Get into film! (part 3)

Well, we made it. Today is the final step to being 100% self sufficient in the hybrid world. Get your shopping list ready, it’s time to start developing by ourselves.

Minolta X-570; Kodak Portra 400 @ box speed; c41

You don’t need a darkroom to do this. I recommend you start with black and white, which is a little looser in terms of times and temps. Certainly go for color though if it floats your boat. Note: the developer listed below is for b&w film.

A quick tip. Go for a steel reel and tank. Although the plastic ones may be tempting, the ball bearings may lock up at some point down the line and you’ll go steel anyway. Few things can make your heart drop from sadness and your blood boil from anger at the same time, but hearing your film crinkle in those @$&”!?% plastic pieces of trash is one of them. The Hewes reel has no moving parts. Enough said.

The final Mr. Reasonable spend tally (⏸ on film and dev. costs as yours will vary depending on how much you shoot):

📷: $140 Canon AE-1 Program + 50mm 1.8

🎞🧪: $194 Film and dev. to get moving

🖨: $200 Epson v600

💿: $50 Silverfast scan software

🧪: $24 changing bag

🧪: $29 hc110 developer

🧪: $8 kodafix

🧪: $8 kodak photo-flo

🧪: $5 thermometer

🧪: $6 funnel

🧪: $10 500ml measuring cups x 3

🧪: $4 500ml storage bottle for fixer

🧪: $8 graduated cylinder

🧪: $37 Hewes steel developing reel

🧪: $27 steel developing tank

🧪: $7 squeegee

🧪: $9 massive dev chart app

🧪: $4 cheap roll to practice with (do not shoot it)

💸💸: $770 all in

Bonus accounting nerd stats:

🧪 $21 per roll to develop and scan at a lab

🧪 $18 per roll to develop at lab and scan at home

🖨💿: Printer and software pay for themselves after 84 rolls

🧪: Developing supplies ($186) pay for themselves after 16 rolls

Vivitar 450pz; Kodak Tri-X (exp. 2005) @ box speed; hc 110 (b) @ ISO 800

Before we go all in, there is the dry run. Let’s practice everything we’ll need to do IN the changing bag, but OUTSIDE of the bag. There are special tools that can open a 35mm canister, but I’ve never had issues with a can/bottle opener. Crack the flat end of the unexposed practice roll open and slide the film out. Next, cut the leader off. You want a straight cut 90° perpendicular to the edge.

Grab the reel. You’ll need to pinch the film slightly to get it in to the reel. Don’t crease it or anything, just enough to get it between the 2 spirals. Push it past the 2 ‘nubs’ and pull it back outward to get the nubs through the sprocket holes. Then twist the reel and keep pinching like before, repeat until you get to the end of the roll and cut the film off of the spool. Put the reel in the developing tank and close the lid.

Keep practicing loading the spool with that practice roll until you are confident. Then practice loading it in the changing bag until you are confident.

Ready? Ok, time for the real deal. Put the following in your changing bag and don’t pull your arms out until you’re done: Reel, Tank, scissors, can opener, legit exposed roll of film. Good luck!

Minolta a-7; Kodak Tmax p3200 @ box speed; hc 110 (b)

Next, the chemicals. Mix everything beforehand and have it ready to go in the 3 measuring cups. Use the massive dev chart app to set your film, temp, and times. Note: it already has all of this information for a ridiculous amount of films and developers (it also tells you the developer:water ratio!).

At the stop bath stage, you can fill the tank with water and dump out 5 times or so, then fill with water and continue with the 1:00 agitation scheme in the app before the fixer. I’ve never used a real stop bath and never had issues.

When the fixer stage is done, use your funnel and dump it into the 500ml storage bottle to use another day. To test the fixer next time, you can pour it into the measuring cup and drop the leader that was cut off of the film into it. The leader should be clear after 5 min or so. If it’s not, dump the fixer and make a new batch. You should be able to process a few rolls with each batch of fixer. HC110 is one and done though.

Once you get to the end of the app and your film is hanging, run the squeegee over it lightly top down. Wait 8 hours or so, then cut and scan. Storage is up to you. Many options out there.


[Photographer] Leveled up!

Artsy +10

Fartsy +5

Intelligence +10

Speed +5

Luck +3

Pride +9999

[Photographer] learned ‘b&w develop’

You dropped 770GP

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