Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home

Show Printable Version Search this Thread
08-12-2009, 09:39 AM   #1
Site Supporter
MBrannon's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Clearwater, FL
Posts: 135
Film Developing Guidebook

I would really like to learn how to develop my own film. Not just black and white negative, but color negative as well. I was wondering if anyone could point me towards a good book that covers the process step-by-step, and is easy for a darkroom noob like myself to understand. I mainly just want to develop the negative and scan it onto the computer. I'm not really planning on doing prints.

I've been looking around the net a bit trying to find the best choice. One that I've found is "The Basic Darkroom Book" by Michele and Tom Grimm. Does anyone have experience with this one, or maybe have a better choice? I really appreciate any help anyone may have.

08-12-2009, 11:56 AM   #2
Veteran Member
Venturi's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Tulsa, OK
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 2,639
Hey Michael,

I started developing my own film first of the year. Started with B&W and have now begun color as well. It is much easier than it might seem to get going.

Here's are some links to pages I used to help get me going. I have yet to buy any specific darkroom books though as I move further down the road I'm sure they will begin appearing on my bookshelf.

C h i i f C a m e r a s - Developing B&W Film
Fecal Face B&W Processing Tutorial
YouTube - How to Develop Film
Digitaltruth Photo
Kodak HC-110 Developer - Unofficial Resource Page

Developing a C41 colour film
YouTube - Developing C41 Color Film At Home

Freestyle Photographic Supplies
08-12-2009, 02:16 PM   #3
Veteran Member

Join Date: Apr 2009
Photos: Gallery
Posts: 489
I just got a book out from the library, I think it was like, Basic photography guide. Anyway, that helped.

I'll give you a very simple guide to developing.

Stop bath
wetting agent
clothes pegs
3 containers for the chemicals

Get a tank and spool. In a completely dark room, (I use my bathroom with a towel across the bottom of the door), reel the film onto the spool. This may take alot of practice, it may help it you use some old film you don't care about and just practice with that in the light first.

Once the film is in the tank, you can do the rest of the process in the light. All the dilution rates and times are on the developing bottles. You need a thermometer to know what temp the chemicals are at. Get 3 containers to mix each chemical in (Developer, stop bath and fixer). You need a timer or watch, and then pour the chemicals in and time as long as necessary for each (developing varies due to film speed, temp and developer, stop is about 2 min, fix is about 5 min). Agitate for 10 seconds every minute, give the tank a firm bang on the table to release any air bubble trapped against the film surface.

Once fixed, you can open the tank, rinse out the tank + film for 15-30min. You may wish to use a wetting agent, which helps the negs to dry without water marks on them. Get film out and let it dry, you can get tongs to scrape alot of the water off. You can hang the film with clothes pegs, with one on the bottom to help the film dry straight.

That's kinda rough, but would get you through developing.
08-12-2009, 04:12 PM   #4
Site Supporter
MBrannon's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Clearwater, FL
Posts: 135
Original Poster
Thank you for your replies.

Venturi, thanks for the links. I didn't know about the chemical kits that freestyle has. That's probably the way I'll go.
Cosmo, Thanks for the run down. It doesn't sound like it would be terribly hard at all.

One other question - once you develop a roll and pour the chemicals back into containers, about how many times can you reuse the chemicals before they need replaced? Thank you again for all the help.

Last edited by MBrannon; 08-18-2009 at 12:26 AM.
08-12-2009, 05:56 PM   #5
Site Supporter
Sluggo's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Ames, Iowa
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 603
"need replaced"? Did you grow up in eastern Ohio or western Pennsylvania by any chance? That's a regional expression that seems to be spreading, but I digress before even starting.

I'm not sure what you would need tongs for. I don't have any.

How many times you re-use the chemicals depends on the chemicals. The color development kits will have explicit instructions about how many rolls they recommend you do before getting new chemicals.

For black and white, the developers are usually used once (in water dilutions that make the practice reasonably economical), but there are exceptions. Some developers can be used over and over, either by gradually increasing development times to compensate for the stuff getting weaker until you replace it, or by using some kind of replenishment scheme.

Almost everybody re-uses black and white fixer multiple times. Occasionally you'll hear from somebody who does not.
08-12-2009, 11:15 PM   #6
Inactive Account

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Brisbane, QLD, AUS
Posts: 3,262
I've reused fixer for months, nearly a year. It tends to be more stable than developer, and it's not like you have to fix for a certain time. Also, I can't ever recall measuring fixer with any more accurate than my eye. With rapid fixer, you leave the film in for two minutes, then you can check to see, in normal light, whether it's completely clear. So exact dilution doesn't matter that much, because time doesn't matter that much. It's a "when it's done" process.

For devs, using excellent D-76 (if you're starting of with BW developing, start with that or Ilford's equivalent, ID-11) I normally just throw it out after each use. D-76 isn't that expensive. Also, diluting it 1:1 (or 1+1, as Ilford lists dilutions - one part water, one part D-76 solution) gives pretty much the same results while using half as much developer. Of course, with any other developer, all bets are off as to the results.

But that's the beauty and fun of DIY BW film development. BW Devs have massive effects on the final image - some give greater shadow detail, some smoother highlights, some give finer grain, others give greater acutance ("sharpness,") some smooth out midtones, etc, etc...and all those effects also depend on what film you use. Note that fixers don't really have any visual effect.

I learned, some would say not very well, from Kodak's Tech Pubs. ("Tech Pub" being short for "Technical Publication," of course, not a bar where geeks hang out.)

Before you buy anything, start there. They're free, and tell you only the mechanics of developing film, and, more importantly, deal with 35mm, 120 and sheet film.

A lot of other publications tend to be written by Zonies who find the idea of developing several frames of film at a time (eg, 35mm) repugnant and alien, and instead basically tell you the only way to do it is to just shoot several hundred dollars' worth of test frames, and waste them in the darkroom in order to find out the correct dev times for each single type of shot. It's makes film developing seem daunting, dull, and anal.
08-13-2009, 09:05 AM   #7
Veteran Member
titrisol's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: In the most populated state... state of denial
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 1,098
In the goodwill stores it was very easy to find the Hedgecoe's books, there is at least 1 covering the subject you want quite extensively.
08-13-2009, 09:17 AM   #8

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Bay Village, Ohio USA
Posts: 1,047
Clearwater Public Library

Clearwater Public Library System Home Page

I did a quick search at your local library, using the keywords "photography" and "processing". This resulted in 180 hits. Some of the books are a little old, from the 1970's, but some were also within the last ten years. Film processing really hasn't changed that much for a long time, so any of them could probably give you the basics, although they may refer to products that are no longer available.

08-14-2009, 10:49 AM   #9

Can't really recommend any since all of mine are 30+ years old. Still good info just not sure if still in print. I've done a lot and I mean a lot of darkroom work in my time. I have a question for you though. If you're not printing stuff why bother developing it yourself? I mean the fun of it for me anyway was the effort in making the print. Developing the film itself was the drudgery to get past so I could have fun printing. The local lab can do it better and cheaper than you can. And safer to the environment than you. And give you the scans since you're going that way anyway. By not printing you're losing the essence of film anyway.
08-14-2009, 02:07 PM   #10
Site Supporter
MBrannon's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Clearwater, FL
Posts: 135
Original Poster
Well, the reasons I'm thinking of developing my own, are mainly cost, fun, and convenience. I also like the idea that once I get a little experience with doing it myself, I could take more time and care to make sure it comes out how I want. As far as the scans, I can make better, higher resolution scans than your local Wal Mart or Walgreens. I've already bought a Canoscan 8800 scanner, which does pretty high resolution scans of negatives, positives and slides (not to mentioon prints). I like the idea that if I shoot 2 or 3 rolls, I don't have to wait for the developing. I can go do it right then and have the results quickly. I can also have better control of the end product.
08-14-2009, 02:10 PM   #11
Site Supporter
Blue's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Florida Hill Country
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 17,212
QuoteOriginally posted by lithos Quote

. . .

I learned, some would say not very well, from Kodak's Tech Pubs. ("Tech Pub" being short for "Technical Publication," of course, not a bar where geeks hang out.)

. . .
We used to have an "Office" and a "Library" that were pubs around here.

Sadly, this is all that remains of them.

On a serious note, don't overlook these tech pubs on the Kodak site either:
08-14-2009, 02:50 PM   #12
Site Supporter
MBrannon's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Clearwater, FL
Posts: 135
Original Poster
Thanks Blue, I'm checking them out. I appreciate all the comments and recommendations from everyone.

  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
choice, darkroom, film
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Developing B/W film with C-41 ftpaddict Pentax Film SLR Discussion 21 05-27-2014 06:47 PM
1 hour film developing irishwhite Film Processing, Scanning, and Darkroom 9 06-15-2010 08:45 AM
What is this about?! (Film/developing question) Jimfear Pentax Film SLR Discussion 32 05-13-2010 03:24 AM
cost of film developing Gooshin Pentax Film SLR Discussion 16 08-25-2008 04:47 AM
My first crack at developing my own film! Nick_b Post Your Photos! 5 08-04-2008 07:53 PM

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 05:53 PM. | See also:, part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]