It’s Official….

…I don’t like developing color film!

170520 - Olympus Trip 35 - Fuji Superia 200 (20)
Silhouettes in the mist

Some time ago I bought a C41 development kit and a handful of cheap color film (Fuji Superia 200) and those last weeks / months, I have shot all but one of them. I used my Olympus Trip 35, the XA2 and even the now gone Canon A-1 with those films.

And I have developed them! These are the results fresh out of the Olympus Trip 35:

170520 - Olympus Trip 35 - Fuji Superia 200 (4)
Aaaah that yellow color cast….

And I found that developing color film is really not as much fun as developing black and white. For one thing there’s the hassle with keeping the temperature of all the liquids at a scalding 38°C instead of the cool and easy 20°C for b&w…

170520 - Olympus Trip 35 - Fuji Superia 200 (25)
Any one played ‘Myst’ long time ago?

Takes quite some time to fill a basin with water that warm and then to bring up your chemicals to exactly the right temperature. And as soon as they reach it… they begin to cool.

Then again, the products, unlike my trusty Rodinal which keeps for years, are only good for about two months. And for about a dozen rolls of of film. So that takes the fun out of the whole process, for me.

170520 - Olympus Trip 35 - Fuji Superia 200 (22)
Misty morning

I don’t want to say that the results are too bad, at least to my sorry eyes. I even like a lot of the photos of this last roll quite a lot. But honestly, it’s hard to get the colours right, even with the very good film profiles of Silverfast (a software I have a passionate love/hate relation with).

170520 - Olympus Trip 35 - Fuji Superia 200 (23)
Bridge to nowhere

Is it my developing, the ageing chemicals, the film profiles…. the colours simply seem off sometimes. And I’m not one to fiddle for hours with some levers in Lightroom to get them right. I really don’t blame the film. It’s certainly not Ektar or Portra, but it’s not really bad.

It’s just that black and white is easier… there’s just the two of them colors!

170520 - Olympus Trip 35 - Fuji Superia 200 (24)
Come into the light

Anyways, I think I’ll keep my fingers off color film from now on. If I want color, and here I’ll shock you 😉 …..I’ll use my iPhone!

170520 - Olympus Trip 35 - Fuji Superia 200 (28)
Nearly at work….

What’s your take on color film? I’d be happy to have your ideas and experiences!

And as always, thanks for reading!

 

28 thoughts on “It’s Official….

  1. Hi Frank,

    When ever I use to shoot C41 I used to get the same problem. Thought I was the scanner at the time, but then remembering I would get this issue with colour print film when ever I used it in the 80’s and 90’s. I then read somewhere about C41 thin negs producing washed out colours on the net. One answer was to try overexposing by a stop or two and it works, also with landscapes a UV filter everytime. Something else I try using a polarising filter or ND filters and adjust exposure accordingly.

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      • I only get developing done, two films at a time. OK, it cost me £12 including P&P then I scan the negatives. I have to admit I only shoot very little colour, 90-95% of my work is black & white and home developed, so seems pointless to keep C41 kit stored in the house. If it was me having got the chemicals, re-shoot and try again mate, but leave the iphone at home.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry Martin, as much as I love film, that darn phone comes in handy sometimes. If only to make product shots for eBay to fuel my G.A.S. addiction!

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  2. Given that it costs €2,50 to develop a C41 film in Nuremberg, I see no need to try to develop it myself. On top of that, Ilford XP2 is developed using the C41 process so for most cases, there is no need for me to mix chemicals myself.

    Although I am also a proud (?) owner of Silverfast, I haven’t really managed to get it to do what I want and have never been 100% happy with the colours. I also bought a life-long subscription to Vuescan. In terms of the user interface it is horrible but I can coax DNG files out of it which allows me to process them further. Put simply, I am not going away from colour and the next film to play with is a Portra 160.

    I am not shocked by using an Iphone per se. My next mobile telephone will be a Chinese brand, perhaps made by the same contract manufacturer as the IPhone and the price difference could buy me a number of second hand lenses or perhaps even a new analogue camera or two …

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    • Lucky you, Dave – developing C41 is 6€ here in Luxembourg… and I really like to get my hands dirty so I tried it. Prefer b/w!

      Silverfast is really extremely complicated and convoluted… but when it works, the results are good. Vuescan (I have the Pro version too) is simply unable to get color scans looking good in my opinion. And it’s film profiles are just crap.

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  3. Hey Frank, great results! I too hate color film development, but post like yours give me a lot of hope and inspiration. Thanks!!

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  4. Hi Frank, I was never brave enough to try colour development…I very much like the the results you got and the photo’s ofcourse.
    When I was a kid in the 60’s I made colour slides, bought film with development envelope to send back to Fuji for processing 🙂
    So B&W still do myself using like you Rodinal/R09 or Fuji Super Prodol. I started trying digital for colour, but don’t like it so much for B&W, it takes me too long in PS to get results which look a bit like film, nothing better than real B&W film ! Sometimes I think digital is not real like a non existing entity, since I can’t have a negative in my hands…
    Also I very much dislike the unnatural sharpness in digital, very bothering…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, digital is just virtual reality, no really there… or not. If you print the photos, they ARE real! As for that sharpness… sure, it’s just too good for us film guys. But there are ways… Really Nice Images (reallyniceimages.com) make very good film presets, though they seem to lack the ‘grain factor’. I’ll have to investigate a bit!

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  5. I never really liked colour film. Although I must admit it was a grand time when Kodak Portra was released. We couldn’t process it on our own, but wow, what images.
    When it came to processing my own colour I shot slides. And had internegatives made when I wanted prints. Then the digital age came and I started scanning my transparencies.
    The Black and white lab was a place of creativity. The colour lab for transparency processing was boring.

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  6. First of all, great pictures, Frank!
    I’ve also started processing c-41 at home not long ago, and I’ve shared some of the first results here http://ivanpilov.com/2017/03/26/red-on-blue/
    As for the impression/experience I try to be practical here. My town has no lab that would process any film, and sending it somewhere will make it even more expensive to shoot film that it is. So I kinda was forced to start colour processing at home and I’m glad there are kits available and the whole technology is not over complicated. Though I would agree with you that it’s not much fun.
    The same story was with b&w development, but now I understand the variety of ways it can be done and am looking forward to experimenting. Stand development is on the list))
    Finally, I’ve tried using both Silverfast and VueScan but found results unsatisfactory and sometimes even worse than from the Epson software. I think that all this fiddling with film profiles and other stuff kind of ruins the whole experince of film. After all I’m not into shooting analogue for the effect I can get from a computer. Most of the time I accept the output as it is, especially with expired film.
    Great post you wrote, so many topics to discuss))

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  7. I really like the colours, except the first two images. I bought myself a Tetenal C41 kit shortly, about ten different color films and will play around a bit. I want to find to find sth. that looks similar to Kodachrome (love that look, I call it the “Saul Leiter look” 😉 ), and if possible no slide film…
    I don’t know how to add pictures here, but I scanned a few films from ten years ago, and they were pretty ok for me, I also used Silverfast…

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  8. I really like these 😀. I have done c-41 at home a few times but at 20 degrees. They came out ok, but I still prefer black and white.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There are only a few so it is risky to extrapolate from that, but it looks as if you take different pictures in color, with softer light&tones and some mystery in them. Is that purely accidental or do you approach color photography differently?

    Liked by 1 person

    • At least I try to go a bit soft on color, not like my b&w photos which I like harsh and contrasty.
      I aim for a bit of overexposure and well, the morning mist helped too…

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  10. Hi Frank – I think that you need to come here. The temperature in the flat over summer is high enough to use the Tetenal kit at ambient…

    That said I also tend to avoid colour film, mainly because the chemicals are expensive and unpleasant (hot blix!), and getting the colour right when scanning (via macro) is a bit tedious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for inviting me 😉

      And as much as I dislike doing it, I bought a new Tetenal kit and some rolls of color film…. can’t stop….

      As Britney said: Oops I did it again!

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