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.

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

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

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

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

Step 4: Fixer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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    35 Discussions


    4 years ago

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

    1 reply

    Reply 7 months ago

    Developer times differ between films and developer. Every time is different, but there's a lot of resources. I think there's even a few apps you can download. But tmax takes a while to developer. What developer are you planning on using?


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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

    4 replies

    Reply 8 months ago

    How do you get on paper? I want to do my own film. This thread is old hopefully someone will help me.


    Reply 8 months ago

    You will need an enlarger and developing trays and paper developer. Google darkroom developing and printing and you will find many sourceses of information.

    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.


    2 years ago

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


    Reply 4 years ago

    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.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    2 replies

    7 years ago on Step 7

    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.

    2 replies

    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.