Recommendations for getting started developing film? 120 Specifically....

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,989
137
Hi all,

Well, I'm adding on shooting 120 film along with my Canon 5D3 for digital.

I have a 6x12 pinhole camera and a Yashica Mat 124-G camera, that shoots 6x6....both are 120 film.

So far, only shot B&W....Ilford (Delta 400 and HP5 Plus 400), and Kodak Tri-X 400.

I have some Kodak Portra 400 I hope to try soon in my Yashica soon too as my first try at color.

I've been watching YouTube videos, and they seem to mostly be using some sort of canister that allows you to have exposed film in there, and pour your chemicals in/out while in regular light....

I'm watching more to try to learn what chemicals I need, and how you get the film into the developing canister, etc....but if anyone out there has experience with developing at home, can you recommend what to buy and where online?

I think I want to start simple with B&W, it seems the most straightforward. Awhile back, on Amazon I find a sous vide immersion stick to heat a water tanks and that it appears some if not all developing chemicals want to be at specific temperatures....but other than that, I'm just not yet sure what all I need to buy for equipment and chemicals.

So, any links, recommendations, etc to good info and instructions are greatly appreciated!!!

TIA,

cayenne
 

Valvebounce

EOS 5D SR
Apr 3, 2013
4,264
210
52
Isle of Wight
Hi Cayenne.
It might be worth looking in local classified ads, until last night there was a complete darkroom setup for sale local to me (within 8 miles), assorted chemicals (including some new), trays, pots, red lamps (for b&w), tweezers, squeegees and two enlargers. All for £80 o.n.o.
I looked and there was so much stuff, I have only listed what I remember seeing! I know precious little about chemical developing, but it looked like it really was a complete darkroom, minus the room itself!
This is probably the 3rd or 4th lot of this for sale this year, possibly because we have a high proportion of elderly residents!

Cheers, Graham.
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
396
50
I haven't done film developing in years so my advice is dated. Developing tanks come in plastic and stainless steel. My preference is all stainless but I realize they are much more costly (hopefully you can find someone's used equipment). B/W film developing is basically five step process. I've listed 'starter' chemicals but there are lots of specialized chemicals for different situations: developer (Kodak D-76), stop bath (Kodak Indicator Stop Bath - mild acetic acid solution), fixer (Kodak Rapid Fixer), water wash and dry. The first three steps need to be done in total darkness. Follow package directions as to timing. Unless rushing to deadline I always rinsed film longer than suggested. Forty years later my negatives look great.

I prefer reels that are fixed size vs. adjustable for different film types - they just seem to work better. Loading film onto the reel takes some practice. I advise spending time loading scrap film in full daylight so you can see what the potential hang-ups are. Once you can load a roll in daylight, try it in total darkness. Don't try it with film you want to actually process until you've got the process flawless. Plastic reels are thought to be 'easiest' to load; but, once you've gotten used to stainless you wouldn't want to fight with plastic again.

Temperature control for B/W isn't as critical as for color. +/- a few degrees isn't too impactful although the more consistent you can be the more consistent negative density you will get. (Stainless tanks can be set in a large water tub to help hold temperature. A good thermometer helps!) Agitation during development is just as critical as the developing temperature - be consistent in your approach. Depending on the condition of your local water supply you may want to use distilled water to mix your chemicals or filter your tap water. Also, you may want to add a wetting agent (Kodak Photo-Flo) as final rinse step to help avoid water spots and streaks on drying film. Hope there is something worthwhile in all that.
 

TominNJ

I'm New Here
Mar 14, 2015
24
17
Good advice already. You can use a changing bag to load the film into the canister and avoid the need for a darkroom.

a possibility instead of the darkroom and enlarger is to use a film scanner. If I was shooting color I’d send the rolls out for develop only then scan the negatives.
 
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YuengLinger

EOS 5D MK IV
Dec 20, 2012
2,626
746
Southeastern USA
Cayenne, just my own feeling about this. I love photography too much to waste time with film that is going to be scanned and Photoshopped anyway. Time messing with chemicals could be spent taking pictures.

A good inkjet is all I need for beautiful prints.
 

unfocused

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
5,029
1,403
66
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
Cayenne, just my own feeling about this. I love photography too much to waste time with film that is going to be scanned and Photoshopped anyway. Time messing with chemicals could be spent taking pictures.

A good inkjet is all I need for beautiful prints.
Agree. To do black and white film developing and printing is going to set you back a couple thousand bucks even if buying used, if you want to print enlargements. And why would you do it if you aren’t printing? Not to mention the space needed. I have zero nostalgia for darkroom work. Just the mere mention makes me smell fixer.
 

old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
396
50
Cayenne, just my own feeling about this. I love photography too much to waste time with film that is going to be scanned and Photoshopped anyway. Time messing with chemicals could be spent taking pictures.
On the other hand, I believe that shooting and developing your own film provides a sense of discipline and intimacy with your photography that is very hard to replicate in the digital world - at least for me. Having just a few exposures on each roll of film makes one truly think about what is worth capturing, how to compose the shot, how to expose the shot, whether to push or pull it in development.
 

YuengLinger

EOS 5D MK IV
Dec 20, 2012
2,626
746
Southeastern USA
On the other hand, I believe that shooting and developing your own film provides a sense of discipline and intimacy with your photography that is very hard to replicate in the digital world - at least for me. Having just a few exposures on each roll of film makes one truly think about what is worth capturing, how to compose the shot, how to expose the shot, whether to push or pull it in development.
While I am quick to admit that many concepts go way over my head, and that I get a sense of what you mean only from watching old martial arts movies, I wonder if such discipline could not also be achieved by not chimping and by setting a limit of 36 shots before enforcing a two minute break to "switch rolls." Rather than investing so much time and money into what is, essentially, a training exercise.

 
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unfocused

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
5,029
1,403
66
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
While I am quick to admit that many concepts go way over my head, and that I get a sense of what you mean only from watching old martial arts movies, I wonder if such discipline could not also be achieved by not chimping and by setting a limit of 36 shots before enforcing a two minute break to "switch rolls." Rather than investing so much time and money into what is, essentially, a training exercise.
But you would miss the fun of:

Having the film stick together on the developing reels, ruining several exposures;
Finding out that the developing tank had a light leak;
Finding out the camera had a light leak;
Accidentally opening the back of the camera before the film is rewound;
Finding out the film didn't catch on the take-up reel;
If using 120 film, finding out you forgot to advance the film to the next frame;
Pouring in the fixer first, thinking you were grabbing the developer;
Having your hand covered in warts from exposure to the photo chemicals -- yes this actually happened to me;
Forgetting to close the box of paper before switching on the light to check a print;
Having someone open the door while you are in the darkroom;
Ruining all your clothes by splashing chemicals on them.

Should I go on?
 

YuengLinger

EOS 5D MK IV
Dec 20, 2012
2,626
746
Southeastern USA
But you would miss the fun of:

Having the film stick together on the developing reels, ruining several exposures;
Finding out that the developing tank had a light leak;
Finding out the camera had a light leak;
Accidentally opening the back of the camera before the film is rewound;
Finding out the film didn't catch on the take-up reel;
If using 120 film, finding out you forgot to advance the film to the next frame;
Pouring in the fixer first, thinking you were grabbing the developer;
Having your hand covered in warts from exposure to the photo chemicals -- yes this actually happened to me;
Forgetting to close the box of paper before switching on the light to check a print;
Having someone open the door while you are in the darkroom;
Ruining all your clothes by splashing chemicals on them.

Should I go on?
"Wax on, wax off." The Karate Kid , 1984

Please, Cayenne and others who love working with film, accept this as a fun way of expressing my own personal aversion. I understand that there truly are benefits to exploring and working with the older ways of image capturing and processing, and that I'm missing out on those benefits. But I too remember the old days, going back as far as 5th grade in the school darkroom. For me, there is so much room to learn and grow with photography, and my time seems shorter and shorter, that I embrace digital and hardcopy prints so I can capture as much as possible of this crazy world and my beautiful family (and sometimes vise versa!) with the time I have left.

In other words, Happy Holidays!
 
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old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
396
50
I don't disagree w/YuengLinger and have suffered many of the mishaps unfocused listed, and I will honestly admit the brown stains on my fingers have long faded away. But I also see my attention to detail fading as well in the all digital world. In-camera evaluative metering and "P" mode work so well it is too tempting to just leave them set most of the time. Tricky lighting, well then there is the "HDR" button as well. Why strain my brain? I've seen each new advancement in in-camera automation allow more and more average users get pretty good, if not great, pictures. But still the best photos are usually those that are well thought-out.
 
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cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,989
137
Cayenne, just my own feeling about this. I love photography too much to waste time with film that is going to be scanned and Photoshopped anyway. Time messing with chemicals could be spent taking pictures.

A good inkjet is all I need for beautiful prints.

Well, at this time I cannot afford a Medium format digital camera, so shooting 120 film is the only way I can do it.
I'm eventually wanting to get a 120 view camera that shoots natively 6x17...and that's nothing you can do with digital now, without having to stitch shots, and that kinda makes it tough to do long exposure panos with digital....stuff like that.

I have a scanner and DO plan to scan my negatives, and do final corrections in On1RAW (my LR alternative)...and will print digitally, but till I can afford a medium format digital camera, this is the much cheaper alternative.

I plan to soon, get something like an older Hasselblacd 500CM and eventually, I could save and put a digital back on that....and then have lots of options....but that's long term.

Anyway, it doesn't seem like rocket surgery, just need some info....and I'm just shooting film and wanting to learn to develop my negatives myself, but I'll be scanning them in and going digital from there to print.

C
 
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BeenThere

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 4, 2012
858
187
Hi all,

Well, I'm adding on shooting 120 film along with my Canon 5D3 for digital.

I have a 6x12 pinhole camera and a Yashica Mat 124-G camera, that shoots 6x6....both are 120 film.

So far, only shot B&W....Ilford (Delta 400 and HP5 Plus 400), and Kodak Tri-X 400.

I have some Kodak Portra 400 I hope to try soon in my Yashica soon too as my first try at color.

I've been watching YouTube videos, and they seem to mostly be using some sort of canister that allows you to have exposed film in there, and pour your chemicals in/out while in regular light....

I'm watching more to try to learn what chemicals I need, and how you get the film into the developing canister, etc....but if anyone out there has experience with developing at home, can you recommend what to buy and where online?

I think I want to start simple with B&W, it seems the most straightforward. Awhile back, on Amazon I find a sous vide immersion stick to heat a water tanks and that it appears some if not all developing chemicals want to be at specific temperatures....but other than that, I'm just not yet sure what all I need to buy for equipment and chemicals.

So, any links, recommendations, etc to good info and instructions are greatly appreciated!!!

TIA,

cayenne
Chemical developing and printing is not as simple as it may first appear. Many books and articles have been written on the subject. The “stuff” needed was once ubiquitous at camera stores and on line. Now, it is a specialty or only available used. Look carefully before you leap, and expect a steep learning curve to obtain excellent results.
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,961
1,169
119
Guys lets not get too precious about this developing film is easy and requires very little equipment none of which is expensive, the chemicals are not going to break the bank either, you can be developing film for under $100 easily. Wet printing can get more expensive but enlargers are available for free and great enlarger lenses for peanuts on eBay. A few trays and blackout material and you are good to go.

But few people who shoot film do wet printing now anyway, most are scanning the film to edit in PS and then print digitally, either wet prints via the online services or inkjet at home or commercially.

Shooting film is a process, developing it to your personal style is too, it's got nothing to do with how practical or efficient it is it is all about the process.Shooting film and developing it at home is not particularly difficult or expensive if you are a considered photographer.
 

TominNJ

I'm New Here
Mar 14, 2015
24
17
Have you ever tried loading 120 film into the canister inside a bag ??
yes I have back in the day. It’s not easy but it isn’t impossible. If a darkroom isunavailable
Have you ever tried loading 120 film into the canister inside a bag ??
yes I have back in the day. it isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible either. If a darkroom is unavailable then it’s a way to try developing with minimal expense
 

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,989
137
I think the primary thing I"m looking for first, is the developing hardware.

I've seen some sort of white plastic looking "spools" for want of a better term...that you apparently feed the exposed negative into (in pitch black dark room)...and then use your hands on each wheel of the spool and turning each in opposite directions appears to ratchet the 120 film onto the spool.

I"m trying to find out what those are.....

Then I've seen folks using a black plastic looking canister, that you put the spooled film into, spool and all...and one you put the lid on it...it appears to be light safe, but somehow also allows you put pour in and out your developing chemicals, water rinses, etc...

I'm trying to find out what that is...and where to get all this stuff.

Anyone familiar with what I'm describing?

Again, thank you all for ALL the great input here!!

C
 

unfocused

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
5,029
1,403
66
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
I think the primary thing I"m looking for first, is the developing hardware.

I've seen some sort of white plastic looking "spools" for want of a better term...that you apparently feed the exposed negative into (in pitch black dark room)...and then use your hands on each wheel of the spool and turning each in opposite directions appears to ratchet the 120 film onto the spool.

I"m trying to find out what those are.....

Then I've seen folks using a black plastic looking canister, that you put the spooled film into, spool and all...and one you put the lid on it...it appears to be light safe, but somehow also allows you put pour in and out your developing chemicals, water rinses, etc...

I'm trying to find out what that is...and where to get all this stuff.

Anyone familiar with what I'm describing?

Again, thank you all for ALL the great input here!!

C
I think you are thinking of the Paterson system. They are readily available on eBay. The reels are adjustable for different film sizes.
 
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old-pr-pix

EOS RP
Dec 26, 2011
396
50
Search B&H for "film developing tank." There are lots of alternatives from suppliers like Paterson, Yankee, Jobo, Omega, etc. Search "Kodak" on B&H for chemicals like D-76, Indicator Stop Bath, Rapid Fixer. Spools come either fixed size, i.e. only for use w/one size film; or, multi size with adjustment for different width film (35mm, 120 being most common). Plastic spools load with a ratchet action alternately holding one side of film or the other and twisting top or bottom of spool. Stainless spools load by lightly pinching the film to form a slight curvature, this narrows the apparent width to allow film to fit into the space between ends of the spool. (Takes practice.) Agree with PBD, $100 should get you in business assuming you can make a "darkroom" space yourself-just make sure it is totally dark.
 
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