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Need Advice on Developing Super 8

super 8 film kodak 7266 home developing

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#1 Will Graham

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Posted 01 March 2015 - 06:50 PM

So as a project for high school some friends and I are going to shot a short on Super 8. I am planing on purchasing Kodak's 7266 Tri-X and I've been looking into developing it. I know that I can send it to get developed at Pro8mm or CineLab but if it's reasonable I'd like to try home developing. I've see a number of different ways in my research.

 

I know the basic process of developing the film twice and bleaching it in the middle. I've read that I could just use D-76 for developing. But I've also read that I should use KODAK B&W Reversal First Developer Starter. I've read the instructions for using the Developer Starter and it sounded like it includes everything someone needs. But when I was looking into it more someone had posted saying I would needed to buy some other products.  Also I've heard that you can use coffee as developer but I didn't really look into that.

 

So I could use some advice is there a good way to do home developing, if so what do I need and what is the specific formulas for mixing. Or would it just be better to mail it in and if so what service would you suggest.


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#2 Jeremy Parsons

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Posted 02 March 2015 - 03:01 AM

I think you'll find home-processing more trouble than its worth unless you already have access to a lab and experience processing motion picture film.  Processing 100' of images that will be seen together is way different than just 3' of stills that will be seen individually.

 

If you're still committed to trying home-processing, shoot a test roll first. That way, if you screw up you didn't botch all your hard work and planning put into your short.

 

The additional benefit of Pro8mm is they can do a scan of your film to a movie file. It makes for much easier editing.


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#3 Mark Dunn

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Posted 02 March 2015 - 05:05 AM

Developer starter is intended for large tank processing. It isn't a complete solution. It is added to replenisher to make a working solution, so it isn't the answer to your problem. You will still need to develop,, bleach, re-expose, redevelop and fix. It's a lot of work for a couple of rolls and will certainly be more expensive than having it done professionally.


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#4 Josh Gladstone

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Posted 02 March 2015 - 05:11 AM

It's absolutely much easier to send your film into a lab, and you will get much more "correct" results. That said, it is not difficult to process your film at home and get a negative out of it. Doing the full reversal process is a little more difficult because, as you said, there's a bleach step in the middle, and the bleach is hard to come by. There are a couple of reversal kits that give you pre-measured amounts, but in most cases the bleach has to be mixed from raw chemicals. If you're comfortable working with caustic materials, and storing reasonable amounts of dangerous chemicals around your house, then more power to you!

 

Now first, you'll need a tank to put the film and chemicals in. This can be as complex as a Soviet Lomo tank (look it up on ebay), which holds the film in a spiral making sure the chemistry is evenly distributed. Or you can use a bucket from the hardware store. Of course throwing your film and chemicals in a bucket is going to make them stick together, and there will be spots that are undeveloped, dirt, etc. But that adds texture, and maybe you like that.

 

Okay so lets say you have your tank (or bucket or bathtub or whatever you're using). You're going to need to take the exposed film out of the super 8 cartridge in a darkroom or changing bag, and load it into the tank. You can either pull the film out through the gate portion of the cartridge, or you can break the cartridge open. I used to pull my film out, but I'm pretty convinced it sometimes scratches your film, so I recommend breaking them open. I use a bottle opener. Now if you're using a light-tight tank, you can do the rest in normal lighting. If your tank isn't light tight, the whole thing has to be done in the dark.

 

Okay, so now chemistry. I mentioned processing kits before. Here is one kit, meant to be used on T-max still film: http://www.freestyle...sal-Process-Kit

 

And here's the datasheet which has the all the chemical mixing information: www.freestylephoto.biz/pdf/product_pdfs/formulary/FormularyReversalTmax_010600.pdf

 

Here's their bleach recipe:

 

BLEACH STOCK SOLUTION A

Potassium Permanganate 4 g

Water to make 1 liter

 

BLEACH STOCK SOLUTION B

Chemical Amount Sodium Bisulfate 34.5 g

Water to make 1 liter

 

You mix those together in equal parts. And it has to be mixed fresh before each batch because it doesn't last long. Then you'll need this clearing bath:

 

Sodium Metabisulfite 30 g

Water to make 1 liter

 

If you google Tri-x Potassium Permanganate bleach, you'll see some people have had success with it. I haven't tried it yet, but I've got most of the chemicals, so I plan to soon.

 

You can use any developer for the first and second developers, but people recommend D-19 for the first developer because it is higher contrast which gives much better results in reversal.

 

I used D-76 all the time to get negatives, and that works great. Negatives are much simpler, btw. Developer, wash, fix, wash, (photoflo,) dry. Also, you asked about Caffenol. Caffenol is great, and gives great negatives, but doesn't work for reversal. It's super easy to make with fairly readily available products. Here's the recipe I like:

 

1 Liter of water

Stir in 54g Washing soda until mostly dissolved.

Stri in 15g Vitamin C Powder. It should foam up a tiny bit.

40g Instant Coffee. The cheaper the better. You want robusta beans, not arabica.

Process film for 15 minutes at 20ºC, agitating gently.

 

And here's some youtube stuff so you can get an sort of an idea of the results of these different processes. (Keep in mind these were all scanned on a home-made machine that was continually improving, so some scans are better than others. And the hand-processed stuff was all done in a Lomo tank.)

 

 

This one was processed in Caffenol

 

Also Caffenol

 

This one was in D-76

 

And this was lab-processed as reversal. Even though this is an older scan and it may not be as sharp, you can still tell it's less grainy and there's more tonal range.

 

 

Hope that helps!


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#5 Will Graham

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Posted 02 March 2015 - 08:05 PM

Thanks for the very extensive advice. I plan on shipping cartridges in for this project because were on a tight timeline, but sound like it would be a lot of fun to try home developing so I plan on giving it a go soon.


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#6 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 03 March 2015 - 03:22 AM

We do a fair bit of scanning for students at local film schools, including two art schools, where hand processing is pretty common. It's a very cool look if you're ok with the risk factor and the uncertainty. If you're looking for pristine, best to send it out, but if you want something a bit rough around the edges, doing it by hand can yield interesting results. I'd also recommend processing as negative, if you're planning to scan the film anyway.


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#7 John E Clark

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 12:57 PM

Since I have occasionally thought about my Bolex H8, and shooting some Real™ motion picture film, and perhaps having to develop by hand... how does one 'split' the 16mm film stock to yield to 8mm segments?

 

Or is that needed for 'scanned' workflow?


Edited by John E Clark, 04 March 2015 - 12:57 PM.

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#8 Josh Gladstone

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 03:41 PM

It's actually much simpler than you expect. You need one of these tools. They come up on ebay every now and then.


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#9 David Cunningham

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 06:51 PM

Well that's pretty cool. Using that you could get your double 8 processed at any 16mm processing lab. I like it.
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#10 John E Clark

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 06:58 PM

Well that's pretty cool. Using that you could get your double 8 processed at any 16mm processing lab. I like it.

 

I though 8mm sproket spacing was different than 16mm...


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#11 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 07:13 PM

The spacing and size are the same, but there are twice as many perfs in 8mm. So you couldn't use 16mm film in a regular 8 camera, because half the necessary perfs would be missing and the camera would be clawing at raw film.

 

You can put 8mm (processed film) in a 16mm splicing block and it'll fit just fine because the spacing for every other perf of 8mm is the same as every perf in 16mm.


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#12 John E Clark

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Posted 04 March 2015 - 07:29 PM

The spacing and size are the same, but there are twice as many perfs in 8mm. So you couldn't use 16mm film in a regular 8 camera, because half the necessary perfs would be missing and the camera would be clawing at raw film.

 

You can put 8mm (processed film) in a 16mm splicing block and it'll fit just fine because the spacing for every other perf of 8mm is the same as every perf in 16mm.

 

With that in mind, are there any 'hand' tools to take 16mm stock and punch holes to use in 8mm cameras?


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#13 Mark Dunn

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 04:58 AM

Processing machines use rollers to run the film. Theydon't use the sprockets at all.

Hand sprocketing would be an awful lot of work in the dark.


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#14 Mark Dunn

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 05:03 AM

 

 

You can put 8mm (processed film) in a 16mm splicing block and it'll fit just fine because the spacing for every other perf of 8mm is the same as every perf in 16mm.

I've run 8mm, very carefully, on the Steenbeck. One gets two frames at a time, of course, but it's easy to follow the action.

For some reason it never occurred to me that I could cut it on the CIR. Thanks for the tip.


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#15 Perry Paolantonio

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Posted 05 March 2015 - 09:21 AM

Processing machines use rollers to run the film. Theydon't use the sprockets at all.

Hand sprocketing would be an awful lot of work in the dark.

 

And a modern sprocketless scanner would also have no problem with it, though you'd have to post-process the image to split it up. And frankly, I don't see an advantage to this. If you were to scan 8mm film on a sprocketless 16mm scanner, your image area for 8mm each frame is only 1/4 the size of a 16mm frame. That means you're getting a relatively low resolution scan. If you use a  scanner that can reposition the sensor/lens assembly to fill the sensor with the 8mm frame you're going to get a better result, at higher resolutions.

 

The bigger issue, though, is that 16mm film won't run through an 8mm camera because it has half the perfs needed, so the whole idea is kind of moot.

 

-perry


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#16 Martin Baumgarten

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Posted 20 March 2015 - 11:14 AM

Hi Will.  I've been processing film since 8th age 14.  Years ago there were several sources for all the home processing gear needed to process movie film.  You can still find most of what you need, or whip some of it up yourself.  Chemistry aside, the most difficult part is dealing with the narrow film width in the total dark and loading it onto your processing reel setup.  All the chemistry you need is available quite easily.  The Bleach can either be the older formula using Potassium Dichromate, Sulfic Acid 5N and water, or the newer Permaganate Bleach (which just requires longer bleaching time to get the same results, double the standard time and you're fine).

 

 To keep things on the cheap, you can make your Film Processing Rack, using a large or several darkroom print trays (16 x 20 inches), and building the rack out of plexiglass.  There are instructions I wrote up years ago out on the net somewhere, but email me directly at Super8mm at aol dot com otherwise.   The film processing rack, after processing also acts as your film drying rack.  With care in loading, chemical mixing, processing (time & temp), and care in dealing with the film while wet and afterward, you can achieve professional results just using a home bathroom.  I used to process film using the family bathroom after everyone went to sleep late at night, just wiped down the bathroom with damp towels to make sure there wasn't any dust around. 

 

   I've processed film in closets, at hotel bathrooms and storage rooms and just about anywhere you can imagine, especially in my Air Force years as a photographer.  A very easy to use tank setup is the Morse/Arkay/Doran G-3 Rewind Tank, but it can be tedious to use as it will take nearly 3 hours to process 2 rolls of film, or a bit less for just one roll.  The advantage with it is that once loaded, all work is done in the light, and you can take breaks at certain stages, and even process while watching TV or listening to music.   Full immersion processing via a Spiral Reel type setup tank or via a Film Processing Rack setup is the best though, as all film is processed evenly at the same time.  I've had kids process film here in the lab to teach them how it's done, as young as 11.  So I'm sure you can process your own movie film also.   I knew a guy when I was in 10th grade that not only processed his own Regular 8mm films, but also shot movies while Caving (spelunking), using motorcycle batteries for power to his lighting setup, and used ammo cans as drag boxes while we tunneled our way through various caves.

 

   You will need some time to set things up, teach yourself what you need to know and get the hang of dealing with the longer film length.  However, with care, and using scrap film to practice loading, unloading etc, BEFORE you commit to using a good roll of film, you can get great results with the good roll of film the first time you process it once you're ready.  Good luck with your project!


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#17 Josh Gladstone

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Posted 20 March 2015 - 12:41 PM

Wow Martin, that's a great email address.


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