A Guide to Processing Your Own Black and White Film

If you're just starting with film photography or are interested in it, processing your own film can seem a bit daunting, but it's really not that hard, especially with black and white film. Furthermore, it can be immensely satisfying. This great video will show you everything you need to get up and running as well as the entire procedure.

Coming to you from Ilford Photo, this video runs you through your first time processing black and white film. Here's everything you'll need:

It seems like a lot to purchase at first, but remember that most of the accessories are cheap and the chemicals will last you a while. The process itself is fairly straightforward and can be rather rewarding, as you get to work with your hands and watch the images appear before your eyes. Once you're done, you can either proceed to making prints or scan the negatives into your computer.

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4 Comments

Kornel Kabaja's picture

The list of "everything you'll need" could easily do without a couple points.
You don't need glasses, if you don't intend on developing film every day for many hours, gloves are also redundant if you can stand the smell on your skin. The chemicals aren't corrosive enough to be harmful to most types of skin. They do thin out the structure of the skin if you use them VERY often, so it's not recommended to use moisturizing cream, it will hurt your skin then. A squeegee and pipette aren't essential as well. For hanging clips also don't get fooled and buy those fancy "pro" ones, they are in no way better than the clips you use with your laundry.
If you use chemicals in powder form, a scales would also be important.

But very cool for a major brand to make a video like this anyway :)

Kirk Darling's picture

If you use a wetting agent, you don't need a squeegee...you don't even want a squeegee. I always ran the excess wetting agent off by running the film between my fingers, which were much less likely to have any grit embedded in them. But generally that shouldn't have even been necessary.

Taking a few minutes and a bum roll of film to learn to use a stainless steel tank will make the rest of your life much easier than any plastic tank.

"Cassette end cap remover"...otherwise known as a beer bottle opener. Timer--a GraLab 30 really is nicer in the long run than peering at a little phone. Fortunately used ones are dirt cheap on eBay.

If you move to Honolulu, you won't need a thermometer--tap water runs at a constant 70 F.

Chad D's picture

being 55 had the fun of a darkroom but really happy to be doing digital :)

23cII xl with a gralabl 500 digital timer for dry side
forgot wet gralab 300 ? lots of tanks and lots of various chemicals many remember certain developers for look and film and varying temps and so on
fun at the time but no desire to ever do it again :)

ditto beer can opener :)
good darkroom but still prefered sitting at a table with a bag to roll my film the stainless were tricky for new folks but easy to do patterson auto which look like what was in the video fast and easy :)

nothing like eating a sandwich with acetic acid on your hands :)

best thing we used to do is soak pennies in the old fixer then shine em up when ya go to the store the checkers used to look at money in those days and you could see them think HUH silver penny I found something rare and set it aside :)

When I took up film photography again back in 2014, I realized from the start that I would have a lot more fun - and save a lot of cash - by learning to develop my own negatives. So I did, following much the same procedures shown in the Ilford videos. It's been constantly rewarding and at this point I've home-developed over 300 rolls, including some in color (in some ways simpler than black and white, but requiring a water bath for constant temperature). I still shoot digital images but really like the process and look of film. I won't be stopping.