C41 Developing AGFA Vista 200

By September 3, 2014Blog, Film

C41 Developing AGFA Vista 200

I have to admit that despite going to all the trouble of creating a darkroom I never really intended to take things quite this far. My first attempts at C41 developing were done with the RONDINAX 35U and whilst they were successful it was a little fiddly, on top of that I felt that in the long term it wouldn’t be possible to get a satisfactory level of consistency. If you are interested in that route there’s a handy little video of the process – HERE.

As I mentioned in my previous post I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an amazingly good JOBO CPP2 for just $450, looking around on the internet that’s a real result in terms of price. There’s an additional huge plus in that the machine is the late serial number version and has seen next to no use. Reassuringly these machines, or the next generations of them are now back in production – HERE.

So, a combination of luck in finding a JOBO CPP2 so close to home, coupled with it’s great condition and a desire for more control have lead me to taking on the majority of my developing in the short term, at least while I have some fun. It would be remiss of me not to mention the fantastic lab I’ve been using for the past couple of years and I certainly won’t be burning my bridges with www.filmsoup.co.nz.

Now I’d be lying if I said the thought of being able to develop my film almost immediately as opposed to waiting a week or two wasn’t a big positive in all of this because it is, the exact same applies to the reduced cost of developing. But, and it’s a big but, all of these things will be academic if I’m unable to achieve similar results to my lab and more importantly results I can live with.

Having gotten myself all set up I was pretty desperate to put a couple of test rolls through so I took a walk and grabbed some images, I’ve shared a few shots from those below.

Leica M6 – Classic with 35mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph and 50mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph

The Leica M6 Classic has without doubt been my most used film rangefinder so in that respect it was an obvious choice for my first C41 experiment. Remarkably the 50mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 Asph have been among the Leica lenses I have used least, it’s not lost on me that by anyones measure that’s a scandalous situation! 

AGFA Vista 200 – Rated at ISO 200

My choice to shoot AGFA Vista 200 for my initial experiments was made for no other reason than cost. I’ve shot several rolls of this now and I have to say that not only was it an absolute steal at £1.00 per roll but it’s a film that I’ve already become really fond of.

Digibase C41 Developing Kit – Premixed Developer, Bleach and Fix.

The Digibase C41 “Ready to Use” kit’s have been around for some time now, I’m using the pre-diluted 500ml Softpacks. Product Ref: RDC59.

I’ve not seen these for sale in NZ so I bought a couple of kits from www.macodirect.de the cost was around $95.00 including delivery. It’s only on occasions such as these that I miss living in the UK!!! That said, these kit’s allude to being able to develop 14 rolls each kit, so 28 rolls in total. Some simple math and that equates to $3.40 per film, still pretty good.

Confusingly, the packaging indicates that the kits can develop either 14, 35mm films or 14, 120 films, logic would suggest that if the chemicals can extend to 14 rolls of 120 film then they can do significantly more than 14 rolls of 35mm.

I’ve read mixed reports on the longevity of the chemicals once opened so I’m going to try to get through the first kit quickly now it’s open.

JOBO CPP2 with Lift – Multitank 2520 & 2502 Reels.

Here’s something weird, the moment I set eyes on this machine it triggered a memory, I’m not sure who, where or exactly when but someone in my childhood had a JOBO, I absolutely sure of it.

I printed off the instructions for the JOBO and It came as a bit of a relief to discover that its actually very straight forward to use, phew. 

Here’s my C41 developing process –

  • JOBO Set to – P
  • Temp – 37.8’C
  • Pre-Soak – 2 min
  • Developer – 3 mins 15 Sec (This extends to 3 mins 30 sec after 5 rolls and 3 mins 45 sec after 10)
  • Rinse – 1 min
  • Bleach – 4 min
  • Rinse – 2 min
  • Fix – 6 min 30 sec
  • Rinse – 4 min
  • Rinse – 1 min
  • Stabilizer – 1 min

Note: All liquid volumes 270ml

Reflecta Proscan 7200 – Vuescan – Photoshop CC – ColorPerfect – LR5

I won’t elaborate here as I’ll be posting the full details of this workflow in the next week or so. 

C41 Processing Agfa Vista 200 1

C41 Processing Agfa Vista 200 3

C41 Processing Agfa Vista 200 4

C41 Developing Agfa Vista 200 10

C41 Processing Agfa Vista 200 6

C41 Developing Agfa Vista 200 7

C41 Processing Agfa Vista 200 8

C41 Developing Agfa Vista 200 9

C41 Developing Agfa Vista 200 2

I included the shot above because I actually prefer it to the frontal shot, I realise not everyone is a fan of photos taken of peoples backs but I think they can work on occasion.

Summing up I’d say I’m pleased with the first attempts at C41 developing, not only that I think I’ve gotten just about as much resolution out of my scanner as I can given it’s limitations. I’m actually compromising on the quality of these images a little to keep the file sizes down.

It’s early days in this process but already it’s been fun and exciting, sure it takes a little bit of time but mostly I have that. For now I’m hooked, B&W’s next and then I’ll get on to some E6.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Cheers, Jason.


  • Anjolie says:

    Wow. This is your first attempt at color negative developing? Wow. I’m not sure if it’s the film itself, or the process of developing the negative or due to the overcast sky (maybe all 3), the colors seem a little muted. But personally, I really like it! And I had thought that using ASPH lenses might make the images overly detailed and thus harsh, but like the color palette it’s really pleasing to the eye! I normally don’t shoot color, but this is really wonderful! Great job and I’m really anxious to see more

    • janrzm says:

      Hey Anjolie,

      I would say its a combination of my understanding of how this film should look coupled with my slight fear of colour. Ultimately in the final processing of the images I’ve muted the colour slightly to reflect what I find most pleasing. Believe me I went back and forth with these images a few times!! 🙂 Thanks!

  • Phil McAllister says:

    These really do look great Jason. I am also a big fan of Vista and it’s colour (price too!) I have to say the colours here look quite ‘realistic’. Excellent job!

  • Peti says:

    I like the images a lot. Kinda reminds me of 70’s pictures – the men (except the first guy) looked pleased with what they’ve done in life.
    For your first time, the results are very decent. All the lecture says C41 is a ‘tricky’ process, but you’ve shown that it’s nothing to be afraid of.

    • janrzm says:

      Thanks Peti,

      I agree the Agfa Vista can have that 70’s look, I’ve deliberately muted the shots in PP also which is contributing to that, just my taste. I was a little afraid of the C41, I don’t want to get complacent as the first time I have a disaster I’ll be afraid again!!

      Cheers, Jason.

  • darrin says:

    Nice work Jason, can’t wait for some of your B & W examples. I maybe dipping my toe in the film pond, maybe a M6. Would be interesting to see how the Monochrome compares with the M6 and B & W film.

    • janrzm says:

      Hey Darrin, thanks.

      I’ll put a few up in the next couple of weeks. I can only encourage you to give film a go and you’ll be smitten with the M6 I guarantee it.

      Cheers, Jason.

  • Ralf Wißing says:

    Really great pictures! I’ve been using the same C41 Kit for some time and can also really recommend it. The best results i’ve got with developing at 30° C, i personally think the colors become brighter at this temperature.

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Ralf,

      Thanks, that’s really interesting to learn from someone who’s tried the same kit, I will give it a go!!

      Cheers, Jason.

  • Hugues says:

    Your images really look great. Thanks for sharing both your results and enthusiasm, very inspiring! I’m looking forward to knowing more about your workflow.

  • […] this small Catholic chapel it seems like an appropriate place to make a confession. In this recent post I intimated that I would shortly be writing up my scanning workflow, this is still going to happen, […]

  • Gregg Obst says:

    The reason the directions on the C41 kit say it can do 14 rolls of 35mm or 14 rolls of 120 is that one roll of 35mm, one roll of 120, one single sheet of 8×10 or four sheets of 4×5 are all the same square inches of surface area.

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