in Film

More film experiments – C41 colour in B&W chemicals

Yesterday I developed some cheap ISO200 Agfa colour film from Poundland – unsurprisingly, £1 a roll – in B&W chemicals. I’d heard that this was possible, but reported results varied from “it’s fine but negatives are really dark” to “it’s all grainy and horrible and negatives are really dark”, and detailed instructions were a bit limited.

The summary of my report is that (a) it looks fine, the results are actually surprisingly sharp (b) negatives are really dark due to the orange layer on the film which does… something… but you can compensate for this when scanning (c) it turns the developer orange as well so best not to re-use it.

This is a significant development in terms of film-wasting, because £1 a roll is a lot less than I can get even the cheapest proper B&W film for. I only really use cheap colour negative film for testing cameras because of development costs. A next day service at Snappy Snaps is £2 per roll and, well, the quality is not that great. If I want to take proper pictures in colour, I use Kodak Elitechrome (in 35mm) or Velvia (in 120), both of which I have bricks of in the freezer because I have to send them off and pay more money.

If I can develop cheap colour film as B&W for tuppence ha’penny, though, and get results which are usable to test new cameras and lenses, that’s great – I don’t have to waste proper film – and I do that quite a lot. Or I can just load the colour film into a camera I’m using for random snaps and, at the end, have the option of colour or DIY B&W.

Technical details: I used a 1+19 solution of Ilfotec LC29 for 6m30 at 72F, which is a bit longer/hotter than I’d normally use for most ISO400 B&W rolls e.g. HP5+, but I’d read that contrast could be an issue, so I thought a little longer wouldn’t hurt (also it’s that much longer). I pre-washed the film in water for a few minutes but it didn’t seem to do anything – the water poured out was the same colour as it was going in. Stop and fixer were the same as I normally use – Ilfostop for 30s or so, and Ilford Rapid Fixer for 4m.