At about 9:30am I started with the 120 film that I let build up over the past 3 weeks.
(15 rolls were from two separate shooting occasions.)
About 7 or so hours later all 22 rolls were hanging up to dry in my spare room:
SO– just how does 1 person process this much film with only two steel tanks in one day?
Let me tell you how I get things done.
Things you’ll need:
– Exposed film.
– Film developing tanks. Plastic is fine, I just happen to have two similar steel ones which let me do two rolls of 120 film in each tank. Thus, in one session I can process 4 rolls of 120 film. They will also each hold 4 rolls of 35mm film- so 8 at a time.
– Film development chemistry. I have long used Kodak’s HC-110.
– Fixer. I use a powder mix from Fujifilm that makes 3.8 Liters of fixer.
– A Wetting / Drying agent. I use Driwel by Fujifilm. One bottle is about 200 yen and lasts quite a while.
– A Mixing Pitcher. It would probably be better to have one per major chemical mixture, but I have not had any discernible problems so far.
– A thermometer. As long as things are within a degree or two of 20C, everything is ok.
OTHER HELPFUL THINGS:
– A free day from work.
– Several solid hours of free time
– A total lack of spousal or parental responsibilities.
My Two Tank Method:
1. First, I load the film in Tank 1. Next, I load up Tank 2.
2. Next, I fill both tanks with water for a pre-soak, and agitate them.
3. Tank 1 gets poured out, and I fill it with water one more time. While it is rinsing, I am mixing my development chemistry (3/4oz of HC-110 into 1000ml of water. Yes, I know those are two different measuring systems- but it works for me). I then pour that second rinse out of Tank 1 and pour in the chemistry. I give it 10 minutes of development (agitating ever minute or so for a few seconds).
4. While Tank 1 is in development, I prepare the development chemistry for Tank 2.
5. Once the timer goes off to let me know Tank 1 is done, I pour out the HC-110 mix and rinse it 3 times, leaving the water in after the 3rd fill-up. Then Tank 1 is set to the side.
6. With Tank 1 out of the way, I then pour out the original pre-soak for Tank 2, rinse once, then pour in the chemistry and set the timer for 10 minutes.
7. While Tank 2 is in development, I wash out the mixing pitcher well, and pour in my fixer, which I then pour into Tank 1 after I empty out the last of the pre-fix rinse. Once the fixer is set I agitate along with the same timing I use for Tank 2 while it is in the development stage.
IMPORTANT: When using two very similar looking tanks, be careful not to mix them up in your mind. For me, has a different lid than the other so I always make sure to designate that particular one as Tank 1.
8. For a few minutes Tank 1 and Tank 2 both have chemistry in them even though they are at different steps in the process. Since you can’t over fix film (Tank 1), the only time you need to worry about is Tank 2’s since development has a set time to go by. After the timer goes off, I pour out the HC-110 from Tank 2, rinse it 3 times, and then fill it with fixer. Now both tanks are in the fixing process. Once Tank 2 has fixer in it, I reset the timer for another 10 minutes and agitate accordingly.
9. This means by the time Tank 2 is ready to come out of the fix, Tank 1 has been under for about 15 minutes. Better safe than sorry. I return the fixer from Tank 1 to the brown 4 liter Fixer bottle, and begin the wash.
10. For Tank 1’s wash I set the timer for 7 minutes. Tank 2 still is still fixing. After 7 minutes I pour out the wash and pour in the Driwel. That takes about 30 seconds, and after pouring out the Driwel, I hang the Tank 1 negatives up to dry in my spare room.
11. And Tank 2? If you are adding up the times I use, it’s been fixing for over 17 minutes by now. First I return the fixer to the brown bottle, and put it in the wash for another 7 minutes. While Tank 2 is washing, I wash and dry Tank 1 and it’s reels. Then once the timer beeps I do the Driwel process and hang the negs.
12. This all takes about 45 minutes.
The main thing that used to hold me back from getting a lot of film done in one day was that it took too long for the reels to dry. Residue from the previous round of processing was messing up the edges of my negatives, and sometimes intruded into the frames themselves. However- I solved this by first drying them with a clean towel, and then set them to dry under the stove fan atop a tower built of darkroom chemistry trays. This way the reels can be ready to go for another round in about 10 minutes:
After that, I simply repeat steps 1 – 11 as many times as needed.
Thursday Evening = Putting everything into negative sleeves and doing a basic edit with a light box and a black marker (to write promising frame numbers at the bottom of the neg sheet)
Friday Evening = Mixing up 8 liters of Fujifilm Papitol paper developer and making contact sheets for the recently done negatives.
Saturday (after work)= re-editing using the contact sheets and writing up a To Print list.
It is organized like this: #67-579: 2 – 8 – 18 The “67” is for “6×7″. Pretty fancy.
Sunday = Using the rest of the Papitol to make (on average) 30 decent fiber based work prints.
Any questions or suggestions?
If you have a blog and do your own film, why not make a similar post to share?
UPDATE: Answers to questions people asked:
Q: How come you don’t use a stop bath?
A: It was a step that we never had when I was a student, and since there have been no problems so far, I’ve just kept doing it this way. Since I fix twice as long as needed, it probably works out ok.
Q: How many times do reuse your fixer?
A: I usually use the same fix for about 30 rolls of film. You can get fixer-tester chemicals but I just check it by pouring a little into a pitcher and then drop some film tip edges (cut from 35mm film) in to see if it goes clear within a few minutes. If I’m really not sure, I just dump it and make a fresh batch.
Q: How come you use just 2 reel tanks? You can get 3 or 4 120-reel tanks can’t you?
A: I really wish I had larger tanks and more reels! But one in the photo above was from a garage sale in Nebraska, and the other I bought new at Yodobashi Camera in Tokyo. There does not seem to be any tanks larger than these in stores anymore. At least this way if I mess up I’m only out 2 rolls of 120 film instead of 4. But the idea of being able to halve the time it takes to process film is tempting…
Q: Do you agitate when rinsing, or just fill and empty 3 times?
A: Usually I’ll agitate a little before pouring out the water each time.
Q: Have a question though, do you know whether chemicals are harmful to the drainage system long term? I’m just referring to the ones you can get here, I use superprodol and d-76, and the rapid fixer by ilford?
A: Good questions. Do you mean like with eating away through metal pipes, or the broader concern of chemicals getting into groundwater? As for the pipes, I have no idea… As for environmental degradation, I don’t know what would be the proper way to get rid of fixer, or at least have not looked into it the way I should.
Q: your above method/tools: are they for black and white only or can u do colour too?
A: The info above is for simple black and white film development- however, I think that there are kits now that let you do color film at home. I think there are some folks on Flickr who are doing this now with a special kit from Fujifilm. Anyone have any details?