View Full Version : Getting the correct temperature while developing at home?

18-Jan-2015, 13:12
So I'd like to start developing my own 4x5 color negative sheets at home in the bathroom. My only concern would be maintaining a precise temperature for this. I'm not looking to drop a bunch of money for a processing sink, I'd prefer to use the sink or the bath tub for this. My whole reason for doing this is because it's too expensive mailing in my film to get processed on top of scanning and printing and the price of the film itself, besides it would be neat to do the creative process on my own. Does anyone have any advice on how I can be sure to keep the right temperature for developing? Thank you.

18-Jan-2015, 13:31
Two of the places where I get my negs developed have either quit or are in the process of moving. So a friend did some of mine in his Jobo. Two things I've taken away from that is that an aquarium heater would allow one to maintain temperature (+/-100 degrees) and you would need some way to agitate consistently. I've been thinking about getting a Jobo drum and attaching it to a rock tumbler motor using the Jobo roller base in a tray of water with a heater. But I'm still working on it. There's threads about using Jobo drums with a roller base here on LFF.

I was thinking about buying the Alastair Inglis nitrogen burst system but there's too little information about it out there and as far as I can tell no one's used it with color.

Michael E
18-Jan-2015, 14:07
Back in college in Michigan (20 years ago) we processed our color film in regular (b/w) tanks in a big water bath. We took the tank out every 15 or 30 seconds (can't quite remember) to agitate. (Later, I got my own JOBO.)

If you just do it to save money, don't even start. It takes a lot of time. The color accuracy is all over the place. Your chemistry from last time is always questionable, so you constantly set up new chems. Chemistry in small quantaties is expensive. In the end, you don't save a lot.

If you just want to do it as an experience, go ahead. It's no rocket science.

18-Jan-2015, 14:19
Could a small electric stove work?

Liquid Artist
18-Jan-2015, 18:36
A stove could work but is tough to regulate to the right temperature.

Keep your eyes open.
I did and was practically given an old Paterson color processor which would work.

18-Jan-2015, 19:09
How would it be difficult to regulate? Wouldn't I just set the stove until it can heat up water to 102 degree's then use the water that has been heated for the tank?

Kirk Gittings
18-Jan-2015, 19:31
DYI submersible water heater for hydroponics? http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/diy-heater-submersible-heater-build-your-own-2000-watt-element

18-Jan-2015, 20:26
When I did it this long ago I used to have a hot plate In the darkroom with 2-3 quarts of very hot water in it. After setting the temp in a plastic picnic cooler using the tap, I would adjust the temp as it slowly dropped with the hot plate water. It was easy to maintain this way.

18-Jan-2015, 21:09
I had a darkroom with no water supply and very little climate control. There were a few days a year with temps right in the low 70s when all the chemistry would stay at 68F as if by magic. But most of the time it was either too cold or too hot. I dealt with this by bringing in a bucket of either cold or hot water. In the hottest days of summer the tap water was too warm so I'd add ice.

This allowed me to cool or heat each film processing chemical right before using, with a water bath. I could keep things within 1/2 degree F quite easily with method. I mean, it was a bit tedious, but not complicated.

For paper processing, I didn't bother. I used the principle that development activity is proportional to the image emergence time of the paper. This let me do some experiments to calibrate my development to a range of temperatures. Basically, when the developer is hot, you develop for a shorter time. When it's cold, you develop longer. I figured it out precisely, because I found thatdoing so allowed my toning process to work consistently. I found it much easier to accommodate the temperature while printing than to control it.

18-Jan-2015, 21:31
I develop C-41 in a Jobo tank using the Tetenal powder kit.

I keep my chemicals in plastic bottles; when it's time to process, I heat up the developer and blix in an old microwave for 2 minutes until I hit 38˚C (100F).
The developer stays at or near that temperature long enough to be very accurate; the blix's temperature is less important, but it's good to be within a few degrees of 38˚C.
Wash and stabilizer are done at normal (room) temperature.

I would not do this in trays; spend some money and get a Jobo tank for your sheet film, because the C-41 process is just as easy as doing B&W, and it does save you a lot of money.
And I much preferred my results to results from pro labs; many of them sit idle for long stretches, so their chemistry is not always fresh or reliable.

Will S
19-Jan-2015, 07:08
Nova slot processors?

19-Jan-2015, 08:47
I process film in a Nikor tank.
Turn on the taps and let them run till temps stabilize.
Run the water into a small container say a measuring cup.
Insert thermometer and adjust to desired temp.
Having a dual basin sink in my kitchen, I stopper one side and fill with water.
Insert chemicals into the bath. Use some sort of support to keep dev tank top above waterline.
Insert thermometer. Leave water running.
This seems to work well though it is a waste of water.

Decades ago when I was doing E6 (100 degrees F) I used a small cooking plate like an electric skillet.
Add a pot large enough to hold 6 pint bottles and water. I did countless rolls of 35 and 120 film this way.

19-Jan-2015, 16:33

as an update, I've tested it for both, it works very well

20-Jan-2015, 15:10
I did the sink/tupperwear thing for almost a year and got sick of it. Two years ago I found the easiest way to get the correct temperature +/- 1/2 degree Celsius is with a water bath. They are used mainly for medial and scientific use, but are perfect for photography. I can fit 3 1L beakers of chemicals plus my Patersen or Nikkor tank in mine and it will keep a constant temperature. All you have to do it push the power button walk away, have lunch, walk the dog, or catch up on news and your chemicals will be waiting for you at the correct temp in about 30 minutes. They range from $40 for a basic heater to over $300 for a microprocessor controlled model. I paid around $100 for mine on the big 'bay 100 degrees C. Mine is worth about $500, but it was a local pickup only so I saved a bunch.

Cheaper than a Jobo and just as good if you don't need the fancy crap.

Here is mine, As you can see it can hold my chemicals, C41 at the time, plus I can use my thermometer to check the temps in the bottles to make sure they match. I can dial in the temp on the bottom dial and it's dead accurate.


Here are some on eBay:

22-Jan-2015, 15:48
I use stainless steel developing tanks (2 gallon tanks that can hold 8x10 holders) my utility sink in my garage at night with Fuji Hunt Chemistry. As long as you can make your bathroom light tight it should be fairly easy to do in a bathtub. Let the temperature stabilize a little over 101F (gives you time to load hangers), turn the lights off and go to work. The developer is the only temperature that's critical, and it's only in the developer for 3:15 unless you're push processing. I've processed about 35 negatives so far with results that looked the same as the ones I've had processed in the local pro lab here (Excellent). Shootar's water bath idea is a great inexpensive way to go as well, I just haven't gotten one yet. Also, the start-up price is a bit high (It cost me around $350 to get all the chemistry), but it's enough to last a really long time. I figure I'm about half way to them paying for themselves (based on the processing cost at the lab). If you can handle developing black and white film you can handle color.