Three Different Ways to Develop Large Format Film at Home

Large format film is an entirely different experience from 35mm or even medium format, and it can be a really fun and intriguing process to try out. If you are interested in large format work, this great video will show you three different ways to develop your own film at home. 

Coming to you from Steve O'Nions, this excellent video will show you three different ways to develop large format film at home. If you have not tried it before, large format film is a really fun process that requires completely different techniques, equipment, and creative approaches (particularly given how much a sheet of film costs)! However, you can also produce truly stunning images with the process. Of course, you can save on a lot of the costs by developing the film at home. Beyond saving money, it is a very satisfying experience to develop such large film on your own, particularly when you see the images start to form. And the great news is that a used 4x5 camera and lens are actually fairly cheap on eBay or other used marketplaces. It is a relaxing and very interesting experience; check out the video above for the full rundown from O'Nions. 

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Daniel Smith's picture

Some of us still use the old method of developing in trays in the dark. Even develop by inspection. We inspect the negative during development using a low wattage Green safelight to check how it is doing. More modern method for this is using InfraRed goggles to view the negative and the whole process.
Trays are simple, inexpensive and easy to do. For timing you can use a timer with dim hands so they don't put out much light. Or, record times on a tape and listen to music while you process the film - while the recording tells you your time during developing, stop and fixing til you turn on the lights.
Tray development still works well and is simple. With practice many learn to process more than one sheet of film at a time.

Jakub Valovič's picture

I used to develop roll film like this when I couldn't bother buying a tank - just a reel in a cut-out bottle of appropriate size. A timer with an alarm and non-glow display for the dev time, I approximated 1 minute intervals for agitation by keeping 60bpm with my leg.
Never tried developing by inspection, how clearly the image can be seen in the gree light?

charles warren's picture

I batch process my 4x5's Saves a lot of developer and fix. When you're on a budget you need to be conservative.