As the title says, what happens if I develop a color film exactly as I would do with a black and white film?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I know this has been answered before on this site, but I can't find it. Maybe @mattdm can? \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just recently did this with some of my old film, but I don't know enough to answer anything ;) I'd love to find out how it affects the darkroom exposure though and if filters would be needed \$\endgroup\$
    – Dreamager
    Commented May 29, 2013 at 20:45

2 Answers 2


You can develop E6 and C41 slide or negative film with B&W developers and get monochromatic results. With Kodak film you'll have the orange cast, but you can still scan or print from the negative.

I've seen mention of people using Acufine/Diafine and Rodinal, but never tried it myself. Good examples here: Cross-processing colour film in b&w chemicals

You can also use C41 processing on B&W film if you skip the bleach step, which would wipe out anything on the negative.


E-6 will give less than optimal results developed in B&W, you'll lose a lot of contrast + there will (probably) be a dark brown hue to the negative. C-41 in B&W will give better results than E-6, but will still be inferior to developing in C-41. There will be an accentuation of the film grain, especially if what you're developing is low speed. I've played around with E-6 and C-41 in D-76 1+1 and have been pretty pleased with how C-41 comes out, slightly less pleased with E-6 due to the dark brown hue. Caffenol will also work as a cheap developer for E-6 or C-41.

If you're just starting to experiment I'd start with some cheap Kodak Gold or Max 400 and shoot things you're not afraid to lose (i.e. No family heirlooms, No shots of the Loch Ness Monster, No Bigfoot sightings. You will inevitably mess up and totally ruin a roll or two, but don't let that discourage you, experimental photography is tremendous fun.

Let me note that under no circumstances should B&W be developed in an unmodified C-41 process. The blix, or if you're using a bleach separate from your fix will completely wipe a B&W negative. The bleach doesn't play nice with a B&W negative, so if you're going in the opposite direction, just leave the bleach out of the process. If you're using blix... Well, don't process B&W.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Bleach, and blix (BLeach-fIX), dissolves metallic silver (the black part of the photographic image in a b&w negative) to produce water-soluble silver salts that can be removed in the second wash to reveal the dye image. If there is no dye image, removal of the silver will produce a blank piece of film base with no image. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stan
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 21:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly, if there's no dye, as there is in B&W imagery, bleach or blix will wipe the film clean and just give you the acetate base, which nobody would want to look at. \$\endgroup\$
    – qbalazs
    Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 23:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ I just want to point out that the language used in this answer is a bit imprecise. E-6 and C-41 are processes, not films. You might consider it nitpicking, but I would not talk about "E-6 film" when the subject is cross-processing. What this answer is talking about is "film designed for the E-6 process" and "film designed for the C-41 process". Cross-processing is when a process other than the intended one is used. \$\endgroup\$
    – osullic
    Commented Nov 28, 2021 at 13:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.