Kodak originally developed 127 film for use in Brownie cameras in the early 20th century, and it remains one of the few old film formats still in use today. Sized similarly to modern 35mm film at 46mm wide, the film is used in a host of older cameras, including the Rolleli 4x4 and the Baby Yashica, and is shot in a variety of aspect ratios, including 4x4, 4x4.5, 4x6, and 4x3.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Exposed roll of 127 film
- Paterson film tank and reels
- B&W film developer
- B&W film stop bath
- B&W film fixer
- B&W film hypo-clear
- Film dryer
- Completely dark room
- Protective film pages
- Four graduates or beakers with at least a 680gr. capacity
Unwind the film from the spool in a completely dark room. Begin by pulling off the paper backing, and then cut the film off of the spindle to which it is attached and unroll it completely.
Adjust your Paterson reels to the 127 setting, which should be the notch in the middle. To do this, rotate one side of the reel, pull it up, and then rotate it in the opposite direction to lock it into the notch.
Load the film onto the reels by finding the tabs on the inside of the plastic reels and sliding it under them. Then, turn the right side of the reel back and forth to wind the film onto the reel. This process takes a lot of practice and is initially frustrating, but you will improve over time. If you can, practice in the light with an old roll of film.
Put the reel back into the tank. The canister will only hold one reel at a time. Close the lid tightly, and leave the dark room.
Create a working solution from the stop bath, fixer and hypo-clear by mixing the concentrated chemicals with water, following the instructions on the packaging carefully. A working solution is a solution of chemicals that has been diluted for use in developing film. Do not prepare the developer yet. Different brands require different processes to create a working solution, so follow the instructions on the packaging to the letter, measuring and mixing carefully.
Measure out 20 fluid oz. of the stop bath, fixer, and hypo-clear into your beakers and set them aside. Do not yet mix the developer.
Create a working solution from the developer by following the instructions on the packaging, which has not yet been prepared. The reason for this is that the temperature of the developer must be held at a specific temperature, so it should be prepared as close to the time of usage as possible. The solution will have to be at 20 degrees C, so make sure the water with which you are mixing the developer is within half of a degree of this temperature. The temperature is critical to the developing process, so ensure that your solution is the correct temperature. After you have created a working solution, you will need to further dilute the developer according to the instructions for your specific film and developer combination, which can be found on the developing chart at Massive Dev in the Resource section below. Only make enough to fill the tank.
Look on the film package to find the amount of time you need to develop your film. This time is different for each film and developer combination and is critical to properly developing film. If the time for your film is not on the package, consult the developing chart at Massive Dev listed in the Resource section of this article. If there are multiple times listed for a film, use the time listed for 35mm film. Ensure that you are using the correct dilution for your film type.
Fill up your tank with water that is between 18.3 and 21.1 degrees C, and gently invert the tank. This process is called agitating, and it is important that you agitate the water gently. The point of agitating is to distribute the water throughout the tank and make sure that fresh water is constantly in contact with the film. After one minute of agitation, dump out the water.
Pour your developer into the tank and start timing as soon as the tank is completely full. Agitate the tank for the first minute by repeatedly inverting it gently. While doing this, spin your hand slightly to rotate the tank. Do not agitate too hard, or it will damage the film. After the first minute, agitate every minute for five inversions. When the time is up, dump out the developer immediately.
Pour the stop bath into the tank immediately. The stop bath arrests the action of the developer to keep the film from overdeveloping. Agitate for one minute, and then pour out the stop bath.
Pour the fixer into your tank. The fixer "fixes" your image to the negative so that it will not continue to expose when you remove it from the tank. Agitate for the first minute, and then do 10 inversions every minute. After three minutes, pour out the fixer.
Open the canister and remove your film. The fixer has made it safe to expose the film to daylight. Hold the film up to the light and examine it. If it looks milky or purple, repeat the above step. Continue this process until the film is clear.
Wash the film with the tank lid off, running lukewarm water from the faucet over the tank. Make sure the water is running gently.
Fill the tank with hypo-clear solution and put the lid back on. Agitate for three minutes, and then dump out the chemicals. This chemical cleans your film, removing any residual fixer so that your film will not turn milky and purple in the light.
Wash the film again under lukewarm water for five to 10 minutes. This removes any leftover chemicals.
Pull apart your reels by rotating one side in the same way you did when adjusting the reel spacing, except this time, pull off the side of the reel completely.
Remove the film from the reel gently. Unwind the film.
Holding the film with one hand, squeegee off the remaining water by putting the film between two fingers and running them down the film gently.
Hang the film up in your film dryer and set it for about an hour. If you do not have a film dryer, you can hang it in a bathroom and run a hot shower. The humidity keeps the dust in the room from attaching itself to the film. You will be able to tell the film is dry either by touching it or checking to see if the end of the roll has started to curl up.
Once the film is completely dry, take it down and cut it into strips to put into your plastic protective page. The film is now ready to be printed.
Tips and warnings
- Film chemicals are toxic. Take care not to spill them on your skin or get them in your eyes or mouth. Make sure you read the warnings on the packaging for the chemicals.
- Do not pour chemicals down the drain. Rather, pour them into plastic containers, freeze them, and then throw them out with the trash.
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