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How to Develop 110 Film Negatives

Updated April 17, 2017

Eastman Kodak introduced 110 film cartridges in 1972, and it was a further attempt by the pioneering photographic company to make taking photos easier. The 110 film could be dropped into the camera without the need for threading the film onto a take-up spool, just like its immediate predecessor, 126 film cartridges used in Instamatics and other cameras beginning in 1963. The negatives and slides produced, however, were significantly smaller than the 126, which made the cameras small enough for a shirt pocket.

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  1. Adjust the plastic film reel down to its smallest setting. These types of reels have stationary bases connected to the central cylinder with a movable top section, usually made of clear plastic. They are designed to be flexible to develop 110, 126, 35mm, 127 and 120 film, in order of physical size. Stainless steel reels that are more common among professional photographers are not adjustable.

  2. Thread a piece of already developed film into the reel to get a feel for how it is loaded if you never have done this previously. Stick the end of the film into the opening, then walk it in by moving the top and bottom parts of the reel back and forth. Move to loading the film that is to be developed when this can be done in total darkness.

  3. Load the reel with the film in it into the film tank and secure the lid in total darkness. Turn on the lights. While subdued lighting is best, a "daylight" tank may be used in brightly lit rooms without fear of exposure.

  4. Mix the chemicals according to the instructions that came with them. There will be at least three baths of chemicals for black and white film: developer, stop bath and fixer. There are more chemicals for colour print and slide film, and temperature control is more important. Keep the chemicals in separate graduated cylinders or other containers that are clearly marked.

  5. Pour in the developer and set the timer for the appropriate time. Agitate the film reel every 15 to 20 seconds. Typically, there is a tank thermometer that doubles as a stirring device, so use that to rotate the reel inside the tank. Pour out the developer and pour in the stop bath when the specific time for the temperature of the chemicals is reached. This chemical only needs to be on the film for 30 seconds or so to neutralise the black and white film. Pour this out and then pour in the fixer. Follow the time recommended for the film in the fixer, although as a general rule, fixing longer makes film more permanent. So while it may say to fix for 10 minutes, try 20 minutes. Pour the fixer out and place the tank in the sink to run water through it for at least 40 minutes. The tank can be opened at this point to get more water in and out of it.

  6. Remove the film from the reel carefully, and hang it to dry before attempting to scan or enlarge the film.

  7. Tip

    Another chemical, called a hypo-clearing agent may be used for black and white film between the fixer and wash to help preventing spotting.
 Make certain the "daylight" film tank you buy can adjust to the tiny 110 film size.


    Not even a "safe" light can be on when loading film into a tank, despite what is shown on TV and in movies. Film is too light-sensitive for this and may only be loaded in total darkness.

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Things You'll Need

  • Adjustable plastic film reels
  • Plastic "daylight" film tank
  • Black and white or colour film chemicals
  • Sink with running water
  • Graduated cylinders
  • Timer

About the Author

Shawn M. Tomlinson has been a newspaper and magazine writer for more than 28 years. He has written for a variety of publications, from "MacWEEK" and "Macintosh-Aided Design" to "Boys' Life," "Antique Week" and numerous websites. He attended several colleges, majoring in English, writing and theater, and has taught college classes about writing.

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