View Full Version : Suggestions for E6 processing

9-May-2007, 10:02
Many years ago I did some E6 processing just to try it but I have always sent out my E6 work to labs. That was not problem when I had a lab right down the street. I could drop it off and pick it up two hours later. But that lab and many more have closed. I have been sending my E6 work to Gamma Lab in nearby Chicago but I have decided that it would be better to do my own processing for several reasons. First, I often have only 4-6 sheets to process and it costs far more just for shipping than the processing itself. Gamma charges over $20 just to ship it back and add to that my cost to ship it there. The other and more important reason I plan on doing my own E6 processing is that not having a nearby lab has actually inhibited my color photography. I pass up opportunities unless I know I will have enough film to make sending it out worthwhile.

So, I need suggestions about doing my own E6 processing, taking my shooting patterns into account. I often go for a month or more without shooting color sheet film. However, I make at least two long trips a year and I have quite a bit of film to process when I get back. I have a fully equipped darkroom and I process quite a bit of b&w film and I do a lot of b&w printing. I have accurate temperature control so that isn't a problem. I generally process my 4x5" and 8x10" b&w film in trays but I also process it in deep tanks when I have a lot of film to process after a long trip. I do not want to process E6 in trays but I could if necessary. I would prefer to do it in deep tanks. I know someone will suggest that I get a Jobo but I am not going to do that because I simply don't like processing in drums (I have done it) and I am not going to invest in a Jobo. Besides, I simply can't afford to at this time.

Keeping in mind that my smallest deep tanks hold about 1/2 gallon of chemistry and I may not process film for up to a month at a time, should I go with an E6 kit (Kodak, Tetenal, etc.) or with separate E6 chemicals? How long do the chemicals keep after being mixed?

Any other suggestions to help get me started in an efficient and sensible manner would be appreciated.

9-May-2007, 12:43
Hi Zone. I recently started my own E6 processing of 8x10 sheets with rather low hopes of success. To my astonishment, and using the Tetenal 3-bath kit, the results have been fantastic. I bought a Jobo 2380 drum for cheap, and just roll it around my bathroom. I see you don't like drums, but the drum allows me to skimp on chemistry. I use 100ml of chemistry for 4 8x10 sheets (I reuse the chemistry for 2 runs). So, for the $40. E6 kit, it costs me $1. to process 1 8x10 sheet, as compared to $4.50 at Calypso labs, for instance. I mix only 100ml of chemistry at time, and use it one-shot. The supplied chemical concentrates remain in the original bottles. So far, with the seals broken, the concentrates (including the first developer) have been going fine for 2 months now in a tropical climate. Here's my first slide to prove it actually works!

10-May-2007, 08:04
Rory... Thanks much for the info. BTW, that is a beautiful shot!

I do have drums. In fact, I have so many drums that I have to get rid of them because I never use them. The problem is that they are Beseler drums that can't be floated in a bath. I suppose I could get some drums and roll them in a bath, though. I just don't want to get into the whole Jobo thing. As I said, I have done that and I don't like it. It just wouldn't be worth the investment for me. But I hadn't thought of just rolling sealed drums in a bath. As you point out, that would save a lot of chemistry. I appreciate your advice on that.

I don't know why I haven't been processing my own E6 all along. I guess it's that I used to have a pro lab right down the street from me and they had my film done in two hours. It will be nice to not have to send my E6 film out now.

Have you ever compared the cost and other factors of using the separate E6 chemicals to using the kit? I'm just curious about that.

10-May-2007, 08:27
Hi Zone,

No need to go down the expensive Jobo route. You don't even have to roll your drum around in a water-bath. Once you pre-heat the drum (under hot running water or a sink full of hot water) to about 39-40 deg C, the chemistry temperature does not drop by much in the 7 minutes development time required for the first developer. Developing E6 is very rewarding but time-consuming, boring, and kind of stressful - most usually over worrying about keeping the temperature right. I'm sorry that I have no info. about the relative cost of the kit vs. separate chemistry as there are shipping restrictions for separate chemistry to my destination. I therefore am stuck with the kit. I hope you get going on your E6 project, and please post the results! Frankly, I think the forum doesn't have too much user input on E6 processing.

10-May-2007, 08:39
If you have a Beseler motorbase that switches direction most of the Jobo tanks are quite happy to roll on top of that. Preheat the tank like Rory mentions and away you go. Rolling drums in a water bath by hand gets old very quickly.

Kits are expensive. Bulk chemistry is expensive if you let it go bad. Otherwise it's cheaper. It can be ALOT cheaper. Surf over to the Kodak website and download the documents for the process then surf over to say the B&H website and look at prices.

Dave Parker
10-May-2007, 10:41
Beaut of a shot there Rory, I like it.


10-May-2007, 14:40
Thanx Dave.

11-May-2007, 06:38
I do happen to have a Beseler roller that switches rotation direction. I used to do color prints in drums. I would be a little concerned about not keeping the drums in a bath, though, at least with film - and especially with E6 but if it works for you, that's good. I am aware of the drift-by method as well. However, my darkroom has very precise temperature control so, if I processed in drums, I would prefer to float them but I couldn't do that with the Beseler drums that I have.

I'll have to check out the technical info at Kodak and Tetenal. When I process a lot of film - like when I come back from a long trip - I could just leave the chemistry in my line sink tanks with the floating lids but that would be best if I could replenish them and I will have to find out how long the chemicals keep after being mixed. One-shot processing should definitely be better in drums, though, and many times I just have a few sheets to process.

11-May-2007, 06:59
All I say is this.

Do a test. Pour some heated water into a warmed drum. Put the lid on. Come back later and check how much the temperture has dropped. Unless you are working in a freezer I think you'll be suprised how little if at all within say 10 minutes the temperture will move. This is with the Jobo tanks. I've no idea if the Beseler tanks are thinner.