Attention Home C41 Developers...!

Discussion in 'Film, developing & other non-digital stuff' started by Neil Piper, Oct 5, 2016.

  1. So as some of you know I have recently delved into the fantastic world of home c41 dev. I have one of the Rollie kits which seems pretty good and after a few mishaps seem to be getting pretty consistent results. My question is, how do I know when my chemicals are getting exhausted? I have now done 21 films (8 rolls of 120, 11 35mm and one disc) and the mixture that I made was supposed to be good for 20 films. Should I throw them now and make new ones or if I just carry on what should I be looking for as a sign that they then need changing...?
  2. Thats a good question, one I'm wondering about too. My kit is good for a fair few rolls, but I'm only using a small mix of it.

    I would imagine that you'd start to see weaker colour development and maybe uneven developing after a while, I know that some people eek it out as long as possible. I think I've run 10 rolls and a couple of sheets through a 500ml mix, all looks fine as I would expect. I'm tempted to make up another batch fairly soon, partly because I'm more concerned about the chemicals expiring than being over-used, and partly because mixing up 500ml was a dumb amount as that's not enough to dev two rolls of 35mm at a time. Quite tempted to pick up a bigger dev tanks soon as I need one for 4x5 and I'd like to be able to do two rolls of 120 at the same time as well...

    If you're getting close to the recommended limit then I wouldn't do anything that I was particularly concerned about. I know that you can adjust the length of time you deve for after so many rolls, might be worth looking into that.
  3. I guess you can test the fix in the same way as b&w. Not sure about c41 dev, I would assume it dies in a similar way to B&W chemicals in that your negs will be thin and you'd start to see colour shifts.

    Also: protip for 120 film, 2 120 films will fit on one spiral allowing you to process 2 with a single spiral tank! Just spool them on one after the other.
    moroseduck likes this.
  4. That's a great protip! The only issue for me being as bad at loading 120 as I am is that I would likely cause harm to roll #1 whilst trying to get roll #2 started. Still, I might give it a go, it's definitely a cheaper solution.
  5. It blew my mind slightly when I realised you could do it. Give it a dry run in the light though, as getting the second film to push the first one further round the reel can be tricky.
  6. I developed 34 rolls in my first C41 kit. For the last 15 or so, I increased development time slightly (15 seconds at first, and near 30 seconds at the end). I didn't notice any color shifts or issues at all, and I only replaced them because I had 5 rolls from vacation and didn't want to chance it.

    I got about 25 out of my second kit: same thing, after 16 or so rolls, I started adding little bits of time to the developing time. Again: multiple rolls from vacation and I didn't want to chance it.

    I only got about 20 out of my third kit. The A/C went out and the chemistry got really hot, and I noticed some dark brown sludge around the cap, and the developer had turned the color of coca cola. I figured that it was probably no good.

    I'm at roll 18 on my fourth batch, and I plan to go to about 30 rolls before I change. That said, I recently read somewhere that you should change the developer when it turns the color of dark tea. I've noticed the developer getting slightly darker with every developing session, but after 18 it's nowhere near 'dark tea' (judging by the color of my wife's afternoon cupper). It's more the color of weak apple cider right now.

    I read somewhere that a guy got 50 rolls out of a kit, but he was rolling the dice every time and the thread abruptly after he announced an attempt to stand develop his 51st roll (or 54th, something like that). I assume the test failed.

    tl;dr: with proper storage, you can easily get 25 rolls out of a kit, and you can probably push to 35 or more with slightly increased dev time. As far as I can tell, the developer will fail before the Blix, and I'd just swap them out when your developer turns the color of root beer.
    Davis and moroseduck like this.
  7. interesting, thanks for your input. I think I'm at 23 rolls now, and they seem to be fine. I think i'll keep going for a bit.

    and is that tea with or without milk...?!

  8. @jamesixgun Super useful info, thanks dude. Was this with Tetenal kits? My Dev had been dark orange since I didn't pre wash roll number two, so I'm going to have a job seeing if its getting grim!

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  9. Talking about "number of rolls per kit" can be a little bit misleading, because there are lots of different kinds of kits. But I agree with the recommendations here: for the Unicolor powder kits for 1L, a little over 20 rolls is probably about right.

    The real measure is your tolerance for risk and unusual results. The literature included with the Unicolor kits quotes a capacity for 8 rolls, but it also states that it's common for photographers to continue using it until you become unsatisfied with the results.

    That's the rule of thumb then: use it until you don't like it. Or until you come home with vacation photos like above—that's how I do things, too.

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  10. Ok, so this became an issue for me sooner than expected. I went to develop a roll of film tonight and my developer was black. It was dark orange last time I used it, just black now. I've only developed about 10 rolls, but it has been sat around since June at this point and I have no idea what the shelf life is mixed.

    Anyway, lacking any burner films to test it with I decided that it wasn't worth the risk, I'd be gutted to lose another roll to spent developer this year. Also, I wanted to mix up a litre batch anyway as my initial mix of 500ml was ill concieved - it's meant that I can't do two rolls of 35mm at once.

    I binned all the chems as I wanted to make up litre mixes of them all obvs, although I'm sure the rest of them would have been fine. Mixing the new stuff was going ok until I tipped the developer from the measuring gauge into the bottle, at which point I noticed it was quite foamy. A quick investigation realised that instead of 9ml of developer B from the tiny bottle, I'd added 9ml of stabiliser (which I think is a bit like photo-flo) from the other tiny bottle. So all of that developer mix also went down the sink. Got there in the end, but by that time I'd run out of both time and enthusiasm for developing the roll of film especially as it's Kodak Vision 50D and I'm going to have to deal with the remjet, something I have yet to tackle.

    Home developing - FUN!
  11. @moroseduck I was looking on firstcall website last week at the costs of individual chemicals, and noticed that the 5litre Rollei c41 kit (previously purchased for about £50 inc postage) was being sold for £17....naturally I thought this must be a screw up and that surely if I ordered it they would catch the error and I'd get an email saying something along the lines of nice try mate but sorry. Well no, it arrived the next day, less than half price. Not sure how this helps you, because they're back up to full price again, I think I just wanted to gloat...!
    I'm sure karma will catch up with me for that...

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  12. Ouch, @moroseduck! I had one of "those" nights myself. Unlike you, I successfully mixed up a new 1L batch of Unicolor powder C41 kits, as I had put 26 rolls through the last one, and I was nervous about stretching it any further.

    But then, disaster. After successfully developing two rolls, I threw two more in, and upon shaking the last drips of the prewash water out of the sink, I lost my grip on my Pasterson tank, and whacked the mouth portion sharply on the sink surface. To my dismay, this cause the funnel portion of the lid to pop off entirely(!), which also dumped out the spindle with both of my reels of film into broad bathroom light. :(

    I quickly tried to throw it all back in, but of course, being directly under a 60W and a 40W bulb, the film was wrecked pretty severely. Came out of the developing tank nigh unto black, with only faint ghosts of images visible.

    I've scanned one of the rolls, and I manage to save--I don't know--maybe 4 or 5 shots?

    This was easily my worst disaster to date.

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  13. Ouch....

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  14. @Neil Piper I must have gotten an exceptionally good deal on something recently. I'm trying to remember what it was.... ;)

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    Neil Piper likes this.
  15. [​IMG]


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  16. [​IMG]

    This one I can accept. It's pretty cooked, though.

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  17. Yeah they're pretty baked but I like them

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    j's theory of film likes this.
  18. So this is definitely a small silver lining after most of the rolls have been lost, but I actually like how those two pictures look - the dreamy feel suits the subjects, and the bokeh in the first one works quite well with it. I've been learning to accept defects in my film photography, and I'm starting to find that the relentless perfection of most of the digital pictures I see going by on IG and Flickr (particularly after a pic has been in Photoshop for a couple of hours) is not as appealing.

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