Homedeveloping C41 Advice

Hi all,
I’ve been home developing color negative film for about a year now and have only used the CineStill Cs41 kits. I’ve gone through three kits so far and I’m looking to get better mileage between orders, and I’m always open to better technique and quality. That being said the results I’ve gotten are as good or better than any lab I’ve ever been able to use. I’m debating a couple of options and would love some advice.

My setup is: Sous Vide for temperature regulation, SS reels and cans, and I use 1 L amber glass bottles for storage of the 3 step process I’m currently familiar with (Developer, Blix, Stablizer, Hang to dry).

1: Would it be smart to order a larger size of a similar kit (I’m looking at either the Rollei 5L or Arista 1 Gallon C41 kits) and mix 1L of working solution at a time? As long as I keep air out of the individual unmixed chemical bottles (thinking of using marbles) they should last a very long time compared to working solutions of mixed chems.

2: Should I make a larger investment in say the Kodak Flexicolor setup? It would cost much more up front but would probably pay for itself over time, and would probably be more complex for someone who doesn’t process more than 1-2 rolls per week at most.

I feel like a larger batch of a press kit like the Rollei would better suit my shooting style, as I sometimes go weeks without having anything to develop, then a lot of work over short periods. But the information around setups like the Flexicolor are not very clear, so perhaps I don’t fully understand its actual strengths and weaknesses compared to a ‘2 bath kit’.

I understand there’s a lot of debate over whether Blix vs bleach fix really makes much difference. Tho at this point in my work I’m looking for a good balance of best quality and reasonable cost. Any thoughts on this would also be helpful.


Looked around and found this article that might help you decide.
Considering the film to be your original/archive worthy material, you might want to use the best possible chemicals and process in order to get negatives that don’t degrade over time.

Thanks! This was actually the same piece that made me even consider the Flexicolor option. I take it from your reply you think this is a better quality and archival solution?

I’m having trouble finding any concrete reasons why ‘press kits’ are actually inferior in such respects.

Thanks again!

While film photography is getting stronger again, nevertheless, its mainstream time lay before widespread use of the internet and youtube. This reduces the probability of finding a lot of info in these media.

My first thought was to use the chemicals proposed by the original manufacturer which does not mean that alternative processes are worse.

If you are happy with what you get with your current process, why not stick to it? If you are not happy with your current process, why not try a different one and find what the short term consequences are? Long term consequences need more time ( :wink: ) but might be irrelevant if you don’t intend to keep the negatives.

I actually went through the same process over the last couple of years.

I started with the unicolor kits, which worked ok but are pricey and sometimes the shipping to Canada can be costly as well. I then tried the flexicolor SM kits, using the instructions found online for mixing ratios. I never had good experiences with the flexicolor kit. I ended up with grainy negatives with intense color shifts. I also had very dark film base. I never did get to the bottom of what I was doing wrong. Despite putting the developing solutions into smaller bottles and topping them with inert gas, the developer went bad on me after a few months. It was not a total waste because I still use the bleach from those kits, but price wise, it’s was a fairly big investment.

I’m now mixing my own developer using a recipe I found online by a user named stefan4u. (Link: https://www.photrio.com/forum/threads/color-negative-developer-near-to-c41.42731/ ).

I’m on my fourth batch and happy with the results so far. If you’re into experimenting, the investment in some chemicals and a scale is not that big. If you’re happy with the results, long term it’s very cheap and the materials have great shelf life before they are mixed.

You’ll see a lot of talk in the forums about the importance of PH levels etc. That may be true but I’ve never had a problem with this recipe. I bought a PH meter but haven’t used it yet as I just run a test shot through the developer first and have never had a problem. Colors seem as good of not better than with others that I’ve tried, as is grain. I suspect that the contrast in my negatives is a bit high but I don’t mind so I haven’t played around with temperature or other changes to try to tame it.

Next up I bought some Vision3 cinema film and I’m going to try mixing some ECN developer to develop it in as many of the required materials are similar.

Hope this helps.