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Developing Color Film at Home is Easy!!
Lomo LC-Wide w/ Rossmann 400
(home-developed in Rollei C41 Digibase Kit @35C, 3mins)
I just tried my hand at developing some color film in the comforts of my bathroom and it was super fun and shockingly easy! I flooded my bathroom and I did almost burn myself with scalding water, but I survived, and best of all, my roll was not destroyed in the process. Super yay!
I have had the Rollei Digibase Kit in my cupboard for over 3 months and the only reason I never attempted to develop my color negatives sooner was my concern over keeping the water temperature constant throughout the process while keeping track of time, agitation, and the order of which chemicals should go next. The recommended temperature to work with the Digibase kit it at 45C (113F) but I kept mine at +/-35C as that was how hot my shower would go, and increased the developing time by a bit.
I chose this Rossmann film as my guinea pig for my first developing attempt, as I didn’t think I had any valuable photos on it. It is a cheap 400ISO color negative roll I picked up in a drug store in Berlin to try out, which I find now is comparable to Solaris film. I think the roll came out fine with the exposure just right and the film not extremely grainy.
The kit is said to be good for up to 20 rolls of film, and I have gone through 3 rolls and the color of the developer and bleach has changed pretty drastically, as in the bleach was green before I started and now it is orange.
Anyhow, C41 developing is not as intimidating as it appears to be. I guess I got a little nervous when I saw the amount of bottles that came with the kit but preparing the mixes was a breeze! Then, reading online about how absolutely important it is to have the temperature controlled to a tee, or else!!! during development freaked me out. While a thermometer is good to have, I was able to just gauge the water temperature by dipping my hand into the bath after the initial measurement, and just know when to add more hot water. The fact that the developing time is only 2 minutes (at 40C) makes C41 developing less tasking than B&W developing. You also do not need to agitate as much as when developing B&W film.
I have so far developed 3 rolls (Rossmann 400, Portra 400 and Superia 200), and the results have been consistent. When I first started developing B&W film, I remember that I would often overexpose my shots by accidentally over-agitating or soaking for too long. I feel that color negative film is less susceptible to human blunders and that is another reason why I think C41 developing is definitely something that anyone should attempt.
Now that I have been successful with my color negative films, I am definitely going to purchase an E6 kit to develop the Velvia rolls I have sitting in my camera bag from over 6 months ago!