Still shooting Film? Prepare to get dirty.

So, the blog has been lacking as of late, but that’s not to say I’ve been lounging around eating Cheetos. I’ve actually been shooting a lot more thanks to a tiny cardboard box. With a bunch of local shops ceasing C-41 color film processing and the few left showing attitudes just shy of disdain for film shooters, I’ve been searching for alternatives. And, I think I finally found it – Home processing!

Now, now, don’t get your undies all in a bundle. It’s really quite easy! Have you done black and white film? I don’t mean standing in a closet, sweating, trying to get the film uncorked and spooled on a reel while your teacher gets the ruler warmed up to crack your knuckles when you start screaming because there’s a poltergoost breathing on your HP5. I mean like us moderns who use a civilized changing bag while watching Game of Thrones, then flip a Patterson Tank in their tub as their iPhone dutifully dings out the time intervals. 30 or so minutes later, you’ve got a strip of film your scanner is drooling over.

Now, just add a thermometer. BAM! C-41!

If you do choose to go the home development route, you’ll actually save a good bit of money, get negatives cut the way you want them, have less dust and fingerprints to contend with, and be able to hang them properly so that scanning is much less painful. And believe it or not, it’s actually quicker! About 30 minutes to get the film in the tank to getting them hung up to dry. One hour photo? Phffff!

Some tips:

  1. Get protective eye wear and gloves. Although it really isn’t dirty (contrary to the title of my post), it doesn’t hurt to be safe.
  2. When your negatives come out of the tank wet, don’t freak out if they look cloudy. C-41 negatives tend to be cloudy when wet unlike black and white films. Let the film dry completely. If they’re still cloudy but you see some images on them, they may just need to stay in the blix stage a little longer. Blix them again and all should be well.
  3. Get BIG bulldog clips to hang your film. They’ll help keep the film stretched out as it hangs and dries cutting down on the negatives curling. Just make sure they’re fully dried before removing them. It’s always frustrated me to no end getting negatives back from the lab that are so curled I have to put them in a special holder to scan them. The special holder only holds one negative strip as opposed to the four that can go in the standard holder. Hey, you just saved yourself heaps of time developing at home and hanging them properly!
  4. If you have an iPhone and don’t already have the Massive Dev Chart app (, waste no more time and get it. This thing is invaluable for developing black and white film and you can easily create your own sequence of time intervals to steer you easily through the C-41 processing.
  5. I recommend the Unicolor kit available super cheap at

If you’re still on the fence, here are some pics I’ve taken over the past couple of months (in the order they were developed) – all using the same batch of chemicals that cost me $17.99!

(click on the images to see the full versions)

Kodak Portra 400 – 2 rolls, 120

Kodak Ektar – 1 roll, 35mm

Kodak Ultramax – 1 roll, 35mm

Kodak Ultramax – 1 roll, 35mm

Kodak Ultramax – 1 roll, 35mm, pushed 2 stops

Fuji Sensia 200 expired – 1 roll, 35mm, x-pro

Fujicolor Super HG 100 expired – 2 rolls, 35mm (12 exposure rolls!)

Kodak Portra 400 – 3 rolls, 35mm

That’s 12 rolls using the Unicolor kit for $17.99 which comes out to about $1.50 a roll and the chemicals show no signs of being exhausted yet. Getting a roll developed in town would be around $5. Savings so far = $42…

Here’s a teaser for another post – “Still Shooting Film? Learn to love computers.”

Before and After

Leave a Reply