Given this, the thought of processing my own film had never quite appealed to me. That was until I began to look at what professional developing was costing me. Despite being a quirky guy with a camera, I'm also a frugal guy with a family, and thus, I began to develop my own black and white film, which proved to be a particularly simple enough exercise once I adapted my methods to something that works pretty readily around my sometimes involved home life. I'd figured that self-processing of black and white film would be as far as I'd venture, and that was fine, given that I'd expected color to be far less forgiving to my methods.
And then, as luck would have it, this all changed.
While perusing the Film Photography Project store, I stumbled upon an offer so good, I simply couldn't resist considering it. For the measly sum of $19.99, I could get a Unicolor type color processing kit, in addition to 2 rolls of Vision 50T film. I had just been considering picking up a couple of rolls of the film as it was, but it seemed the Rem Jet backing made it a tough film for which to find processing. Not only would this address the need to find processing for such film, but it also tossed in the film I would have bought anyway as a bonus!
After a modest amount of online investigation into home processing with such a kit, in which pretty much every review stated that color processing with this kit was actually far easier than initially expected, and also reading that the stated yield of "8 rolls" from this kit had a great deal of elasticity if rolls were processed within two weeks of mixing, I figured that this small investment was certainly worth a try. And I also figured that if I planned out my batches smartly. I could do as others had testified, and process at least 16 rolls of film from this 8 roll kit.
Without going into great detail of the process (there are already many resources that very capably detail the procedure far better than I could), I can unquestionably say that this was one of the best investments I've ever made. Processing the first batch was both exciting and terrifying, but once I saw results from this, I managed to calm down to make slight revisions on future batches to make the process a bit more controlled and predictable.
The ability to process so much color film so cheaply will enable me to really pick up the pace on postings, and has already enabled me to do things that I'd have been hesitant to do otherwise. I've managed to test several "new" cameras, do a wider variety of things with many of my existing favorite cameras, try different film brands in a variety of ways, and of course do a quirky thing or two that I'd have likely passed up otherwise if it wasn't so affordable and accessible to process color film. You'll begin to see some of the results of this vast experiment in the coming week.
And in the meantime, it is only fitting that I provide some sample images from each roll so that you can see just a small fraction of what is to come! For now, I'm keeping the film and camera of each a thinly veiled secret until I post the accompanying posts of content.
Twelve days after I processed my first rolls in batch #1, I processed the last two rolls in the eighth and final batch. At a cost of 95 cents per roll, I have no hesitations about doing this again in the Fall, though I don't expect to attempt quite the output that I did in this experiment. This was only really possible by a significant amount of planning. All told, I used 28 different cameras in this crazy volley of film rolls, and in the process, I admittedly didn't have quite the time to always enjoy what I was doing. I certainly want the next batch to be a more enjoyable experience.
My main improvement I hope to achieve on the next batch involves one of the more minor aspects of the process: the stabilizer solution used at the end of the process. Despite being fully mixed, this solution tended to re-crystallize upon drying and leaving spots. This was more a problem on 35mm stock than with larger roll film stock. I have read of others having the same issue, and read there is a product to assist with this.
Still, I've overcome the color film barrier in a major way, and can now shoot far more freely - with only my E-6 films costing me much at all to develop. Had I sent all these rolls of film out, they would have cost more than $200 to develop. As it is, they cost merely a fraction of that to do at home.
Color - Color me satisfied!