A Developing Interest

  When I got my Rolleicord Va last month I was very excited to "re-learn" how to make photographs with a film camera. While I planned on initally sending the film to a lab for processing I had in the back of my mind the idea that I might want to eventually learn how to develop my own film. Well, after shooting 3 rolls of film and sending them off to be developed, I came to the conclusion that I might as well start developing film sooner rather than later. I did some research into the costs as well as technical know-how needed in developing film and came to the conclusion that I could probably do it myself without a lot of problems if I followed instructions and took my time.

Based on that, I "bit the bullet" and invested my hard earned cash into some film developing supplies. I ordered everything from Adorama on Saturday afternoon, and in their typical fashion they shipped everything super-quickly, which means I got a big box 'o stuff today.

Here's what showed up:

Here's a list of the various "ingredients" that I purchased to outfit my in-home photo lab (you can click on the links to go to the Adorama page for each item, if you want to):

DESCRIPTION QTY PRICE TOTAL
Kodak Photo-Flo 200 Photographic Wetting Agent, 16 Ounce Bottle. Kodak     (SKU: KKPF200P) 1 $7.99 $7.99
Adorama Large Changing Bag, 27x30", for Bulk Loading Film. Adorama     (SKU: BLCBL) 1 $23.95 $23.95
Paterson 5 Oz Graduate (150 Ml) Paterson Photographic     (SKU: PAG5) 1 $6.50 $6.50
Adorama 21 oz., 600ml Plastic Graduate Adorama     (SKU: DKG21) 1 $9.95 $9.95
Adorama Archival Wash Aid for Black & White Film and Paper, 1 Quart Makes 11 Gallons Adorama     (SKU: CHAWAQ) 1 $8.99 $8.99
Ilford Ilfosol-3 General Purpose Developer for Black & White Film, Liquid Concentrate 500 Milliliter Bottle. Ilford     (SKU: ILIS) 1 $8.50 $8.50
Ilford Ilfostop Stop Bath 500 Milliliter Bottle. Ilford     (SKU: ILSB) 1 $6.50 $6.50
Ilford Rapid Fixer 1 Liters Ilford     (SKU: ILRFL) 1 $9.95 $9.95
Adorama Air-Evacu 1 Quart (32 oz.) Plastic Collapsable Photographic Chemical Storage Container Adorama     (SKU: DKBAEQ) 3 $4.99 $14.97
Adorama Stainless Steel Film Clips, Pack Of Four, with Weights Adorama     (SKU: DKFC4) 1 $5.90 $5.90
Adorama Stainless Steel Daylight Film Developing Tank for Two Rolls of 35mm Film or One Roll Of 120/220 Film Adorama     (SKU: DKT235) 1 $16.95 $16.95
Paterson 32 OZ Beaker (1 Liter) Paterson Photographic     (SKU: PAB32) 1 $9.95 $9.95
Adorama Chemical Stirring Paddle Adorama     (SKU: DKSP) 1 $3.49 $3.49
Hewes Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Film Developing Reel For 120 Size Film Hewes     (SKU: DKR120HD) 1 $36.95 $36.95

The grand total for all of this is around $170 and includes everything I need to start developing film. While there is a bit of cost to get up and running I should come out ahead of the game after not too long. Many of the chemicals last for a long time while the equipment (film holder, changing bag, beakers, developing tank, etc) should last a very long time. I figure that my cost per roll for consumables (developer, wash, stop bath, fixer) should be under $2 a roll. Right now, the cost to get a roll of film developed at a photo lab is around $8-$10 once you include shipping. Based on that, once I self-develop about 25 rolls of film I should be past the "break even" point. After that, its all gravy :-).

While saving money in the long run is nice, I think that the fun of developing your own film has to count for a lot. Once I get comfortable with the process I can start exploring different techniques to see what happens. Sure, there is some time commitment to developing film but I think that will only add to the fun of shooting a roll of film. My guess is that I will feel more connected to the whole photography process.

I plan on developing my 1st roll of film this weekend. I don't quite know what to expect but I have a couple of rolls of film with "non-critical" photographs on them to experiment with. I plan on using instructions from a couple of sites, shawnhoke.com as well as Ilford's site. I also plan on consulting the Massive Dev Chart at digitaltruth.com. I think that between those sites I should be able to achieve success after a roll or two.

I'm very excited to enter the world of developing my own film and I'm looking forward to seeing the results. I think using a film camera and developing the film myself will make me a better all around photographer and will help me get the most out of my digital SLR as well.

Stay tuned for a post on how this all "Develops" :-)

Happy Shooting!