How to Develop Color Film Using the C-41 Process

If you’re thinking about developing your own film at home, it’s not as hard as you may think. In this video, the Photography Bloke shows us how to use the C-41 developing process to develop color film. As you can see, it’s not so different from the black and white process:

Equipment You’ll Need

  • Developing Tank
  • Film Reel
  • Changing Bag or Darkroom
  • Thermometer
  • 4 Chemical Storage Bottles
  • Washing Up Tub
  • Water Jugs
  • Bucket
  • Gloves
  • Sponge
  • Stopwatch


Digibase C-41 Liquid Concentrate Kit:

  • Developer
  • Bleacher
  • Fixer
  • Stabilizer

You need to mix the parts together to make the complete chemicals. You can see how to do this in the video. All the quantities are written on the bottles, as well.

Developing Process

Temperature is critical here, so you must get the chemicals up to the right temperature. Fill up your washing tub with hot water. Place a water jug filled with hot water in the center, this will help hold up the chemical bottles when you put them in. Place your chemical storage bottles in the tub around the water jug. The hot water will warm them up.

film developing equipment

Step 1: Pre-Soak

The C-41 process is very temperature critical, so you need to get the film and the developing tank up to temperature before you add the chemicals. In a water jug, test and adjust the water so it is at 35 degrees Celsius (about 95 degrees Fahrenheit), then pour it into the developing tank. Leave it in there for 3 minutes.

During this time, your developer and bleach should be warming up in the washing tub. Keep checking to make sure the developer doesn’t get too hot, you want it to be between 35 and 38 degrees C.

When you’ve finished the pre-soak, dump the water out of the developing tank.

Step 2: Developer

When the developer is at the right temperature, pour the solution into the developing tank. Agitate the tank and leave it in there for 3 minutes.

Keep checking the bleach. Put the fixer in the washing tub to warm it up.

Every minute, agitate the tank using the agitation stick that comes with it.

developing color film

After 3 minutes, remove the developer solution from the tank. You can just pour it back into its storage bottle because you can get more uses out of it later—up to 12 films.

Before moving on to the next step, rinse out the tank with 35 degree C water.

Step 3: Bleach

Pour the bleach into the developing tank and turn it upside down a few times to mix it in. Again, agitate the solution with the agitation stick every minute. Leave the bleach in for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Keep checking the temperature of the fixer while you wait and put the stabilizer in the washing tub to warm up.

When the time is up, pour the bleach back into its storage bottle.

Rinse the tank.

Step 4: Fixer

Make sure it’s at the right temperature and pour it into the developing tank. Agitate the tank a little and let sit for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes, using the agitation stick every minute.

Pour the fixer out and rinse the tank.

Step 5: Stabilizer

The stabilizer should be around 35 to 38 degrees C, but it’s not so critical and will be okay if it’s a little cooler. The stabilizer also does more film—maybe 20 rolls instead of 12—so you can keep it for longer.

Once the stabilizer is in the tank, it should only take about one minute.

Now you have completed all the steps and have four bottles of chemicals that can be reused a second time (third for the stabilizer).

film developing chemicals

Rinse the tank and take out your roll of film. Try not to handle it too much as you unroll it, then take the sponge and wipe the film down.

Hang it to dry, and that’s it!

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