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Railfan Technology > B&W Film Developing

Date: 12/26/22 10:33
B&W Film Developing
Author: MaryMcPherson

I went digital a full two decades ago, but I never got rid of my trusty old Pentax K1000... it just sat unused in the closet, depressed and thinking it had been forgotten about.

The most recent issue of the magazine from the Center For Railroad Photography and Art had an article on the phenomenon of photographers breaking out the old film cameras.  My first thought was "okay, fine.  Whatever."

Then I got to thinking about it.  I broke out the K1000, and found that the light meter no longer functions.  No biggie, since I can (and just did) order a light meter to mount on the hot shoe.  Then my father gave me his old Minolta X-700 and lenses that have likewise been sitting unused for decades.  I put in new batteries after cleaning the contacts this morning, and heard that satifying KA-CHUNK of the shutter tripping.

Cool.  Suddenly I find myself with two working film SLR's and the will to run some black & white film through them.  Five rolls of Tri-X are on order.

Now the question becomes where to get the negatives developed.  I'm not doing them myself; especially as I have noplace dark enough to load the film into the tank.  The camera shops in our immediate era have been defunct for years.

Any suggestions?  I don't even need prints, really.  I'll scan the negatives myself, so I don't need to pay for that either.  I just need someplace reliable to send the film to for processing.


Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions

Date: 12/26/22 12:49
Re: B&W Film Developing
Author: colehour

Try The Darkroom (www.thedarkroom.com). I sent a role of color negative film to them a couple of years ago. I think that I was following up on a recommendation I saw here on TO. 

Date: 12/26/22 12:57
Re: B&W Film Developing
Author: sf1010

Get a changing bag.  ​I'm not necessarily recommending this one, it's just the first one that popped up.  I will say I have always been completely satisfied with B&H.


You can still buy developing tanks.  You load them in the changing bag,  then the tanks are light proof, so no darkroom needed.  I always used stainless steel tanks, apparently now only available used.


Sacrifice one roll of film, any film, and practice loading the tank in the open so you can see what you are doing until you get the feel to do it in the bag.

I've used both D76 and HC110 developer with Tri X.  Both still available.  HC110 comes as a liquid concentrate, so it is a bit easier to mix just the amount you want.  

Or, send it off to Dwaynes...


Have fun, regardless!


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/26/22 12:58 by sf1010.

Date: 12/31/22 18:20
Re: B&W Film Developing
Author: wa4umr

I'll second that suggestion on the changing bag.  Over the years I've probably done hundreds or rolls in a changing bag.  You put your film, reels, and cans in one end, zip it up and stick your hands in the other end with the elastic cuffs that fit around your arms.  You can sit and watch TV while loading the bags if you are comfortable doing that.  If you don't need prints, you don't need a darkroom  The actual development of the film requires the tanks, reels, and a thermometer to measure the temperature of the chemicals.  You also need some running water.  I've done quite a few rolls at the kitchen sink.  If you've never done it before, basically you measure the temperature of your developer, look at a chart for that temperature and the film you are using, and put the developer in for that period of time required or adjust the temperature with cold water running on the container.  Pour it out, pour in some stop bath for about a minute and then put the fixer in for the time required.  Wash the film in running water.  Squeegee the film and let it dry.  That's the basics.  I always used stainless steel tanks and reels.  You can get cans that will hold 1, 2, or 4 reels of 35mm film, or at least you used to be able to.  I bought my canisters and reels over 50 years ago and they look just like new.  If you have to buy some used ones, they should be perfectly fine unless someone really abused them


Date: 01/01/23 10:11
Re: B&W Film Developing
Author: MaryMcPherson

I appreciate the tips on doing it yourself.  In our house, that invites cat hair into the process. <wink>

I'd prefer sending it to someone that won't screw it up.

Mary McPherson
Dongola, IL
Diverging Clear Productions

Date: 01/02/23 16:19
Re: B&W Film Developing
Author: sf1010

MaryMcPherson Wrote:
> I appreciate the tips on doing it yourself.  In
> our house, that invites cat hair into the process.
> I'd prefer sending it to someone that won't screw
> it up.

If you don't want to tackle it, fine.  But don't blame it on the poor cat(s)!

Just one comment on a post above -- I never used a squeegee.  Kodak Photo-Flo 200 wetting agent (or similar) will assure your negs dry spot free with zero chance of scratches.

Date: 01/16/23 22:27
Re: B&W Film Developing
Author: grahamline

Blue Moon Camera in Portland OR does excellent work.  Not sure what their turnaround time would be to Illinois.

Date: 01/20/23 05:11
Re: B&W Film Developing
Author: engineerinvirginia

I will say...well known mail order places are great if only for the fact that they will follow any intsructions you provide such as "print as exposed" or "Push 1 stop" etc.  Modern developing machines WILL try to improve what it thinks are bad exposures, unless that setting is overidded by the operator. Unfortunately at drugstores and walmarts...the operators have no idea how to intrepret customer instructions...they only know how to load the cartridge into the machine!

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