Sunday, March 04, 2007

since i got asked many times in the last days and weeks about film processing, i thought i'd talk about what i know about it a littlebit.

so how to develope a film correctly ?

you need:

your film (best: cool storage, where you bought it and also where you stored it and of course not expired years ago)

developer such as id11, xtol, d76, dd-x, rodinal, microdol, microphen, ilfosol and co.

stop-bath (avoids that you mix developer and fixer, so your fixer lasts longer). stop bath with indicator is useful, because you use it until it turns from yellow to purple.

fixer (really no matter what brand, just the cheapest usually diluted 1:4 with water)

hypoclearing agent (not necessairily needed, but saves time and ensures that you film or paper is correctly washed. it "kills" the leftovers of the fixer that's soaked up in the material. hypoclean lasts longer when you wash your film/paper after the fix)

wetting agent (brand doesn't matter, still it's funny that tetenal seems to have a good one. usually diluted 1:200 or 1:400)

so when you have all your stuff together, you open the film and please, be sure that the room you're in is really dark.. i open mine with my hands.. i don't know how you do it, you'll find a way. you cut your film here and put it slowly on a spool.. well if you don't know that already..

before you put developer in your tank, be sure you have the correct time for your film and the specific developer, dilution and temperature.

usualy you develope at 20C°. if you go warmer, you'll shorten developing time but also increase grain and also contrast a bit.

dilution depends on your developer. most are 1:1 with water, but rodinal for example can be used 1:100 too, you just need a certain minimum amount of developer (10ml with rodinal, 100ml with xtol f.e.) best you check it before you use the developer.

stock means that you use the developer without dilution.

here is a useful link for developing times:

so when you have your developing time for your film, put in your smelly liquid. move it a bit (10 seconds).

move your film 2-3 times every minute or every 30 seconds. movement increases contrast and is needed to reach good tonal range. if you pull a film or shoot in a low contrast situation (cloudy day etc) moving your film every 30seconds will be needed. if you shoot on sunlight, you can reduce your movement to 2 times or even just every minute. depends on the film.

(everytime you have moved your film, it's good to hit the tank a little on the table or wherever you place it, so that air-bubbles don't thwart contact between film and developer)

pushing a film 1 step doesn't change the developing process a lot. you'll have a bit longer developing time.

pushing your film 2 or 3 steps, asks for much longer times. you can push films as trix, hp5 but also tmax400 2-3 steps. but mostly non t-grain films !

you'll have times up to 20minutes and more. that means you move your film about 120 (3x/30sec) times during the whole process.

push your film with the correct developer (push developers as xtol, hc110,dd-x..)

to avoid too much grain, don't develope stock or with the wrong developer (no d76 or id11 f.e.)

keep your temperature between 20 and 21C°.

be sure that the temperature remains the same during the whole process !

when your time is up, replace the used developer with stop bath. don't mix it. put your old developer in a bottle, don't tip it away !

move the tank with the stop for about 30 seconds. put the used stop bath back in your bottle. you can use it more than once ! stop baths with indicator can be used until the change colour.

now fix your film. depending on the film and condition of your fixer, it takes 3-10minutes.. but be sure it's long enough.. better fix your film longer than too short. it doesn't affect the image if you fix it too long.

move your tank with the fixer !

you can use your fixer more than once ! you can buy a fix-check if you want. 300ml fix 1:4 (1500ml diluted) fix about 15films 35mm films.

wash your tank. check if the film is fixed (it should look transparent and clean)

now wash your film in running water for about 20min. your water should move but you don't need 10 bar, don't waste too much water.

a filmcascade helps you reducing washing time down to 3-5min !

if you have hypoclean. you can use it after washing your film 60 sec. after the fixbath. it's a little helper you definately need for baryt prints, but not necessairily for films.. but i use it for a reason.

wash your film again after hypo for 5min.

put your washed film in the wetting agent ( your film should be transparent and should not show strong colour tint. trix and hp5 can be medium pruple, plus-x light purple. apx100, neopan1600 and tmax films should be almost completely transparent)

if you don't use wetting agent, you will have water marks and dust on your film.

this process just takes about a minute. jusrt be sure that the whole film has contact with the wetting agent.

use one of these to wipe off the wetting agent.
best you put your filmgripper in the wetting agent before. pull your whole film through the gripper at once. don't press to strong (scratches) but also not too light, because a (too) wet surface will collect dust while drying and you'll have white dots all over the negatives.

hang your film. use some weights as these to get your film straight while it drys.

use a film dryer if you have one, if not, you can use a fan too. don't adjust your fan too hot or hold it too close, you can ruin your film, but no worries with the fan, you must be very stupid if you don't see when your film starts to melt ;)

the longer it takes a film to dry, the more dust it will collect !

in a film dryer it takes from 5 to 10min to dry a film.

in general: use your chemicals at the same temperature. also wash your films between 18 and 24c°.
store your chemicals between 15 and 25C°. especially for developers: press the air out that's left in the bottle before you store it !
if you store your developer with too much air in the bottel, it will ruin the developer.

here some examples for negatives in different stages.

this is what your film should look like if you want good contrast

this is a trix at 18min 21C° xtol 1:1, exposed on 2400iso:

here is the scan of neg 29: 29

skintones should look like medium-dark grey usually. sorry, i only have one useful film at home and it's a trix+3.. but this negative is still representative for what skintones should look like on a neg:

and here the scan

when your negatives look like that, you have no contrast. you haven't moved the film enough or the developing time was too short. in some cases it could be that your developer is broken (wrong storage)

these negs are completely fucked.. but you can clearly see that they aren't fixed correctly. the yellow-brown veil shows it.

here negatives 6,7 and 8 are overdeveloped (or overexposed). you don't have any (near) transparent areas in the photo so no blacks on the print. if you have a negative like that, you'll have long enlarging times and high gradation probably. you lose tones also.

in general, the font of the brand should be clearly sharp and medium-dark. especially when you push films more than 1 step, the font should be black.

ps: and no matter what mister the great G! aka Gilad says about exposure, a good negative is a correctly exposed and correclty developed one. your best negatives will be your best prints too. you don't have a raw editor when you shoot on film, remember that ;)


Alexander said...

danke für den beitrag.

ein frage hab ich trotzdem, laut der tabelle muss man tri-x @ 3200 13,5 min lang in xtol 1:1 entwickeln. jetzt meine frage, du hast deinen film über 20 min entwickelt @ iso 2400.


smkblog said...

die zeiten sind einfach falsch.

ein trix auf 3200 belichtet muss bei 20C° mind 20min entwickelt werden

ich habe meinen trix auf 2400 belichtet und 18min entwickelt.

du kannst ja gerne den trix auf 3200 verschießen und 15min entwickeln.. nur ist er dann eine blende unterentwickelt

Alexander said...

das erklärt einiges...

d.h. trix auf 3200 so gegen 20-22 min entwickeln?

noch was, ich schätz mal diese zeiten stehen in keiner tabelle oder? reine erfahrungssache?

smkblog said...

ja. der trix braucht im xtol 1:1 20-22min auf 3200 belichtet.

ist reine erfahrung

Alexander said...

wenn wir schon dabei sind, frag ich noch schnell nach bevor ich heute entwickeln gehe: tri-x auf 400 hab ich bis jetzt immer so 9-10 min lang entwickeln, passt es ? auch im xtol 1:1

smkblog said...


Alexander said...

danke dir.

Gonzale said...

hehe at school we open the rolls with beerbottle-openers :D

Tomé Duarte said...

i use the retard-proof method - remove the tip of the film without opening the roll. ^^

it's really fast to put it in the reel that way. instead of twisting the reel i directly PUSH the film against the reel - at least in the jobo reels it works that way.

i've had some problems with tap water so i prepare the wetting agent with distilled water now, and a quick wash with distilled water before the wetting agent.

i don't wipe the water from the film. i just poor some wetting agent down the film before hanging it in a dust free place. it's the best results i've ever had - zero dust, zero spots and above all... zero scratch.

must strat usind the hypoclearing stuff and the clyster thingy! nice reading!

spanishjohnny said...

na das mit der zeit erklärt mir nun auch wieso der trix bei mir immer so scheiße aussah. danke für die tipps.

Sebastian said...

Was nimmst du für zeiten für trix+2 ? Die standard 13 1/4 | 20° laut Data Sheet oder andere ?

smkblog said...

trix auf 1600 belichtet kannst du ruhig zwischen 17 und 18min machen bei 20C°

Bernhard said...

herr lehrer, darf ich etwas sagen? darf ich? :(

du neigst etwas zu pauschalisieren - besonders was die bewegungen angeht. ich würd da eher empfehlen, sich an die vom hersteller empfohlenen zu halten (nicht so wie wir, die meinten, das wär etwas nicht ganz so wichtiges).
du schreibst, dass du trix bei iso3200 gut 20 min in xtol 1:1 20°C entwickeln würdest; außerdem alle 30" 3 bewegungen durchführen - letztrem stehe ich skeptisch gegenüber. ich denke, dass wenn du so oft über so einen langen zeitraum mit dem bewegen den kontrast unnötig steigerst und die eigentliche aufgabe - nämlich die zufuhr von frischem entwickler - überdeckst, du unnötig viele spitzlichter erzeugst. sicher, ob verlorene lichter bei so einem film noch von relevanz sind, darüber darf photograph und in ausgiebig debatieren - nur ließe es sich (glaub ich) recht einfach verhindern.

weiters empfiehlst du den trix bei 1600 zwischen 17-18 min zu machen, was ich - gelinde gesagt - für wahnsinn halte. das ist mehr als 1/3 über dem, was kodak empfiehlt.

egal, es ist eh deine sache. ist mir nur beim lesen des eintrages aufgefallen.

smkblog said...

berni schatzi. ich habe geschrieben wie ich sie mache. und das ist auch was mich andere fragen.

wenn menschen nach kodak und ilford angaben entwickeln wollen, müssen sie mich nicht fragen, sondern können einfach nachlesen.

ich entwickle so wie ich es brauche und will und das ist zZ mein letzter stand.

Adam said...


thanks for posting all of this about the darkroom, bet i have been annoying you with all my questions, but i spent a lot of money on my equipment, and i dont want to fuck up too much

i bought this and some tmax developer,kodak stop and fixer, and i got some cheap fb vc paper and developer, the idiots forgot to send the fixer so i cant really do anything til they send it, but ive researched a lot, anything else you recommend i get? wetting agent i know for sure

Drooper said...

My Tri-X doesn't seem as transparent, or my eyes are just lying. But I do fix up to 10 minutes usually, even if I had fresh fixer in use.

Probably just my eyes.

Got rid of all the dust problems with the squeegee. Used it for the last three rolls, and didn't have a single dust particle on my films.

Stopped using the hairdryer though, had a feeling it "pushed" the dust against the film surface. But again, that's probably just my life with the two cats.

I could buy the stopbath also, never used one before.

Very good to read this, even after developing over two hundred rolls it is good to think it over and read how someone else does it.

And I should change the way I storage my xtol's. Get a squeezebottle or something.


Adam said...

Oh man... I love You. I really do. I hope Joanna won't be jealous.

Thanks a lot. I really owe you ;)

So hypoclean - i think i found one - for example Tetenal Mirasol - it's a wetting agent and antifunghial stuff in one? Or not.. I can buy Kodak Hypoclearing agent too... But isn't it the same as Tetenal Lavaquick?

pHeela said...

Thank you. A lot of useful information.

stelios said...

wait. so you re-use your xtol? I have done this with other developers but with xtol (1+1) I did it only once with bad results. And since Kodak doesn't recommend it I'm not risking my negs. How much time more do you develop with reused xtol? (ok that's the thousandth question one asks you..)

smkblog said...

i don't use old xtol. i just collect old chemicals to dispose it correctly.

you can only reuse xtol if used as stock.. add 10% of the usual developing time if you do.

apixx said...

macht lust aufs entwickeln :)

schönes tutorial

Zhenya said...
closely ]
how are the things, Sev?]]

mehrzweckraum said...

da les ich mal wieder dein blog, und schon muss ich protestieren...

erstens fixiert man nicht, bis der film klar ist. sondern doppelt so lange. das nennt man dann doppelte klaerzeit. die chemie dazu erspare ich dir.

und zweitens ist es nicht egal wie lange man fixiert, weil naemlich irgendwann das bildsilber auch abgebaut wird, sprich die negative werden wieder duenner. und wo werden sie als erstes duenner? dort wo e nix is, also in dem was im bild die schatten werden sollen.
und bei einem frischen schnellfixer, der nach ca 40 sekunden seine halbe klaerzeit erreicht hat (dh nach 2min sicher!! ausfixiert ist) faengt der effekt schon bei 5min an.

und damit halt i a scho wieder die goschn. bernd.

Anonymous said...

very nice entry, thanks alot! can you please post an entry with how you do those fine prints too? which chemicals you use etc?

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