AN OVERVIEW OF THE FILM PROCESSING

AN OVERVIEW TO FILM PROCESSING

Developing photographic film in analog photography involves transforming the latent image on the film into a visible one during the shooting process. It’s crucial to understand that different types of films require specific development procedures to produce a clear image. In this article we’ll explore two main types: Black & White and Color film development.

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Photographic films undergo a process where light-sensitive silver halide crystals in the emulsion layer are converted into metallic silver. This process, typically conducted in a darkroom to prevent light exposure, includes several sequential steps. Whether done manually or using automatic processors, each step demands precise conditions such as constant temperature and precise development times. These factors significantly influence the quality of the final result, particularly in color film development.

To ensure safety, we recommend using protective clothing and avoiding skin contact during the process.

Black & White Negative Film Developing

1. Preparation

Before initiating chemical reactions, the film must be loaded into a developing reel and placed in a light-isolated tank to prevent undesired exposure. This step is crucial and must be completed in total darkness to avoid damaging the film.

2. Developing

The film is first exposed to a developer solution, called developer, which initiates the chemical reaction that converts the exposed silver halide crystals in the emulsion layer into metallic silver. The length of time the film is left in the developer solution depends on the film’s brand, ISO rating and the amount of exposure it received and moreover the desired results. There are various brands and concentrations of film developing solutions available for photographic film. Here in RadLab, we are mostly using X-tol, Studional, D-76 and Rodinal. The type and concentration of the solution can vary depending on the specific film that is developed. Some solutions being designed to be used at full strength and others being diluted with water before use.

For example, Kodak X-tol is a popular developer solution that could be used stock or is mixed with water at a concentration of 1:1 or 1:2 depending on the desired level of contrast or grain. Some other solutions are used in a much smaller amounts such as Rodinal and Pyrocat, that could be used from 1:30 to 1:200, depending on the desired result.

Here are some examples:

  • Ilford HP5 @ 400 iso developes in Studional 1+30 at 20C for 9 min
  • Ilford HP5 @ 400 iso developes in D-76 1+1 at 20C for 13 min
  • Kodak Tmax 400 @ 400 iso developes in Xtol stock at 20C for 6.5 min
  • Fomapan 200 @ 200 iso developes in Fomadon R09 at 20C for 10 min

3. Stop bath

Next, the film is transferred to a stop bath solution, which halts the development process by neutralizing the developer solution.

4. Fixing bath

The film is then moved to a fixer solution, which removes unexposed silver halide crystals, leaving only metallic silver and forming a visible negative image. Proper washing after fixing is crucial to prevent damage to the film.

5. Washing

Thorough washing with running water removes residual chemicals from the development and fixing processes, ensuring the best results.

6. Wetting agent bath

A final bath with a wetting agent helps prevent water spots and streaks as the film dries.

Color Film Developing

Color film development is a complex process that involves multiple steps performed at a precisely defined temperature and time to produce a final color image. Most popular color film processes are C-41 and E-6. The main difference between the two processes is that C-41 is used for color negative film and produces negative image. While E-6 is used for color positive film, also known as slide film, that produces positive image. These processes are not mutually substitutable, unless we look for the effect of so-called cross-processing. Note whether your color film is negative or positive. The chemical processes used for C-41 and E-6 process are different due to the different ways in which the film is developed. Still both developer chemicals initiate a chemical reaction in the film that produces a latent image. Positive film developement requires few extra steps here, including Reversal Bath, second Color Developer and Conditioner Bath. Here we share the steps in the C-41 process:

1. Film development

The exposed color film is loaded onto a reel and placed in a tank containing developer chemicals. During the color development stage, metallic silver is formed in each of the three color layers of the film. This metallic silver needs to be removed before the film can be exposed to the bleach, which removes the unexposed silver halides and forms the positive image. The reversal bath contains a reducing agent that converts the metallic silver into a transparent compound that will not be affected by the bleach.

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2. Bleach

The film is then transferred to a bleach bath, which removes the silver from the film and leaves only the dye couplers that are needed to produce the final color image.

3. Fixer

The film is then immersed in a fixer bath, which removes the remaining silver halides from the film and stabilizes the image.

4. Wash

The film is then washed thoroughly to remove any remaining chemical residue. We recommend to wash it in warm water arround 25C for 4 minutes. Repeat this step at least 5 times.

5. Stabilizer

A stabilizer bath ensures the final image’s protection and stability over time.


6. Drying

After the film has been developed, fixed, and washed, it is typically hung up to dry in a dust-free environment.

as a conclusion

Both film types developments could be performed manually or using automatic film processors. Processors are providing defined environment for each process like steady temperature, film tank rotations and precise developing times. All those factors are suggesting better quality final result, especially in color film development, where those are critical.

Here in RadLab Studio we take great care of our customer’s films. If you are interested in using our film developing services, feel free to contact us. We would love to discuss what types of film developers and processes we can use to achieve best results according to your expectations.

How to Develop a Photographic Film

Developing a photographic film is a process used in analog photography to produce a visible image from the latent image that is created on the film, while shooting it. First of all, we need to know that there are a few types of films (learn more here) and each of them requires a specific development process to achieve a visible image.

Today we are going to take a look at two of them – Black & White and Color film development.

Both of them are developed through a process that converts the light-sensitive silver halide crystals in the film’s emulsion layer into metallic silver. This process involves several steps, which are typically carried out in a darkroom or other light-tight environment to avoid exposing the film to light.

In general, this process involves several steps, which are typically performed in a dark room or other light-permeable environment to avoid exposing the film to light. Each step uses chemicals that are applied sequentially one after the other but are not mixed. All methods can be carried out manually or using automatic machines – processors. The processors provide a defined environment for each process, such as a constant temperature, film dose rotation and precise development time. All these factors imply a better quality end result, especially in the development of colour films.

We recommend using protective clothing and avoiding skin contact.

 

Black & White Negative Film Development

1. Preparation

Before starting all the chemical reactions the film must be loaded into a special developing reel and placed into a light isolated developing tank. This step prevents unwanted exposure of the film and allows us to develop it in a normal environment after it has been loaded in the tank. The picture bellow it is just for illustration – this step must be complete in total darkness or you will most likely damage your film.

how-to-develo-a-photographic-film-01

2. Developing

The film is first exposed to a developer solution, called developer, which initiates the chemical reaction that converts the exposed silver halide crystals in the emulsion layer into metallic silver. The length of time the film is left in the developer solution depends on the film’s brand, ISO rating and the amount of exposure it received and moreover the desired results. There are various brands and concentrations of film developing solutions available for photographic film. Here in RadLab, we are mostly using X-tol, Studional and Rodinal. The type and concentration of the solution can vary depending on the specific film that is developed. Some solutions being designed to be used at full strength and others being diluted with water before use.

For example, Kodak X-tol is a popular developer solution that could be used stock or is mixed with water at a concentration of 1:1 or 1:2 depending on the desired level of contrast or grain. Some other solutions are used in a much smaller amounts such as Rodinal and Pyrocat, that could be used from 1:30 to 1:200, depending on the desired result.

Here are some examples:

  • Ilford HP5 @ 400 iso developes in Studional 1+30 at 20C for 9 min
  • Ilford HP5 @ 400 iso developes in D-76 1+1 at 20C for 13 min
  • Kodak Tmax 400 @ 400 iso developes in Xtol stock at 20C for 6.5 min
  • Fomapan 200 @ 200 iso developes in Fomadon R09 at 20C for 10 min
3. Stop bath

The film is then transferred to a stop bath solution, which stops the development process by neutralizing the developer solution.

4. Fixing

The film is then transferred to a fixer solution, which removes any unexposed silver halide crystals from the film’s emulsion layer. This leaves only the metallic silver that was produced during the development process, creating a visible negative image. The fixer could be with a different Ph, depending on the brand, but usually it must be well washed after to prevent film damaging.

5. Washing

The film is thoroughly washed in water to remove any remaining chemical residue from the development and fixing process. For best results it is recommended to use running water for coupe of minutes.

6. Wetting agent bath

This is the final bath and it helps to prevent water spots and streaks on the developed film, while it is getting dry.

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Color Film Development

Color film development is a complex process that involves multiple steps performed at a precisely defined temperature and time to produce a final color image. Most popular color film processes are C-41 and E-6. The main difference between the two processes is that C-41 is used for color negative film and produces negative image. While E-6 is used for color positive film, also known as slide film, that produces positive image. Here are the basic steps:

1. Film development

The exposed color film is loaded onto a reel and placed in a tank containing developer chemicals. The chemical processes used for C-41 and E-6 process are different due to the different ways in which the film is developed. Still both developer chemicals initiate a chemical reaction in the film that produces a latent image. Positive film developement requires few extra steps here, including Reversal Bath, second Color Developer and Conditioner Bath.

During the color development stage, metallic silver is formed in each of the three color layers of the film. This metallic silver needs to be removed before the film can be exposed to the bleach, which removes the unexposed silver halides and forms the positive image. The reversal bath contains a reducing agent that converts the metallic silver into a transparent compound that will not be affected by the bleach.

how-to-develo-a-photographic-film-04

2. Bleach

The film is then transferred to a bleach bath, which removes the silver from the film and leaves only the dye couplers that are needed to produce the final color image.

3. Fixer

The film is then immersed in a fixer bath, which removes the remaining silver halides from the film and stabilizes the image.

4. Wash

The film is then washed thoroughly to remove any remaining chemical residue.

5. Stabilizer

The film is then placed in a stabilizer bath to ensure that the final image is protected and remains stable over time.

Both film types developments could be performed manually or using automatic film processors. Processors are providing defined environment for each process like steady temperature, film tank rotations and precise developing times. All those factors are suggesting better quality final result, especially in color film development, where those are critical.

After the film has been developed, fixed, and washed, it is typically hung up to dry in a dust-free environment.

Here in RadLab Studio we take great care of our customer’s films. If you are interested in using our film developing services, feel free to contact us. We would love to discuss what types of film developers and processes we can use to achieve best results according to your expectations.