Here are some things I have learnt the hard way or found online and was baffled I didn't previously know:
- You need a good thermometer. You might think you have a great one, but buy another one and check that they show the same temperature. I had TREE thermometers that showed all different values, and not by a small amount either. The most professional looking one was always about +5C over. It doesn't matter that much in b/w development but in C41 you gotta have accurate temperature control. I ended up buying an expensive digital one, don't regret it at all.. I recommend everybody to do this too.
- You have to develop at 38C +/- 0.3C. That is very difficult. If you pour your 38C developer liquid into a room temperature tank, you will get an about 2C drop in temperature, in the first seconds. Then during the development, you will probably drop another 2C without a water bath. I recommend starting at 38,3C and then have a water bath that is around 40C to dunk the tank in between inversions.
- Bleach loves oxygen, fixer hates it. And you probably have a 3 bath version with a developer, blix and stab. What I did was to put protectan into my bottles hoping to increase the already pretty short shelf-life. But what I did was to kill the bleach quickly. However, do this before every development, shake the bottle like a madman for as long as you can. This gives the bleach some new energy.
- You can't blix for too long. If you're doing development with a tank and doing inversions by hand, give it a couple of minutes extra. You can redo the blix+stab part again, but trust me, it is a pain in the ass. So don't be in a hurry, give it some extra time. And while the blix is not as temperature sensitive, don't rush it and make sure it is at temperature. The lower the temperature, the longer you need to blix the film.
- Be quick pouring out the dev and have proper temperature water ready to go into the tank. Things go quickly at this temperature, and the development will keep on going even after you pour it out. You probably will have developer left as droplets, and you need to quickly shove in water to dilute it, and then change the water to stop it properly. Then quickly get the blix in. After this is done, you can relax a bit.
- Don't shake the stab, pour it in carefully, don't make it foam. This causes nasty drying marks on the film. Most instructions tell you to do the stab phase externally, which means to take the film off the rolls and stab in another container. I don't do this, since from what I gathered this was due to previous versions of stab chemicals had something that made plastic go brittle and made the film holders stiff to turn. But nowadays it is not a problem. I haven't had any problem anyhow.
Do you have any more tips? Would love to hear your comments!