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The basic items required to process a monochrome film are a developing tank, a stopwatch, a thermometer, a graduated measuring vessel and the appropriate chemicals. Various types of processing tank are available, but those that accept more than one film and format are perhaps the most useful in the longer term. Practice loading film in daylight with an old exposed film - it is a lot easier than learning in complete darkness or within a changing bag. Modern processing tanks are designed for daylight use. Ensure that lids are properly fastened - the tank must obviously be light-tight and will also be inverted during processing.

When mixing chemicals, always follow manufacturers' instructions. Powdered developers should be mixed well in advance of use to ensure that all the powder has completely dissolved. Measure appropriate amounts of the solutions, and raise their temperatures to the nominal 20°C (68°F). The chemical are:

  • developer - a choice is available, but Ilford's ID11 or Kodak's D76 fine-grain developer is a good start - both work well with slow or medium speed films.
  • stop bath - this is not absolutely essential but its use is advisable because it helps to prolong the working life fixer.
  • fixer - he fixing is essential because it dissolves unexposed material and renders it safe for daylight handling.

To process a film:

  • pour into the tank sufficient developer to fully cover the film, tap the tank lightly but sharply on a hard surface to dislodge trapped air bubbles, and start the stopwatch;
  • agitate for ten seconds by repeatedly inverting the tank, and then continue with a couple of inversions every 30 seconds throughout the development period of nominally 7½ minutes;
  • ten seconds prior to the end of the development period, begin pouring out developer;
  • fill the tank sufficiently with stop bath and agitate for ten seconds - this stops the development process;
  • leave the film in the stop bath for at least 30 seconds;
  • remove the stop bath from the tank;
  • fill the tank with sufficient fixer and agitate for 10 seconds, and then for 10 seconds every minute throughout the fixing period;
  • observe the recommended fixing period which is are nominally 2 to 2½ minutes with fresh fixer, but somewhat longer with previously-used chemicals.
  • wash the film in cold water for about 20 minutes - temperature is not critical but 10°C to 20°C is normal;
  • use tap fittings that plug directly into the development tank to allow films to be washed whilst still on their spiral;
  • add a few drops of wetting agent to the final rinse to reduce drying marks;
  • remove the film from the tank and spiral, and carefully hang it up to dry in a dust-free room.

Note that chromogenic films, such as Ilford XP 2, use colour chemistry and consequently cannot be processed in the same way as other black-and-white films.


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