with my skill than with camera function. That's why I'd thought of 645 up front. That and if I decided down the road that I was rubbish at it, I could probably get my money back minus film and supplies.

You will also get your money back - or even make some - with a Yashica Mat, Autocord, or Diacord, for example. About the only new thing you'd need is a hand held meter, otherwise a shutter speed and aperture is a shutter speed and aperture

I bought a 645 and haven't used it as much as I thought I might - the picture quality is great, having the automation is great, but the damn thing is bulky/heavy for carrying around all day. It is a great camera - though most here will likely talk you into one of the AF models for more money.

Going 120 is a fun learning experience and definitely expands your horizons if like me you grew up with 35mm.
12-09-2010, 07:30 PM   #8
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I have just recently got into medium format with a Pentax 67 and also started developing my own B&W. I also toyed with the idea for a few months before getting into it. My suggestion is... do it! Medium format is great, as Jussi mentioned it can expand your horizons - just look at the tonality and beautiful DoF you can get for a start.

Secondly, developing your own is great too. My enthusiasm with developing is rather high at the moment - after doing my first 6 rolls. Perhaps this is a little irrelevant as only one so far has been 120, but after being quite hesitant to get everything I needed together I really enjoy the process.
My thought so far is that you can keep it quite simple pretty easily, I guess depending on the chemicals and film used, whether it is pushed etc. In doing so, processing yourself is rather straight forward, cost effective and rewarding. I like being involved in every stage from exposure, development, scanning (I haven't done prints yet), presentation.

Anyway, I recommend you get into it and give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Even if you decide that it's not for you, I doubt you will have to sink much money into it at all really.

cheers,
Jason

12-09-2010, 07:40 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by goddo31 Quote
I have just recently got into medium format with a Pentax 67 and also started developing my own B&W. I also toyed with the idea for a few months before getting into it. My suggestion is... do it! Medium format is great, as Jussi mentioned it can expand your horizons - just look at the tonality and beautiful DoF you can get for a start.

Secondly, developing your own is great too. My enthusiasm with developing is rather high at the moment - after doing my first 6 rolls. Perhaps this is a little irrelevant as only one so far has been 120, but after being quite hesitant to get everything I needed together I really enjoy the process.
My thought so far is that you can keep it quite simple pretty easily, I guess depending on the chemicals and film used, whether it is pushed etc. In doing so, processing yourself is rather straight forward, cost effective and rewarding. I like being involved in every stage from exposure, development, scanning (I haven't done prints yet), presentation.

Anyway, I recommend you get into it and give it a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Even if you decide that it's not for you, I doubt you will have to sink much money into it at all really.

cheers,
Jason
How much do you have invested in the developing gear?
12-09-2010, 10:58 PM   #10
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started developing 35mm film a few months ago and found it very simple. I also purchased paper for printing etc. I have now been sucked into med format film. I have done one roll only but was very impressed. I have the pentax 6x7 and 105mm 2.4 lens.
Only problem is my enlarger only does up to 5.5x5.5cm film! Time for a bigger enlarger
Developing and printing yourself is very fulfilling. If not for doing it manually i would not keep shooting film, becuase there is less enjoyment and also much more expensive here in the shops.
12-09-2010, 11:15 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rory Quote
How much do you have invested in the developing gear?
I may have to get back to you on that, but I'll try to give a rough idea.

I only have some basic gear, but including chemicals I have spent a bit over $100.
I got the tanks and some accessories cheaply as a local used lot. However chemicals I bought them all locally (in AU) so you would expect the US prices to be considerably cheaper.
2nd hand Paterson tank with 2x 35mm + 1x 120 reels = $10
Changing bag = $20
Accessories, measuring beaker, containers = $25
Tmax Developer = $20, Ilford Rapid Fixer = $20, photo flo = $6, distilled water = $3.

I think that was about it, will check later when possible.
12-10-2010, 04:12 AM   #12
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Re cost of getting into film development - when I restarted after 25 some years, in '09, this is what I got, all new from B&H:
SAMIGON 35/120 tank with reels -= - I went with this because a) the reel has the large tabs b) at the time it was the cheapest B&H carried,,,
Actually here's what I bought that day, including the film and shipping it came to $108
QuoteQuote:
Kodak PXP 120 (PLUS-X PAN PRO) - KOPXP120 2 $3.99
$7.98
Kodak TX 135-36 (TRI-X PAN 400) - KOTX36 1 $3.59
$3.59
Kalt GRADUATE 21 oz 600 CC - KAG21O 1 $5.95
$5.95
General Brand SS DIAL THERMOMETER (1-3/4") - GBTDSS1.75 1 $14.95
$14.95
Kodak PHOTO-FLO 200 SOLUTION 16-oz - KOPF200P 1 $7.95
$7.95
Kodak T-MAX DEVELOPER 1-gal - KOTMDG 1 $13.50
$13.50
Ilford ILFOSTOP STOP BATH 500ml - ILISB500ML 1 $5.95
$5.95
Ilford RAPID FIXER 1-lit - ILRFL 1 $9.50
$9.50
Samigon UNIVERSAL PLASTIC DEV TANK w/2-REELS - SATU 1 $29.95
$29.95
Having used this stuff for 1 1/2 years, I'm still on the same stop, fixer and photo flo. The Tmax developer is excellent; however I was able to buy D-76 at $2 per gallon so I'm using that instead.

I bought a small funnel at the hardware store, use soda bottles for to hold mixed chemicals, used the darkest closet as dark area, develop in the kitchen so I use kitchen timers, and I already had some YASHICA brand film clips tho anything that clips works.

Since then I invested in a good large changing bag - from roger_luo on ebay, he's got the best, an the larger the better.

For 35mm you also need a bottle opener and scissors.


The biggest problem I had had to do with the two Kodak bottles being too similar: I developed 2 rolls at once, in Photo Flo and I still rue that as I had some good pics on those rolls too...
12-10-2010, 07:38 AM   #13
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I'm lucky that I have a good service around the corner in Cambridge, UK (well, everything is around the corner here). They develop all, and they also do high quality prints (Streamline is their name). I scan myself, although they also offer that service, because I have a good scanner myself, even if I need to develop my technique. Their developing is great, and it saves me from having to cramp a dark room in my house....
12-10-2010, 08:46 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
...
Having used this stuff for 1 1/2 years, I'm still on the same stop, fixer and photo flo.
..
You're really getting good milage out of that fixer. The Ilford Rapid Fixer Data Sheet says 6 months in tightly sealed bottle once opened.
12-10-2010, 09:50 AM   #15
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Before going digital, I did both 35mm and medium format. Medium is nicer (IMHO) to work with because of it's size. Cost savings was moderate, but the time savings was were home processing really shined. I once shot a wedding and had 8x10's printed before they cut the cake.

FWIW, 35mm processing became so cheap that it wasn't worth the effort unless as I stated above, I was in a hurry. Even then, there were one hour labs available. I still did my own enlargements though.
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