Developing and printing...... how easy?

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by Paul Giverin, May 20, 2009.

  1. Paul Giverin

    Paul Giverin Guest

    Having recently rediscovered the joy of film, I'm having a great time
    with my ME Super shooting b&w film. However, the cost of processing the
    film is quite expensive.

    I'm seriously thinking of doing it myself but I admit I've never done
    this before and my knowledge is basic. I believe that the developing
    isn't too difficult or expensive but that the printing is a bit more
    tricky. I would prefer conventional prints rather than scanning the

    I would appreciate it if someone with a bit of knowledge could go though
    everything I would need. I am thinking of creating a small darkroom in
    my attic. Would that be suitable? I think there are a lot of temperature
    variations throughout the year.

    I see that there is a lot of kit for sale on ebay for reasonable money.
    Any recommendations or anything to avoid?


    Paul Giverin

    British Jet Engine Website:-

    My photos:-
    Paul Giverin, May 20, 2009
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  2. Paul Giverin

    Geoff Berrow Guest

    Not such a big problem with B+W. The real big thing a dark room needs
    is a water supply and waste disposal. It would be hard to do it in an
    attic without those.

    It's a good many years since I did any but OTTOMH the things you need

    Developing tank and film spirals
    Measuring jugs
    Film squeegee
    Enlarger +lens
    Masking frame
    Focus aid
    Developing trays
    Safe light
    Developer for film and paper
    Resin coated paper

    A paper dryer is a luxury you can probably build up to as resin coated
    paper dries flat easily enough.

    I wouldn't do it predominantly as a way of saving money. But it is
    tremendous fun and I may do it again myself one day. And you also have
    the benefit of being in creative control.
    Geoff Berrow, May 20, 2009
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  3. Paul Giverin

    A.Lee Guest

    Dev and print is piss easy.
    You need to be methodical, patient , clean, and do everything by the
    It is more time-consuming than difficult.
    Yes, you can do it in the attic. My first darkroom was a bedroom
    cupboard, just room to stand in, the enlarger on a chest high shelf, the
    3 chem dishes on a waist high shelf.
    My next was in the attic. Worked much better, everything sat on an old
    coffee table. Water taken up in a 5L container, brought back down in a
    bucket when I'd finished.

    I'm not sure it is any cheaper overall than sending them off to be
    printed, but diy'ing is far better IMO, easier to crop, burn in skys

    Get the best enlarger you can afford. Pretty easy to get something
    reasonable for £50, Dishes, masks etc are less than £5 each new, so buy
    new for them, or get a job lot from ebay.

    I'm not a fan of condensor enlargers. They, apparently, give a better
    contrast. I'm not so sure that the effect is noticeable on my pics. The
    downside is they show any slight bits of dust/muck on the negs or
    enlarger light path. A diffuser enlarger does help to get dust free
    prints. You should really be after perfectly clean negs and carriers
    etc, but in the the real world, it is not always easy.

    Chems are getting more difficult to buy locally. When I started, even
    the local chemist kept Ilford chemicals in stock. Tetenal are good:

    I use their stuff all the time now.

    Get a copy of Black & White Photography magazine, some specialist
    darkroom suppliers advertise in there.

    A.Lee, May 21, 2009
  4. We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the
    I used to do plenty of B&W processing and it was a PoP, and dead cheap -
    worked out at around 13p /film iirc.
    After a gap of (plentyyears) I'm now getting back into home processing,
    but colour this time. All my kit is long gone, but it's so cheap second
    hand now, it's not a problem.

    You don't actually need a darkroom now if you don't want one - best of
    both worlds is to load the film into a tank in a changing bag, process
    it in daylight using a Jobo or similar, then scan the neg and print off

    Changing bag - <£20
    Paterson tank - <£20
    Jobo CPE2 - ~£100
    C-41 kit for
    80 films ~£32 (Fuji C41 X-Press kit) also Silverprint,
    Firstcall,Nova Darkroom

    You can do it without a Jobo - google "home processing c-41" or similar
    and you'll find people doing it in home-made water baths, no problem.
    Grimly Curmudgeon, May 21, 2009
  5. Paul Giverin

    Geoff Berrow Guest

    Couple more things I've remembered.

    Neg bags (transparent plastic, not tissue paper)
    Contact printing frame (or a sheet of glass will do)

    I've just been adding it up and it's 30 years since I did any home D&P
    Back then there was a choice in grades of paper (different contrast) and
    surface finishes, (gloss to matt). There was also a universal paper - I
    think you changed the contrast on this chemically. There may be other
    products available now, I don't know.

    As others have said, the actual process, once you get used to it, is
    dead easy and great fun.
    Geoff Berrow, May 21, 2009
  6. Paul Giverin

    Geoff Berrow Guest

    Filters, ah yes, that makes more sense. I don't think I ever used it.
    Geoff Berrow, May 21, 2009
  7. Agree about attic - even without running water, it's hassle carrying all
    those liquids up and down. My darkrooms have been either in bathrooms
    temporally adapted or spare bedrooms.

    It's only the dark stuff that needs to be there. I used a bucket of
    slightly hypoed water to chuck prints into after fixing, and then washed
    them in the bath. (Mind you that was before water metering!)
    Personally, I'd (as I did 12 years ago the other way) go for developing
    film in a daylight tank (no darkroom necessary), and scan the negs into
    digital format. (I spent £400+ on a 35mm scanner in 1997 - good ones are
    only half that today.)

    If you like the B&W results from your digital printer (and my printer
    produces lovely B&Ws with the right paper) then take the next step and
    go for a darkroom.

    The only thing missing from the above is an enlarging exposure meter
    (lumimeter) that makes life easier.


    Michael J Davis

    Photography takes an instant out of time,
    altering life by holding it still. - Dorothea Lange
    Michael J Davis, May 21, 2009
  8. I did. I don't know if the composition is the same now as it was 25
    years ago when I used it, but it had an interesting effect - the harder
    the filter, the 'bluer' the tone, the softer the 'browner'.

    It produced interesting results when dodging hard and soft areas!

    But it was worth it, only one grade of paper in the box.

    Michael J Davis

    "I never have taken a picture I've intended.
    They're always better or worse."
    Diane Arbus
    Michael J Davis, May 21, 2009
  9. Paul Giverin

    Chris H Guest

    Alternatively go digital and "develop" on a lap top in daylight where
    ever you fancy.

    I did some pictures in a city the other week and "developed" them in
    Star Bucks with a capachino and muffin.... OK you win. It is cheaper to
    have a proper dark room than develop at Star Bucks :)))))

    The main draw backs as I can see having always wanted a dark room in
    the past but never getting one are:-

    You need a room you can black out, not have large temperature swings, as
    running water, work surfaces and storage. Also easy access for disposal
    of chemicals and can handle spillage's

    I do not think an attic will qualify. A spare bedroom or bathroom is
    much better.

    I never had the room (or the money) I did look at a daylight tank and
    that seems to solve the problem. If you can still get them.

    Now is the time to get into wet film developing they can't give it away
    in car boot sales. My nieghbough skipped an entire darkroom as they
    could not shift any of it at three large car boot sales. I cried as I
    did not see it until the next load of heavy rubbish went on top. (If I
    have been 2 minutes earlier......

    The only other problem I can see is the supply and shelf life of the
    chemicals. And increasingly the film. It will only get more expensive
    Chris H, May 21, 2009
  10. Paul Giverin

    Bruce Guest

    There's absolutely no sign of any colour shift with Ilford's current
    Multigrade product. I still use a fair bit of it with my Leica V35
    Focomat enlarger and Schneider lens. The enlarger has the Multigrade
    head that was co-developed by Leica and Ilford.
    Bruce, May 21, 2009
  11. Paul Giverin

    Bruce Guest

    Using a 230V AC enlarger in a bathroom is not a good idea - with all the
    water and the earthed copper pipes, the risk of electrocution is
    uncomfortably high. It's also illegal. ;-)

    For me, the attic works well. I do most of my shooting in summer,
    develop the films in the kitchen using a changing bag and Paterson
    daylight tank. I do most of my printing in the winter.

    There is a ready supply of cold mains water for the storage tank in the
    attic and it is a simple task to tap into this. I installed a small
    sink unit whose drain I connected to the main soil stack using a simple
    saddle connector. It works!

    The chemicals aren't a problem at all; you take bottles of concentrate
    up to the attic and bring the empty bottles down. The waste goes down
    the drain. There's very little effort involved.

    Yes, it is too hot in summer. That's why I mostly print in the winter,
    when I can work for as long as I need. However, getting up early on a
    summer morning gives several hours before it gets too uncomfortable to
    work in the attic.

    I do have use of a fully air conditioned darkroom but it is some
    distance from home (~20 miles) and I much prefer to use my own enlarger,
    lens and masking frame etc..
    Bruce, May 21, 2009
  12. Paul Giverin

    Bruce Guest

    Still available from Jessops and many other photo stores, or on eBay.
    Bruce, May 21, 2009
  13. Paul Giverin

    Geoff Berrow Guest

    And if you are forced to carry liquids about you need to remember that
    fixer will leave a brown stain on carpets, furnishings and clothes. But
    the stain does not appear until later.
    Geoff Berrow, May 21, 2009
  14. Paul Giverin

    Bruce Guest

    Paterson have gone bust at least twice to my knowledge. As a result,
    they are the butt of many jokes in the photo trade.

    But they keep re-appearing under slightly different names, so each new
    incarnation is never quite new enough to deter retail customers from
    buying their products.
    Bruce, May 21, 2009
  15. Paul Giverin

    Bruce Guest

    Why on earth would you need to? Mine went up to the attic once, and
    have remained there ever since.
    Bruce, May 21, 2009
  16. Paul Giverin

    Paul Giverin Guest

    That's one of the reasons that I started dabbling with film for b&w. My
    Canon printer produces wonderful colour prints but it gives a slight
    magenta cast when I print b&w. I have to compensate in Photoshop before
    printing but that approach can be hit and miss. You don't know if you
    have got it right until the print comes out.

    Paul Giverin

    British Jet Engine Website:-

    My photos:-
    Paul Giverin, May 21, 2009
  17. Paul Giverin

    Bruce Guest

    Rather proves my point, doesn't it. ;-)

    Wow. Another distributor? Whatever happened to the last one? Perhaps
    they were left with a large debt and decided they'd had enough, just
    like the one before.

    No, they haven't. Several different firms with similar names have been
    around for a few years each.

    Yes, I will agree with that. My Paterson tank dates from 1984, and it
    is still the easiest to load and fill of all the tanks I have ever used.
    Bruce, May 21, 2009
  18. Paul Giverin

    Bruce Guest

    Perhaps I am slightly less gullible, because I have run several
    businesses and am very watchful of companies that conveniently go bust,
    leaving all their debts behind, then re-appear debt-free under a
    strangely familiar name as though nothing had happened.

    Yes, mine is a System 4, purchased in 1984 IIRC.

    You seem easily taken in by a company that has gone bust at least twice
    and returned under a very similar name, just like so many disreputable
    double glazing companies.

    It is quite clear that they have passed you by.

    Rubbish. Ilford most certainly doesn't "belong to itself" - in any
    case, that's a meaningless term.

    Ilford went bust and the company name, goodwill and some assets and
    product ranges (but not, for example, the Galerie inkjet paper) were
    taken over by Harman Technology. Harman Technology now trades as Ilford
    Limited. But it is emphatically *not* the original Ilford.

    Looks like you have been taken in - again!
    Bruce, May 22, 2009
  19. Paul Giverin

    Bruce Guest

    Indeed. Then they separated from CIBA-Geigy and went their own way
    again, then went bust, then were taken over by Harman Technologies.
    Bruce, May 22, 2009
  20. Paul Giverin

    Paul Giverin Guest

    The OP is old enough, wise enough, and been on Usenet long enough not to
    be put off by healthy debate. ;)

    A big thanks to everyone who replied to my post. I've got a few things
    to think about. I've gone off the idea of using the attic as a darkroom.
    I've got a reasonable sized shed (which needs a good sort out). I can
    easily get a running water supply to it and I'm sure I can get it light

    Thanks again.

    Paul Giverin

    British Jet Engine Website:-

    My photos:-
    Paul Giverin, May 22, 2009
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