Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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It's pretty easy to get color negatives processed for pretty cheap, but I'd like to learn about the process.

How do I process color negatives at home? What chemicals and equipment will I need?

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The reason it's cheap to get done is because the machines carried in stores and labs have already paid for themselves over the years. They're cheap only because of massive volume.
It's far from a simple process, especially because the temperature and timing tollerances for the process are extremely narrow.
I've done some research into this in the past, and found it to be unfeasible (economically, and for the space needed to house the equipment) to do it myself (slide film is even worse).
Here's a Kodak manual: http://www.kodak.com/global/en/business/retailPhoto/techInfo/zManuals/z131.jhtml
A forum thread on photo.net about it: http://photo.net/film-and-processing-forum/00EqiY (read more there, they make it sound easier than it is, no doubt because of years of experience).

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I would go into B&W developing first. Process is less error sensitive. Problem with this solution is of course that you need to like B&W photos.... –  Rafal Ziolkowski Jun 7 '11 at 9:35
    
yup, did that and it works like a charm. Had to give it up when chemicals and film got hard to get here (and shipment of "harmful and toxic chemicals" by mail is getting harder and harder so mailorder is out of the question now too, sadly). –  jwenting Jun 7 '11 at 10:49
    
I felt in love with it, and I am going to buy equipment myself - along with some 120mm format body - when I buy house. Playing around with all this stuff is not fun when your bathroom is 2x3m :( and you have to have it useful for most of the time: I mean you are not living alone ;) –  Rafal Ziolkowski Jun 7 '11 at 11:16
    
@jw Kodachrome is worse, but Ektachrome is not bad: it's about a 45 minute process that can be done with standard B&W equipment in your bathroom. I have done it several times, but don't recommend it: the rewards of B&W processing (control over the negative) do not extend to color development--which basically works or doesn't--unless you're going for special effects. –  whuber Jun 7 '11 at 16:57
    
I've found that C41 is a lot more forgiving than people seems to think, and that you can keep on using the chemistry for longer than you think. I use the Tetenal kit. Pre-heating the room (& the chemistry) and using a large watertank (with ~40 C water) is the key, and don't forget to prolong the development time with each roll. I haven't even bothered with making color prints, tho. –  monotux Jun 9 '11 at 16:36
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