Since venturing into the realm of film, I noticed that getting film developed isn’t like it once was. There are some lucky people who have local labs that still develop film. The rest of us don’t have it so good. The drug stores still develop film, but, they send them off somewhere to be developed and they don’t return your negatives (this kinda defeats the purpose). There are some great labs that you can find online to send your film to for development. I have tried The Darkroom and they did a great job. When they receive the film, they develop them and upload them right away so you can view them online. Then, they mail your negatives back to you along with a CD of the images. You can also add additional things to your order such as prints and hi-resolution scans. I recommend using their service, but, it adds up.
I paid $11 to have a roll developed, and with shipping it came up to about $17. For someone who plans on getting a lot of film developed, this is a lot. So, I looked for other options, and developing my own film at home seemed to fascinate me. I got the Unicolor C-41 Kit to develop color negatives. In this post, I will go over the materials needed to get started with developing your color film at home:
Developing Tank and Reel(s)
3 Measuring Cups (1000 mL)
Container for holding water
Timer (I recommend the app called Develop! Film Development Timer)
Film Clips, Clothespins, Binder Clips (something to hang the film to dry.)
Storage Bottle (I have 3 of these; 1 for developer, 1 for blix, and 1 for stabilizer)
Scissors & Bottle Opener: The bottle opener is used to pry the film canister open. The scissors are used to give the film the initial cut before winding it on the reel. Both of these items are to be used inside of the changing bag.
Development Tank: This is where the film development will take place.
Film Developing Reel: The developing tank came with reels, but I found these Developing Reels to be much easier to load.
Gloves: These are important. You’ll be working with chemicals, so keep some gloves handy.
Measuring Cups: Since the C-41 kit makes a liter of developer, blix, and stabilizer, I have a 1-Liter measuring cup for each.
Funnels: I use these to pour the chemicals into the storage bottles.
Thermometer: used to measure the temperature of the water and chemicals.
Container: used to hold water so the chemicals can warm up to the desired temperature. I do this by placing the measuring cups inside of the container.
Timer: You can use a regular timer, but I recommend this Developer app that lets you input your all of your times.
Film Squeegee: used to remove excess water from the film after development.
Film Holder: I use these binder clips and a wire clothes hanger to hang my film in the bathroom.
These are the materials needed to start developing at home. The initial investment is somewhere in the hundreds, but after that, you’ll only have to re-up on the chemicals every so often. I will do another post on the process of developing using the c-41 kit.