View Full Version : Anyone here develop by inspection?

2-Sep-2010, 09:49
I want to try this but, don't have the guts.

Can anyone share their positive experiences/techniques?


Eric Woodbury
2-Sep-2010, 10:35
I know there are many here that have. Search through the posts to find info. Also, this might be interesting:


2-Sep-2010, 11:14
Which film you want to develop with this method?

I "develop by inspection" which is no big deal because I exclusively shoot with orthochromatic films at this time. With the one film (ORTHO 25) I have to take a strong, dark red filter at my darkroom lamp and in this very dim light I can only see if there is any developing. In the middle and at the end of the normal development time I take the tray close to the lamp to see more of the negatives ´condition. But in normal case I don´t see enough to make big decisions to increase or reduce development time. I only see that everything works and that makes me feel comfortable.

With the other film (FO5) which is even less sensitized in the red part of the spectrum I can use much brighter darkroom lamp which is originally intended for the RA-4 colour-printing process. I can set the lamp even brighter, but I only do it for short moments because I fear fogging of the film. (Maybe sometime I should try out maximum lamp brightness before fogging starts.) Here I can make better decisions to adjust the development time but no perfect decisions, because the emulsion is not clear at all before fixing. So you have a very different impression of negative´s densities during development under the dimmed coloured light than you have when the negative is already fixed and with that cleared. The good thing is that after doing some developings by inspection you will get some experience in judging the negatives under the mentioned conditions.

So in summary I would say developing by inspection is more comfortable way than the "black box" kind of developing and you can avoid larger mistakes with it. But to get perfect negatives you still have to know and use the optimum development time for your film / developer combination.


2-Sep-2010, 11:31
The other important question is: Which developer do you want to use? I asked it, because here is a source of a desensitizer chemical that has to fit your developer and then should diminish the sensitivity to light even with panchromatic films:


I never tried the D-Tec but I´am still curious to do it one time...


Bob McCarthy
2-Sep-2010, 11:41
Contact ken Lee here on site. He develops by inspection using night vision goggles.

Clever method


2-Sep-2010, 11:45
I use TXP and PMK Pyro.

2-Sep-2010, 12:12
:( "D-Tec is not fully compatible with Pyro developers and may produce some fogging." says the producer´s information to the mentioned sensitizer chemical. And my method with the red light also fails because TXP is (as the name says) a pan(chromatic) film. I would first try the development by inspection with an ortho-film or another developer (rodinal or HC 100) and D-Tec.

Using the dark green safelight filter method as described in the article can work as films usually loose a part of their sensitivity already after being soaked in pure water for some time and they do the same in developers. But I would try this one only with a test negative, because it seems not very safe for beginners.


Daniel Stone
2-Sep-2010, 22:05
I do, well, I just started earlier this year. It really makes developing and interactive experience :)!

I'm currently working with Efke 100 and 25 speed films(mostly 100 now), with 510-pyro or HC-110(H). Pre-soaking can help, especially with tray development. Some developers work very quickly(like ABC Pyro, even 510 pyro is pretty quick), so using a water bath helps maintain evenness in smooth areas(sky).

Developing by inspection, for me, has been the most liberating experience (from the darkroom side of things) that I've experienced in my 4 years of photographing.

it takes some time to learn properly, but for me, developing 5 sheets at a time, and every one can be a different time, THAT IS LIBERATING!!!

give it a try, even with rollfilm(Efke 100 again for me), it works quite well!


Ken Lee
3-Sep-2010, 04:26
Using an infra red viewing device, you can see the entire process from beginning to end, not just a brief peek with a dim safelight. See http://www.kennethleegallery.com/html/tech/index.html#Monocular

Vlad Soare
3-Sep-2010, 04:40
I started recently. It's easy to do, and I find it very liberating. I wouldn't go back.
What annoys me is that it doesn't work with T-Max because of its magenta sensitizing dye, which doesn't reflect green light. T-Max looks totally black under green light. I had to switch to HP5+. Some people use infrared goggles to develop T-Max by inspection, but these are very expensive, and besides I'm not really attracted to the idea of wearing a big and unwieldy device on my head.
With HP5+ it works like a charm.
I'm using ABC Pyro now, but I've also tried Pyrocat-HD, which worked fine, too.

You'll have to sacrifice some sheets of film and to experiment, to learn what to look for when you inspect the film. It can't be described. I had read Michael Smith's article ([url=http://www.michaelandpaula.com/mp/devinsp.html), and also the one from Unblinking Eye posted above. I've even seen the procedure demonstrated during his and Paula's workshop. Even so, I still got it wrong the first times I tried. It took several tries and a few ruined sheets to get it right. But now I wouldn't go back.

I'm surprised that DBI isn't more popular, given how many people already develop film in trays. I understand why somebody who's used to daylight developing tanks might feel intimidated by this method at first. But if one develops in trays anyway, then why would one not want to inspect? :confused:

Ramiro Elena
3-Sep-2010, 05:20
I've used a digital video camera with infrared mode to develop in trays, quite uncomfortable. I found I couldn't really judge to make corrections but at least I could place the film inside the trays :P

N Dhananjay
3-Sep-2010, 06:02
It's pretty straightforward. The high tech method is to use night vision IR viewing devices. Looks a bit like the last scene out of Silence of the Lambs. The low tech method - purchase a green filter. The reason for the green filter is that the eye is most sensitive to that wavelength, so you can use lower amounts of light and still see stuff. Also, you are typically viewing an almost developed negative by dim light for a few seconds. The film is desensitized, especially if you are using pyro or catechol developers, so fogging is really less of a danger than one might assume. You typically have some idea of how long you would develop. At about 2/3 the time, turn on the safelight. Don't try to view through the nag the way you usually evaluate a negative. Look at the base side of the negative the way you would look at writing on a piece of paper. You will see a sort of opalascent milkiness and the highlights will show pretty clearly as dark splotches. You are looking for the highlights to be fairly distinct but not too dark - yes, that sounds like a judgment but you will be surprised how quickly you get good at making that judgment. As a reference, the highlights need to look as dark as a pencil mark, not a pen mark, but obviously all such hints are uniquely dependent upon your film/paper combination. Cheers, DJ

R Mann
3-Sep-2010, 06:23
Another vote for IR night vision - I have been using HP5 & Pyrocat MC and I am quite pleased with the results. I use hangers and dip tanks, there is a bit of a learning curve and agree that you need to look at the back of the negative as it develops to judge how developing is progressing. An added bonus, the night vision equipment is great for loading and unloading film holders.

I started with the cheapest set of IR goggles I could find - a Russian one that I quickly replaced because the head gear was poorly designed and it made a constant high pitched noise. If you decide to get an IR set, I would suggest spending enough to get one that you won't mind wearing - the set I am using is the Viper, which I got for less than $300.

Robert Ley
3-Sep-2010, 07:06
I have an Argus-M night vision goggles that I will shortly be putting up for sale on the site. If anyone is interested they can PM me.

3-Sep-2010, 09:19
Read Michael and Paula's article on Unblinking eye. Expose a roll of film. Cut it up into several pcs and tray dev one, then another, etc. You will "get it" quicker than you think.... Like everything you do, you will get better with practice. Kodak Brownie Safelights are on auction site(s) cheap and often come with a green filter, paid a dollar seventy nine for one...

Robert Hall
3-Sep-2010, 10:34
I have wanted to try this masochistic method for some time but have a hard time finding a green filter.

Suggestions anyone?

CP Goerz
3-Sep-2010, 11:00
I use an old flashlight with a few layers of green wrapping paper over the bulb, you know you have it right when you switch the light on and you see no change in daylight. When you switch the light on in the dark it 'just' throws some glow.

PMK with medium speed film is my poison, I do prefer slower speeds of film but the wind always seems to blow when I show up. Most of my development times are about 5-6 mins, I switch on the light for a quick look only after the film has developed for around 3-4 mins.

I no longer have to keep meticulous notes of exposure and future development, am no longer a slave to getting the EXACT time and temp down in the darkroom, it frees you up to concentrate on picture taking and making.

Merg Ross
3-Sep-2010, 11:51
I have wanted to try this masochistic method for some time but have a hard time finding a green filter.

Suggestions anyone?

Try this with a dimmer.


3-Sep-2010, 18:25
I use Eyeclops toy "night vision" IR goggles. The focus is set a few feet out so I taped a +3.5 reading glasses lens over the lens of the goggles. They were about $50, and I use them constantly. Can't use them with IR film though!

I still develop by time though. The IR goggles are good for identifying negatives that clearly could use some less or more developer time, such as exposure mistakes.

Vlad Soare
4-Sep-2010, 09:46
I have wanted to try this masochistic method for some time but have a hard time finding a green filter.
They do come up on eBay from time to time. I found a new 8x10" Kodak no. 3 a couple of months ago (well, maybe "new" is not exactly the right word, but it was in its original packaging and had never been used). I was the only bidder, so I got it for the opening price, namely 0.99 pounds. :D
I payed 11 pounds for the shipping, though. :D

There is one for sale right now. Item 150488412813. ;)

I no longer have to keep meticulous notes of exposure and future development, am no longer a slave to getting the EXACT time and temp down in the darkroom, it frees you up to concentrate on picture taking and making.
Exactly. That's precisely why I love this method.