Home C41 Processing

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I just got my first LF results on neg film back from the lab, I am thrilled with the detail size and possibilities, I don't know why I didn't start years ago... Anyway then I took a look at the invoice for the processing and contacts, and worked out that if I really get into this then I'm gonna need BIG MONEY, or a roll film back.

So my question is: Is it feasable to do home C41 processing, I make B&W prints with results that match almost any lab (I may take a bit longer of course), so does C41 imply expensive equipmet and expertiese or is it simpler.


-- adrian tyler (tyler@nova.es), October 30, 2001



I have done quite a bit of C-41 processing of 4x5 negs-it is no real sweat.

I have a Yankee (or FR) black cut film developing tank that holds 10 sheets(I don't know it they are available in Spain, but I am sure Jobo machines are) and use C-41 kits availablwe from Tetnal and others. The trick is to keep all solutions at 38 Deg., so it is necessary to maintain a water bathy at 38-39 Deg and keep teh solutions and tank in the water bath.

It is a good idea to save up enough negs to do a bunch at a time as the chemicals do not keep well. If you really get ambitious you can order the chemicals in bulk and use them in larger quantities.

Printing is a diferent story. I am lucky in that when I get back home to Toronto several times a year I can rent excellent colour ddarkroom space with pro enlargers and an auto RA 4 processor.

The RA4 paper is designed to be processed at higher temps and it is more difficult to maintain trays at that temp. You may have to bite the bullett and pay for prints.

OR.. If you can sink some money into a scanner for 4x5 originals, your can scan them then take the files -- big ones> 100 megs ++ -- to a place that has a Fuji Frontier machine ( Kodak and Konica may now have similar digital souce printers) and get excellent prints from slides or C-41 negs. The cost in N America and Singapore is about 10 $US for an 8x12 or 10x15 print. he results are stunning!!

Good luck. You can also do E-6 chromes that way.


-- RICHARD ILOMAKI (richardjx@hotmail.com), October 30, 2001.

It's damned expensive. After 40 years of color work, from Dye Transfer to the latest stuff, I finally returned to B&W because of the high cost, both in money and time. Right now, it's far cheaper to have enlargements done comercially. The only hope is that soon digital scanning and printing will bring costs back in line. Wilhelm

-- Wilhelm (bmitch@home.com), October 31, 2001.

Adrian, As the previous answer said, the C-41 chemistry doesn't store well (as B&W chemistry does), so unless you shoot a lot of colour, it may not be worth it. Otherwise, with proper temp control, C-41 is not a problem. Same goes with RA4 printing.

-- Dave Anton (daveanton@home.com), October 31, 2001.

It's also possible to mix your own C-41, E6, and RA4 chemistry. I'vwe got a couple of articles on it. Email me if you want them.

As for printing, one of the local community colleges here has a nice color darkroom with a 20" processor. If you take a class ($142 for a semester) you get access.


-- Dave Willis (willisd@medicine.wustl.edu), October 31, 2001.

I have processed color negs for years now, and I really like it. I have been able to reproduce the colors people talk about with cibrochrome, and I have done contracted development with C41 up to N- 4 for contrast control, just like they do in B&W. With C41 negs I can I can photograph 11 stop scenes compared to 10 stops for B&W and 4 stops for color chromes.

I used to use the JOBO CPP-2 processor, but I have know upgraded to the JOBO ATL 2 Plus process. In both cases I used the 3010 drums to get uniform development across my 4x5s. I can process C41 and RA4 a lot faster then I can B&W. Off the top of my head I would quess the color negs run about 30% more in cost. Remember B&W uses more chemistry and more steps along the way. I can process a 16x20 on the most expensive color paper available (Fuji crystal archive super gloss) for $7.00. If I have a lab do it on the same paper it can cost me between $60 to $100 for custom printing and in most cases it will never be what I want.

C41 stored full in special air tight bottles will last up to 3 months. RA4 stored full in air tight bottles will last up to 2 months. I have lots of different bottle sizes so that I can fill them up when storing depending on what is left over from processing.

I mix all my own chemicals, and it is faster than B&W because there are less steps and less different chemicals to mix.

Hope this helps.

-- Stephen Willard (willard@peakpeak.com), October 31, 2001.

Thanks for all of the encoraging information, I will look into the neg development more over here in Spain. In the meantime I am editing heavily the 4 x 5 shots that I am taking, which is no bad thing, editing work done on 120 and deciding what could really work or use the larger format. I got a loan of a 120 back and it just didn't seem right on the plate camera, esecially as I have a good 120 setup, so I think that for the time being I'll just take it a little at a time...

-- adrian tyler (tyler@nova.es), November 01, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ