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Tired of spending so much dough on color processing at the lab? Like the pictures you see above? Well, today Max Zulauf of http://maxattacks.tumblr.com has a special treat for you guys: DIY Processing of C-41 Films!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- a film-developer tank (a lot of people trust on Jobo Tanks, I got an AP because they are cheaper)
- a trash bag
- the film you will want to process
- measuring tools
- a funnel
- Tetanal C41 Rapid Kit (they come in liquid and powder form, for 1 or 5 litres of working solution. I guess the liquid is easier to work with but I don’t know since I’ve never used the powder)
- chemistry bottles (I have plastic ones but I‘d rather go for 500ml glass bottles because they are heavier)
- an aquarium heater
- a timer (I use my cell, every cell has a timer)
- a water tank where you can fit the three bottles and the development tank
Ok, first of all, you need to know that C41 is a normed process, this means that all films whatever ASA they are, take the same amount of time to develop. This helps if you want to process 2 films at one go and they have different speeds. There are different ways to process C41, the standard is on 38°C, but this is too hot for me and pretty fast, there is the 45°C express process and the 30°C slower process. I will show you the last method, because the temperature is easier to control and isn’t too fast.
Secondly, the chemicals will weaken pretty fast, this means the more film processed in this solution, the longer it’ll take to process subsequent films. But don‘t worry, each Tetenal pack has a manual in it with a nice chart and processing times.
Thirdly, try to avoid useless air contact with your chemicals. They will oxidize and turn bad faster if you leave bottles open and so on. You can slow the process down if you get yourself a Tetenal Protectan Spray, it adds a film of gas (heavier than air, lighter than water) on top of your chemicals without affecting its processing ability.
Mixing The Chemicals & Getting The Right Temperature:
Mix your chemicals. I use 500ml working solution, this means I can keep the 1 liter kit for twice as long. Mix them according to the manual in the package and pour each part (CD for Color Developer, BX for Bleach/Fix and Stab for Stabiliser) into one bottle, close it and label it accordingly. Put them into the water tank. Also put the thermometer and aquarium heater into it and fill the tank with warm water.
It is crucial that you keep control over the water‘s temperature, because there is basically no tolerance in temperature for the process.This will now have to wait a little while, until it all is on 30°C. After a few go’s you’ll know how warm it has to be and you’ll be able to get almost the exact temperature needed. You can speed up this process by adding hot or cold water. On my part, I like to naturally heat up the water using a heater.
Load Film In The Developing Tank:
Take the scissors, film and tank, put them into the trash bag and the trash bag under your blanket. I only use the trash bag because I can trust that it’s dust-free. You do not need it but better be safe than sorry. As you know in this process, no light should get to the film. I won‘t explain the rest, since there are tons of tutorials on this out there. After you’ve loaded the film, put the tank into the waterbath as well.
(Alternatively you can just use a darkroom bag :) )
We’ll skip the part where you wait to get the right temperature. This can vary between minutes and an hour, depending on the initial water temperature.
Make sure that you have the manual with you so can be certain of the exact times need for each step.
First off, pour the CD into your tank. The time starts when you start pouring it.
Close the tank and put the funnel in the bottle. Put the tank back into the waterbath and just move it around there gently. You can rotate it a bit as well. Do this the entire time. This will first help you use all the chemicals, not only the parts next to your film, but it will also help the water in the tank to flow around and keep the same temperature. Because your heater is of no use if you only heat up the still water around the heater and the rest cools off.
About 10 Seconds before the time runs out, pour the CD back into its bottle and store it for later use.
Then pour in the BX and just do the same thing like before. When you put the BX back into it‘s bottle, you‘ll need warm, running water.
Rinse the film for about 6 minutes. I normally proceed this way.
Fill the tank, invert it 10 times, pour out the water and repeat.
I normally do this 12 times, since it takes about 30 seconds each. After this it is already STAB time! No! No daggers, no knives. Sorry for that lame pun!
Put the tank on a steady surface and pour in the STAB. Just leave it like this for about a minute.
Since STAB foams so much, I never move it because it’ll exaggerate the foaming. After a minute pour in the STAB and rinse the film again.
Now it’s safe to open & check the tank.
Hold Your Breath & Open The Tank!
I normally add a few drops of wetting agent, but this is up to you. The booklet in the Tetanal kit says nothing about a final rinse and most people will just hang the film to dry with the STAB foam still on it.
Now open up the reel, take off the film and hang to dry with a clothes peg. I normally hang two more at the bottom end to straighten the film.
Wash your tank & other equipments throughly as you do not want any calcium residues (due to hard water) on them, this can affect your results the next time round. If you want, you can blow-dry your negatives or just leave them there for about 2 hours.
You can then cut the negs, put them in sleeves and press them for a few hours (for best results) but you can also just go ahead and scan them.
Edit: DON’T FORGET TO SAY THANKS TO MAX! You can say hi to him by visiting his tumblr http://maxattacks.tumblr.com or visit his flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbbbjs.