Film Photography

More adventures in home film developing

I’ve had the best results yet in developing black-and-white film. But all’s not perfect.

This time I shot my last roll of original Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros in my Yashica-12 and developed it in Rodinal 1+50 for 10:30 at 23° (as that’s the temperature of my bathroom). I used the Massive Dev App and, thanks to a tip from a commenter, removed the Hypo Clear step that I don’t use. I agitated by twisting the agitator rod. As you can see from these phone photos I made of the negatives, one edge was washed out.

I think I know what happened. I didn’t push the reel to the bottom of the core I’m using, which is longer than the reel. 500ml of Rodinal solution in the tank was therefore not enough to cover the whole negative.

The well-developed part of each negative looks really good to me — neither dense nor thin. But my scanner tried to compensate for the washed-out edge of the film and I had to play with the exposure, highlights, and dehaze sliders in Photoshop to fix that. I also had to crop out the washed-out area. But all twelve photographs are usable.

I took this camera with me to Plymouth, Indiana, for a board meeting of the Historic Michigan Road Association. I made photographs on the way home, in Plymouth and Logansport, at Sycamore Row near Deer Creek, and in Burlington and Kirklin.

Rees Theater, sign lit
All the sweaters you can buy!
Coffee shop
City Building
State Theater, Logansport
People's Winery, Logansport
Sycamore Row
Sycamore Row
Mercantile
For sale
Burlington Church of Christ
Kirklin and its Carnegie library

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Last updated on 19 March 2020 by Jim Grey

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37 thoughts on “More adventures in home film developing

    • Thank you! Looking forward now to repeating my technique (and correcting my mistake) so I get this “down” and can just move on to making photos.

  1. Really good results there, that Peoples Winery building is lovely. The old Paterson tanks (white top) had a collar that you pushed down to the spiral to keep it in position, it also helped make sure the film was totally immersed in the developer.

  2. P says:

    Once again, very nicely done, Jim. You nailed it. The slight portion on the one edge that didn’t get developed is no big deal. You still got wonderful images.

    Do you have a light box/pad? If not, you can get little, ultra thin ones for really cheap (~$15). They are a big help when evaluating your negatives. You can also use a tablet with a solid white screen, if you’ve got one.

    I can’t wait to see what you develop next!

    • You know how it is: I remember what I saw in the viewfinder and all of these images are shifted from that, because I had to crop out the undeveloped edge! But ignoring that, this is a success.

      I don’t have a light pad, but for $15 I can certainly order one. That would let me use the FilmLab app on my phone (https://filmlabapp.com/) to get quick digitizations of the negatives, too.

      • P says:

        You may be missing a bit of what you intended to capture, but yes, I’d still classify this as a success. I don’t think the slight crop is detracting from the images in any major way. I think the Rees Theatre shot is my favorite. I love old movie theatres.

        Yep, I definitely think a cheap light pad is a good investment. It’s a huge help in evaluating things. A cheap loupe is as well.

        • Things that were centered in the frame when I shot them are no longer centered, but I cropped for the best possible composition given what I had to work with.

  3. Michael says:

    Is your difficulty because you’re using a bag instead of having a dark room to work in? My memory is very fuzzy, but I don’t recall having any issues developing film at Rose.

    • Having a bag rather than a darkroom is a difficulty, but not the root cause. The bag really isn’t bad, but I think it would be easier to load the tank on the bathroom counter if I could make the bathroom fully dark. I might be able to do that as the bathroom has no windows; I might be able to stuff a towel in the crack under the door. We will see.

      You know I’m kind of a klutz, it takes me time to get the feel of anything physical, which this process definitely is.

  4. Andy Umbo says:

    These look pretty good, except of course for the volume problem…I would be on the look-out for any problems associated with “spin” agitation, if done too vigorously, it would tend to increase edge density near the reel edges, but you don’t look like you have any of that going on here. Good luck and keep it up! I’d still recommend a hypo-clear wash at the end, Perma Wash reduces wash time by 90%, gives you archivally processed film, and has zero effect on film “look”. If I remember correctly, I used to wash film for a minute, Perma Wash for a minute, and then final wash for a few minutes.

    I can tell you from consulting with curators of old film collections, the number one damage I’ve seen in old negs is improper washing….

    • I’ve read people online elsewhere commenting that a Hypo Clear step is the only way to make the negs “archival.” Do you know what that’s all about?

      • Andy Umbo says:

        It takes all the residual hypo (fix) out of the neg, chemically…hypo left in the neg or print is a big problem to archival safety and causes staining!

      • Andy Umbo says:

        A hypo clearing agent like Perma Wash eliminates all residual hypo left in the film, by chemical process, cutting washing times and ensuring it’s archival. Poor washing hence hypo staining is the number one “bad” thing I see in stores film…I’ve been using Perma Wash forever, and have perfect film I’ve been storing since the 70’s.

        • P says:

          Andy,

          Have you seen that some wash aids fail to provide as good of results as Heico Perma Wash? Is Kodak’s Hypo Clear up to the same standards in your experience? Is just a basic sulfite bath as effective (it’s certainly a lot cheaper and since you can just take a spoonful of the dry sulfite to use during a single session, the shelf life can’t be beat)?

          I’ve been using the LegacyPro EcoPro wash aid lately, but shy of performing a residual hypo test it’s difficult to say for sure how effective it is compared to Perma Wash. Sadly, a residual hypo test is not the easiest or cheapest thing to do.

          I’d be interested to hear if you’ve seen damage/staining appear on negatives treated with other wash aids than Perma Wash after decades of storage, or if you think one is just as good as any other, including just a basic sulfite bath mixed per developing session.

          Thanks for your insight.

        • Andy Umbo says:

          When I started to use Perma Wash is was way superior to Kodak Hypo Clear, for both permanence and time needed to wash fully, but I’m afraid all the newer stuff passed me by and I just stayed with what I knew! There could be superior products to Perma Wash, but I never tried them. If I was doing more processing now, I probably would because almost all the chemicals I’ve used have gotten way too expensive or disappeared!

        • P says:

          Thanks for the information, Andy.

          Yes, it really can’t be overstated how absurdly expensive everything film-related has become, especially commercial processing, proof prints, scans, etcetera — and I’m not even talking pro labs here, which are flat-out outrageous now. There’s no excuse.

          With regards to commercially packaged chemistry, it may not seem that expensive to most people, but if they actually look into the raw ingredients and their quantities in a packet of developer/stop/fix/wash aid/etcetera, and do the math based on how much these raw chemicals actually cost, they’d quickly realize that these pre-packaged products typically cost no more than a few nickels or dimes to produce — and sometimes as little as a few pennies — but are then sold for $10, $20, $30, or even more. In my opinion, it’s nothing less than disgraceful.

          Very few things sold to film shooters justify even remotely close to their price tags. Most probably don’t even justify one-tenth of it. It’s not helping us amateur film shooters, and ultimately it’s not going to help the industry itself either. I’m genuinely concerned about film’s future if things keep going this way. Contrary to the words of the character Gordon Gekko in the film “Wall Street” that unbelievably so many people today seem to use as a business playbook, greed is definitely not good. It destroys the economy. It always has, and it always will. It serves no one.

          I think once I finish off my LegacyPro wash aid (~$18/quart, to be diluted 1+19) I’m just going to start using a basic sodium sulfite bath. Since that’s basically what Perma Wash and all other wash aids are anyways, I can’t justify spending the money for the commercial products. Perma Wash is now up to $20 a quart. Five pounds of dry sodium sulfite can be had for the same price, has a much longer shelf-life, and will wash way, way more rolls of film. Plus, it’s readily used for mixing developers from scratch as well, so it’s uses are not limited to just one thing.

          Thanks again, and take care.

    • Andy Umbo says:

      Ditto P, the costs of manufacturing this stuff for the film consumer has risen exponentially and has nothing to do with lack of volume sale. I could see chemistry going up on average 20-30% based on low volume of sales, but some of the chemistry I’m looking at is 2-3 times the price just a few years ago! That just smacks of “seeing what the market will bear”!

      Somewhere in my storage space, I have a photo/darkroom almanac from the late 40’s I bought at a vintage book store in the 70’s, and it literally has the formula for almost every classic developer/fix/etc. available at the time. I might have to start mixing my own too! Compared to “pro” lab processing and printing, doing your own is still a deal (plus I cannot trust the labs to give non-scratched film), but it’s not a deal if if the chemistry is going bad before you can use it all.

      • P says:

        That sounds like an invaluable book. I wish I had something like that. The internet is somewhat helpful in finding old recipes, but it’s still a far cry from having a printed book full of them.

        Have you ever tried Patrick Gainer’s PC-TEA/Glycol developers? I’m considering them. Apparently their shelf-life is halfway to forever, and they’re incredibly cheap and simple to mix. Plus, since they’re phenidone-ascorbic acid based, there’s less to be concerned about with regards to the chemicals in use. I may settle on using one of these along with Chris Patton’s E-76, all mixed from scratch, as my go-to developers in addition to Rodinal.

        • aNDY uMBO says:

          Hi P,

          Most of my experimentation with developers have been trying almost everything Photographers Formulary has put out, mostly because they’re “proven” formulas, so I knew I’d get something (in fact, when I go back to processing, it’ll be their version of D-76 because you can get replenisher)…have to say, I’ve gotten a lot of interesting results, especially with the Pyro developers and large format film, processing in trays, but when push comes to shove, I’m back with D-76 full strength. When I was much,much younger, I was in love with Acufine and Diafine, seemed really sharp. The next experimentation I’m going to do, is going to be 8 X 10 Ilford HP-5, processed in a tray in Acufine, so see if the pick up in speed is valuable.

        • P says:

          Hi Andy,

          Sorry for the late reply.

          Pyro, as well as other staining developers, do indeed produce beautiful negatives. But the toxicity and hazards involved with Pyro and similar compounds keep me from ever using them. It’s a shame they have to be so nasty.

          I’ve heard good things about Photographers’ Formulary “improved” version of D-76, called TD-16, I believe. I personally just really don’t like messing with powders, nor do I care about running a replenishment system as I don’t process enough film to justify it so it’s more grief than it’s worth. I imagine it probably is for most amateurs.

          I’ll probably just stick to long lasting concentrates (Rodinal, etc.) and mixing simple, cheap, easy to make recipes from scratch. That approach fits my needs a lot better.

          Take care of yourself.

          By the way, Jim, I just saw your most recently developed TMX images on Flickr. Excellent job! I can’t wait for the write-up!

  5. Looks like you’re getting the hang of it Jim! Maybe you have mentioned this in an earlier post, but I missed it–what kind of tank are you using? Paterson?

  6. Bob Dungan says:

    Two comments. One: When I scan I draw a little box around the actual part of the negative I want to scan so the computer is only analyzing the good part of the negative not the edges or a blank part. Instead of letting the computer decide how .to scan I drag the curves slider to the end of the curves so I don’t lose any detail. 2nd: I use to use the Ilford method to wash negatives until I tested them and found traces of fixer. I now use perms wash and have never found any traces of fixer.

    • I’ll have to see if my scanning software allows this. On my old scanner I had SilverFast and it did allow that. I am using the software bundled with my new scanner (CanoScan 9000F) right now and I’m not sure it does.

  7. Hi Jim, this may have already been commented, but I always use two reels even if developing only one roll. If nothing else, popping on the second reel gets you to push both all the way to the stop point. L.

  8. Very good results Jim. I’ve been developing film regularly for 10 years and I still sometimes make that mistake with partial coverage of the film. Last week I developed a 120 film and was convinced in my mind that I needed 300mm of chemicals so I didn’t check. Unfortunately 300mm is the right amount for a roll of 35mm in my Patterson tank but 500mm is needed for a roll of 120. The results were far worse than yours !

    • Kevin, on the one hand it’s nice to know I’m not alone, but on the other I sure hope that I get this “down” enough that I don’t randomly mess up a roll of film that really matters!

  9. These look really good Jim. Home processing isn’t something I’ve tried, and if I’m honest, I don’t have much of an urge to. This is partly because I have a pro lab within walking distance of my home who produce great results. It’s also partly because I don’t have the time (or at least I’d rather be using that time for something else). Possibly the main reason is that I’m a yellow-belly scared of messing it up and ruining some nice photos though. :)

    I can see the advantages in cost saving though, and I imagine getting good results is a very satisfying thing to experience. Maybe one day…

    • As long as I’ve been blogging my film photographs, people have asked me directly why I wasn’t processing my own film. I didn’t have the time, either. Also, I was on a septic system that couldn’t take the waste chemicals. But more than anything else I didn’t want to put my images to chance, as I’m a klutz and dislike tedious, routine, manual work and was likely to screw it up randomly.

      So let me never be the one who pushes you in any way toward this.

      What has me doing it now is increasing cost of sending my film out mail order, and the increasing amount of time it takes the labs I like to turn my film around. I’m cheap and impatient. Especially when testing some new-to-me old camera, I just want quick results I can blog about.

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