Film processing is a science which requires a darkroom, chemicals and the proper amount of time to get film from the reel into a usable negative. Film developing follows film processing and allows you an artistic range. You can choose to have photo processing equipment develop your images based on manual settings, or you can develop each negative into a photo yourself based on your priorities.
There are a few items to consider as you evaluate whether to delve into the film processing world and develop film yourself, or whether it makes more sense to let someone else to the processing so you can focus on the image developing:
1. The cost of chemicals to process film can be prohibitive if you don't process a lot of film or if you focus on movie film.
2. A small closet-sized darkroom is sufficient for processing 120 film or 35mm film, but a much larger space is needed for 16mm film processing.
3. The film developing equipment needed to process film ranges from inexpensive for still film, to quite expensive for movie film.
4. Black and white film processing is cheaper than color film processing due to the inherent nature of each type of film.
Examine the expense for creating your own film processing darkroomFrom lowest to highest cost, setting up a darkroom to process and develop black and white still film comes in at the low end followed by a color lab, then black and white movie film and then color movie film. Knowing the fundamentals of the black and white still darkroom is a great foundation for any other film processing and developing desires, but you certainly don't have to start there.
Study film processing technology before creating your own darkroomKnow everything that is involved, including the costs of equipment and chemicals before embarking on the time consuming task of processing film and being your own film developer. Take a class to learn the technique behind camera film processing; a benefit is the ability to use the darkroom for your own projects.
Use a lab to minimize in-house cost and time for 16mm film processingDeveloping 16mm movie film is an involved process that can be done in a home darkroom, if desired, but it may be more convenient to let professionals do the work so you can delve into the creative task of editing that much sooner. The process is similar to 35mm film processing, however the expensive equipment, different chemicals, and amount of time needed to process a roll of film ranging from 100- to 400-feet roll are different.
- Consumer film processor technology continues to improve, but is still expensive. Plan on a few thousand dollars for the processor and then factor in more money for chemicals, paper, and other developing needs.