2009-02-15

Black and White Film Processing

Since the best way to learn something is to try and teach it to someone else, I've decided to post the notes I've been keeping regarding black and white film processing. Keep in mind that I'm still a noob when it comes to film.


Chemicals Required
There are only two chemicals that are required: developer and fixer. All others are optional.

Developer:
I use Kodak D-76. I get it in power form. Mix one envelope of D-76 in 3 liters of water at 50 degrees Celsius. Mix until power is dissolved. Add cold water to make 3.8 liters. This is the stock solution. You can use it as stock or diluted 1:1 with water.

Stop Bath:
Some people use water as the stop bath. I use Kodak Indicator Stop Bath. Mix 16ml to 1 liter of water.

Fixer:
Ilford Rapid Fixer. Can be used for both film or paper. Dilute 1:4 with water.


Preparing the Chemicals
I mix the developer in advance to stock solution and store it in brown plastic bottles. I keep the bottles as full as possible because a partially filled bottle causes oxidation. I also dilute the fixer and stop bath in advance. I keep the fixer and stop bath in old plastic jars that protein power comes in. I don't need to worry about fixer or stop bath oxidizing so I can keep them in the wide mouth jars. This also has the advantage of being able to pour the chemicals back into their storage jars without using a funnel.

Optional chemicals are:

Hypo Check is used to check if the fixer is spent. Put a few drops of hypocheck into the fixer. If the drops turn cloudy and doesn't dissipate then the fixer is spent and must be disposed.

Hypoclear is used to remove excess fixer from the negative during the wash process. I don't use hypoclear. I just use water.

Wetting agent is used to dry the film. A few drops of wetting agent in the wash water will help prevent water spots from forming on the negative when you hang it up to dry.


Equipment Required

Development Tank
I use a Patterson 3 reel plastic tank. This will hold up to three 35mm film reels or two 120 format film reels.

Development Reel
Two Patterson plastic reels. The Patterson plastic reels are adjustable. You can load 35mm or expand it to load 120 film. I also find them easier to load that the old metal reels.

Thermometer
Cheapo thermometer I bought at the dollar store. You want to make sure all your chemicals are at 20c.

Measuring cups
I bought four cheapo plastic measuring cups at the dollar store. That was a mistake. I didn't notice till I got home that the both the Imperial and metric markings were the same. I checked the volumes by measuring water in a good quality measuring cup and pouring it into the plastic cups. The markings on the plastic cups were completely off for both Imperial and metric. I ended up fixing the marks with a sharpie. Cheap measuring cups are not worth it. Buy good quality ones. Also buy four cups at the same time: one for developer, stop bath, fixer, and water.

Water pan
This is to keep all your chemicals at the same temperture. I use a rusty old baking dish.

Hangers & Clothes pins for hanging up your negatives.

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