A Tactile Experience

The resurgence of film photography over the past few years has been nothing short of fantastic. Film offers a totally different experience from the instant gratification of shooting digital. For me, I enjoy the tactile part of it. The winding of the film, and then the development, the first reveal of the images, it's exciting!

I was once told that there are two types of photographers.... Results driven, and process driven. I'm definitely a process driven photographer.

I often hear the following comments at work:

  • It's too hard to develop film
  • I don't have a dark room
  • It's expensive to develop at home
  • I wouldn't know where to start

Ok, so that last one is a fair enough comment. Kind of. There's plenty of tutorials online, with multiple guides available on YouTube covering just the basics, all the way up to mixing and making your own chemicals from basic household items. However, it's not a hard process at all!

You'll need the following items:

A dark bag

A Paterson or Jobo tank

A glass jug

A bottle for chemical storage

A thermometer

A phone or stopwatch


Your choice of chemicals

And that's about it!

When it comes to the chemicals, there's an overwhelming variety out there. One of the easiest to work with is Cinestill DF96 Monobath. If you follow the instructions, it's one of the easiest to use. You can find it on eBay and some retailers for around $60 AUD for the powder kit.

All up, to get started your total costs will be around $150 - $170 AUD. The Cinestill kit is good for at least 16 rolls of 35mm black and white film. When development at a lab costs around $20 per roll, that's a cost saving of around $150 spread over the 20 rolls. Your ongoing costs will just be for the chemicals, and once you get experienced at developing your own rolls, you'll be able to find cheaper chemicals available.

Honestly, I cannot recommend developing your own film enough. The feeling you get, knowing that the pictures you are seeing for the first time are images that you have created, images that no one else has seen, is so rewarding.