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):
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" :-)