Developing B&W film

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Darth., Jan 19, 2006.

  1. Darth.

    Darth. Guest

    Hi everyone.

    I live in the UK, and am currently using Ilford HP5 black & white film
    on my SLR. It's lovely film and takes great pictures, but the
    development costs are crazy - £10 a film in Boots! And it takes 12
    days to process!

    Does anyone have any tips on where I can get it developed more cheaply?
    Should I just bite the bullet and start doing it myself at home?

    Thanks in advance.

    Darth.
     
    Darth., Jan 19, 2006
    #1
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  2. Darth.

    Diluted Guest

    find a pro lab, it will cost you half that, if not less.
    or, you could get the chemicals to process it at home.

    failing that you could use ilford XP2 film, its black and white ISO400 but
    it is processed like a normal colour film (C41 process).



    Hi everyone.

    I live in the UK, and am currently using Ilford HP5 black & white film
    on my SLR. It's lovely film and takes great pictures, but the
    development costs are crazy - £10 a film in Boots! And it takes 12
    days to process!

    Does anyone have any tips on where I can get it developed more cheaply?
    Should I just bite the bullet and start doing it myself at home?

    Thanks in advance.

    Darth.
     
    Diluted, Jan 19, 2006
    #2
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  3. Darth.

    Whiskers Guest

    Cheaper isn't cheaper if they wreck the negatives ... DIY processing isn't
    too difficult, and you don't need a dark-room; you can use a 'changing
    bag' to transfer the film from the cassette or spool into the reel of a
    'daylight developing tank' and once the lid is secure on the tank,
    everything else can be done in normal light. Be prepared to sacrifice a
    film or two for practice purposes.

    Developing your own film gives much better control over the final result
    than using a commercial service. Different chemicals and strengths all
    have their particular merits.

    If there isn't a darkroom supplies retailer near you, try Jessops. They
    should be able to supply suitable leaflets or books about film processing
    methods, too. You local library should have some books on the subject.

    There are lots of associated gadgets available, but a bowl to make a
    'tempering bath' to keep everything at a steady temperature, and some jugs
    and bottles, are all you really need - and some way to hang the film to
    dry without collecting dust; not a huge problem in a domestic bathroom.

    If you develop your own film, it may be worth loading your own 35mm
    cassettes from bulk too; then you aren't restricted to standard lengths of
    film (you can load for a small number of exposures for test purposes for
    instance, or go for 40-on-a-roll if your camera can manage that).

    You will need some sort of darkroom if you want to get into making your
    own prints in the traditional manner, of course.
     
    Whiskers, Jan 19, 2006
    #3
  4. Darth.

    Marvin Guest

    Home development is your best choice. But supplies of B/W film may dry up soon, making
    it an expensive specialty item.
     
    Marvin, Jan 19, 2006
    #4
  5. Darth.

    Jon B Guest

    And don't forget you may sacrafice a film or two along the way too,
    although I think one or two was due to the colleges crappy spools, never
    had a problem on the Jobo at home.

    But yes dark bag, jobo, and a film hanger or two in the bathroom, don't
    get fooled into any of those film squeegees, any tiny piece of dirt and
    you'll scratch the negs, we've all been there, disbelieved the nay
    sayers and scratched the negs with them and chucked em away.
    Although B&W isn't so temp sensitive as slide for processing. You'll
    need some container to drop the old chemicals in, can't chuck em down
    the sink like we used to apparently. I used to use those kids toys boxes
    to drop the jobo in and keep temperature, also doubled up once dry as
    something to keep all the kit in when not in use.
    Think if I was doing it today I'd scan the negs and print from those
    rather than doing the printing stage. Doing the negs was fairly
    painless, printing contact sheets, printing etc etc all took a lot
    longer, and a lot more fath and disruption, and if you wanted to start
    dodging and burning.....sod it scan it, photoshop it, print the few you
    want.
     
    Jon B, Jan 19, 2006
    #5
  6. Darth.

    b.ingraham Guest

    B&W is not color film, and commercial labs cannot provide more than
    guesstimates when it comes to processing B&W unless they and the
    photographer take the time to work out a good working relationship.
    Without knowing how the film was exposed, no lab can provide the
    "correct" processing chemistry and develop for the "correct" time at
    the "correct" temperature. If you want good B&W images, you really have
    to do your own processing. Otherwise, stick to color.

    My best B&W photos came from film that I not only processed myself,
    but I also used developer that I mixed from the raw chemicals. It's
    been a few years, and I have forgotten which chemicals I used, but I do
    recall using a split developer that had only two different chemicals in
    it, one in each bath. Best negatives I ever had. The Photographers
    Formulary sells everything you need, including the excellent Darkroom
    Cookbook: http://www.photoformulary.com.

    Bob
     
    b.ingraham, Jan 20, 2006
    #6
  7. Darth.

    Pat Guest

    As the other people have said, developing your own film isn't very
    difficult. I haven't done it in years, but most of us who have done it
    started as teenagers working in the basement or bathroom or laundry
    room.

    Even if you have a lab do some of your processing, anyone who has ever
    done it themselves will tell you that you'll lean an incredible about
    by doing it yourself. It will help you understand how film works. It
    will also give you more freedom in shooting because you can push or
    pull the film. If you are shooting somewhere and you know the light
    faded and you're shooting half a stop underexposed, you can compensate
    for it. You also start doing things like underexposing your film 2
    stops and pushing it two stops just to see what happens. As I said,
    you'll learn a lot.

    And yes, for now the chemicals are still available and you can order
    them. But there are also recipes that aren't too hard. Get good
    equipment and learn to use it and you won't regret it.

    When they say you will waste a few rolls of film, they mean it. You
    should take the first roll and pull it out of the spool (unexposed)
    just so you can practice loading the reels. Then close your eyes and
    do it, etc. Once you do it for real, you can't "sneak a peek". But
    it's easy.

    If fact, I wonder how photography will change as fewer and fewer people
    learn now to soup negatives and instead learn to Photoshop everything.

    Don't do it for the savings, do it for the experience. It'll be a good
    story to tell the grandkids.

    Pat.
     
    Pat, Jan 20, 2006
    #7
  8. Darth.

    Darth. Guest

    Thanks everyone for all your tips. I've developed my own B&W film
    before on a number of occasions, so I'm not to concerned about the
    process. I don't have a good source for the kit though - is there a
    recommended website that people tend to use for cassettes and chemicals?
     
    Darth., Jan 20, 2006
    #8
  9. Darth.

    Whiskers Guest

    Jessops: Head Office Address
    Jessops, Jessop House, Scudamore Road
    Leicester, England, LE3 1TZ

    On-line darkroom shop:
    <http://www.jessops.com/search/showsubdept.cfm?node=145>

    Real face-to-face shops: <http://www.jessops.com/stores/index.cfm>

    The Yellow Pages or Thompson's local directory are useful for finding
    local independent retailers - who could use the trade ;))
     
    Whiskers, Jan 20, 2006
    #9
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