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What happens when you develop color (C41) film in black and white chemicals? Technically it’s called cross-processing. But usually cross-processing refers to C41 film developed in E6 chemicals (or vice versa). I wanted to find out what would happen to color film if it was developed in black and white chemicals. Why? Because, why not?
There is some information out there, but not a ton. So I knew I’d be experimenting…especially with how long to develop. I developed three rolls in Kodak HC 110 dilution B (find on Amazon). The first two were Lomography Color 100 in my Holga and the third was Fujifilm Superia in my Canon Sure Shot. I wasn’t really sure what would happen, but overall I’m pleased with the results.
How long to develop?
This is trial and error. I developed all rolls based on how long a black and white with the same ISO would be developed, and then added about 30 seconds to be safe. For example, I developed:
Lomography Color 100 for 7 minutes (Lomography Early Gray is developed at 6:30), and
Fujifilm Superia 400 for 6 minutes (Kodak Tri-X 400 is developed at 5:30).
Hot or cold?
Black and white is developed cold, but color is developed hot. I didn’t measure the temperature, but I developed one Lomography 100 roll at cool and the other in hot temps. The Fujifilm Superia at hot temps. The verdict? Develop hot!
Here are some photos developed in cold chemicals:
Here are some photos developed in hot chemicals:
How to scan?
You can scan as black and white or color negatives. After doing both, I think I prefer scanning color. Scanning black and white is pretty simple and straight forward: just scan like you would any other black and white and change the contrast/brightness as-needed. Scanning color is a little different. Scan like you would your color film and adjust the “saturation” until it’s black and white. From there, adjust contrast as-needed.
Here are a few from the Fujifilm Superia scanned as black and white:
Here are a few from the Fujifilm Superia scanned as color:
One of the best things about film, to me, is experimenting. I have a bent towards black and white, so I might do this with future rolls I have in my refrigerator. I may not go out of my way to buy color film just for the sake of developing black and white. But I do still have a good amount of color film that would be fun to continue to experiment with.
So, to sum it up, develop in hot chemicals, add about 30 seconds onto developing time for it’s b/w counterpart, and scan color! Or, if you like to live on the edge, use this as your guide and play with it! If you do, I’d love to hear what you tried and see how it turned out for you.
Thank you so much, Jennifer! Jen is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here. You can also check out more of Jennifer’s work on her website and Instagram.
Leave your questions about developing color film in b&w chemicals below in the comments!