Our Film Development Process

At Simple Film Lab, predictability and consistency is key. This is why we publish tech sheets for the various films. If you want to send film in to us to develop, we want you to have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to get and the best way to shoot in order to get that. At the same time, we want you to be able to customize the film development to suit your taste.

Standard Development

The standardized black and white film processing system is based on a replenished Kodak XTOL development system with constant rotary agitation at 24 degrees Celsius. The standard contrast with this development is 0.62, which is the standard contrast as defined by the ISO standard.

We largely follow Kodak’s XTOL processing guidelines in their XTOL data sheet for all the films listed there unless a known or tested deviation produces more contrast index compliant images. For films not listed in Kodak’s XTOL tech sheet, we use Kodak D-76 at full strength at 24 degrees Celsius with constant rotary agitation as standard using published times and extrapolating for temperature and agitation. Kodak D-76 is a very well known and tested developer with well known characteristics and it’s very straight-forward to calculate development time compensation for temperature and agitation, as long as a known good starting point with D-76 is published. Massive Dev chart is pretty useful for that sort of thing.

If no published data exists, then we’ll generally attempt to get some of that film in house (if it can still be bought) and test it to get a development time for the ISO contrast. Once done, then write it up and publish a tech sheet for it. All film that we’ve actually shot, generated characteristic curves for, and have tested for development will have a published tech sheet here at Simple Film Lab. You can consider anything that has a published tech sheet here a known good that you can get consistent and reliable results from.

Using a standardized development regime with standardized contrast has a few other benefits as well as it greatly simplifies scanning in the film and allows Simple Image Tools (our in-house scanning tool set) to work within a much smaller set of film profiles, and it makes the film look more “film” like while still retaining many of the benefits of most of the film’s characteristic curve being linearized. In short, you still get all the benefits of Adobe Digital Negatives for your scans, but it also looks less “digital”.

Push/Pull Processing

Yes, we can do that for you. Kodak’s XTOL tech sheet has push and pull processing times for most films. If there aren’t any published times, the general guideline is 15% time change per stop.

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 1.5 liters for total solution volume for rotary agitation, 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 inversion agitation, and in that case, the maximum tank size is significantly larger, upwards of several liters.

Kodak 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.

Kodak D76

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.

Kodak 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.

Adox 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.

Ilford Microphen

Want to push process your film? Microphen is the developer to use for really extreme push processing. Please refer to Ilford’s data sheet or Massive Dev Chart for usage guidance.

Ilford Ilfosol 3

This is a great general purpose film developer designed for Ilford films. Please refer to Ilford’s data sheet or Massive Dev Chart for usage guidance.

Ilford DD-X

Some say this is the greatest Black and White film developer of all time. DD-X is very good, so it makes the list of what you can request. Refer to Ilford’s data sheet or Massive Dev Chart for usage guidance.

Custom 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 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 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. You can also request variations from the standard development time, for example, if you want standard development, but prefer just a bit more contrast than standard to be developed into the negative, you can request time changes from the standard time in 30 second increments. This lets you request standard development and standard scanning, but add 30 seconds to the standard development time for just a bit more contrast to be put into the negative. On the order form, under custom time, just put “standard time plus 30 seconds”. Super simple, super easy.

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.