Our Film Development Process

2018 is a year of standardization and change here at Simple Film Lab and how we develop film you send in.

First and foremost, predictability and consistency is key. To that end, we’ve been investigating and implementing a new standardized film processing system as well as providing for a way for customized development with a variety of developers. Below is the development practice starting in 2018.

Standard Development

The standardized black and white film processing system is based on a replenished Kodak XTOL development system with constant rotary agitation. Additionally, black and white film is developed to standardized contrast indexes between 0.52 and 0.72. Most films have known good development times that will work well with XTOL that produce a negative within that range, for example, many of Kodak’s black and white emulsions have a contrast index of 0.56 with XTOL, while many of Ilford’s black and white emulsions have a contrast index of 0.58.

Going to the standardized development regime with standardized contrast indexes has a few other benefits as well as it greatly simplifies scanning in the film and allows Simple Image Tools to work within a much smaller set of profiles, and it makes the film look more “film” like while still retaining many of the benefits of most of the characteristic curve being linearized. In short, you still get all the benefits of Adobe Digital Negatives for your scans, but it also looks a little less “digital”. For a small number of films, we’ll still provide a fully linearized film profile, but that will now be the custom option, not the standard option.

Push Processing

Yes, we do that. You can request a 1 stop push, 2 stop push, or 3 stop push. Moving to a replenished XTOL development practice allows standard ways of doing that, that are predictable.

Custom Film Development

Added in 2018, custom film development. Feeling creative? Want to try out different developers to see what you like? Now you can. If you want consistent and predictable results, then do standard development. However, if you want to deviate from that, you can, but beware, going this route can lead to unexpected results. Please note, our standard tank size is 1 liter for total solution volume, so keep that in mind when requesting custom dilution ratios as there is an upper limit to what can fit in the tank. If needed, we can go to a bigger 2.5 liter tank for a limited number of rolls, however this is not common practice.

XTOL

Wait, what? Yes, you can request fresh, full strength XTOL development, 1+1 dilution from fresh stock solution, or some other dilution that you want to try out. This is separate from the standardized replenished XTOL development as we maintain a ready and fresh supply of stock XTOL solution. Keep in mind, the minimum recommended stock solution per roll of film is 100mL. You can request less than that as the start of the dilution, but that can result in unpredictable results.

D76

Yes, the standard developer by which many other developers are compared to. You can request full strength development, 1+1 dilution, 1+2 dilution, 1+3 dilution, or really any other dilution that you want to try out, within reason. We maintain a supply of fresh stock D76 and can mix up pretty much any dilution you want as long as it’ll fit in the development tank. Keep in mind that the recommended minimum stock solution per roll of film is 250mL, so the most common dilutions are 1+1 for 500mL total solution, and 1+3 for 1L total solution. You can request less stock solution, but doing so can result in unpredictable results.

HC110

This developer is very popular with landscape and large format photographers. We maintain a readily available supply of HC110 concentrate and you can request that your film be developed with either the standard Dilution B, or you can request pretty much any dilution you want straight from concentrate as long as the total solution volume will fit in the tank.

Rodinal

Some people love the look of Rodinal. We maintain a ready supply of concentrate so that you can request that your film be developed with a variety of dilutions of Rodinal.

Custom Development Agitation

Want your film developed with 2 inversions every 3 minutes? No Problem. Want 5 inversions every 45 seconds? You got it. This provides an easy way to try out different agitations schemes to see what you like.

Custom Development Temperature

We have really good control over the development temperature (+- 0.1 degree Celcius), within reason. You can request a pretty wide range of temperatures. Want to see what D76 looks like at 85 degrees? You can request it. 65 degrees? No Problem. This gives an easy way to try out different things and experiment around without actually having to own or maintain the equipment you need to control the developer temperature to such a fine degree.

Custom Development Time

Want your film souped for 8:45 instead of the standard 7:15? You can request it. You can request pretty much any development time you want.

Custom Scanning

In addition to standard scanning, you can request that your film be scanned with custom contrast indexes. This means that you can have standard development, but scan it in with a contrast index that delivers a little less contrast, or maybe a contrast index that delivers more contrast. Coupled with custom development, you can get pretty wild.