Hambone Lewinski 4:26pm, 22 December 2007
After talking to a few members of the group at the meeting and the brewery last night, it seems that while the majority of the group members are happy shooting digital, a few folks would like to give film a whirl. So, for kicks, I thought I might fire off a quick guide to souping your negatives in D-76.

To start out, there are about a zillion developer formulas out there, and they all behave a little differently so it is wise to start with one developer and one film and use this combo until you get really consistent results. Arista.EDU (rebranded Fomapan) and Fuji Neopan SS are both about $2 a roll at Freestyle and have a strong base with relatively scratch-resistant emulsions. I would suggest going through about 10 rolls before you try something else.

The next two paragraphs are sort of putting the cart before the horse, but these are areas of contention between film nerds. If all you want to get out of this guide is how to develop your film, skip the next two paragraphs.

People seem to usually start with either D-76 or HC-110. Both behave in a similar manner, but HC-110 comes as a liquid that you mix with water each time you develop roll and D-76 comes as a powder that you mix all at once. Since I have no experience with HC-110, I'm going to stick with D-76 in my guide.

A quick note on tanks and reels. The "Patterson" style tanks, which are made of plastic and have plastic reels do not last as long as stainless steel reels and tanks, however, starting out they are easier to load. Once you are comfortable working with film in the dark, if you take the time to learn how to load a steel reel I think that you will find that you can load steel reels faster and with less scratches.

OK, here is what you should buy:
- Film (duh). About 10 rolls of the EXACT some stuff. the same brand at a different speed (i.e. Foma 200 vs. 400) is a different film.

- A developing tank and reel(s). Like this:

- D-76 B&W Film Developer

- Fixer

- Water

- About 15 empty soda bottles
Hambone Lewinski 11 years ago
Mix the D-76 as specified on the package and stir it until it dissolves completely. Pour it off into separate containers.

Likewise, mix the fixer as per the package and pour it into containers.

You want to fill the containers as far as you can, because oxygen reduces the shelf life of mixed chemicals. I usually get 7 500 ml bottles out of one 1 gallon mix with a bit of spillage. I try to avoid mixing and using chemicals on the same day. I don't know if using chemicals right away can change film development, but I don't really want to find out.

When you are ready to develop your film, you will need to load it onto reels. This MUST be done in complete darkness. It is worth it to sacrifice a roll of film just to practice loading in the light and in the dark several times before you try to develop a roll of film that you've actually shot.

A film canister can be opened using a bottle opener. The top pops off pretty much exactly like a bottle cap. Be careful, the edges of the canister and the cap are sharp.

Pop the film out and load it onto the reel. A patterson reel loads from the outside edge, there are two "guides" that your film slides along as you load it. You twist the reel back and forth in your hands and two tiny ball bears grab the film and pull it through.

Try to be sure that your Patterson reel is bone dry when you load it. Film will stick at the wet areas.

Once the film is loaded and the tank is sealed, you can turn the lights on.
Hambone Lewinski 11 years ago
Many films will have an "anti-halation" dye on the back of them. This is to prevent light from reflecting off the back of the film and causing a "halo" effect in the exposure. This can be (and should be) removed by rinsing the film with water. I pour water into the tank, shake it several times and pour it back out. If the water coming out has dye in it, I do it again.

Now it is time to pour in the developer. B&W film developer is meant to be used at around 68 degrees. Try to be as close to that temperature as you can, as higher or lower temperatures will effect the developing time. Pour the developer in rapidly. and agitate the tank every 30 seconds for the recommended developing time. When you are done, pour it back into the bottle. I use 500ml of D-76 on UP TO four rolls of film.

A note on developing times. Developing times vary between the developer and film combinations. A great resource to find developing times is a website called "The Massive Dev Chart". ( ) This is basically a list of every film and developer combination possible, and is a great resource for finding reasonable developing times for oddball films.

Between developing and fixing, fill and empty the tank with water several times to rinse out any remaining developer.

Now it is time to fix the film. Fixer removes the unexposed silver halide crystals which would otherwise show up as a white haze in your developed film. Fixing with the standard Kodak powdered fixer takes about 10 minutes with agitations every 30 seconds. I use 500ml fixer for four rolls of film, as well.

After you've fixed the film, you can open the developing tank and expose it to light. Since fixer decreases the archival time of film, it is important to rinse the film several times. My procedure is to fill and empty the tank 20 times.

Finally, pull the film off the tank and hang it up to dry in a dust free area. For the first few hours after the film dries, the emulsion is very soft and may scratch easily. It is best just to leave the film until it has hardened completely.

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