Jump to content


Photo

Cost savings for DIY processing


  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 Marty Hamrick

Marty Hamrick
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 543 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Oshawa, Ontario

Posted 24 August 2006 - 04:28 PM

I'm considering investing in a small tank processor for black and white and E-6 test reels.It gets tiresome to bother with all of that shipping cost and time running around for one 50 foot cart of black and white or E-6 or one 100 foot 16mm roll.

Can someone give me the lowdown on cost per roll and headaches involved here?Like drying the film,seems like it would especially be a pain and a risk or more dirt on the film if you don't use a conventional processor with a drying cabinet.What system would you recommend?I've heard the Russian Lomo tanks are good.I want to hear from experienced DIY processing folks.
  • 0

#2 Jesse Andrewartha

Jesse Andrewartha
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 32 posts
  • Other

Posted 24 August 2006 - 06:31 PM

I wouldn't consider DIY as a saving in cost... I've priced out 35mm as well as 16mm reversal and negative, and it just does not stack up financially. Consider this... if you're shooting 16mm in 100' spools, and you have a lomo reel, that's two/three litres of chemicals per load. Each liter of chemicals cost $30, so you're already out $90 or you'd have to buy bulk... but that costs hundreds of dollars for each batch, there's issues of scale in terms of physically storing 50 gallons of each solution and the chemistry goes bad if not used within a few months. Plus the cost of equipment, drying space and environmental effects.

If you get a extra-low volume processing unit, like a morse, you'll use much less developer, but you'll have extended processing times and more chance of uneven development... so there would be a learning curve to perfect your technique. So then it's about what you're willing to sacrifice.... money or time. Even if you bought an automated processing machine, they usually need a certain amount of feet to be processed to function well, otherwise chemistry crystallizes and clogs up rollers, goes bad and ruins your film. The average shooter will never have enough film to keep that machine in tip-top shape day in day out.

In the end, if you want to DIY you have to want to do it for the joy of the process or want a specific effect not obtainable from your typical processing house. Nothing beats 14c - 21c per foot...

-Jesse-

I'm considering investing in a small tank processor for black and white and E-6 test reels.It gets tiresome to bother with all of that shipping cost and time running around for one 50 foot cart of black and white or E-6 or one 100 foot 16mm roll.

Can someone give me the lowdown on cost per roll and headaches involved here?Like drying the film,seems like it would especially be a pain and a risk or more dirt on the film if you don't use a conventional processor with a drying cabinet.What system would you recommend?I've heard the Russian Lomo tanks are good.I want to hear from experienced DIY processing folks.



I wouldn't consider DIY as a saving in cost... I've priced out 35mm as well as 16mm reversal and negative, and it just does not stack up financially. Consider this... if you're shooting 16mm in 100' spools, and you have a lomo reel, that's two/three litres of chemicals per load. Each liter of chemicals cost $30, so you're already out $90 or you'd have to buy bulk... but that costs hundreds of dollars for each batch, there's issues of scale in terms of physically storing 50 gallons of each solution and the chemistry goes bad if not used within a few months. Plus the cost of equipment, drying space and environmental effects.

If you get a extra-low volume processing unit, like a morse, you'll use much less developer, but you'll have extended processing times and more chance of uneven development... so there would be a learning curve to perfect your technique. So then it's about what you're willing to sacrifice.... money or time. Even if you bought an automated processing machine, they usually need a certain amount of feet to be processed to function well, otherwise chemistry crystallizes and clogs up rollers, goes bad and ruins your film. The average shooter will never have enough film to keep that machine in tip-top shape day in day out.

In the end, if you want to DIY you have to want to do it for the joy of the process or want a specific effect not obtainable from your typical processing house. Nothing beats 14c - 21c per foot...

-Jesse-


Just re-read your post, and wanted to address specifically your desire to do test rolls DIY, and thought I'd add one more thing... if you're doing DIY you'll have more issues with quality control... if I'm doing test rolls I want to know that all processing variables are minimised.... doing my own development introduced some pretty wild curveballs, UNLESS you have a specific quality control pipeline for your processing and follow it rigorously.

-Jesse-
  • 0

#3 Matthew W. Phillips

Matthew W. Phillips
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1792 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 August 2006 - 12:44 AM

Man, I thought about this too but in the end, it's just not worth it. Bite the bullet, pay the cash, and be patient.
  • 0

#4 John Pytlak RIP

John Pytlak RIP

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 3499 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Rochester, NY 14650-1922

Posted 25 August 2006 - 12:38 PM

IMHO, home processing in a small tank processor is great for the experience, and handy for quick turn-around of short personal projects. But using a professional motion picture lab is the most cost effective way to get consistent, quality results. If you actually intend to buy and run a continous processing machine like the labs use, you need to treat it as a full-time lab business that rarely leaves time for filmmaking.
  • 0

#5 Charles MacDonald

Charles MacDonald
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1157 posts
  • Other
  • Stittsville Ontario Canada

Posted 25 August 2006 - 09:53 PM

IMHO, home processing in a small tank processor is great for the experience, and handy for quick turn-around of short personal projects.


My Microfilm experience makes me think of one good reason where having a home processsing capability may be worth while, other than for fun.

Back when I did microfilm, we did two types of test on a regualr basis. About once a week, we did an exposure test which went out to the normal lab and they charges us a full roll price to process what was perhaps 5 feet of film, but that was read and the exposure was adjusted.

EVERY NIGHT we also did What they called a dip test. We had a series of test documnets and that film was processed in a Kodak PROSTAR negative processor. That film we could not use for density tests, BUt it served to be sure that the images are all lined up, the pull down was correct (Microfilm is generaly not perforated) and their were no visible shadows.. This was on a camera with an automatic document feeder that used a KODAK MRD-2 camera head, that we were filming a massive amount of forms.

If you had the ability to do a rough process of sample film, you could check FOCUS, steadyness, run registration tests, (shoot a chart twice on the same film to see if their is any jitter) and other tests like that . Old camera service manuals often talk of shooting 5 feet of film and looking at the processed results.

But for something where you may have to splice film shot on different weekends togethr on one reel?
  • 0

#6 Robert Hughes

Robert Hughes
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 873 posts
  • Sound Department
  • Minneapolis

Posted 27 August 2006 - 06:47 PM

DYI processing is great for camera testing. If you're fixing a machine and wanting to see how it's working, you don't need to run off 100' for a lab test. Run 10' and dip it into a D-76 bath for 5 minutes and you get the information you need.
  • 0

#7 Gianni Raineri

Gianni Raineri
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 43 posts
  • Other
  • London England

Posted 02 September 2006 - 02:08 PM

DIY is fine up north during the long dark winters... Good for quick feedback on tests and experimental or artistic stuff where you are the only judge. Use the pro labs for serious work, or at least a private or rented darkroom. Drying the film is a no brainer - either make yourself a drying rack, or get a dime store laundry rack, the kind for hanging knickers and socks. Expect DIY dust and scrathes, especially if you've got junior Jedi's running around with light sabres.

I have not tried E-6 yet, but I've done black and white Quartzchrome in Ilford's D-76 Clone developer and fixer, came out ok with digital processing after DV telecine to my Imac.

I've done colour neg super 8 in C-41 process, four reels (sequentially on at a time) with the same 1 liter chemical kit. Thats one liter of chemistry for four rolls of film... chemistry costs £16 for a Liter, or £4 per 50' reel. Don't know about stretching an E-6 one-liter chemical batch to four reels of film.

For the Colour neg stuff, I wiped the remjet off by hand with a kitchen sponge. Another person told me (on the yahoo movieprocessing group) they removed the remjet in a "pré bath 10g of bórax + 10g of sodium
caronate + 1liter of water".

Gianni B)



I'm considering investing in a small tank processor for black and white and E-6 test reels.It gets tiresome to bother with all of that shipping cost and time running around for one 50 foot cart of black and white or E-6 or one 100 foot 16mm roll.

Can someone give me the lowdown on cost per roll and headaches involved here?Like drying the film,seems like it would especially be a pain and a risk or more dirt on the film if you don't use a conventional processor with a drying cabinet.What system would you recommend?I've heard the Russian Lomo tanks are good.I want to hear from experienced DIY processing folks.


  • 0

#8 David Venhaus

David Venhaus
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 129 posts
  • Other
  • Wiseburn, CA

Posted 04 September 2006 - 09:32 PM

I have developed around 20,000 feet of 16mm and 35mm film in a Lomo tank. I do a lot of experimental stuff that labs wouldn't want to subject their machines to or would charge a lot extra to do. Mainly I've done mostly black and white but have done about 2000 feet of color neg. As far as cost saving, I've managed to get the black and white neg. down to about 30 cents for 100 feet of 35mm. To get prices that low you would have to mix your own developer formulas, probably ones without sodium sulfite and/or buy in bulk. As for doing E6, it is the most expensive of the processes to DIY, ECN2 is the next. You probably won't save any/or much money doing the color processes and it requires much more work to get consistant quality results.
  • 0

#9 Henri Titchen

Henri Titchen
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 125 posts
  • Other

Posted 05 September 2006 - 04:59 AM

How many feet of B&W film can be developed in a 3.8 litre (1 US Gallon) D-76 developer kit? (They only cost about $6.)

Obviously there are other considerations such as cost of fixer etc. Also time involved and the lack of quality control systems (test strips etc).

Henry.
  • 0

#10 David Venhaus

David Venhaus
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 129 posts
  • Other
  • Wiseburn, CA

Posted 05 September 2006 - 06:44 AM

If I remember correctly, a one gallon mix of D-76 could develop a couple hundred feet of 16mm film. In D-76 the most expensive ingredient is sodium sulfite, which is something like 99% of its cost to produce. Some developers that don't use sodium sulfite can be mixed for a fraction of that cost. If your time is at a premium, don't develope film yourself, it can be very time consuming. With enough practice and knowledge of film developing, consistant and quality results are possible, after all many pro fine art photographers process their own negs and prints.

Edited by David A Venhaus, 05 September 2006 - 06:47 AM.

  • 0

#11 Richardson Leao

Richardson Leao
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 363 posts
  • Other
  • Stockholm, Sweden

Posted 07 September 2006 - 03:05 AM

I have a lomo tank and a G3. for 16mm both uses 1lt of chemicals. For BW reversal, the costs of chemicals for 3.8L would be ~40USD (all of them). I use kodak d-19 and I bought K dichromate/ Na sulphite / sulfuric acid/ directelly from a chem store. With 1L I can process ~12 rolls of 100ft on the G3 and more than 20 times on the lomo. The lomo only takes 5ft each time with 1L. So basically, you would be spending around 40USD for 50 rolls of reversal.

As for e6, i bought a tetenal 5L kit (78E):
http://www.digit-pho...PRTE102050.html

didn't use it yet though.

If you wanna try also, Olexandr:

www.geocites.com/russiancamera/

sells BW kits for reversal. very nice kits (bought 2 from him) and also color. He also use to have color kits, tank and a film drier.

with the lomo tank, i dry the film in a 37C incubator without removing it from the spiral. if you don't have an incubator, a box with a lampp would do.

Also, as david said, the amount of experiments you can do using a lab is quite limited while w a tank you can do anything you want.

If I remember correctly, a one gallon mix of D-76 could develop a couple hundred feet of 16mm film. In D-76 the most expensive ingredient is sodium sulfite, which is something like 99% of its cost to produce. Some developers that don't use sodium sulfite can be mixed for a fraction of that cost. If your time is at a premium, don't develope film yourself, it can be very time consuming. With enough practice and knowledge of film developing, consistant and quality results are possible, after all many pro fine art photographers process their own negs and prints.


  • 0

#12 Nick Zentena

Nick Zentena

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 1 posts
  • Other

Posted 09 September 2006 - 09:17 AM

First of all I was broswing for info on processing ECN film at home [in C-41] and want to say thanks for that.

On the issue of cost. For B&W if you buy raw chemicals in reasonable quanties then costs drop quite a bit. I buy sodium sulfite 10lbs at a time and I know those who buy full bags [50 or 100lbs] The stuff keeps and is used in almost everything. Off the top of my head 1litre of D-76 stock would be around 80cents. Maybe $1. That's buying 10lbs of sodium sulfite at a time.

The cost of D-76 may be mostly sodium sulfite but it's also a relatively cheap chemical. For comparison I buy 10lbs of sodium sulfite for the same price I buy 1 lb of metol.

For E6 the trick is to avoid kits. Buy the jugs aimed at minilabs. The bigger jugs are much cheaper. Considering the volume you guys do I don't see a downside with buying the bigger jugs.

If you have the equipment at home you can run your own control strips. Densitomters are often sold cheap on Ebay. Even without you may get a local lab to check your strips.
  • 0

#13 Charles MacDonald

Charles MacDonald
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1157 posts
  • Other
  • Stittsville Ontario Canada

Posted 09 September 2006 - 10:33 PM

On the issue of cost. For B&W if you buy raw chemicals in reasonable quanties then costs drop quite a bit. I buy sodium sulfite 10lbs at a time and I know those who buy full bags [50 or 100lbs] The stuff keeps and is used in almost everything. Off the top of my head 1litre of D-76 stock would be around 80cents. Maybe $1. That's buying 10lbs of sodium sulfite at a time.

Last time I stocked up I got stuff from an outfit in Montreal:
http://www.jdphotochem.com/
I don't know how shipping bags of white powders would go these days of you are not in canada. To mix from scratch you also need a scale, but chinese digital scales like the myweigh are getting quite cheep (if you can stand the pun in the name) http://www.myweigh.com/ The i2600 (the one I use) would probaly cover any darkroom mixing for less than a full scale lab.. http://www.myweigh.c...cales_i500.html
  • 0

#14 John Pytlak RIP

John Pytlak RIP

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 3499 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Rochester, NY 14650-1922

Posted 12 September 2006 - 07:46 PM

First of all I was broswing for info on processing ECN film at home [in C-41] and want to say thanks for that.


Don't forget that camera films for the ECN-2 process have rem-jet, which requires a prebath, water wash off and buffers to remove properly.
  • 0

#15 Bernhard Zitz

Bernhard Zitz
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 342 posts
  • Other
  • Zürich, Switzerland

Posted 15 September 2006 - 06:16 AM

For myself I found that anything that goes further than B/W negatif isn't really cost- and timesaving going DIY. The minimalcharge at my local lab is around 20$, that's what I do when I have some color short ends. For quick information B/W negatif in a Lomo-Tank is nice... developer-wash-fix-wash dry with a hairdryer and screen it, that goes in less than 1h... I'm talking about cameratests...

Edited by Bernhard Zitz, 15 September 2006 - 06:18 AM.

  • 0

#16 John Pytlak RIP

John Pytlak RIP

    (deceased)

  • Sustaining Members
  • 3499 posts
  • Industry Rep
  • Rochester, NY 14650-1922

Posted 22 September 2006 - 08:10 AM

For myself I found that anything that goes further than B/W negatif isn't really cost- and timesaving going DIY. The minimalcharge at my local lab is around 20$, that's what I do when I have some color short ends. For quick information B/W negatif in a Lomo-Tank is nice... developer-wash-fix-wash dry with a hairdryer and screen it, that goes in less than 1h... I'm talking about cameratests...


For quick camera tests for line-up and focus, any silver-halide film will yield a B&W silver image when processed as a B&W negative. With motion picture color negatives, you will have the rem-jet come off in the developer, with black carbon debris floating in solution.
  • 0


Broadcast Solutions Inc

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Opal

The Slider

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

Wooden Camera

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

Rig Wheels Passport

Aerial Filmworks

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Technodolly

Abel Cine

Tai Audio

Metropolis Post

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

rebotnix Technologies

Glidecam

Visual Products

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineTape

Abel Cine

Metropolis Post

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Tai Audio

The Slider

Aerial Filmworks

Opal

CineLab

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Wooden Camera

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport