The fiasco

It was either back in summer 2017 or perhaps 2018, when I developed around 25-30 color negative films at much lower temperatures than the recommended 37.8°C. for 3 min 15 sec developing time.

I did compensate the colder temperatures with much longer developing times, as I went down to 25°C. My thinking was to develop the films in the Heiland TAZ processor, my "developing shaker assistant", instead of manual shaking the film tanks.


Skinny and thinny

But what happened was that the negatives came out rather thin. Well actually, in hindsight, another factor came in on top - and that was the that my Mamiya 6 is tending towards underexposure - leading even further, to very, thin negatives.

Nowadays when I use the Mamiya 6 with an ISO 400 film, I out the ISO to 125, in order to get properly exposed films !

Luckily, many of those blotched films, I can still salvage in post processing. Which I didn't think was possible. Not perfectly - but OK looking (such as the images above with Sal and Leo at the beach in Catania, 2018)

Nevertheless, post processing these thin color negatives in Photoshop takes a lot more time to get it all right.


I was so disappointed about myself

Yet, I remember my great disappointment - wondering, why on earth was I so stupid to run though all 30 color films, without even checking first ?!! I could have developed a few... first.

The first ones did seem to be OK I remember. But even there, I fooled myself. The fact is this: wet color films look denser, compared to when they are dry. Also: all later processed films in the chemicals, did turn out a bit thinner than the first, even though I did further prolonging of the developing times.

When the wet films are hung up in the bathroom, they tend to look darker, the way they are hung up there. Once they are placed on a light board... that's when it realized how thin they really turned out.

But at that time, it was too late.


For me; no more C-41 cold process

In all, I do not recommend to develop C-41 Color negative films at too low temperatures.

To me, 25°C is a no go. Even 30°C is not something I ever would do.

I mainly put myself around 34-35°C, simply because I get more evenly developed negatives, due to the prolonged developing time of 4 to 5.5 min, dependent how many films you already developed in the same batch of chemistry.


Standard Kodak C-41 process

Below you see the corresponding diagram for developing Color negative films in C-41 (1.25 liter), at various temperatures.

The original developing time for C-41 Color film is 3 min 15 sec at 37.8°C.

That's the golden standard for C-41 set by Kodak back in the days. Every C-41 process made by other companies, must follow this standardized process.

I personally find that to be dangerously short developing time. We always learned that when you for develop black & white film, never go below 5 minutes, because of the risk of getting unevenly developed film negatives. So, how does that work with the short time of only 3' 15" with color films (in a Paterson film tank) ?!

That's why I already back in the early 90s decided I would settle for 34°C, with the corresponding prolonged developing time, between 4 min 55 sec in the first batch of films (1-4 films). And I could still encounter uneven developed negatives occasionally in my Paterson film tanks, I remember. Kind of "pouring liquid" marks, across the medium format films, from one side to the others, showing denser "runny" marks. So, what I try to do, is to pour in the warm developer as careful as I can, while also using a developing time around 5 minutes with the corresponding temperature (see chart)

Albeit, I never pre-wet films with water. That was never ever done with C-41 color films ! There has been a lot of discussions about that, in photography forums. Some swear on it, others do not. In theory, pre-wetting should gives more even results when using Paterson tanks... but to be honest, I don't know if pre-wetting really is such a good idea. For example, you would always transfer a little bit of water into the developer, making it more diluted.

I personally never pre-wet. Instead I fill the developer up with a tiny amount of fresh developer as the volume decreases after each batch process.


The Beach Photos 2018

So, as you can see from the photos in the beginning - they are not picture perfect in terms of colors - but I tell myself, it's better than nothing at all. I am happy that I still was able to somewhat color correct them into looking OK-ish.

16 May 2022 • spell checked & corrected.

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