Develop Colour Film with Tetenal Colortec C-41 kit
Today we are developing colour film. It’s a first time for me but I’m sure it will be alright!
It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time but I was afraid of messing up as it requires more care and precision than B&W development process.
There are a few options to develop C-41 films at home but for today we’ll be looking as this Tetenal Colortec C-41 kit. In total, you can prepare 1 liter of developer with this kit and can develop between 12 and 16 rolls of films before you exhaust the chemicals.
Table of Contents
Developing Colour Film At Home
Part 1 – Preparing the chemicals
Before we start mixing our chemicals, it’s important to make sure the water is between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius. To make our life easier it should be around 30 degrees, we will see later why.
For this recipe you need the following equipment :
- 1 x C-41 kit. Liquid or powder version
- 3 x 1 Litre bottles with sealed cap (collapsible bottles are best)
- 1 x Funnel (3 are recommended though to avoid chemistry contamination)
- 1 x Darkroom thermometer
- 1 x Bucket (or recipient) big enough to cover the bottles with water
The first thing we need is 400ml of water. 200ml of part one, same for the 2nd part and another 200ml of part 3 to finish. That’s it guys, our developer is ready.
This one is the most critical in terms of temperature so we are going to let it sit in a bucket of water that’s around 30 degrees celsius to make sure the temperature is correct for the development. With C41 developer you can be off by +/- half a degree so we must be precise here! There are other temperatures you can develop at but today we’ll go for the 30 degrees.
Here we need 600ml of water (again between 20 and 45 degrees Celsius). Then 200ml of part 1. This looks like fake blood! And complete with 200ml of part 2.
This is the easiest as it requires only 800ml and 200ml of pure stabiliser.
Our chemicals are now ready! You can see all the steps in this video if you want to see me in action.
Part 2 – Developing the film
As I mentioned earlier all chemicals should be at 30 degrees (you can also develop at 38 degrees but developing time needs to be shorten), especially the developer as it’s the pickiest of the 3 solutions. The temperature ensure that all layers are developed correctly and colours don’t shift.
My suggestion is to let the bottles in a bathtub or bucket, for at least 15 minutes, filled with water at 35 degrees. This will ensure to have the right temperature when time is over.
There are 5 steps to follow when developing colour film:
1- Before putting the chemicals inside the tanks we need to pre-soak the films for 5 minutes with water at 30 degrees. This step helps the chemicals to develop the film evenly and also to warm up the developing tank.
2- When pre-soaking is done so it’s show time for the developer. Pour it into the tank for 8 minutes. We are going to agitate for a minute at the beginning and then 4 inversions every minute. Then put the developer back into the bottle because it’s reusable.
3- Next phase is the Blix. This one should be between 29 and 31 degrees and it has to stay 6 minutes. We will repeat the same sequence of agitations and inversions.
4- Before putting the stabiliser, we need to rinse the film with clear water for another 6 minutes. It should be with water between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius. Recycle the one from your bucket or bathtub for example if you want to help to save the planet (on top of keeping film alive!). Simply fill the tank a few times then refill with fresh water and repeat for at least 6 minutes.
5- The stabiliser is the last step before your negative can see the light! It should be between 20 and 40 degrees Celsius. Just pour it in and agitate gently for 1 minute.
IT’S SIMPLE AS THAT!
Moment of truth: let’s look at a few images…
All of these images were shot with a Smena 8M. If you want to know more about this camera, check out this article.
Overall the quality and colours turned out pretty well. You can see some strange lines and uneven development around the edges but I would put that on the camera rather than the developer.
I have to admit that it was more complicated that it seemed. Controlling the temperature is the most critical part but after developing a few rolls of colour film, I’m getting used to it. I guess first times are never easy 😉
Hi, I’m Vincent Moschetti! I love shooting film and talking about it 📸