Develop My Own Color Film at Home? - What Stuff Do I Need?

Posted: 12/03/2019

One of the greatest satisfactions comes from taking complete control of your art. In this case I'm talking about your film photography. If you've never developed and scanned your own film, a misconception is that it's a difficult task. I had thought that about color home development. One day some years ago I confessed to fellow podcaster Leslie Lazenby that it would be amazing to develop my own color at home. She said, "You can...and it's easier than BW film." GAME CHANGER! From that point I took total control of my photography by developing and scanning my work. My 35mm and 120 film photography was now (practically) instant photography! Shoot, head home and one hour later - voilà  - my shots are shared on Instagram. As Rob Schneider famously screamed..."YOU CAN DO IT!"

With the addition of the C-41 Color Negative Kit (and the E6 Color Slide Kit) to our FPP On-Line Store, many of you have asked – “I’m new to home development. Are the color development kits just chemicals or do I need other items? Are there instructions in the kit?"

All of the color kits come with mixing instructions. Our Color Kits include all the chemistry you will need in one box. Other than the actual development kit, you will need the following gear after you have shot your roll of film and ready to develop:

(SHORT CUT- Can I purchase EVERYTHING I need as one kit? Yes, you can! If you're brand new to processing then you can purchase our color home development starter kit! )

  • A work space with running, hot water (away from children and pets)

  • Can opener (to remove the film from the 35mm canister) - does not apply to 120 or 620 film

  • Film tank and reels - These are the reels that hold your film in the light tight tank. The only step that takes place in the dark is loading your film from the canister to your reel and tank. Out tank holds two 35mm rolls or one 120 (or 620) roll of film. You can load your film in a pitch black room or use a film changing bag.

  • What else? You will also need a Container to hold your chemistry, a Funnel, Thermometer, Measuring Beaker, Squeegee and of course, your chemistry. All of these items are available in the Darkroom Supply area of the FPP On-Line Store.

  • Film Scanner - You will need a scanner to convert your film negatives into a file for sharing or printing. A traditional flat bed scanner (like the Epson v800) is an excellent investment. For the money, it's an amazing value (allow you to scan not only 35mm but also 120, 620, 4x5 and 8x10). You might be thinking, "Naaa, I only shoot 35mm!" But think of that day when you move up to medium format film or find amazing 4x5 glass plate negative at a garage sale!

  • A New Scanning Idea! There are also new options for 2020. How about the Negative Supply scan tool that allows you to use your digital SLR. Now that you're shooting film, your greatest fear - that your digital SLR would become a "door stop" or fancy "paper weight" doesn't have to be. Enslave your digital SLR to scan all of your film using the Negative Supply system!

Processing your own Color is super easy! If you already own a negative scanner then you're now your own mini-lab! See our video below on developing color using our C-41 Color Negative Kit. (The Epson v800 is a recommended film scanner).

What about developing Black & White film?
Once you invest in the gear needed to develop film at home, you can use that same gear to develop your BW negatives at home. You simply need some BW chemistry. A good start is FPP 76 BW Developer and FPP Fixer.

About Michael Raso - Michael founded the Film Photography Project in 2009 as resource for both new and experienced film shooters.  Through the popular Film Photography Podcast, FPP Workshops, blogs and instructional FPP YouTube videos Michael provides useful and easy to digest tips, tutorials and reviews of new and existing film formats, cameras and gear.  In 2020 Michael and the FPP are bringing back Regular 8mm home movie film and (along with fellow FPP staffers) test and release new 35mm film for your still camera.


FPP Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address and receive our newsletter directly to your inbox.