Everything you need for black and white film processing
New to film processing? Here’s a list of everything you need to process your own black and white film – no darkroom necessary!
Make sure you choose only the finest! Good developer is essential as it will have most affect on the outcome of the process.
If you’re working on a small scale go for a concentrated one-shot developer that is discarded after use. Tetenal Paranol S works well with all films, can accommodate a wide range of exposures and produces fine grain negatives. It is designed for processing in hand developer tanks such as Jobo or Paterson and comes in 250ml bottles, a great place to start. For more conventional grain with faster films Tetenal Ultrafin keeps well in part used bottles. There is lots of room for experimentation in black and white film processing, with a wide range of developers to choose from and different processing techniques to try.
Fixers, such as Tetenal Superfix, can be used with both film and paper. Once diluted to a working solution fixer can be stored and used until depleted. You will be able to tell when it needs to be replaced because it will take much longerÂ to clear the film.
Wetting agent is a detergent that allows water to slide off the film easily. Tetenal Mirasol is an economical choice. You can use a drop of washing up liquid, but this is thicker and doesn’t mix as easily. Disperse thoroughly in a measure first.
You’ve got your ingredients, now get your kit! You can get everything you need in on go with the Paterson Film Processing Kit or you can buy the items individually.
Paterson or Kaiser Universal Tanks are both excellent choices. Both contain two spirals and allow you to process 2 rolls of 35mm or 1 roll of 120 film. If you’re planning on processing 5×4 in the future, using the MOD54 Insert, then go for the Paterson Multi Reel 3 Tank.
Film processing is time and temperature controlled – it’s paramount to know the temperature of the developer, otherwise you’re guessing. We recommend the Paterson Colour 12″ thermometer as it is the most versatile, good to use with both black and white and colour developing.
This is down to personal choice. It is one way of getting the most water off the film before drying, but also carries a high risk of running “tramlines” down the film. We would recommend a small piece of chamois cloth. Wet, wring out, wrap round your finger and down the film, much softer and less risk. Alternatively, just use your fingers.
This is optional, but very useful as it allows you to process film without a darkroom. Make sure you choose one big enough to fit your tank. We would recommend the 27″x30″ Kaiser Changing Bag as the best option.