• developing tank
• measuring cylinder
• film developer, fixer & wetting agent
Everything above is included in the Fotoimpex Analog Starter Kit .
• pair of scissors
• light-tight dark room or changing bag to load the developing tank
• tap water
• a negative sleeve to store films after processing
• stop bath
• film clips
• stirring device
• film puller / film cartridge opener
• chemical storage bottles
Different brands of tanks and reels have different loading methods, and tutorials can be found on YouTube.
It is very important to rehearse film loading in daylight, first with eyes open, then several times with eyes closed. This should be done before going into a totally dark room and loading your film for the first time, possibly ruining some precious shots. Sacrificing a roll of cheaper/old film for training purposes will definitely pay back and give you confidence.
When you are done, avoid putting the tank into bright sunlight or placing it directly under a strong lamp. Tanks are light-tight, but any plastic allows a certain very small amount of light to still penetrate.
• avoid any contact of your eyes and skin with the chemicals.
• always clean spilled chemistry! Otherwise it will dry, and active ingredients will turn into powder, which can be inhaled later.
• when mixing powder chemicals, try avoiding creating a dust cloud. Do not mix powders in a small non-ventilated environment. Powder chemicals with the ADOX Captura® technology are safe for small spaces, as they are dust- and odor-free.
• Never intermix chemicals. Try to avoid spoiling one chemical with another, especially in reverse order (no stop or fix in developer, etc). But also wetting agent in the developer will not do any good.
• Keeping a constant temperature during development is quite crucial. If your room is +- 19-24C, and the development time is under 10 minutes, there is no need to take any extra measures. Otherwise, preparing a bigger bucket of 20C water to immerse the tank and keep temperature constant between agitations can help.
• Don’t forget to tap for bubbles immediately after pouring chemicals, as well as after every agitation cycle. This applies to both developer and stop!
• Stop bath can be substituted with a good tap water wash, but it should start immediately after the developer is poured out. Until the stop bath or wash has started, the film keeps developing.
• Fixer is the least stressful part: there is much less to go wrong, if you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and stay between the minimum and maximum fixing times.
• Fixer freshness & times can be tested by dropping a piece of undeveloped film into the solution. The time it takes to become clear should be doubled.
• Make sure to have enough chemistry to fully cover the film. Different tanks have different minimum liquid levels, which are usually indicated on the tank bottom. If there isn’t enough chemistry, the film will have “foam” patterns on top of every frame.
• 120 film needs twice as much as a 35mm film, and do not confuse regular processing and rotary – the latter uses significantly less chemistry!
There are four common ways of agitating the film:
1. Gently rotate the tank twice every 15 seconds
2. Gently rotate the tank for the first 10 seconds of a minute and then let it sit until the next minute starts (most commonly used method)
3. Gently rotate the tank for 5 second every half minute.
4. Gently rotate the tank every 3 seconds (Tetenal Rhythm)
With JOBO processors, known for their reliable results and saving of chemistry, rotary development becomes an attractive option.
All developing times are starting values, which should be adjusted to the individual lab (thermometer, tank, agitation rhythm, water quality etc.).
The rule of thumb for converting from an inversion rhythm to a rotation rhythm is :
Decrease the developing time by 10-15%, if you rotate constantly.
With B&W films, the physical/chemical combined effects of local developer exhaustion + cool-down during a regular agitation process (especially at 24°C), leads to increased speed utilization and compensating properties of the developer.
A development where chemistry is rotated continuously and is kept at same temperature, decreases speed utilization by about 1/3rd to 1/2 stop. It is advisable to slightly overexpose b&w films, when opting for rotary processing.
• You can wash films with running water or with the fill/dump technique
• Special force film washers that get attached to the faucet are very good to ensure proper movement of the water inside the tank. The wash time should be no less than 8 minutes.
• Alternatively, you can fill the tank with water, agitate for two minutes, empty the tank. Repeat at least 5 times with fresh water.
• Using Thio-Clear significantly reduces wash times, as it helps to eliminate residue fixer from the emulsion.
• After the film has been washed, one minute in Adoflo wetting agent is necessary to remove water stains – you don’t want to skip this step!
• If your film base is still pink or blue, this is a residual anti-halation dye. It´s a myth that you have to fix the film until this dye disappears. It quickly fades away under sunlight. The AH dye in the developer and fixer also clear in a few days.
• Some films curl when drying. Placing a clip on the bottom as a weight makes them dry quite flat. The drying environment should be not dusty, as all dust will attach to the wet emulsion.
It is forbidden by law to use food bottles for chemical storage. The reason is, that if you store, for example, film developer in a soft drink bottle, it will look like a soft drink. If you leave your darkroom and someone else walks in thirsty, both of you will have a major problem. If you do not want to buy chemical storage containers, use well-cleaned detergent bottles. They have a characteristic shape, which does not remind anyone of drinks.
For developer keeping properties, please refer to the following article: