Getting Supplies for Home Film Developing

Home film developing can be very rewarding. By developing your film at home, you can gain a knowledge of the photographic process and, in the long run, save some money. After developing your film, you can either choose to process it yourself or just bring it to the local photography store and have them make enlargements from your developed negatives.

This guide will deal with the essentials for black-and-white developing, which is quite different than color developing. Here is what you will need to develop your film at home:

1. The Appropriate Chemicals

Three chemical solutions are necessary for the development process: developer, stop bath, and fixer. These can be mixed from concentrated powders or bought by the bottle. Buying larger quantities will save you money, but realize that these substances have shelf lives.

2. A Developing Tank and Reel

35mm film is developed in a tank, which is light-proof and has spouts wherein chemicals can be added and removed. A higher-quality reel is recommended, as cheaper models are known to be flimsy. If you plan on developing a great deal of film, consider also a double tank, which holds two reels of 35mm film.

3. A Changing Bag

Film must be kept in complete darkness at all times until it is developed. A changing bag is an environment where film can be transferred from the canister to a reel.

4. A Measuring Cup and Graduated Cylinder

It is a good idea to treat film development as a science experiment and be exact in your measures. Follow the guidelines set by the chemical manufacturer. Do not measure photographic chemicals in a measuring cup that you plan on using later for food preparation.

5. A Timer

For the same reason, it is a good idea to have a trustworthy timer. Watches, cell phones, and even MP3 players will do the trick.

6. Hanging Clips and a Film Squeegee

When you are done, it will be necessary to remove excess water and chemical solutions from your film. You can clip them up and use either a film squeegee device or a microfiber cloth to do this.

7. A Can Opener and Scissors

A churchkey-style can opener will be immensely useful in freeing your film from its cylinder. A pair of scissors will be used to cut the film into portions.

Where to Obtain These Materials

You can divide these items into three groups: items that can be found around the home, items that can be found at any department store, and photography-specific items. The last category hosts the most expensive (and, not coincidentally, least available) items.

In your third group will be the following items:

  • Chemicals
  • Developing tank
  • Reel
  • Changing bag

If you do not live near a photography store, it is advised that your order these from a catalog or the internet. Though online marketplaces such as eBay may seem like an evident solution, it may be wise to order all of your group three items from the same source, perhaps an independent online retailer, to save money on shipping.

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