C-41 Color Development

Breaking free from the many issues I had with photo development places in Hong Kong and Shanghai, I started to develop my own film again recently.  I have done a lot of BW development in the past.  Color, however, I have never done before and had always been at the back of my mind.  A temperature controlled water bath (at 38C) for the chemicals is a must for color.  When I was back in Toronto, I was lucky enough to find an unused Paterson Auto Colortherm machine from a really nice lady named Linda Power.  It was sitting in her basement for years and she was willing to let it go.  I was ecstatic about the find and it just barely fitted in my suitcase back to Hong Kong.

Paterson Auto Colortherm machine
Paterson Auto Colortherm machine

It was rather difficult to get home color development chemicals in Hong Kong, so I picked up a C41 Tetenal kit from Shanghai.  It was not cheap but nevertheless a good practice kit for the first run at this.  My Paterson tank can develop up to two 135 rolls or one 120 roll with about 600mL of chemicals.  I prepared the developer, blix and stabilizer all at 600mL volume.  With this, I can either develop 4 to 5 rolls of 120 or 8 rolls of 135.  With the 5L kit I got, I basically can develop about 64 rolls of 135.

I turned on the Paterson Auto Colortherm and set the water bath to the correct 38C temperature.  You need to wait about an hour until all the chemicals are at the stable temperature.  I started with a 5 minutes water bath, then developed for 3 minutes 15 seconds, blix for 6 minutes, water rinse for 3 minutes and ended it with stabilizer for 1 minute.  Viola, the negatives showed up nicely and I waited for them to dry.
I scanned them with my Epson V700 and they turned out great.  However, dust is never my friend when it comes to development and scanning and a lot of care has to be taken.

C41 Development with Paterson Auto Colortherm
C41 Development with Paterson Auto Colortherm

Here are a couple of shots from the development.

Shanghai Jingan Mansion, Fuji GA645Zi, Fuji Reala 100, C41 Tetenal Self Develop, Epson V700 Scan
Shanghai Jingan Mansion, Fuji GA645ZI, Fuji Reala 100, C41 Tetenal Self Develop, Epson V700 Scan
Shanghai Kaiba, Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 532/16, Fuji Superior 100, C41 Tetenal Self Develop, Epson V700 Scan
Shanghai Kaiba, Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta 532/16, Fuji Superia 100, 30 sec exposure, C41 Tetenal Self Develop, Epson V700 Scan

Overall, the first run at C41 development was a success and am looking forward to develop more rolls.



My First Camera

The first camera that I learned how to use was my father’s Minolta SRT camera.  It was heavy and was quite a complicated machine to use for a child.  All I remembered was a lot of knobs and my father will be advising numbers like f5.6, 125 here or f8, f11, which at the time meant nothing to me.

My father later bought my older brother, Ed a toy 110 film camera from the Singtao newspaper shop.  It was a much simpler camera and we had a lot of fun with it.  This camera rarely produced encouraging result.  I remembered one time, I put in a roll of 110 film, shot it and gave the roll to my father.  A couple of days later, he handed me the envelop from the photo shop.  I opened it up, there was only one print in the bag.  I asked him what happened to the other photos, he replied, only one showed up.  I examined the negative and only shot was exposed and all others were blank.  It was quite a dismal experience and that was the last roll of 110 I shot.

Singtao Newspaper 110 Camera
Singtao newspaper 110 camera
110 film strip from the Singtao toy camera
110 film strip from the Singtao toy camera

My first real camera was a fifty cents Kodak Instamatic X-15, which I rescued from a local garage sale.  After mild cleaning of the dusty box, I still remember I was quite excited when I first saw the shutter fire.  See video here: http://youtu.be/Og1zzugSk7E

My first camera, Kodak Instamatic X-15
My first camera, Kodak Instamatic X-15

Right after, I rode my bike to the local photo hut and picked up a roll of Kodak 126 format ISO 200 film and started shooting.  My first subjects of course were family members and other classmates.  Success rate was low and I was lucky if half the roll was exposed correctly.  I was however happy with the few shots I got and continued with it.  Once I took it to a three week long US trip with only 12 shots!  Think about saving your shots for the right moments! It will never happen again with the technology available today.

The Kodak Instamatic was easy to use, no focus necessary and no settings were available.  The film was in a cartridge, and you simply pop it in the camera.  You wind the film through the film advance and you trip the shutter.  It was dead simple.  A 43mm lens with fixed aperture of f11 and shutter speed of 1/90, even with 400iso film, indoor photography was hopeless and flash cubes were a must.

My Kodak Instamatic shots
My Kodak Instamatic shots

The images from the Kodak Instamatic were blurry and often wrongly exposed,
but for a ten year kid, it was an awesome experience.



Polaroid Land 800

Polaroid Land 800
Polaroid Land 800

Polaroid Land 800 and Shanghai 4×5 film

These cameras were produced from 1957 to 1962. Since the disappearance of roll film in the 90s, this camera had been abandoned as trash since.

I picked up a couple of these units when I was back in Toronto a few months ago. Both were in perfect condition and all the accessories  intact. This camera features an EV lighting system with fixed aperture and shutter speed.

The pairing is as follows:
EV 10 f/8.8 1/12
EV 11 f/8.8 1/25
EV 12 f/8.8 1/50
EV 13 f/8.8 1/100
EV 14 f/12.5 1/100
EV 15 f/17.5 1/100
EV 16 f/25 1/100
EV 17 f/35 1/100

Initially getting these two cameras, I wanted to modify it so that I can use it as a medium format panoramic camera. I wanted to put in a roll of 120 and see if I can get 6×10 or 6×12 shots out of this.

Walking in the camera market in Shanghai prior to my trip back to Toronto, I saw some really cheap Shanghai 100 ISO 4×5 film. Doing medium format for years, I am always itching to move onto large format. So I picked up a box of el cheapo Shanghai 4×5 film and off I went.

Honestly, it’s a pain to insert the 4×5 film into these Polaroid 800 cameras in a dark bag. Basically, I have to do this once for every shot. This work flow is extremely not portable, but hey, reminding myself, it’s large format, it’s not supposed to be that portable.

On this camera, there are two viewfinders, one for focusing and one for framing.  I was impressed with the rangefinder.  It was crisp and accurate and with a maximum aperture of only F8.8, I experienced no focusing issues.

My first two shots with this camera, however, was a disaster. The photos came out totally underexposed. This can be traced back to two mistakes I made. First, I used the Polaroid light meter that came with the cameras. Bad call. Second, reading in the many forums, a lot of people are over exposing this film and shooting it like a ISO 50 film.

The second and third trials got better and basically I needed to overexpose the original settings by about 1.5 EVs.

Polaroid Land 800 and Shanghai 4x5 ISO 100 Film
Polaroid Land 800 and Shanghai 4×5 ISO 100 Film

The details were amazing.  The Polaroid land 800 has a mask with rounded corners.  The exposed area of of the photo is not 4×5 but a bit smaller than that.

My film development process.  All chemical temperature @20C. Water bath one minute.  Guan Long (冠龍) D76 1+1 14 minutes.  Water Stop Rince 3x + 2 mins. Guan Long F-5 Fix 8 mins. Water Rince 3x + 2 mins and Kodak Photoflo.  Scanned with Epson Perfection 4870.

The first experience with the Polaroid Land 800 was quite successful and I finished the whole box of 25 shots in within the first two weeks.

Why Polaroid Land 800? Simple. It’s cheap, readily available, full manual and has no electronic components.


where avant-garde is the passé