Developing found film

On the beach

January has really kind of sucked. It’s been very cold, and very snowy, and I haven’t had the motivation or energy to get out and take photos. So, not much else to do but try to develop some found film.

I had bought a lot of film tins on ebay, and although the tins contained a bunch of 35mm cartridges, only 3 of those actually wound up having any film in them. I’m assuming the cartridges were saved by a photographer who had developed his own film, but liked the way the empty cartridges look. I can respect that.


I developed two of the rolls of film from this lot. One came out black, which has happened to me before (when I was trying to develop the old Ektachrome film that was in the Kowa), but I got really good results from the other roll.

Top hat

I still have a roll of Kodachrome from this lot that I need to develop.

Another ebay lot I’ve gotten recently was an Argus 75 that came with 3 rolls of exposed film, and 4 rolls of unexposed film. The three exposed rolls were all Triple Print color film. After doing a bit of research, what I found out was that Triple Print film was developed using their own process – not C41, not even C22. I guess it’s kind of like Kodachrome or Agfachrome, not really workable for home developing. I went ahead and developed 2 of the 3 rolls in black and white developer.

More Christmas

I about shit when I saw how the first roll turned out. It was bright pink, and so paper-esque I thought I had mistakenly developed the backing paper instead of the film. However, it did develop, and I was able to get about 5 or 6 good, strong images.

The second roll of Triple Print turned out more of a dark amber than pink. Here is a negative from the second roll, scanned in as color:

Purple boy

The other roll, or partial roll, I developed the other day was some 120 Anscopan (black and white film). This roll was shoved in a Brownie six-20 that is only supposed to take 620 film. Halfway through the roll the film had gotten jammed, and the entire camera abandoned. I had to work some camera jujitsu, but was finally able to save 3 frames of the roll. The first pic in this post is from this roll, and you can see the chewed up corner. This film was in really bad shape.

Sure I'm taking a picture of you, sir

All in all, I was pleased with how the pics came out. It’s always hit and miss when you develop old film, since you normally don’t know how old the film is, how it was stored, etc. So, if you’re going to try this, here’s how I’ve been doing it.

First, I highly recommend that you get a rollfilm tank with an apron.


Seriously, nothing is more irritating than trying to load dry, brittle, medium format film onto a developing reel in the dark. Just avoid the problem altogether. If you can find one of these Kodacraft developing tanks on ebay or in an antique store, you’ve struck gold. I got mine from ebay from a buy-it-now auction. I was hesitant about paying as much money as I did for mine (about $17), but I’m really glad I did. It comes with 3 aprons to fit the film sizes 116, 120, or 127 (or 616 and 620). My tank is really leaky (from where the lid sits on it) and you can’t do inversion agitation, but it still works well. If you can’t find a Kodacraft tank, you can get one of these 120 film developing tanks from Freestyle. It only works with 120 (or 620) sized film, but better than nothing, and it’s under $5.00.

Interestingly, I haven’t had a problem yet loading old 35mm film into reels. Maybe it’s just better protected being in the cartridge and doesn’t dry out as fast.

Do a little bit of research before you develop your film, especially if you’re trying to develop old color negative or slide film. Apparently, if you try to develop Kodachrome in color chems, not only will it not work, but it will also screw up your chems.

I’ve got some rolls of C22 film that I’m intending on trying to develop with C41 chems, but mostly, I develop old film in black and white chems. My process is to give the film a soak in plain water for 8-10 minutes, and then develop using HC110 dilution B for 7 minutes at 66 degrees. That seems to work more often than not.

If you’ve got a decent scanner, you should be able to pick up even faint images or images from really dense negatives. What I’ve found has helped in getting a more contrasty scan is to scan my negatives in as a color negative rather than black and white.

Gone Fishing

Also, scanning black and white negs as color happens to give you really fun tinting, too.


Yeah, that’s about all I’ve got right now. Looking forward to February and the possibility of maybe an odd day or so of warmer weather. I’ve got a biggish photography project that I want to work on, but it’s on hold until the weather starts getting at least about 20-30 degrees or so.