Introduction: How to Develop Film

Picture of How to Develop Film

LatelyI have been developing film. Its total cost with shipping and everything was about 22 dollars. You have to understand this isnota professional way of doing things although you can get great results. This is for a small hobby not for developing hundreds of rolls, and is only in Black and White.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

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Here is what you need:
Kodak T-Max Developer and Fixer. 
List of ingredients:  Vinegar, rubbing alchohol, and water
Materials:  Measuring cups, Timer, Storage Bottles (labels, charts, and mixing ratio on the bottle are very helpful), Wire, a Completely Darked out room, Binder clips, Pillows and blankets to put under door and block out light, Bottle opener, Small plastic tube from a pen, Roll of tape (for a weight), Film reels for developing (choose appropriate size for the mm of film you are using, and a Container large enough to hold the film reel and has a water tight lid
Tools: Plyers, and Scissors


Step 2: Developer

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My developer: Was 1 part concentrate to 4 parts water. So Mix it up and store it in a bottle, I like using gatorade bottles cause they are thick and sturdy. Before you put anything in any of the bottles wash them with hot water so no sugary residue will be left on the film. I also putlabelson the bottle along with timing charts. It is a good idea to use different bottles cause in the dark you cant tell the difference in the dark.

Step 3: Stop Bath

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The Stop Bath: is simply 1 part vinegar 4 parts water, and it stops the film from developing.

Step 4: Fixer

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The Fixer: is probably the most complicated cause you cant mix all of it up at once. It has a shelf life of two months. It is also a weird ratio. From what I can remember it is 0.8 fixer powder to 3 parts water? All fixer is different so figure out the logistics of all the chemicals you have purchased.

Step 5: Wetting Agent

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Wetting Agent: is rubbing alcohol. It prevents water marks on the film when it dries. You can buy photo-flo for cheap but I have no access to such. Detergents are good too.

Step 6: Developing Tank

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The Developing Tank: is basically a plastic container with a lid. You will be agitating the fluids inside of the tank so it needs to be tight.
Agitator rod: I used a pen tube for the body. I put an eraser in the end so all of the chemicals dont get into body of it.

Step 7: Dark Room

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Dark Room: Preferably a bathroom. Because it is nearly a dust-free area (the steam settles the dust) and it has a sink. Having a sink is really nice when you are washing the film, and after you can wash your tank and reels with hot water. Any room is really fine as long as it is completely dark. The test is if you cant see a white sheet of paper after five minutes you are fine. Pillows and blankets are great to put under doors and cracks that may let in sunlight.

Step 8: Now to Set Everything Up

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Put everything in your dark room: and we will start loading the film. (no film was harmed solely for this instructable) First I would suggest knowing how to load the film on the reel. Now get in the dark room make sure you have everything. I would recomend having a dark thick blanket to wrap the film up in incase you forget something. This happened when i forgot scissors.

Now in the dark room: have your bottle opener prepared along with your roll of film. Pop of the bottom. take out the film on the spool, make sure you are not touching the surface of the film.  Now cut off the end of the film for easier loading onto the reel. Put the end of the film into the reel and start winding it on. Here is a helpful video .

Step 9: Pour in Developer

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Pour in developer: Make sure to read all the directions, time it right, and dont forget to agitate. All developer is different.

Step 10: Pour Out and Add Stop Bath

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Pour out the developer. Now add the stop bath, I let it soak for five minutes. Then I poured it out added tap water, agitated and poured out again.

Step 11: Now for the Fixer

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Now add the fixer: I did a little research and they said leave the film in for around 7-15 minutes. I left mine in for 13 minutes it came out fine.

Step 12: Wash Wash Wash

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WASH WASH WASH WASH: thats it run it under the water until you completely know that no fixer is left on the film, you can do this with the light on.

Step 13: Hang

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Hang the film: I have an instructable on how to make these clips.
Now hang and add the wetting agent just pour it on the film. If you are in an area without hard water you probably wont have water spots anyway.

DONE: Thanks for viewing, and happy developing!


mizcaliflower (author)2016-10-31

Pushing film is to overexpose, correct?
Dodging is to make darker and burning is to make lighter?
Thank you!

4lifenerdfighter (author)2012-10-22

Sorry for being an idiot, but how do you make the pictures big?

You have to use an enlarger, basically a big projector, you load the developed film, or "negatives", and it projects the image onto light sensetive paper. You then proceed to put the paper into developer, stop and fix. This will produce the final image. The size of thr photo is relative to the height of thr developper

You can scan them into your computer and order prints, or just take them to walgreens/CVS/walmart and have them made.

Juicikay (author)2015-05-12

What would happen if you used the regular developer for when you're doing the actual pictures than tmax? Would your film be ruined?

frenzy (author)2012-10-22

Hi this is a really well done instructable, but are you doing everything in total darkness? i'm used to the kinds of containers that block out light during the process so you only have to be in complete darkness for the time it takes to put the film in the container

also for getting the film out of the canister, I've used bottle openers if you don't have that tool

awesome work!

Thanks! and yes i do everything in total darkness.

goldbar2975 (author)2012-10-22

can you show us the end projects?

krf (author)2012-06-24

1.If you have windows, you can make effective light blocks by first covering the opening with cardboard cut from old boxes, then hanging a curtain made of several layers of black construction plastic.

2. When I developed in my bathroom, I built a rack that sat on top of the bathtub.
It gave me additional space for tanks, trays, etc. and had the advantage that any spills went into the bathtub and not on the floor.

Thats a really good idea!

To save all the hassle, I recommend picking up a changing bag and lightproof development tank, both can be had for about $20 and would allow you develop in the comfort of having the lights on. Makes the process 1000x easier than trying to do every single step in complete and perfect darkness.

onemoroni1 (author)2012-06-24

I have done my own developing and printing way back when and would like to do it again (still have enlarger and trays etc) and I like a couple of your suggestions. The vinegar and alcohol use being common household items. Let me give another trick, use a hair dryer on low to dry your negatives faster. Maybe an instructable in the making is a project to make a compact drying cabinet with a hair dryer and filter to provide clean dry air. Peace

I didnt even think of using a hairdryer. But you have to be careful cause i know people who heat the emulsion off for effects.

All due consideration for your purposes. Peace

steven yeager (author)2012-06-24


Aw lucky I would love to do that!


ron110n (author)2012-06-24

Thanks for sharing the film developing survival guide. In the absence of T-Max Developer, Coffee can be an alternative. Yes I noticed that that the BW400CN (RGB) require a C41 developer different from grey-scale films. But I am not saying that we cannot use T-Max Developer on Kodak BW400CN. I have seen good results on Agfa Scala (B&W Transparency) processed in B&W neg film developers instead of E6.

thearchitect (author)2012-06-21

If you are using a rapid fixer, the fixing time is around 3-5 minutes. If you are using a T-Max film then it is 5-7 minutes. It shouldn't be more than that.


Here is the information sheet for Kodak's own chemicals for more accurate timing information:


Thanks, ive been looking for these!

audreyobscura (author)2012-06-22

Do you post any of your images on the web? I would love to see them.

No, if I do i will tell you.

Nano_Burger (author)2012-06-22

I love your inventiveness, but I'd have to go with thearchitect here, purpose built tanks are so much easier to use!

I'd like to point out that the film you show being developed here is Kodak BW400CN which is a chromogenic black and white film. That is a fancy term that means it was designed to be developed as color film in C-41 chemistry. You are developing it as a regular silver black and white film.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, I've developed C-41 film stock as black and white all the time:

Technically, you are "cross processing" the film even though you end up with the same result at the end.

Actually I just had a roll of film in my room. I never had dismantled or developed it, the actual film shown in the instructable was just a piece that had been accidentally exposed so i kept to practice loading and teach people.

Ahh, I see. Just the same, it may confuse some newcomers to film developing. C-41, E-6 and black and white are distinct regimes. However, the adventurous can cross process to their hearts delight, except black and white film in C-41 or E-6 as you you will end up with blank film.

gtoal (author)2012-06-22

It's a long long time since I've done kitchen-sink photography (we used to mix up our own developer from scratch in the school chemistry lab! That was really fun!) but I vaguely remember that we used dark bottles for the chemicals for a good reason. Don't they go off really quickly in clear bottles or don't you ever keep them long enough for that to be a problem?

I keep them in my closet so they dont get too much light but I think the light is only a problem for the fixer. So I mix enough for only one or two batches.

Yes but most detergents nowadays have coloring and other substances that leave residues on film, so I use rubbing alcohol for the fast evaporation.

gtoal (author)2012-06-22

By the way, wetting agent is basically just dish-washing soap, but unfortunately dish soap has a frothing agent added because apparently in the 1950's, someone like those guys in Mad Men decided that housewives just loved bubbles and we've been stuck with that ever since.

thearchitect (author)2012-06-21

Thanks for this great instructable!

Here is a tip for you:

I have been developing my own B&W film at home for many years. If you use a changing bag and a developing tank, then you won't need a darkroom or risk fogging your film. And no more blankets, too!

A changing bag is a double lined black light-proof bag with two zips. You put your film, scissors, developing tank and reels, and bottle opener in the bag. You insert your hands in the changing bag (through rubber-tight holes) and find your way with feeling the materials inside. It takes a few tries after getting used to it. You can load your film in the developing tank while watching TV! Then you take it out of changing bag.

Once loaded in the developing tank, your film is protected from daylight, but you can still pour chemicals in the tank. You agitate using the special rod. There are tanks which take multiple reels so you can develop several rolls at once.

Search ebay for used ones, they are cheap. I personally prefer Paterson System 4 tanks, but many people find its plastic reels a pain in the a**. For a dark bag try to find something made of cotton and your hands will not sweat much (which is not good when handling film).

Good luck!


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