Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Develop Color Films with Black & White Chemicals

Processing color films in B&W chemicals is not generally recommended as it is fairly pointless, but also quite fun! It's called cross processing but the results are a bit unpredictable and it never will look like exactly like black and white film developed with a black and white process. Depending on the type of color film they can come out quite thin if you do not increase processing time.

Kodak colourplus 200 | Home developed in B&W chemicals | Photo: Silly Fluckr

Cross procesing is normally done by processing negative films in E-6. but you can do E6/C41 as B&W: taking colour reversal or negative film and processing as black and white. This results in a black and white negative. As colour film is usually more expensive than B&W, you may want to only use this technique if you are out shooting colour and decide you'd rather have B&W.

Here is a guide for how to develop color films with B&W chemicals was written by Mark Spowart and published on eHow.
  1. Load the exposed roll of color film onto the reels. Either in a changing bag or in a light-tight room remove the film from its container and begin to load it onto the reels. This step is tricky and requires it to be done in complete darkness. Practicing with an unneeded or practice roll of film in normal light is a good idea.
  2. Pour developer into the tank. Depending on the size of tank and number of reels you are using, the quantity of developer and other processing chemicals will vary. For a small two-reel developing tank the capacity is approximately 20 fl. oz. Since you are processing color film--which is usually processed at a higher temperature than black and white film--you are going to need to leave the film in the developer solution for a longer period of time. If you are using a 400 ISO film speed, process the color film in the black and white developer for 12 minutes. Follow the same agitation process of constant agitation for the first 30 seconds, then for five seconds every 30 seconds. Be sure to tap the developing tank after each agitation to dislodge bubbles that may have formed on the film. When the processing time is complete, pour out and discard the developer.
  3. Pour 20 fl. oz. of stop bath into the developing tanks and agitate for 30 seconds, at which point you will pour out and discard the chemical.
  4. Pour 20 fl. oz. of fixing agent into the tank and agitate for 15 seconds, then let the film sit in the solution for five minutes. Pour out and discard the solution. At this point, the film is safe to be viewed under normal light.
  5. Wash the film. After you have removed the lid of the tank, run the tank (with the reels still in it) under the tap for 15 minutes. Then add two drops of a wetting agent (either Photo Flo or diluted soap) and the developing process is done.
  6. Take the reels out of the tank, remove the film from them and hang to dry. Allow the film to dry for a minimum of two hours, then cut the negatives into strips of five or six frames and insert into an archival storage sleeve.


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  1. Stop bath and fixer can be reused other than that a great guide I am going to try this today!

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  6. Thanks for sharing the guide. It helps me know make a film with Black & White Chemicals easier.
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  10. love this post...I just tried last night to dev my first color film in B&W and it was a disaster...may try again

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  12. Ive got many rolls of long-outdated Fujichrome that was very bad when developed professionally only two years out of date so I know it'd be terrible today, ten years out of date...I will test to see how it works developed as black and white (probably Rodinal stand development 15 minutes at 1+100.

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