Experiences in home developing

… or “How to ruin a roll of film”.

I shot a roll of Fomapan 400 through my Pentax MX, over the course of a few months. It’s a film I’ve had success with before, but only developed in shops. I’ve wanted to have a go at home developing for ages, and picked up the chemicals from AG Photographic. I ordered powdered Kodak D76 (to make up one litre), Ilford Rapid Fixer, and Tetanal Mirasol 2000 antistatic. All cost about £15 plus postage, and I already had a Paterson System 3 tank and changing bag.

I followed this tutorial series for the timings and steps. It was pretty useful, the steps are laid out quite clearly.

I ran into a few problems though. Fomapan is REALLY curly, and the backing comes off very easily. This, combined with the sweaty changing bag (eew), and old reels, meant it took me 40 minutes to load the film onto the reels. The negatives got scratched to shit, crumpled and fingerprinted. The chemical part was pretty easy, I mixed the developing powder up in a 2L coke bottle, spraypainted black to keep the light out.

Scanning was pretty easy too, I used a lightbox I was given years ago, and this setup to transfer the viable photos to digital.


Natural History Museum
These are a couple of the better shots, as you can see, they’re really scratched. Very low contrast too, I wonder if that’s down to the film or the developing. Still, it’s a learning process! The whole set can be seen here.
For next time, I’ve bought a better reel, that’s meant to be easier to load. It won’t fit in my old tank, so I need a new one of those too. I’m not going to use the changing bag either, I might try loading the film in a dark room, under a duvet. I’m also going to give up on Fomapan, I’ve got some Ilford I can try instead.
It was fun, if frustrating at times. I’m just glad there was nothing too important on the roll of film!

0 thoughts on “Experiences in home developing

  1. Hi, just checking out your blog as you kindly followed mine. Looks like you are having some film fun here 🙂 i did developing back when i started in this hobby, it teaches you a lot. Recently decided to have another go so i can develop and print at home with little cost. I bought some Monobath developer which is an all in one solution as i thought that would be an easy option, I already had the rest of the equipment. Haven’t got around to trying it yet.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for following back 🙂 Luckily, I’ve improved a bit since this post in 2012 – I’m currently using Rodinal (to varying degrees of success) but I’ve also heard of Monobath developer – let me know how you get on with it!

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