This little book from 1976 from the GDR has often helped me, but is now completely tattered. As it is nowadays hard to find, I have scanned it to preserve it for the future.

Here you can download the whole thing as a PDF, including all pictures and tables.

Below is a machine-translated HTML version for quick reference.

Thanks to my son Kalle for tirelessly proofreading the often absurd OCR results! 🙂

Self-developed small-format film

by GEORG TUNCSIK †, edited by Chem.-Ing. Siegrun Günther


© VEB Fotokinoverlag Leipzig 1979
2nd edition – 11th-20th. Thousand
License no. 110-210/326/79
LSV 9169
Editor: Hanns Rolf Monse
Printed in GDR
Typesetting and printing: VOB Buch- und Offsetdruck
Order number: 546 127 3
DDR 2,- M


  1. Introduction
  2. The small amateur laboratory
  3. The great amateur laboratory
  4. Orwo consumer packs
  5. Black and white negative development
  6. Black and white reverse development
  7. Color reversal development
  8. Color negative development
  9. Drying the film
  10. Small-format film post-treatments
  11. Processing errors in black and white reverse development
  12. Conclusion


For amateur photographers it is a matter of course that they deal with the processing of photographic material. That’s not the case with the film amateurs. There are various reasons for this. The main reason for this is the much longer film strip, which requires greater technical effort. Reverse development also plays a role; it is not as simple as developing to negative or positive.

Nevertheless, it is nothing new for film amateurs to develop their own films. In the mid-1920s it was even the rule that film amateurs did everything themselves. This did not only refer to the negative development of the 9.5 mm and 16 mm film, but also to copying and developing the positive. There were even simple copying machines for this work. For developing, there were frames or spools with nubbed tape, similar to triplex tape for photographic film, and corresponding containers. Following the introduction of reversal development for 9.5 mm and 16 mm film, a reversal film for the 2 x 8 mm format also came onto the market at the beginning of the 1930s. Also corresponding cameras and projectors. The film manufacturers took over the reverse processing until the film was ready for screening. The recording material was already sold at that time, including the development fees. Reverse processing requires the utmost cleanliness and correctness, as errors can easily creep in and can no longer be corrected. For this reason, it was already important at that time that the film manufacturers took care of the processing themselves. Nevertheless, there were also amateurs who wanted to carry out the reverse engineering themselves. It wasn’t easy: development equipment and tanks were large. The baths had to be prepared from individual chemicals. Everything was much more complicated than it is today. Bulky frames and large tank containers were replaced for amateur purposes by compact and transparent spirals in light-tight cans. The VEB Filmfabrik Wolfen offers utility packs from which the individual baths are produced without much effort. Special chemicals no longer need to be procured, checked and weighed. Processing times have become much shorter. These facts make the self-development of small-format films much more attractive today. Technological conditions have also improved in the development institutes. The 12.5 m to 30 m long amateur cine films are now processed in large and modern continuous processing machines. The films run from tank to tank via reels. The baths are pumped over, regenerated and kept at a constant temperature using thermostats. The start of the film is attached to a feed belt in the machine. After wet processing, the film runs through a drying oven and is then rolled up. At the end of the film, a trailing belt is attached, which remains in the machine and serves as a leading belt for the next development.

Reversal film dominates among amateurs today, not only because the film is immediately turned into a film strip ready for projection, thus eliminating the need for copying, but also because reversal film offers the best sharpness. The copying process can never produce as good a quality from a negative as is possible with the reversal process. Negative material for 8 mm formats is therefore not offered. The amateur is usually only concerned with filming, editing, dubbing and screening. Does the joy of self-development have to be excluded? The VEB Filmfabrik Wolfen supplies packaging for the reverse processing of black-and-white and color films. Preparing the baths from these packs is simple and does not require any special equipment. Of course, it is also possible to prepare all baths yourself according to a recipe (Orwo recipe book). It is definitely not worthwhile for a single amateur. There are already difficulties with the procurement of chemicals. Not every chemical is suitable for our purposes, this must be tested. Small quantities, often only fractions of a gram, are difficult to weigh if you don’t have a precision scale. One thing leads to another, which can become a problem. So you should definitely fall back on ready-made commercial products.

You can easily help yourself with devices for editing films up to 2 m in length. This will be discussed in more detail in the next section. For developing small-format films up to 30 m in length, specialist dealers supply the Soviet developing can with double spiral insert for 2 x 15 m 16 mm film. The spiral is very compact and the can requires relatively little liquid for the length of the film. So the prerequisites are there to make self-development fun! There are also all kinds of practical reasons to engage in this leisure activity. For example, you buy a second-hand film camera and want to quickly check whether the focus and picture quality are OK. A short piece of positive fine-grain film PF 2 inserted into the camera and immediately developed into a negative can be evaluated while still wet. This requires a small laboratory and a quarter of an hour’s time. Or you can be offered a batch of overstocked film material at a reasonable price: The usability is quickly checked. There is another more common case: a title is still missing from a finished movie. You don’t have to sacrifice an entire roll of film or wait for the film to come back from processing. Do it yourself, and the next day the movie is complete! If necessary, you can show the movie on the same day. This is a joyful surprise and recognition at family and brigade celebrations. Another case is not uncommon. You know exactly that a film is underexposed. This can happen to the best film amateur, because sometimes even the sensitivity of the UP 27 is not quite sufficient in poor lighting conditions. With underexposures of up to two f-stops, such a film can still be saved by special processing. Even colleagues from the professional film industry are sometimes amazed at the good results in extremely poor light. A development institution cannot accept such extra requests. You can do it! This list could go on and on. So there are all sorts of reasons to get involved with cine film development, even if the development price is included in the purchase price. The most important reason is – to have one more pleasure. It’s fun to develop your own film yourself. This booklet should help you to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

The small amateur laboratory

The cost of the equipment is not great, assuming that only short pieces of film are to be processed. This mainly comes into question when the titles for a film need to be produced quickly or when a camera or film needs to be checked. It is also very advantageous when producing a drawing or puppet animation film if every shot is developed immediately so that a judgment can be made quickly. Even with 16 mm film, a film length of 2 m is sufficient for these purposes. Figure 2 shows a developing device that can be easily procured. This device has the great advantage that only very small quantities of solution are required. We can take fresh baths every time. In this way, consistent results can be achieved at all times. We need a small plastic container that we don’t even have to buy: A mustard cup is best. We also need a Vinidur rod (e.g. strong welding rod), into which we saw a slot 30 mm long. The film, which can be up to 2 m long, is folded over at one end by about 1 cm and inserted into the slot at double thickness. Now roll the film strip loosely around the rod and attach the other end of the film to the inside wall of the cup using an extended plastic clip. Turn the rod so that the film unrolls and rests against the inside wall of the cup. After pouring in the solution, 50 ml is sufficient, the rod is rolled in the opposite direction, the film wraps around the rod again; then back again so that the film presses against the cup. In this way, the film remains in constant motion within the liquid. It is advisable to practice this process with a 2 m long piece of film and water. The picture section shows the conversion of a developing box (CSSR make, for 6 x 9 and 35mm). This means that 16 mm wide film can also be processed in this can. The film length is then only a maximum of 1.7 m. This method has one advantage: once the film has been rewound, you can continue working in bright light. The perforated pane can be made of 2 mm thick Vinidur or, even better, Piacryl. Transparent material is advantageous for reverse development. For the conversion, we also need 30 mm vinidur tube, one piece 50 mm and one piece 9 mm long. About 5 mm is sawn out of this ring and, after careful heating, brought to a diameter of 25 mm. This bent ring also serves to hold the film to be wound in. Everything else can be seen from the illustrations. 3 to 10 It is also advisable to practice with unusable film beforehand. In addition to one of these developing devices, we also need a 15-watt lamp with ORWO dark chamber protection filter no. 107 for processing the positive fine-grain film PF 2. In this light we can process the positive film PF 2. Furthermore, a reliable thermometer, preferably with mercury, two to five storage bottles, depending on whether negative or reverse development is to be used, a measuring cup and some small containers, such as plastic mustard cups, a piece of oilcloth or a larger flat photo dish to protect the table top. We also need a film separator to separate the finished 2 x 8 mm film. That’s all we need for our small laboratory. A separate small room with a water pipe and a small table is ideal, with a shelf or plastic cupboard above it where everything can be stored neatly. In most cases, however, such a room will not be available. The equipment then had to be carefully stored in a case. If you want to work, you move the case into a darkened room, such as a bathroom or kitchen. Certainly time is needed for set-up and dismantling, but in this way small-format films can be developed even in a one-room apartment.

Figure 2: The simple rod developer consists of a plastic mustard cup, a Vinidur rod and a plastic clamp with an extension piece. Up to 2 m 16 mm wide film can be processed in 50 ml bath quantity. The device is particularly suitable for negative development.
Figures 3 and 4: A piece about 1 cm long is bent in at the end of the film so that it can be fixed in the slit on the rod at twice the film thickness. The other end of the film is attached to the extension piece of the plastic clip.
Pictures 5 and 6: The film is rolled loosely around the rod. The Vinidur rod is sawn in so that the end of the film can be attached to it.

The great amateur laboratory

The centerpiece of the facility is the aforementioned large developing box for 2 x 15 m 16 mm film. This gives us the opportunity to process an entire 30-meter-long film. We can also develop two 2 x 8 or DS-8 films at the same time. The developing box is also set up for single eight-millimeter films. Once the film has been rewound, all operations can be carried out in the light. For the second exposure we need a white plastic bowl with a diameter of at least 22 cm. Then we also need all the other devices already described in the previous section. If no positive film is processed, no darkroom lamp is required.

When purchasing the bottles, it should be noted that 1 l of solution is required for the development process of a double-eight film, but 1.8 l of solution is required for two films or 30 m of 16 mm film. Bottles with a capacity of 2 liters are the most practical. We must read the operating instructions for the development box carefully! Every movement is described in detail. We get hold of old 16 mm film. It is irrelevant for practicing whether the film is developed or undeveloped. Only the length should be right! After reading through the description, everything is practiced until everything works. It should be borne in mind that in practice everything has to be carried out without light. So even in a darkened room, rewind the film, place the spiral in the can and close the lid!

You will certainly find that there are a few pitfalls; the most difficult are hanging the film in the spiral core and then assembling the spiral. Keep practicing until every move is perfect! It is important to remember that with 16 mm film, some frames may be lost at the beginning of the second half of the film when the film is mounted. Perhaps an important attitude is being spoiled in the process. This can be avoided by rewinding the second half. For this purpose, you still need a rewinding facility at the workstation. There is a simple method to avoid these disadvantages. The spiral remains assembled. The film is placed at an angle up to the spiral core, as shown in Figure 14. With a thin object, it can be a pencil, we hold the film on the inside of the core. Slowly pull the film out until the end of the film “snaps” into the spiral, which can be clearly heard. Now the rewinding process begins. The movie is initially kept quirky and loose. After about two turns, we hold the film taut again and the rewinding process can be carried out as if the film had been hung up. No tools are needed to wind the film into the upper spiral, a finger can press the film against the core. This also needs to be practiced and must also work in the dark. In this way, even the last millimeter of film can be developed. This method has stood the test of time. The advantage here is that the film does not need to be rewound and fixed, and there is no need to assemble the spiral in the dark. This double spiral is really practical. However, it takes a lot of practice to avoid any mishaps. When we want to rewind the film, a ring is screwed onto the bottom so that the spiral only stands on a small surface. The easiest way to do this is to rotate this small surface on a glass plate. This allows you to turn the spiral with one hand like a top. The other hand holds the film spool, and the film is given the appropriate skew. It is more practical if the film spool is still on an unwinding mandrel. This is mainly an option for 16 mm film. However, it is important that the left hand guides and slows down the film again. You feel a breakdown immediately. This immediately gives you the opportunity to take the movie back a little. It may be due to a tear in the film, or a small foreign object may have gotten into the spiral, often the film was not held at an angle and tight enough. A 2 x 8 film fits into the spiral in any case. When rewinding 30 m of 16 mm film, a good meter of film must be cut off beforehand (credits). When the second half is rewound, the film is also cut off (opening credits), otherwise the film will not fit into the spiral. After spooling in the first half of a 16 mm film, it is not easy to determine when the spiral is full. There may be one or two more windings, they can be easily removed until the film gets stuck at the end of the spiral. You can convince yourself of this by feeling with your finger. Cut off the film about 2 cm before the end of the spiral. The top corner of the film is bent inwards so that the film does not come out of the spiral. Also practice these steps in the light beforehand! If possible, place the cut between two perforation holes, i.e. through the middle of an image: this has the advantage that only one image is lost if the usual gluing point is used. It can also be glued in such a way that no picture is missing. Drawing 21 explains this best.

Once you have practiced and understood everything, the work can begin. It is generally known that the emulsion layer of the films consists mainly of gelatine. This has the property of absorbing moisture from the air or releasing it into the surrounding air. However, this is always associated with a change in the volume of the gelatine. This has an effect on the flatness of the film, as the film base is only slightly influenced by the absorption or release of water. If the air is too dry, the film therefore bulges inwards, whereas if the air is too humid, it bulges outwards. If the storage instructions given by the film manufacturer are not observed, these phenomena will occur from time to time. As a reminder, I would like to list the most favorable storage conditions once again: relative humidity 50-70 %, air temperature max. 18 °C. You will soon see why this is so important to us.

As a rule, we are dealing with film material that is wound with the layer facing inwards. If the film is wound into the spiral in such a way that the layer is on the outside, the film will position itself perfectly in the spiral. When rewinding, the film is held taut with its back against the spiral winding. When immersed in the treatment solution, it acts immediately on the entire coating side of the film. The film now stretches slightly due to swelling, it no longer lies tightly on the spiral. This is very favorable until the drying process. Most movies behave like this. However, the film can also show a longitudinal curvature with the layer facing outwards. In these cases, there is a risk that the film windings in the spiral will touch at the upper edges. As a result, development errors can extend into the image, and air bubbles can easily become trapped in the film coils, which now have an upward conical shape. The most effective remedy is to wrap the film in the spiral with the layer facing inwards if such a case should ever occur. This is easily possible with 16 mm films and also with 2 x 8 mm films. The layer then lies against the spiral winding. When immersed in the liquid, the film may stick to the spiral wound in some places before the film stretches a little. These areas are then not processed correctly. But that doesn’t matter, these parts don’t appear in the picture area, they remain in the perforation or soundtrack margin. But when it comes to DS-8 film, these errors may extend into the image. So always rewind DS-8 films with the layer on the outside! If the film has an unfavorable twist, as already described, we must quickly immerse the spiral with the film in the treatment solution, raise it slowly again and then quickly immerse it again. This procedure must be repeated two or three times for safety reasons. So we cannot – as usual – place the spiral with the film in the empty can and then fill in the solution. It is easy to determine the misbehavior of the film beforehand. If we unwind about 20 cm of the film we want to develop in subdued light, we can determine its twisting behavior. In principle, the workspace and accommodation of the devices have already been described in a similar way. An example can be seen in Figure 20.

Orwo consumer packs

The chemicals in ready-to-use packs are tested for their intended use, correctly dosed and packaged in such a way that they can be stored for a longer period of time. When using these ready-to-use packs, there are no errors due to unsuitable chemicals, mixing up chemicals or weighing errors. The preparation of the solutions is limited to measuring and tempering water, dissolving the chemical groups and filling them into appropriate containers. No special requirements are placed on the water. Tap water is sufficient. Even water containing limescale is not a problem, as the packs contain limescale inhibitors. If there are unwanted suspended particles in the water, they are filtered out. It can also happen that tap water contains a lot of air. We therefore leave such water to stand for a few hours before using it. We use glass, earthenware or plastic containers for the preparation. We dissolve the individual chemicals in the prescribed order (according to the instructions for use) and wait for the complete solution before adding the next part. Do not shake, just swirl carefully! We also work carefully with the stirring rod to avoid whirling and foaming. The water can be heated to 30 °C to make it easier to dissolve. This work generates chemical dust, so do not work near sensitive equipment, film materials or other solutions! The individual chemical groups are contained in foil packaging in the consumer packs. We must be careful to ensure that they are always completely emptied. The solutions are always prepared at least 12 hours before use. The finished baths are stored in suitable bottles filled to the brim. A small amount of air should be included, as the oxygen in the air impairs the reaction capacity of some solutions. Suitable bottles are not always available. A batch for 600 ml does not have to be stored in a 1 l bottle. This preparation is better stored in a 500 ml bottle. The missing 100 ml of water is added during use. Usage packs are intended for a fixed quantity of solution. The powdered chemical groups must not be divided, as the intended mixing ratio can no longer be guaranteed with separate portions. R 09 is also recommended for the negative development of 16 mm films. This developer is a highly concentrated solution that is diluted with water shortly before use and is intended for single use only.

In the small laboratory, we usually only work with PF 2 material. For this we need N 113 as developer and A 300 as fixing bath. If we are developing 16 mm negative film, R 09 or A 49 is recommended. You can also use other packs, but these are tried and tested and will be available in any photo shop.

We have complete developing sets available for processing color and black-and-white reversal films. As these complete sets are not always available in every specialist photo shop, it is better to contact one of the well-known industrial stores from the outset. As already mentioned, the solutions can also be prepared according to recipes. The required chemicals and their solution instructions are included in the Orwo recipe book. However, it is always advisable to use the packs. The individual chemicals are often not available in stores, or only with great difficulty, and the chemicals available in drugstores and pharmacies are not intended for photographic purposes from the outset and are therefore often unsuitable.

Handling the bathroom solutions requires meticulous cleanliness. Unclean devices (coils, thermometers, vessels, etc.) carry chemical components into the individual baths, which lead to many errors. Get into the habit of cleaning the appliances immediately after use, rinsing is often enough. A few notes on handling chemicals are still important.

  • When diluting conc. Sulphuric acid with water is added to the water while stirring. Never the other way around!
  • Containers and bottles intended for the storage of food and beverages must not be used for chemicals.
  • Some developer substances can cause skin irritation in case of hypersensitivity. So be careful!
  • Keep children away from photographic chemicals of any kind.

Black and white negative development

Black and white negative development is the simplest and also the fastest type of development; it corresponds to the usual development in photography. In the field of cine film technology, it is only common with 16 mm film when a large number of copies need to be made. With 8 mm and Super 8 films, this type of development is only possible if titles were shot with the PF 2 film or if a camera needs to be checked quickly. The exposed film is treated in the developer, creating a negative, i.e. the highlights of the photographed objects appear black, while the shadows appear light. The development is then stopped, i.e. interrupted, and then fixed. The unexposed silver salts are dissolved out of the photographic layer. Now it is time to water, because the fixing bath must be washed out completely, as it could destroy the picture after a long time. The type of developer, time, temperature and movement of the film in the developer in conjunction with the type of film determine the result: gradation, fine grain and, to a certain extent, richness of detail and sharpness. The Orwo constant developer N 113 is suitable for developing the Orwo positive film PF 2. It is available in every photo shop and has the advantage that it is relatively insusceptible to air oxidation. At 20 °C and constant movement, the development time is 3 min. The correct exposure of the film is crucial for a perfect result. Let’s remember that in most cases we use the movie directly for the screening. Therefore, black areas on the film must appear clearly transparent in the original. Conversely, white parts of the original should become deep black on the film. After 3 min of development with constant agitation and a temperature of 20 °C, rinse briefly and then fix in A 300 for at least 5 min. The final soaking is at least 15 minutes in running water. The most common work with PF 2 in conjunction with negative development is title production (original: black lettering on a white background; result in the film: white lettering on a dark background). Cartoons can also be produced in this way. Because every setting can be developed immediately, this method is very safe. Of course, care must be taken to ensure very constant development of the individual settings so that each setting has the same density and therefore the same appearance when projected. This starts with correct exposure when taking the picture and ends with precise time, temperature and movement during development with perfect developer. A camera can also be quickly checked for sharpness and picture quality. It is convenient that the PF 2 film can be processed in red light (darkroom protection filter 107). If you have never worked in the darkroom before, this negative development is best used as an exercise. If we are dealing with halftone originals (e.g. black lettering on a paper negative), it is advisable to dilute the developer with the same amount of water and develop for between 3 and 4 minutes, depending on the desired brilliance.

Let’s take a working example for a 2 m long PF 2 film that we want to develop into a negative. In addition to the rod developer, there is a mustard beaker with 50 ml N 113 (20 °C) and a beaker with A 300 fixative (preferably also around 20 °C) on the table. With the appropriate darkroom light (protective filter 107), the film is unpacked and attached to the rod and developing cup as already described. Now the developer is poured in and the rod is turned so that the film wraps itself around the rod once and then reattaches itself to the cup. So we move the movie 3 min in the developer. Then pour away, rinse and pour in the fixing bath. After 1 minute you can switch on the light; a few minutes later the movie is ready. The 15-minute rinse is best done in the sink with running water. If the film curls a lot, join both ends together with a clip. A subsequent wetting agent bath (F 905) is recommended. It ensures that the water drains away without leaving any residue. This prevents limescale stains. Finally, the film is hung up to dry. Working with the converted development box is similar. The film can only be 1.7 m long. The bath volume is 125 ml, when the film is in the can, work can continue in the light. If we load the film in the dark, we can also do without the darkroom lamp.

If we plan to shoot a 16 mm film on negative, we can also develop it ourselves. N 113 is not suitable for this, the negative would become extremely hard and uncopyable, so we use R 09 or A 49 for low and medium-sensitive films and A 49 for highly sensitive films. R 09 is supplied in a highly concentrated liquid state. For our purposes, a dilution of 1 + 60 is recommended, whereby we develop for 15 minutes at 20 °C with constant moderate agitation. We use fresh developer for every film. This developer is not suitable for highly sensitive film. The graininess would be too coarse. A 49 is definitely better for this movie. We buy a batch for 600 ml and dilute it again with double the amount of water. For high-sensitivity film, the development time is 28 min at 20 °C and constant moderate agitation. This developer is also not kept, but poured away after use. With these long development times, particular care must be taken to ensure that the bath temperature remains constant over the entire development time. If the room temperature deviates significantly from 20 °C, we place the development box in a water bath at 20 °C. It is advisable to cut out everything from the finished 16 mm negative film that will definitely not be used. This saves many meters of raw copy. This is another advantage of self-development.

Orwo positive film PF 2N 11320 °C3 min
(to the negative)A 300
20 °C
min. 3 min
min. 15 min
16 mm negative film low and medium sensitivityR 09 (1 + 60)20 °C15 min
Highly sensitive, low and medium sensitivityA 49 (1 + 2)20 °C>28 min
Rinse briefly after development, thenA 300
20 °Cmin. 5 min
min. 15 min

Black and white reverse development

This type of development is the most common for small-format films. Not only because the film is immediately developed into a positive ready for projection, but also because the result is a brilliant, sharp and fine-grained positive that can never be achieved in a copying process. Of course, in contrast to negative development, this process takes longer. With the commercially available consumer packs and the aforementioned small-format filmer from the Soviet Union, self-development is easy.

Baths are scheduled at least twelve hours before the start of work. The film is wound into the spiral in the dark, placed in the can and sealed. Make sure that the can has a room temperature of approximately 20 °C.

Fig. 7: By converting a developing box (CSSR, for 35 mm and 6 x 9 films), up to 1.7 m of film can also be processed in this box. It is also suitable for reverse development and requires a bath volume of 125 ml.
Figure 8: These three parts are required to convert the box. End plates made of approx. 2 mm thick plastic or better Piacryl, outer diameter 93 mm, inner diameter 27 mm. We need one piece of thin 30 mm vinidur tube, 50 mm long, and one piece, 9 mm long. Saw 5 mm out of the short piece and heat it to a diameter of 25 mm. This ring is also used to attach the film.
Figure 9: The split 9 mm ring holds the film to the core.
Fig. 10: Once the perforated plate is in place, the film can be rewound.
Figure 11: Workstation with rod developer for black and white negative development up to a film length of 2 m
Figure 12: Workstation with converted developing box for reversal development in black and white up to a film length of 1.7 m
Figure 13: The large Soviet developing can with spiral insert for 2 x 15 m 16 mm films or 1 x 8 mm films
Fig. 14: The film is placed in the lower spiral at an angle and held on the inside of the core with the help of a rod. The film is slowly pulled out until the end of the film jumps into the spiral.
Figure 15: In the upper spiral, a finger can hold the film on the core.
Figure 16: The hand brakes the film and gives it an inclined position, upper film edge outwards.
  1. Rewinding a DS 8 film
  2. Rewinding a 16 mm film
Figure 17: The end of the spiral is felt with the finger.
Fig. 18: Shortly before the end of the spiral, the film is cut off and the upper corner is folded inwards.
Figures 19a and b. For the second exposure, the spiral is in the water in a white plastic bowl. The front and back are thus exposed to light.
Figure 20: Workstation for reverse development with the large development box
Fig. 22: Orwo service packs that we need in our cine film laboratory
Figure 23: The reverse development set A 4105 for black and white, from which all five required baths can be produced

If this is not the case, it is advisable to place the whole tin in a tempered water bath. The first developer at a temperature of 20 °C is poured into the can. Place it firmly on the table again to release any air bubbles. 6½ min the development takes place with constant movement by turning the spiral clockwise. The time is difficult to estimate. A clock – preferably a short-time alarm clock – provides the necessary security. This initial development determines the quality of the film strip. Overexposures are developed a little shorter, underexposures a little longer. This process first produces a strong negative, which, like any other photographic image, consists of metallic silver grains. An important criterion for the quality of the reversal image is the max. Blackening (density) with which the practical sensitivity is also coupled. This is why this first developer cannot be compared with others in terms of its effect. Special additives ensure optimum utilization of the sensitivity and the formation of clear lights. This means that the finished strip still shows good highlights even with low underexposure, and with overexposure it still appears sufficiently brilliant. Beware, however, of seeing this as a panacea against generous exposure. Only a well-exposed reversal film will ultimately satisfy with uniform brilliance and density.

At the end of the development time, we let the developer run back into the bottle through a tube. The can must be tilted towards the rubber hose so that the can empties completely. We attach the hose to the tap for watering. The water turns the spiral clockwise and leaves the can through the upper funnel-shaped opening. This ensures that the film is rinsed properly and the first developer is removed. That is very important. The water should run vigorously for 4 minutes. This is followed by a 2-minute inversion bath. Avoid touching the bath with your fingers, as some skin types are sensitive to this. All silver bromide reduced to metallic silver in the first developer is converted into a soluble compound in this bath. We can observe this process for a short time in green light (dark chamber protection filter 108). The film must also be moved well in this bath; then it is soaked for 2 minutes. After pouring in the clarifying bath, light can already be made. During this process, as the name of the bath suggests, the highlights become clear and transparent, as do the beginning and end of the film. Incidentally, this is one of the best controls for flawless work.

The clarification process takes 2 minutes. After a further 2 minutes of soaking, the second exposure follows. To do this, place the spiral insert in a white plastic bowl filled with water, above which a 100 W lamp is positioned at a height of around 50 cm. We expose each spiral side for 2 minutes while moving. If the exposure time is significantly exceeded, the brightest parts of the image (highlights) may appear yellow. Intensive exposure to daylight also leads to this phenomenon. In the second exposure, any silver bromide still present is exposed through so that it can be reduced to silver in the second development.

This development takes 2 minutes and you can clearly see how all the silver blackens. After a short unwinding process, the film is immersed in an acidic fixing bath. Actually, there should be nothing left to fix. However, there are residual salts in the deeper emulsion layer that still need to be fixed. 10 minutes of running water completes this process. More information on drying the film will follow later. It is also possible to develop the Orwo positive film PF 2 like a reversal film. Titles, cartoons or repros shot on PF 2 film can be processed up to a length of 1.7 m in the converted developing box. Test developments can also be carried out in this way. In our rod development facility, reverse development would be very laborious and is not recommended. If you want to reverse develop line originals shot on PF 2 film, it is not even necessary to buy a reversal developing kit for black and white. Orwo constant developer N 113 (20 °C, 5 min) is also sufficient as a first developer in this case. The reversal bath consists of 10 g potassium dichromate and 15 ml sulfuric acid per 1 liter of water. The clarifying bath consists of 90 g sodium sulphite. You can get these chemicals at any good drugstore. We also use N 113 as a second developer and A 300 as a fixing bath. This method is only suitable for line shots, as it results in hard positives. The A 4105 packs on the market are for 600 ml. However, the next larger pack is intended for 35 liters. That is far too much for our purposes. To reverse develop a double-eight film, use 2 sets of 600 ml. 1 l is used, the remaining 200 ml can be added during the next development. In these 1.2 liters, 5 double-eight films can be developed if the solutions are stored in highly filled bottles for no longer than 4 weeks. It is also possible to dilute 600 ml to 1 l and work with other times of regulation 4105 (see table below). The shelf life of these baths is somewhat shorter than when undiluted. Two double-eight films can certainly be developed one after the other. If we are dealing with a 30 m long 16 mm film, we need 1.8 l, i.e. three packs. Three films can be developed in it, provided that the solutions are stored in full bottles for no longer than 4 weeks. But here, too, it is possible to dilute a batch for 600 ml to 1.8 l and take twice the processing time at 20 °C as specified in the instructions. These baths are poured away after a single use. When the prescribed baths are diluted so much and the temperature is also changed, the blackening changes somewhat compared to the prescribed procedure. However, the resulting differences are not so strong that they are disturbing.

Orwo regulation 4105
Bath temperature 20 °C
First and second developer ± ¼ °C
Other baths ± 1 °C
If the water temperature is below 12 °C, the watering times must be extended.
Initial development (A 829)1, 26-7 min
9-10 min3
Watering24 min running tap water
Reverse (A 833)1, 22 min
4 min3
Watering2 min running tap water
Clarify (A 835)12 min
4 min3
Watering2 min running tap water
Second exposure
each spiral side
2 min 100 W ½ m
Second development (A 842)12 min
4 min3
Watering1 min running tap water
Fixing (A 851)12 min
4 min3
Watering6 min running tap water
Wetting F 905 (1 + 200)½ min

1 This information corresponds to the Orwo recipe number.
2 Process in darkness
3 if preparation for 600 ml is diluted to 1000 ml

Color reversal development

This work process is actually no more difficult than reverse development in black and white. The accuracy in time, temperature and movement, which in black and white mainly refers to the first development, must be meticulously related to the first development and the color development in color reversal development. The color image is only created at the end of a two-stage development. The initial development first produces a black and white negative in the layers whose color sensitivity matches the colors of the original. For example, red is only developed into a silver image in the lower, blue-green layer. White immediately leads to blackening of all layers; black brings no change.

The initial development is very short and intensive. The process takes place at a relatively high temperature. The specified 25 °C and prescribed movements and development time must be taken very seriously. It is not easy for can development to maintain the temperature so precisely. The tin is best placed in a temperature-controlled water bath or the working area already has a temperature of 25 °C. Deviations in temperature and neglect of the prescribed movement cannot be compensated for in the first and color developer by changes in time. These errors are noticeable through color casts. A short rinse is followed by a stop bath. This immediately interrupts the initial development. This process was different with the Orwocolor reversal film known a few years ago. The initial development was carried out slowly and then watered very long and thoroughly. With our current Orwochrom reversal films, the stop bath is followed by a short soak, after which work can continue in the light. Now comes the second exposure. It is understandable that this has to be done very intensively, because all three layers should be safely exposed. The black silver still present from the initial development makes this more difficult. The second exposure must be carried out very carefully from both sides. As with black and white, the spiral is placed in a white plastic bowl filled with water and exposed to light from both sides. With a 500 W photographic lamp, the top and bottom of the spiral are exposed to the light for 3 minutes each at a distance of ½ m. In the subsequent color development, any silver bromide still present is reduced to metallic silver. The corresponding dyes are formed at the same time. As with initial development, time, temperature and movement must be taken very seriously during color development. This is followed by thorough soaking, as the color developer must be removed from all three layers. The subsequent bleaching bath converts all silver from the initial and color development into soluble silver compounds. After a short period of soaking, fixation takes place and all silver compounds are dissolved out. All that remains is the dye, which now becomes visible. Let’s think of our first example: with white, all three layers were exposed and therefore reduced to black silver during the initial development. Nothing more could happen during the second exposure and color development, therefore no color. Bleaching and fixing caused the black silver produced in the first developer to disappear in all three layers, making it crystal clear. In the case of red, only the blue-green layer was exposed, so it disappeared after the film was finished. The yellow and purple layers could be second-exposed and therefore also color-developed. After finishing, yellow and purple, i.e. red, remained. You can think through this process for each color using the illustration.

Work instruction: Orwo instruction 9165
Bath temperature: 25 °C
First developer / color developer: ± ¼ °C
Other baths: + ¼ °C, – 5 °C

Initial development (C 07)1, 26 min
Rinse21 min
Stop bath (C 37)1, 22 min
Watering25 min
Second exposure
each spiral side
3 min 500 W ½ m
Color development (C 17)112 min
Watering20 min
Bleaching (C 57)15-10 min
Watering5 min
Fixing (C 71)15 min
Watering15 min

1 This information corresponds to the Orwo recipe number.
2 Process in darkness

Color negative development

Color negative film is only available in 16 mm format, as copies of 8 mm color negatives would not be satisfactory in terms of quality. The negative-positive process should only be used if it is known at the film planning stage that a large number of color prints will be required. In addition to the considerably higher costs, a color print requires much more effort to obtain a film that is comparable to the quality of a color reversal film. This makes things even more expensive. It is therefore only suitable for larger studios and institutes. As a rule, the copying plant develops the negatives and immediately makes cut copies. This is not only costly, but also takes a lot of time. If you have already developed 16 mm film in the processing box many times, you can dare to develop 16 mm color negative film yourself. This is much quicker, and you also have the advantage of being able to view the film straight away and compile only the shots that come into question into a reel. In this way, little material is sent to the copying plant to make a cut copy.

During color negative development, the exposed areas in the three layers are reduced to metallic silver. In the same ratio, oxidation products are formed from the developer, which react with the components and form colorants. Green, for example, is reproduced by purple in the green-sensitive middle layer. With black, all layers remain unexposed and therefore without dye, whereas white stimulates all three layers to form dye. The negative therefore not only shows reversed brightnesses, but also complementary colors. This is followed by intensive watering. This watering must be taken very seriously. The film soaks very well in the can because the spiral is set in rotation by the water flow. Nevertheless, it is advisable to switch off the light about three times during watering and to remove the can lid in order to move the spiral up and down. The color developer must be washed out of all three layers and over the entire surface. If this is not the case, the resulting so-called color mask can become streaky and streaky. The subsequent bleaching bath converts the silver into a soluble silver compound, which also creates the color mask.

Lights may already be switched on during this process. Fixing follows after a short soaking. All silver compounds disappear, leaving only the dye and the color mask. Masking makes the colors purer and brighter after the copying process. When properly developed, the color mask should have a yellow-orange appearance (hold against white paper). If the color of the mask tends towards purple, the soaking was not intensive enough after the color development.

Orwo regulation 51661
Bath temperature 20 °C
Color developer ± ¼ °C
Other baths ± 1 °C

Color development (C 15)2, 37-8 min
Watering (intensive)315 min
Bleaching (C 55)2, 35 min
Watering5 min
Fixing (C 71)25 min
Watering15 min

1 This ORWO instruction 5166 is intended for processing the NC 19 Mask photographic film. There is no development kit for the NC 3 movie. In the processing instructions for this film, the baths are prepared according to the ORWO recipe. However, it is possible in principle to process the NC 3 in accordance with the regulation for NC 19 Mask. However, it is recommended to set the color development to 5 to 6 minutes instead of 7 to 8 minutes.
2 This information corresponds to the Orwo recipe number.
3 Process in darkness

Drying the film

After thorough rinsing of the film in the spiral, both are placed in a wetting agent bath F 905 1 + 200. The film is bathed in the spiral for ½ to 1 minute. The film dries fastest and most evenly when it is removed from the spiral. In a dust-free room, we hang it up in large loops or place it (with the blank side) on a reel. Dust-free space is easy to say, but not to be found everywhere. In an apartment, this could be the kitchen or the bathroom. Under no circumstances is the living room and bedroom dust-free! But often it is also a cold laundry room or cellar. Drying naturally takes longer there than in warm rooms. You have to choose the most favorable room. If the film dries very slowly, a hot air shower can be used to help. However, care must be taken to avoid blowing additional dust onto the coating. In addition, air that is too hot can cause the coating to melt. Under no circumstances should quick-drying baths be used (potash, methanol or spirit). This type of quick drying causes the film to shrink more or less and can cause difficulties when showing it. Drying for too long and at too high a temperature can also affect the flatness of the film to such an extent that projection problems occur. The film may dry in an hour in a warm bathroom. In a cold or damp laundry room, it can take well over ten hours, and even then you still have to help it along with an air shower. A film usually dries cleaner here than in a warm room. If you decide to dry the film outside the spiral, it is important to know that the wet gelatine layer, which is still not very resistant to mechanical influences, can be damaged very easily. So be careful! The film can be dried in the spiral if it is positioned correctly in the spiral and the individual film windings do not touch each other. We place the spiral at a sufficient distance from a moderately warm tiled stove. The warm air passes through the spiral and dries the film. Hobbyists can also build a kind of wind tunnel. In it, the spiral turns like a top driven by a propeller. A vacuum cleaner circulates the air and a weak heating coil provides the heat. Always heat with extreme caution, not only because of the film layer, but also because the spiral can easily warp due to strong heat. Even the slightest deformation renders them unusable!

When unwinding the film from the spiral, regardless of whether it is dry or wet, the spiral must be slowed down slightly so that the film always runs taut. Hold it so that the upper edge of the film turns outwards. Otherwise, tears may occur from the outer edge of the film to the perforation – mainly with double super-eight film. Our double-eight films are now being split so that they are ready for screening.

Our dealers offer a Soviet film separator for this work. It contains movable round cutting surfaces that cut the film precisely and cleanly. The beginning of the film is cut and straightened, then the film is slowly threaded through the device until the split film can be touched. The direction in which the film is pulled through the device is indicated by an arrow. This arrow must also point exactly in the direction of pull, as scratches can occur on the film if the device tilts. Here, too, it is advisable to try using reject film first. A film separator is supplied with the quartz zoom DS 8, but this is not as good and safe to use as the film separator offered separately by retailers.

Small-format film post-treatments

If a film strip or some scenes have poor technical quality, the quality can sometimes be improved by post-processing. Post-processing can sometimes be used to give a shot more impact or to adjust the brightness of one scene to another. Our 8 and Super 8 films are then already 8 mm wide strips. This format is more difficult to edit than unseparated film. The three options for processing cine film described here can also be used for processing 8 mm film ready for projection. Amplification is an option if the film (reversal film) has been overexposed. It is too bright, shows hardly any black and the highlights have no pattern. There is the option of making the little existing pattern more pronounced. But where there is nothing, even an amplifier can’t conjure up anything. The possibility of completely spoiling the film during amplification is very high. That’s why I generally don’t recommend an amplifier. If the scenes are valuable and cannot be repeated, you can try to work with less light in the projector during the screening. Bright scenes within a normally exposed film can also be colored slightly gray. Although they also appear somewhat gray on the screen, they are not as distracting as if they appear too bright. Attenuation is an option if the film has been underexposed. It is very dark after developing and has no highlights. If the basic blackness of the film is generally good, toning down often leads to improvement. There are several options and recipes for this. The simplest and yet most effective option is as follows: After repeated soaking (10 min), the film is immersed in a 0.2 percent potassium permanganate solution. It is moved in it for 2 to 4 minutes. This is followed by soaking until the red coloration disappears, then fixation in a fresh acidic fixing bath. Only now can the effect of the attenuator be properly assessed. In this way, the brightness value of some dark settings can also be adapted to the good scenes. In any case, it is advisable to try using reject film. The procedure is such that only a part of a reject scene is attenuated. We note the exposure time in the attenuator, and after fixing we compare this film with the untreated scene residue. This allows the degree of attenuation to be determined perfectly. Now we can judge whether the bathing time in the attenuator needs to be extended or shortened. Another sample may need to be made before the valuable film is processed. If the degree of attenuation is too low, the attenuation can be repeated after rinsing. If too much is attenuated, the film is spoiled, so it is better to take one more sample! If the film does not show a good basic blackness and also no highlights, it is too dark but still gray in gray, attenuation is not recommended. It is then only justifiable if it concerns a few shots that interfere with an otherwise brilliant movie. They become lighter, but remain gray. If it is a whole movie, only a reverse copy can bring improvement. If the film strip is yellowish in the highlights, the described type of attenuation will also help.

A weak attenuation process is referred to as “clearing” the film. This also applies if titles produced using the reverse process do not “light up” on the screen. This attenuator is not suitable for securities that have developed negatively. In this case, the well-known Farmer’s attenuator is recommended. If overexposure is known before development, initial development can be shortened by 20%. In the case of underexposure, we extend the initial development by 30 %. This allows a fourfold underexposure at UP 27 to be compensated for perfectly, provided the brightness range of the subject is not too great. This method leads to better results than subsequent attenuation. Toning the film can come into question if, for example, a black-and-white frame story is intended for a color film and it should not stand out too starkly. A neutral, warm shade of brown is ideal for this. This toning is simple. The well-watered-out film is treated in a bleaching bath until all the black silver has been converted into yellowish silver bromide. Rinse until the wash water no longer appears yellow, then tone until the desired shade of brown is achieved. Drying takes place after soaking.

There are even more ways to convert the black picture silver into a colored one. However, the chemicals required are not always easy to obtain. That is why I have only described the brown tone. These toning processes produce dye instead of the black silver image, but the highlights remain white. When coloring the film, the film layer is colored, the black image silver remains, color is applied over everything. The color is purest in the highlights, more or less blackened in the mid-tones and no color is visible in the shadows. This is easy to do with the well-known Keilitz photo inks. Depending on the length of the film, we use the developing equipment. The film is first soaked briefly, then placed in a highly diluted color bath and moved until the desired color density is achieved. A wetting agent bath is also used here before drying. If the coloration has become too strong, the dye can be washed out again to a certain extent. This is a great way to create titles for color films, for example. Or another example: If we have a cold-looking shot with a blue cast in a color film with warm tones, it is possible to color this shot yellow so that it fits better into the strip. Or if there are very bright overexposed shots in a black and white film, they can simply be colored gray. Then they adapt – at least in terms of brightness – to the other scenes.

The ink bath in which the title is bathed must be highly diluted. If the bath is too concentrated, the film may be blotchy after processing.

And now the prescriptions for the follow-up treatment.

Attenuator for reverse-developed films:

Potassium permanganate 2 g per liter2-4 min
Fresh acidic fixing bath2 min

Farmer’s attenuator for negatively developed films:

Solution A Potassium cyanoferrate (III)25 g per liter
Solution B Sodium thiosulfate50 g per liter

For use, A and B are mixed in a ratio of 1 + 4. Treatment continues until the desired degree of attenuation is achieved. The working solution is only stable for a short time (approx. 30 min).

This attenuator is also available as an Orwo service pack with the designation A 700.

Bleach bath for brown toning:

Potassium cyanoferrate (III)20 g
Potassium bromide24 g
Water on1 l

Clay bath:

Sodium sulfite5 g
Water1 l

The film is treated in the bleach bath until all the black silver has disappeared. After 5 minutes of soaking, the clay is toned in the clay bath for 2 minutes. This is followed by thorough soaking.

Processing errors in black and white reverse development

We know the work instructions and also the possible utilization of the individual baths. Actually, there should be no processing errors. If unforeseen mishaps occur, the effects of which we only notice on the finished film strip, we naturally want to know how this happened. The descriptions of the individual work processes provide sufficient knowledge to enable us to recognize errors ourselves. In this context, it is also important to know whether individual baths can be replaced quickly. Reverse baths and clarification baths can be replaced quickly, as there are hardly any obstacles to obtaining the chemicals. They are also available in small quantities in most drugstores. The reversal bath consists of 10 g potassium dichromate and 15 ml concentrated sulphuric acid per liter, for the clarifying bath we need 90 g sodium sulphite per liter. N 113 is also suitable as a second developer and A 300 as a fixing bath, both of which are available in any photo shop.

If there is no certainty about the quality of the baths, we can carry out checks during processing. A piece of film is cut off in the dark shortly before the end of the first development. 1 cm from the beginning or end is sufficient. This must look completely black because it is fully exposed. With each watering you have to make sure that the water runs strongly enough and sets the spiral in rotation. In the reverse bath you can see whether all the black disappears. The beginning and the end of the movie must be clear. You can also clearly see how the layer turns whitish-yellow in the clarification bath. In the second developer, you look at the back of the film to determine whether the developer is still working hard enough and whether the second exposure was sufficient. After fixing, the film must have lost all haze. If a test is negative, we always use a new, fresh bath. This also applies to cases of doubt.

Processing errors during color reversal development

If the processing instructions are not followed correctly, there will of course be errors. The carry-over of baths among each other also often leads to puzzling error results. None of this should actually happen. It would be practically impossible to demonstrate all errors, possibly to create them artificially first and then analyze the causes. The prerequisite for success is always clean and conscientious work. If time, temperature and movement are not correct during initial development, the gradation and density of the three individual layers must be different. The ratio of the development time from the first to the last layer in the emulsion is no longer correct. The result is that one color predominates or appears weaker: the color densities no longer match, there is a color cast. If development is too warm or too long, the basic blackness also decreases, resulting in low-contrast and bright image reproduction. If development is too short or too cold, the image reproduction will be too dark and have a blue cast. If the second exposure is insufficient, the color developer cannot work properly. Pale, color-cast images are the result, and the basic blackness is also inadequate. These errors also occur if the color developer has been applied too briefly or cold.

Since it is rarely possible to create the conditions in an amateur laboratory that are required by the film manufacturer for optimum processing of Orwochrom small-format films, you should leave these materials to the developer.

Processing errors in color negative development

Here, too, it must be assumed that no errors can actually occur if cleanliness and conscientiousness are exercised in the work. Time and temperature differences during developing have an effect on the gradation. Within certain limits, an abnormal brightness contrast of the subject can be compensated. Reproductions that show relatively little contrast, for example, can be developed a little longer if necessary, while backlit shots with extreme contrasts between highlights and shadows can be developed shorter. Understandably, no development institution will engage in such measures; such procedures are only possible in self-development. On the other hand, it requires a lot of experience, and something can quickly become completely spoiled. Even for the expert, it is difficult to recognize undesirable developments in the colour negative. Slight errors can still be corrected during the copying process under certain circumstances, but major blunders sometimes result in the notorious color tipping: A blue-green cast in the shadows. Red cast in the lights. No improvement is possible. It is easy to recognize an aberration in the color of the mask. If it appears uneven, streaky or purple, then the watering was insufficient. In general, watering is a very important step in color development anyway.


Successful, self-developed films are twice as much fun. This joy should also last for decades. However, films must not be discarded per se, but must be cared for. Preservation is important, as they become more irretrievable from year to year and thus increase in personal value. Films are stored in cans and in cool rooms. The bedroom is definitely more suitable than the living room. If the temperature differences are too great, the films should be adjusted to the temperature of the screening room for a few hours before screening. A lot has already been done for the care of our films if they are not rewound at a fast pace after the screening. This should be done calmly and slowly by hand over the next few days, if necessary. The films can run through a soft leather or linen flap. For black and white films, the linen flap can be soaked with carbon tetrachloride. At the same time, we check the adhesive joints and renew them if necessary. Braising points and perforation damage are cut out at the same time. If we proceed carefully, we can be sure that the next screening evening will go off without a hitch and that everyone involved will enjoy our films!