Developing colour film at home / by Sarah Li

I've now done four. In three tanks. On two separate days. Now time to write the blog.  

The first film was shot on my Canon 3000N, at the time when I did not understand that the ISO rating on a film firstly has to be set, and secondly has to correspond as close as possible to the light you are shooting in. That is simplified but at that time I knew neither, so the photos of the party, at night, on a Afgacolour 200 film, barely came out. But more below.

Film number two was the start of my relationship with an old Pentax Super ME of my parents. The film had 18 exposures already shot, which meant I had a few left. I had no idea what film was in there, nor for how long it had been in there so I took the camera somewhere local and finished off the roll. Upon opening the camera I saw that the film was a Klick (remember them?!) Photopoint 400.

These were the first two films I developed. I developed them in separate tanks as I decided to push the Afgacolour 200 by two stops, seeing as I had no recollection of what ISO I shot the film on, but that it was a night time. I imagined I would have increased the ISO to around 800 for the majority of the shots. The 400 I left neutral as I did not know what was on the film and ISO 400, I thought would be pretty safe bet.

An exciting delivery from  Process Supplies

An exciting delivery from Process Supplies

Once I'd settled that, I decided now was the time to mix the chemicals. This is when the temperature comes in.

The chemicals arrive in 6 bottles. 3 for the development (dev), 2 for the bleach fix (blix) and 1 for the stabiliser (stab) and they all need to be mixed. The key temperature is 38℃.

So I filled a bucket of water to 38℃, and placed all six bottles in there and left for 30 minutes; constantly monitoring the temperature and adding more hot water when needed. 

After 30 minutes I began mixing the chemicals with themselves and the filtered hot water I had prepared and cooled down to 38℃. Here is a table of how they mixed:

Tetenal C-41 Mix.jpg


After mixing each element I put the new, labelled bottles back into the 38℃ water bucket. Now was time to warm the development tank. So I poured some filtered 38℃ water into the tank for five minutes, with a 10 second agitation every minute, placing back into the 38℃ water bucket between each agitation. Once this was done, I quickly dried it off and went into the dark bag to load the film onto the spool and place into the development tank. Now with no time to waste, I poured the dev. into the tank. As the film was being covered I simultaneously started the timer. The standard time for the dev. is 3m 30s, agitating for 10 seconds every 30 seconds. This is the same for all colour film developed in C-41 chemicals. Between each agitation I made sure to put the tank back into the 38℃ water, which was constantly maintained at 38℃. If you want to push the film it is around 45 seconds per stop. So with the second film, I left the dev. in for 5 minutes.   

As soon as the time was up, I poured the dev. back into it's designated jug and set aside, whilst I grabbed the blix. and poured it into the development tank, simultaneously starting the timer for six minutes. Again with the blix. I agitated every 30 seconds for 10 seconds putting the tank back into the 38℃ water bucket between agitations. At exactly six minutes I poured the blix. back into it's designated jug and grabbed the warm filtered water (this was not exactly 38℃ but thereabouts). This then went into the development tank for three minutes with regular agitations and kept in the 38℃ water bucket between agitations. After three minutes I poured the water away down the sink. I chose to wash it a second time with warm filtered water for around a minute, though this second wash is not necessary. After the wash, I poured the stab. into the tank for 1 minute with an agitation at the beginning for 10 seconds and again at 45 seconds. Like the dev. and the blix. this stab. can be used again so I poured it into it's designated jug. Job done! 🙏🤞 

When I pulled the film out to my joy, amazement and satisfaction, I saw images on the negatives! The Afgacolour 200 was really interesting, there were some crazy cool effects on parts of the negatives, granted not any clear or usable images but the patterns looked cool.

The first 18 exposures on the Klick 400 film (we dated them circa 2002) came out fairly clearly, the newer ones to finish the roll were barely visible; though I guess not surprising due to the age of the film. One thing to note: I remember when loading this film onto the spool it took over half an hour in the development bag as the perforations on the side of the film had disintegrated and were being chewed up as opposed to loading. Luckily I had scissors in the bag with me so I could gently select and cut the guilty pieces away; I then pretty much had to hand feed the film onto the spool. So, always take scissors into the development bag with you!

All in all I was pretty happy with outcomes which I am sharing now sharing some of the images, which I got scanned at Artful Dodgers, below.

The first one is the Afgacolour 200 film pushed two stops. There are a couple of pretty cool ones in there, particularly the first one of my friend Alice.


The second one is the Klick photopoint 400. The 16 year old exposures are underexposed. But this might be due to the age of the film (or it could also be to do with the settings my parents took the photos at). You can see though, in the last two images, the awesome effects on the new shots. 


The third and forth films were both new Kodak film, loaded in Pentax Super ME. One was the lovely Kodak Professional Ektar 100, and the other was a regular Kodak 400

The day I took the Kodak Ektar 100 out was a sunny day in London. So I left the ISO at 100. This proved tricky, as even in bright daylight, there were times when I could not get enough light into the shot unless I reduced the shutter speed to 1/60 and I really didn't want to reduce the f/stop to under 5 as it was street photography. The Kodak 400 was shot on a bright day in the Hampshire countryside so again, I decided not to push or pull the film.

When it came to developing I realised I could do both the films together in the same tank. I loaded the Ektar 100 at the bottom of the tank to ensure more thorough covering. The chemicals I used were the same as the previous, so this was their third use. You don't need to throw the development or the bleach fix every time. I have read that you can use it around 12 times, but I will report back on that. I followed the standard times, as follows.

Warm tank: 5 minutes with 38℃ water poured in and kept in 38℃ water bucket.

Dev: 3 minutes 30 seconds

Blix: 6 minutes

Wash: 3 minutes with boiled clean 38℃ water poured in. Then run under warm water for one minute.

Stab: 1 minute


The results have been brilliant! The negs came out clear and with good looking contrasts. I am yet to get them scanned and/or into the darkroom, but here are photos of the negs I took with my phone so you can get a rough idea how they came out. The close ups, and the film hanging on the right, are the Kodak Ektar 100.

I hope you enjoyed me sharing my first ever experience of home developing colour film. I look forward to doing more and will share with you. Please do post comments and/or questions below to help share and increase the knowledge within the community. I will certainly help where I can... 

All the best! Sarah x