After nearly three years of wanting one, I finally purchased a Chamonix 4x5 large format camera. The camera will allow me to take my photography in a new direction. Here's a little more about the camera, my first images, and why large format photography is something worth pursuing.Read More
Welcome to Part 3 of the series on developing your own film! If you haven't seen/listened to Part 1 (equipment and chemicals) or Part 2 (the film developing process) go ahead and review those if you want. This part (part 3) is about scanning negatives into the computer so you can share the images or send them to be printed.
Which Scanner To Buy
Once you've developed your film you will probably want to digitize it so you can share it with the world. In order to get your film negative into the computer you will need to scan in the negative. The question is, "Which Scanner Should I Get"? Well, there are a lot of scanners out there but I would suggest that you narrow in on a few key ones depending on your needs and budget. A site I recommend, and the one I used to help me narrow the field is:
This is a very good site that comprehensively test scanners. Instead of just listing the (often inflated) specs, they dig into the scanners from the perspective of a photographer. They test the scanners using a specific resolution test chart that helps reveal the true effective resolution. As you read through the site you'll discover something-the resolution numbers you see on most scanners are often a severe stretch of the truth.
Scanner Resolution-The Truth
That new scanner you've been eyeing claims a resolution of 9600 dpi. Is that true, or a huge exaggeration? Well, it closer to the exaggeration side of things. The film scanner info site has some good information on resolution as it relates to scanners, especially how dpi is measured and what it means. This is a must read if you will be scanning film.
Most scanners that claim a super-high resolution often can only produce a small percentage of that number in actual use. Here are a few scanners that get decent reviews along with their true resolution, based on the tests that the film scanner info site did.
The filmscanner.info site has a page that ranks film scanners from top to bottom. It's a great resource, except that it's in German. But you can translate the page in your browser well enough to get the idea. You will see that there is a wide range of quality from the top rated (and super-expensive) Hasselblad X5 and X1 to the Epson and Canon scanners at the bottom. Here are 3 scanners I would suggest you consider.
Epson V700-2300 dpi-This is one of the scanners that keeps coming up as a great choice in a flatbed scanner. It runs somewhere between $500-$700 (see links below)
Canon CanoScan 9000F-1700 dpi-This is the scanner I currently have. It's a decent flatbed scanner but by far not the best. Still, it was relatively inexpensive and it does the job fairly well, especially when you consider that it can be had for less than $200.
Reflecta MF5000-(Pacific Image PrimeFilm 120 in the USA) 3050 dpi Their review of this scanner is very good. It is a true film scanner, not a flatbed that can scan film. The scanner is fairly expensive (about $1200) but I'm considering it for myself as an upgrade for my CanoScan.
Scanner Links on Amazon
If you are looking for a scanner, check out these links to Amazon. If you buy one from these links you will be supporting the site without paying any additional money. Any support is greatly appreciated!
The Scanning Process
Once you have your scanner it's time to scan some negatives! Scanning is a mix of art and science and there are a lot of different ways to scan film. Everyone seems to have a process/workflow that works for them. For me, I have settled in on a scanning process that seems to work well for me, for both B&W and Color negatives. One piece of key software I highly recommend is:
VueScan is a hardware-level scanner control software that works with just about every scanner. It offers the ability to dial-in scanner settings very precisely. The video below as well as the post I link to below the video gives you an idea of how I configure VueScan and process my scans in Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop Elements 12.
Here is a video I recorded back in December on the scanning process I use:
Scanning negatives is a time-consuming process but you can streamline it a bit by making sure you aren't "wasting pixels" by scanning at too high a resolution. Refer to the scanning resolution for your particular scanner and make sure you get the most out of the scanner without creating unnecessarily large files. You will probably also want to check out a post I did that went along with the video. I details the step-by-step process and gives links to some of the tools I use:
One thing you will want to make sure to eliminate as much as possible while scanning is dust. If you're not careful, you can spend way too much time cloning out the dust spots on your scans. So, to help reduce that I recommend that you get an anti-static brush. I got one a few months ago and it really has made a difference. Here's a link to some options on Amazon:
Once you have scanned in your negatives you can use your imaging editing software to adjust & edit the images and then share them with the world or send them to a photo lab for printing.
Hopefully you have found this episode/post helpful and motivating. Developing and scanning your own film is very rewarding. I have found the whole process to be fun and relaxing. It has also made me a better photographer. I'd love to hear about your experiences so leave a comment or send me an email.
Until next week.....
Welcome to part 2 of this series on how to develop your own film. If you missed it, be sure to check out part 1 (episode 11 of the podcast) for information on the equipment and chemicals you will need. Part 3 of this series will cover the process of digitizing your developed negatives so you can share them with others, so stay tuned for that in a couple of weeks. OK, on to the fun!
Film Developing Guides
There are plenty of "how to" guides to developing film on the internet. Just Google it and you'll find all you want and more. I did that when I was researching how to develop film but found a couple of useful resources that I thought I'd share:
1. Ilford's "Processing Your First Black & White Film" which is available as a PDF and summarizes the process very well. It's biased towards Ilford but the steps are laid out well and you can transfer it to just about any film/developer combination.
2. Another great resource for information on developing times using various combinations of film and developer is the Massive Dev Chart at Digital Truth. They also have a lot of other information about developing film including temperature/time conversion charts. In addition to the website, they also sell a darkroom app that you can use on your iPhone or Android. I haven't used the app yet but I may give it a try here soon.
My Film Developing Video
Back in 2012 I recorded a video showing the basics of the film development process. I think it will be helpful is seeing how relatively easy it is to develop your own film. It's about 10 minutes in length. Enjoy!:
Film Developing Step-by-Step
Here's my step-by-step guide to developing film. The key to successful film developing is to take your time, follow a specific process, be accurate in your measurements and temperature control and, most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!
Before You Start-One Additional Piece of Equipment
I failed to mention in last week's episode one vital piece of equipment- a thermometer. You definitely need to be able to accurately measure the temperature of the liquid mixtures used in the film development process. I use a kitchen thermometer/timer but any one will do.
Here are the steps:
1. Practice, Practice, Practice...
Before you develop your first roll of real film (with potential images on it) get yourself a roll or two of test film to practice with. You want to make sure you are comfortably able to load the film on the plastic reel and get it into the tank, all while not being able to see what you're doing. It took me a good 10-15 trial runs before I felt confident in my abilities. Don't rush it, just deliberately load/unload the film from the reel until you can do it by feel only.
2. Load Film Into Tank
Once you've practiced you're ready to load the actual film onto the reel inside the changing bag. take your film, development tank, scissors and bottle opener/film-canister opener) and place them in the bag. zip up the bag, insert your arms into the bag and carefully open the canister, trim the film and load it onto the plastic reel. Place the reel on the spindle and put it in the tank and close the tank with the screw on lid. Congratulations!, you're now ready to develop.
Before you add developer to the tank, fill the tank with "properly tempered" water (usually 68 degrees) and let the film soak for about a minute. This helps wet the film and reduces the chance that the developer will leave spots/bubbles on the film. After a minute drain the tank. You're now ready to add the developer...
The developer is the star of the process. It's what makes the images appear on the film. Each developer and film combination requires a specific ratio of developer to water and time of development. Make sure to read the documentation that comes with the developer or use the Massive Dev site to get the proper ratios/times. Use your graduated beaker to measure out the correct amount of developer and mix it thoroughly with water at the proper temperature. Add the developer to the tank and start your timer. Many people suggest you agitate the film on a regular basis in order to keep fresh developer flowing over the film. I agitate the film for 10 seconds each minute and seem to get good results. Once the time is up, drain the developer and immediately add the stop bath
5. Stop Bath
The stop does what it says, it stops the development process. That's important because you don't want to over-develop the film. The ratio of stop bath to water is usually 1 part stop to 14 parts water but be sure to check the specifics for the particular stop bath. Add the well-mixed stop bath the the tank and agitate thoroughly. You will want the stop bath time to be at least 15-30 seconds but you can leave it in longer with no ill-effects. The stop bath is basically very strong vinegar so you can pour it down the drain when done.
After you drain the stop bath solution you add the fixer. The fixer is what "permanentizes" (my word) the image on the negative. It works by drawing the remaining Silver from the negatives. Fixer is fairly difficult to mix correctly so make sure you do a good job of mixing. The time for the fix bath is 3-5 minutes. Unlike developer and stop, fixer can be used a number of times before it is exhausted. In addition, since the used solution has a "heavy metal" -Silver, not Black Sabbath :-) -in it so you don't want to pour it down the drain. So, when you are done, pour the fixer into one of the storage bottles to be used next time. Fixer should last for 5-10 rolls of 35mm film. You can test the fixer by applying a drop of it on a piece of exposed film and if the film clears in a few minutes the fixer is still fine. If the film doesn't clear you can replenish the solution by adding some more new fixer to the container. When you need to get rid of used fixer you can add a piece of steel wool to the mixture, wait a couple of days, and then remove the "sludge" that is left over. Keep the sludge and recycle it at one of the local "hazardous waste" recycling events that many communities have. The remaining liquid can then be drain-poured with lots of water used to flush it down the drain.
7. Rinse and Photo Flo
After you fix the film you need to completely rinse the film with tap water. You can remove the top to the tank at this point and fill/empty the tank a minimum of 3 times, making sure that the negatives are completely submerged. Some people recommend placing the film under running water for 10 minutes but I think that is a bit over the top. Three to 4 good rinse cycles should be fine.
After the final rinse you will want to mix up a tank full of water with a couple drops of the Kodak Photo-Flo, which helps the film sheet water faster and reduce water spots on the negatives. All it takes is a few drops at most so don't over do it. Take your tank to a spare bathroom and hang it up to dry.
Take your film to a spare bathroom and hang them up to dry. I just use a hanger over the shower curtain rod and attach the negatives to the hanger with a binder clip. Be sure not to touch/smear the wet negatives while hanging them up. Add another binder clip at the bottom of the roll to give it some weight so it doesn't twist/curl as it dries. To help reduce the amount of dust I turn on the shower for a minute to get some steam in the room, hang up the film and then close the door. The steam helps to knock down any dust in the air thus saving you time in the scanning process. You want to make sure the negatives dry completely before handling them. I usually let my negatives dry overnight. After that I trim the negatives down to size so they will fit in the archive sheets.
Congratulations! you've developed your first roll of film. You are now an "official" film photographer :-) Now that you have your developed negatives you will probably want to scan them into your computer so you can share them with others. Part three of this series (in a couple of weeks) will cover the scanning process so stay tuned for that.
Until the next episode.......Happy Shooting!
Have you wanted to develop your own film but were scared away by the thought that it was too difficult. Well, I'm here to say that developing your own film, especially black & white film, is easy and fun! I started using/developing film in the Fall of 2012 and really enjoy the process. I was a little intimidated with the process but after spending some time researching the process and a little practice I have been getting consistently good results. Believe me, if I can do it you can do it, it's not nearly as hard as it seems. This is part one of a three part series in helping you go from having never developed a roll of film "noob" to semi-experienced "home darkroom pro" who can share your film images with the world. Here's a breakdown of the parts:
1.This first part will cover the equipment (camera, film,developing tanks, etc.) and chemicals you'll need to get ready to develop your own film.
2. Part two will be a detailed walk-through of the film developing process with tips and suggestions that I've learned along the way.
3. Part three will be a quick review of how to scan your developed negatives into your computer so you can share them with the world.
OK, on to the fun!
Get A Film Camera
Before you can develop your own film you first need a film camera. See Episode 3 for tips on purchasing your 1st film camera. I would recommend getting a 35mm slr. There are a lot of film cameras available so finding one isn't hard but you will want to do your research before purchasing.
Once you have your film camera...
Get Some Black & White Film
There is still a decent selection of black and white film, both in 35mm and 120 size. In the 18 months I've been shooting film I've come across a few that have become favorites of mine. Film is a very personal thing and every film has different qualities so what I like may not be what you end up liking. Here are some worthwhile films to consider when starting out. They are all good film and seem to develop well with a variety of developers:
1. Fuji Neopan Acros 100-($6.25/36 exposure roll) at Adorama
2.Kodak T-Max-($4.79/24 exposures, $4.95/36 exposures) at Amazon
3. Ilford FP4-($4.39/36 exposures) at Adorama
3. Ilford Delta 100-($4.50/24 exposures, $6.25/36 exposures) at Adorama
4. Kentmere 100-($2.95/24 exposures) at Adorama- a decent cheap film that I often use in my little Olympus point-n-shoot film camera. Get a roll or two of this to practice with before trying to develop a "real" roll of film with once-in-a-lifetime shots on it.
1.Ilford HP-5 Plus 400-($4.25/24 exposures, $6.25/36 exposures) at Amazon
2. Ilford Delta 400-($4.50/24 exposures, $6.29/36 exposures) at Adorama
3.Kodak T-Max 400-($5 for both 24 & 36 exposures) at Adorama
Time To Develop The Film-Equipment You Need
Once you have your camera and have shot a roll or two of B&W film you need to have some basic equipment/supplies in order to develop the film. I have listed the equipment I use, in the order I use it, in order to develop the film. I use a combination of Amazon and Adorama for nearly all of my photography supplies/equipment so the links listed below are from each site, depending on which one had the better price/shipping terms, etc. as best as I could. There are plenty of other photography supply options, just do a search and you'll come up with a lot of options.
Film Changing Bag (27x30)-($23.95) from Amazon-You will need a very dark place to transfer the film from the roll that you took out of the camera to the developing tank. A tabletop changing bag is a great way to accomplish this task.
Film Canister Opener-($14.95) from Adorama-If you're developing 35mm you'll need something to open the canister so you can load it on the reel. I hear this works great but I make do with a traditional bottle opener which is also very important for opening a bottle of tasty Craft Beer to enjoy while developing your film! :-)
Scissors-(FREE-hopefully you have some of these around the house!)-You'll need something to trim the film (and cut the end off of the 35mm roll) before loading it on the spool. I use a pair of regular kitchen scissors that have a blunt tip (better safe than sorry while working blind in a changing bag).
Paterson Universal tank and 2 reels-#115-($30.59) from Amazon-This is where you will put the film and chemicals. It has a plastic reel that you load the film on (inside the dark changing bag) and once the film is on the reel you put it in the tank and screw the top on. You can then do the rest of the development process in daylight because the tank is lightproof but allows chemical/water to be added.
Plastic Beaker Set - 5 Sizes - 50, 100, 250, 500 and 1000ml-($6.99) from Amazon-Developing film requires accurate measurements. To do this you will need some graduated containers. At this price you might even consider getting two sets of these so you can have some extra containers.
Chemical Stirring Paddle-($3.49) from Adorama
Norpro 243 3-Piece Plastic Funnel Set-($5.00) from Amazon
Plastic Transfer Pipettes 3ml, Gradulated, Pack of 100-($5.99) from Amazon-these will help you measure small quantities of liquid, like the Kodak Photo Flo listed below.
Chemical Storage Containers-($3.49 to $5.95 each) from Adorama
Developer-The developer is key to the whole process. There are many different developers, each with their own unique qualities, that people use. Once you get more experienced (and adventurous) you can experiment but for now you probably want one that is flexible and easy to use. I started out with Ilford Ilfosol-3-($8.50) from Adorama-it's a liquid developer that makes 1-2 gallons depending on dilution. After I ran out of that I bought some Kodak HC-110 but sadly it is not being made anymore so my next developer will probably be some Kodak D-76-($5.79) from Adorama-D-76 is a powdered developer that makes up to 1 gallon and gets lots of rave reviews for its simplicity and effectiveness.
Ilford Ilfostop-($6.50/500ml bottle)-Once you are done with the developer you need to stop the process so you don't over develop. That's where the "Stop Bath" comes in. Some people just rinse the film in water but I prefer to use an actual chemical. Just about any stop will work.
Ilford Rapid Fix-($6.95/500ml bottle)
Kodak Photo Flo-A drop or two of this in the final rinse will help water sheet off of the film as its drying.-($8.00) at Adorama
Hanger w/Binder Clips (take an extra hanger from your closet and a couple of large binder clips from your desk-FREE)
Scissors to carefully cut the negatives-(hopefully you have a pair of these-FREE)
Negative archive sheets-(various sizes & prices) on Amazon
What's The Total Cost
After you get everything, the total cost for a couple rolls of film, the equipment and assorted chemicals should be around $150-$175, depending on where you get the equipment. That will be enough to get you through about 10-15 rolls of 35mm black and white film. After that you will need to re-stock the chemicals. The tank, beakers, changing bag, etc. will last a very long time. Near as I can quickly calculate, my approximate cost per roll of film to develop (including the roll of film) is about $6-$7, depending on the film. That works out to about 20-30 cents/frame, which isn't too bad considering the fun you'll have :-)
Stay tuned for part two which will cover the actual step-by-step process I use along with some tips and suggestions I have discovered along the way.
Happy Shooting! [post_bottom]
I'm really liking the Kodak TMAX film. The detail looks great and it seems to develop easily, at least in the Kodak HC-110 I've been using. I have another roll that I'll be scanning this weekend that has a lot of shots from the recent Caffeine & Octane car show.
I had a roll of 35mm film from my Yashica GSN camera (stay tuned for my film camera video!) that needed to be developed so I documented the process to give you an idea of how easy it is to develop film on your own. I included a few of the developed images at the end of the video so you can see the results of the development process:
This is just a basic overview of the steps in developing black and white film. I plan a much more in-depth video(s) to cover the specifics of film developing including the equipment, chemicals and technique required. I'll also cover the steps involved in getting your developed film onto the computer, including scanning and editing the images.Stay tuned for that in the next month or so.
In the meantime, maybe this video will get you thinking about film photography and maybe even developing your own film.
Everyone I talked to or read about on the web said that developing your own film is easy and fun. Well, today I tested that theory. I developed my first roll of film. Here's the final result: As you can see, the film came out with actual images on them, which was a pleasant surprise :-) I went into this 1st attempt with very low expectations but the end result was (almost) perfect. I say "almost" because there are at least two frames that are damaged in some way. The frames are the 2nd and 3rd (from the bottom). If you look closely you can see the left side of those frames has a purple "blotch" on them. I'm not sure how that happened but my uneducated guess is that either that section of the film was touching another section due to improper placement of the film on the reel (highly likely due to my error) or that that section somehow didn't get any developer on it.
Either way, its something I need to correct next time, but I need to figure out what caused it first. If any of you have any ideas what caused it, please let me know.
Other than that, I'm very happy with the outcome. This was a "junk" roll of film meaning that I didn't have an critical images on it. I have one other roll like that that I finished shooting today and I plan on developing it here in the next week or so.
One roll down, many more to go!
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" :-)