How to Develop Old Kodak Film

By Richard May ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • Film spiral
  • Developing tank
  • Thermometer
  • Scissors
  • Deep plastic bowl
  • Color film developer
  • Film bleach
  • Film fixer
  • Film stabilizer
  • 5 Measuring jugs
  • Film squeegee
  • Timer
Old film comes in reels.

Modern digital cameras process images without the use of film, making them instantly available for viewing. Old film made by companies like Kodak required developing, either by a professional laboratory or by using film-developing chemicals at home. Many color films, including Kodak’s “Kodacolor II” and “Kodacolor 400,” use a standardized developing process known as C41. If you have an old roll of Kodak film at home, try developing it yourself following the C41 process.

Open the film roll at the bottom with the bottle opener and, holding the film by its edges, pull the film reel from the case. This step must be done in complete darkness to avoid fogging (overexposing) the film.

Insert the end of the film into the film spiral, pushing it past the ball bearing locators. Hold the spiral in both hands and rotate the right hand side forwards and backwards to wind the film onto the spiral.

Load the spiral into the developing tank, sliding the center hole over the tube in the middle of the tank, and screw the lid on. It is now safe to turn on the light.

Pour developer, bleach, fixer and stabilizing chemicals into separate measuring jugs. Use enough of each chemical to fill the developing tank.

Fill the bowl with hot water at 110 degrees Fahrenheit and place the developing tank and the measuring jugs in the hot water for a few minutes. Check the temperature of the chemicals, rinsing the thermometer before inserting into each one. When the chemicals have reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit, they are ready for use.

Remove the stopper from the developing tank’s lid and pour in the developer and replace the stopper. Start the timer, agitate the tank then replace it in the water. For Kodacolor II and Kodacolor 400 film, leave in the developing solution for 3 1/4 minutes.

Drain the tank and add the bleach. Agitate the tank and replace in the water for 6 1/2 minutes. Agitate the tank again after 3 minutes.

Drain the bleach and fill a clean measuring jug with hot water at 110 degrees Farenheit. Pour the hot water into the tank, place again in the bowl and leave for 3 1/4 minutes.

Empty the tank and fill with the fixing chemical, agitate and place in the bowl of water. Leave for 6 1/2 minutes, agitating half way through; then drain and add hot water, leaving to stand for 3 1/4 minutes before draining.

Pour the stabilizing chemical into the tank and place in the hot water for 1 1/2 minutes before draining.

Open the processing tank and remove the film spiral and pull out the film, holding it at the edges. Run the film through the squeegee to remove excess liquid and hang to dry for 20 minutes.

Tip

Old film should be stored in a refrigerator to preserve it.

Warning

Film-developing chemicals are hazardous and should be disposed of carefully.

About the Author

Richard May provides niche Web content for various clients via online forum sites and other outlets. He has technical writing experience, having written training manuals for bespoke and commercial software applications, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.