A couple of days ago I decided that I wanted to start developing my own film. I did some Google searches and found out that developing B&W film is a pretty simple process and super cheap. For the most part I just use Walgreens which will develop and scan for about $8 for 35mm film, not bad and they do an okay job for “just for fun” shots. But they don’t develop either B&W or medium format film, both of which I like to use too. So I end up having to send it out to a lab and it costs about $20 a roll plus shipping both ways. Not cheap!! I haven’t really run the numbers, but to develop b&w film (after you buy the equipment which was about $50) the cost is only about $12 for chemicals that you can use for dozens of rolls of film…and well of course your time to spend developing and scanning.
So I gave it a go and here is the rundown:
– It was a super rainy and dark morning and I only had 400 speed film…so I was basically forced to shoot at 1600 ISO which got me baaaaarely in range to be doable. One of the upsides of developing your own film is that you can “push” process it which means that you basically pretend the film is a higher ISO and then let it develop for a bit longer to compensate. Not really what I wanted to do my first time out, but Tri-X is known for pushing nicely, so I went for it!
– I used my medium format film (Pentax 645n) in our bedroom…which was the ONLY place with any light whatsoever today (and it was raining so I couldn’t just go outside). But I really wanted to try developing TODAY…I have zero patience for waiting! Ha!
– Then came the dreaded film loading…ugh!! Basically you are winding film onto a spool, blind (the film is in a opaque black-out bag and your arms are in little holes in the side) and trying not to touch it at all. My film was super curly and jammed every time for about an hour. Did I mention I had a three year old running around me while doing this too? You can’t take your arms out of the bag until it is inside the film canister so you are shafted until you can figure it out. This was not fun. I REALLY scratched up the film in the process, but somehow I managed to wrangle it on there.
– Developing was super easy! Just pour in developer…agitate for certain times/Pour out/Wash/Fix/Wash again and dry! Easy peasy!
Overall I think I got the development times correct but I can’t wait to take some 35mm at the correct speed and see if I can spool it without scratching so much! I could fix them in photoshop but I AIN’T GOT TIIIIME FOR THAT! 🙂