View Full Version : how to develop color slides?

28-Oct-2006, 12:44
Hi all,

I want to try developing 4x5 color slides at home. i only have experienced with black and white films, and i am wondering what kind of equipments i need to get to develop. Please
help me out here. I didnt really go to school for photography and also trying find a book talkts about color slide film developing.


Walter Calahan
28-Oct-2006, 13:03
If you can do B&W you probably can do color.

It is helpful to have a big enough area to create a water bath for the tanks or trays so the temperature stays constant.

Are you planning C-41 and E-6 development? Important to know. Do you have a Jobo for B&W?

Read up on the chemistry so you can know how much room you'll need, and how many tanks or trays you'll need, as well as bottles for storage.

I was taught how in school, but quite frankly, I send all my color to a pro-lab 'cause it is easier. They've got all the gear for quality control that I don't have to buy. I'd rather spend my time shooting.

Good luck.

28-Oct-2006, 17:16

Processing E-6 & C-41 requires exact temperature control and up to seven chemicals if you use a stabilizer. For this reason alone, I think most photographers find it easier to send their film out for processing although it is getting harder to find a local lab to do so with the onset of digital.

I have been using a JOBO ATL 1000 (http://www.jobo.com/joboint/products/atl1500.html) and Tetenal (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=109291&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation) chemistry for a few years with consistently good results. I process E-6 (slides) weekly and find that I can maintain the required 100 F degree water temp just fine. I hired a plummer to initially setup the water temp control and feed & drain hoses so the chemicals could be retrieved and bottled for proper disposal. I have a septic tank and well water system so I had to learn all about the pros and cons before I continued with this setup. You do not want to toss some of these chemicals down the drain.

Do I totally enjoy developing the film myself? No, as I would rather spend my time creating new photos, but I continue to do so due to logistics. We moved from the Atlanta area to the Everglades a few years ago and I found most any lab that was within a comfortable driving distance was moving out of film processing, so I decided to keep my setup and hire the plummer. I initially purchased the ATL 1000 when I ran a commercial studio in the Atlanta area.

You can find these machines and the newer ATL 1500 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=142714&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation) used on eBay from time to time. I purchase my chemicals through B & H and Adorama. JOBO also makes a semi-automatic system called the CPP-2 (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=productlist&A=details&Q=&sku=25413&is=REG&addedTroughType=categoryNavigation) and perhaps someone else might want to chime in here with their experience with that machine and what other processing options you may have.

Good luck and I hope I have helped with this info.


Michael Heald
28-Oct-2006, 17:43
Hello! There's a nice article on the site about developing slides with a unicolor drum. Preheat and keep it under a lamp. Get the distances correct with water first, then you are good to go. I tried it. Works well.
However, 4x5 slides can be processed at about $2.00 to $3.00 a piece. With the small kits I bought, I didn't see much money savings. Best regards.


29-Oct-2006, 18:38
Thank you so much about very detailed information. I did not really check how much it costs to develop a color slides, and i just heard it is quite expensive to develop in the lab. Maybe i should just find a lab who develops these films, even though B & H does not...

Thank you so much

29-Oct-2006, 22:33
Calypso does E-6 for $1.30 per 4x5...and 120 rolls for about $4...

Frank Petronio
30-Oct-2006, 04:58
Darr - how is your septic system? Did you have to do anything special there too?

30-Oct-2006, 05:51
Darr - how is your septic system? Did you have to do anything special there too?

The septic system is fine with lots of good bacteria as far as I know :). I do not put chemicals down the drain as I was advised not to. The used chemicals dump into five gallon plastic water containers that can be purchased at a boating supplier. From there the containers are picked up by a hazard waste disposal company that disposes of the chemicals properly (I hope) for a fee and they return my containers on the next call.

We have a whole house water treatment system made by Hague that has it owns self-contained filter. The filter was made after they tested our water and found exactly what is in it. We also add salt weekly to the softener part of the system. I am grateful that our well water works fine with my film developers.

The only problem I run into is cold temperature control for black and white film processing. Most of the time, the cold water coming into my system is 80 degrees F! With the ATL 1000, I am able to run the shortest program they have which is for five minutes and take -20% off, giving a four minute process. Most film manufactures caution development times less than five minutes due to the possibility of uneven development, but so far I have not had a problem. I currently use Ilford DD-X with Tmax and Acros and have found a happy balance.

Initially the septic system looked like it would be a hassle, but it isn't so bad. The trade-off of being able to live where horses graze and the only traffic jams are from huge John Deere farming equipment makes it all worth it. The other option would have been living in the suburbs of Miami or Ft. Lauderdale and for me that was not an option I wanted to take.

Daniel Geiger
30-Oct-2006, 18:21
In grad school (= poor, ~ 1996-2000) I processed 35 mm E6 in a bucket of warm water using a Beseler kit. Temperature was sufficiently consistent for the duration of the development. The results looked consistent to me at the time. A few years down the road, I am noticing quite distinct color issues, and wished with 20/20 hindsight that I should have used a professional lab.

The Beseler kit was used up to three times with time adjustment for depletion, and that may be a good source for problems. Single use kits may be superior in that respect.

In my opinion, unless you are living seriously out in the boonies, where even fedex shipping is not a viable option, just send it out. Simply the larger quantities of chemicals used by larger facilities ensure much more stability and consistency. Home processing may be fine for quick and dirty testing of equipment or checking whether you are in the ballpark with exposure, or whatever you may want to test. But there's also Polaroid.

Re waterbottles for storing old photochemicals, I had used some sparklets 5 gallon containers. About 3 years later, the bottles started to leak and made a terrible mess. Not good. It did get properly disposed by has-waste folks in the end.

30-Oct-2006, 18:38
To be honest I would not bother doing this at home. Developing slides means six or seven different messy, smelly liquids. Temperatures have to be spot on. Mixing this stuff is not good for you. I used to have to mix E6 chemistry when my newspaper shot slides. Its awful! Disposal is an environmental nightmare. The blix stains everything. If you use the chemistry again you have to begin messing around with changing times etc.

Leave this to the professional lab. Your floors, your clothes and your lungs will thank you...