Digibase C41 Kit

By March 22, 2015 Blog, Film, User Report

Digibase C41 Kit

Wow, it’s been so long!!! For a while there I gave some serious consideration to just letting this whole thing go by the wayside!! But then on reflection, what would I do with myself when I do get some spare time…..I won’t even start to explain why it’s been so long.

In an effort to get back in to the swing of things I thought I’d do a quick post on these Digibase C41 Kits. 

The big selling points of these kits are undoubtably ease of use (no mixing chems) lifespan and price, not to mention the ability to develop at temperatures as low as 20’c. I think they really deliver on all fronts.

You may recall, I bought two of these Digibase C41 Kits way back in August 2014, my first post of home developing on the JOBO CPP2 was a month later, you can see the results from my first roll – HERE

The best part of 7 months later and I’ve finished them off, well kind of!!! I’ll explain later.

So, a little background first –

With the Rondinax 35U

I’ve had my Rondinax 35U for several years, a bargain at less than $20 it was intended for the development of B&W film, if you’re interested my user report is HERE

Yes thats right, with your Digibase C41 Kit (or similar) you can develop your colour negatives in the Rondinax 35U, indeed this is in fact how I initially went about this process. It has to be said that whilst it was relatively straight forward I was always concerned about temperature accuracy, maintaining temperature and the resulting potential for inconsistency. With hindsight I was probably over reacting, the rolls I developed were all without issue. Take a look online and you’ll find plenty of examples from people successfully using this method.

I should add that some people seem to manage to do this equally well in a Patterson tank or similar. If you don’t have the cash to splash on a JOBO then it’s still a worthwhile approach to developing C41 at home.

Ultimately I just couldn’t shake off those initial reservations and quite soon after embarking on this process I managed to pick up my JOBO CPP2 for very little, that has given me the consistency I wanted.

 

With the JOBO CPP2

I have to say that despite all my research there was still a fair amount of trepidation the first time I used the JOBO CPP2 to process C41, in reality I needn’t have worried.

Once your in to the routine developing C41 on this machine it’s a breeze and more importantly it will enable you to replicate your exact process time after time. When you have that degree of consistency it becomes possible to experiment in more detail and fine tune your process.

 

Digibase C41 Kit

Firstly, these are the only C41 processing kits I have tried to date, the kits are in part aimed at beginners and as I fell clearly in that bracket the Pre-mixed Digibase C41 Kit seemed to be the way to go initially! My next step will be the Digibase C41 chemistry to mix myself.

Now I appreciate these kits aren’t new but for completeness I’d like to have some form of documentation relating to them on the site.

 

 

Digibase C41 Kit Content

 

In the Box

Three 500ml air-tight resealable Pouches containing the pre-mixed Developer, Bleach and Fixer. An A4 Instruction sheet.

What’s quite obviously missing from the Digibase C41 Kit is the Stabiliser. You can buy this separately in a tiny 100ml bottle, it has a capacity to do 60 films and I guess thats ultimately why it’s not included in the pack. If you’re ordering online don’t forget to add this to your order!! 

The instructions, whilst adequate do contain some minor translation errors. Follow them closely and you will get colour negs!!! Can we improve on the process laid out in the instructions, maybe… 

You can download a copy of the Digibase C41 Kit Instructions here – rdc59

Equipment

  • JOBO CPP2 with Lift – Motor Programme P – Temp 37.8’C
  • 2520 Multitank 2
  • 2551 Multitank 5
  • 2502 Duo Set Reels

Method

For clarity, whilst the Digibase C41 Kit allows for a multitude of developing temperatures I have been developing at the more commonly used 37.8’C.

Ok, so I just mentioned that if you follow the enclosed instructions carefully you will indeed get your colour negs, whilst thats essentially true there may be a couple of areas you want to experiment with and we’ll look at those in more detail shortly, for now lets look at the instructions supplied with the kit.

Digibase C41 Kit Instructions

The instructions supplied with the kit look like this (remember I’m working at 37.8’C)

  • Pre Soaking (suggested 2-3 mins)
  • Developer (3 min 15 sec Rolls 1-5, 3 min 30 sec Rolls 6-10, 3 min 45 sec Rolls 11-14)
  • Suggested Wash (No details)
  • Bleach (suggested 3 min – 4 min 20 sec)
  • Suggested Wash (No details)
  • Fix (4 min 20 – 6 min 30 sec)
  • Stabiliser (suggested 1 min – 1 min 20 sec)

It’s clear that there is room for manoeuvre in these instructions and many, many acceptable variations. Moving on from the basic instructions and try to fill out some of the blanks I started with something that looked like this –

Initial Routine
  • Pre Soaking (2 mins)
  • Developer (3 min 15 sec Rolls 1-5, 3 min 30 sec Rolls 6-10, 3 min 45 sec Rolls 11-14)
  • Wash ( 1 min)
  • Bleach (4 mins)
  • Wash (2 mins)
  • Fix (6 min 30 sec)
  • Wash (4 mins)
  • Wash (1 min)
  • Wash (1 min)
  • Stabiliser (1 min) In a separate container to avoid clogging the reels over time.
Pre-Wash (Pre Soak/Pre Wetting)

The purpose of the Pre-wash is to temper the tank and reel bringing both up to the correct temperature. It’s recommended in the instructions and on that basis I initially proceeded in this manner, I wasn’t unhappy with the results to be fair – HERE. Also, I really like the idea of removing the dyes and massively reducing the developer pollution. All that said I’ve now settled on Pre-Warming my rotary tanks only, for me the results just look that bit better.

Developer 

No changes to the recommended times here.

Wash between Developer and Bleach

It seems logical to me that water will be a less damaging contaminate than residual developer so a wash stage here. At the same time water won’t cease the developing process so it’s a bit of a trade off, my initial 1 min was too generous so I adjusted to 30 sec.

Bleach

I’m still bleaching at 4 mins.

Wash between Bleach and Fix

Same thought process, washing to reduce contamination, whilst not an issue between Bleach and Fix I still do it.

Fix

Still fixing to the maximum advised time of 6 min 30 sec.

Wash

Three separate washes next, 4 mins, 1 min and 1 min.

Stabiliser

Initially I was transferring the film to a different container, now I’m actually using the Multitanks and reels. If like me, you are fanatical about cleaning your equipment immediately then I think you’ll be fine, if your a little bit lazy and leave yours for hours before cleaning then it’s probably not a good idea!! Do not use the Lift for the addition of the Stabiliser, add through the top of the Multitank and agitate by hand.  

Drying

I have not found a squeegy that works so if anyone has a recommendation I’d be delighted. I simply hang my films to dry in the shower cubicle of the spare bedroom, simple.

Current Routine
  • Pre Heating of tank (5 mins)
  • Developer (3 min 15 sec Rolls 1-5, 3 min 30 sec Rolls 6-10, 3 min 45 sec Rolls 11-14)
  • Wash ( 30 sec )
  • Bleach (4 mins)
  • Wash (2 mins)
  • Fix (6 min 30 sec)
  • Wash (4 mins)
  • Wash (1 min)
  • Wash (1 min)
  • Stabiliser (1 min) In the Multitank. Wash immediately after.

Lifespan

Beyond the physical act of developing, chemical lifespan was certainly one of my main concerns when I order the Digibase C41 Kit, exactly just how long would this kit last me once opened? I’m not a prolific shooter, so this was always going to be a case of developing a few rolls, coming back to the kit a few weeks later and so on.

Good news on this front, my kits have been opened 7 months with no visible sign of deterioration, I’ve been diligent with the air-tight packs, not leaving chemicals out longer than necessary and ensuring the pack lids are well tightened. I’m not sure how long an opened kit would ultimately last but even for me 7 months is more than enough time to get full use from it.

Before opening the kits were stored for a month in a cupboard at room temperature, once opened I stored in a fridge that I have set to 12’C. I’m not certain if this is optimal, but it has worked well for me. 

Capacity

Here’s where it gets interesting, remember at the beginning of this post I said “I’d finished the kit’s off, well kind of??” I’ll explain, the Digibase C41 Kits are sold on the basis of being able to develop 14 rolls of either 35mm or 120 film. Immediately that gets you thinking, something with the capacity to develop 14 rolls of 120 film is going to be capable of doing way more than 14 rolls of 35mm.

Of my two kits –

Kit 1 – 15 rolls developed (10no 35mm & 5no 120)

Kit 2 – 14 rolls developed (7no 35mm & 7no 120)

The films I’ve just developed look pretty much as good as the first ones, no real signs that the chemicals are getting close to being depleted.  I’d read of similar experiences online but it was great to see this for myself. Any shortcomings in the appearance of the images is down to my scanning technique on the Imacon 848 and subsequent PP.

I’m certainly tempted to just continue to develop, maybe a roll at a time until I see the definite evidence of exhaustion. Or maybe I’ll just ditch them.

Value

It cost me $95.00 for the two kits delivered to New Zealand.

Initially I worked on getting 28 rolls of 35mm out of the Digibase C41 Kits, that would equate to a cost of developing around $3.40 per roll.

Here in NZ developing options are relatively limited, but to give you a rough estimate of what I’ve saved it’s easily $250.00, sure there is the time its taken me to develop the film but thats fine with me. So in essence I’ve used two kits and saved myself 50% of what it cost me to buy the JOBO CPP2……feels good for a change!! 

Depending on what options are available to you locally the chances are you’re going to be saving yourself a reasonable amount of cash. 

Roll No 15 from Kit 1…….

A few weeks ago I managed to pick up a camera I’d always wanted!!

Digibase C41 Kit Rolleiflex Test Roll

I wasn’t brave enough to gamble on an E or an F without being able to view and test it in person but I was happy to get this minty GX online. Without digressing too much and without stating the obvious I absolutely love this camera as you’d expect, definitely has a little magic.

Moving on…..I needed to test the cameras functions and meter so I shot a test roll of Ektar 100 a few weeks ago and developed it with the Digibase C41 Kit, it was roll no 15.

Digibase C41 Kit 1

Digibase C41 Kit 2

Digibase C41 Kit 3

Digibase C41 Kit 4

Digibase C41 Kit 5

Digibase C41 Kit 6

Digibase C41 Kit 7

Digibase C41 Kit 8

Digibase C41 Kit 9

Digibase C41 Kit 10

Digibase C41 Kit 11

Its good to be back.

Jason.

20 Comments

  • Grahame Petkins says:

    In the Rolliflex 2.8 GX ektar 100 test where were the photos taken. I had a sudden homesick feeling when I saw them. And I left NZ in 1978.

  • Anjolie says:

    7 months, you say? Has it really been that long? I’ve had my own issues and haven’t really gone out shooting since last Thanksgiving as well. Glad to see you back! Wow, that was Ektar? I always heard that it made skin tones a little reddish, but these look spot on! I love the look of the Rollei. Especially, with some bokeh. It gives those shots an extra special look

    • janrzm says:

      3 months since my last post!! 7 months since I started with the C41. I hear ya, life just finds a way of getting in the way, if that makes sense! Thanks, hope you get out with the camera soon.

      Take it easy.

  • Umberto says:

    I’m really glad to see you back with your first post in 2015. I’m sure medium format fits perfectly and will further enhance your photographic qualities. So I hope you will share your new imagines quite soon. Ciao.
    Umberto

  • John Lockwood says:

    Just found this post. Not sure how I missed it. Jealous of the GX! Stunning images and natural color tones!

  • Paul elcock says:

    Great posting! I’m glad I found it as I’d lost my instructions!
    I’ve done about 6 films in a rondinax 60 and an Essex 35 and they’ve all worked surprisingly well.

    My only mistake at the beginning was to put the bags in hot water to heat up. The labels all came off and I had to guess which chemical was in which pouch,x luckily I was right second combination and I only wasted 2 out of date test films!

    One question what is the stabiliser you use?
    Thanks paul
    Ps I use a Rolleiflex 3.5mx

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Paul,

      As you say, very doable in the Rondinax, just have to spend a little more time worrying about temperature regulation.

      I use the Digibase Stabiliser, you can buy this separately in a 100ml bottle.

      Cheers, Jason.

  • Thanks for the article Jason. I am seriously considering to start up with c41 development, because of many reasons. Now I am looking for available options here in Europe. Not sure if I can get this kit, but your experience on the storability is very useful indeed. I am afraid that my mixed solutions or opened concentrates go bad before I had a chance shoot enough film to use them.
    Anyways, I will figure out something. Oh, and your photos are fantastic as usual.

    Bests, Gabor

    • janrzm says:

      Hey Gabor,

      My kit is from Germany, hopefully you can get it from there, https://www.macodirect.de/ or https://www.fotoimpex.de/shopen/

      I developed 4 rolls of 120 yesterday, the last time I used those chemicals was back in June when I opened them, so far the negs look good, I will know more when I scan later this week. I should add that the C41 kit was already 6 months old when I opened it in June and stored in the fridge of course.

      All the best to you and your family.

      Jason.

      • Gabor says:

        Thanks Jason,

        Same good wishes for you and family.
        I will definitely give it a try and will share my experience afterwards.
        Cheers, Gábor

  • Ian Rivlin says:

    Superb pictures. I have a few Rolleiflexes myself and know how good they are.
    What scanner did you use (and what were the settings)?

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Ian,

      Yes, the Rolleiflex is probably my must used camera at the moment, I love it.

      I use an Imacon 848 which unfortunately is not a cheap option, it’s delivering the detail and resolution I’d always yearned for in a scanner. In terms of the settings it’s a little difficult to explain because it uses the Flexcolour software and I can’t remember exactly how I scanned those images because I’ve had not set scanning workflow, I’ve just tried a different approach each time in an effort to find the best way. In my latest post I’ve moved on to scanning in flexcolour as a positive and using the ColourPerfect plugin in PS, then editing in Camera Raw, PS and LR. I’ve typed up the workflow, for the time being I’ll continue to use it and if it sticks then I’ll publish it on here.

      Cheers, Jason.

  • Jason says:

    Hi Jason,
    A couple of boxes of Digibase C41 softpacks just arrived from Macodirect so I am looking forward to trying home developing again. I had given up on trying to import chemicals as no-one will send Fuji Hunt to Australia as the EU has strict rules on exports apparently.

    I had tried the Digibase unmixed chemicals (that I got in Austtralia) a while back and they were certainly the best quality – far better results than the Tetenal Press Kit with Blix. However I always had issues with keeping the temperature spot on and I am very particular about colour so I went back to using HIllvale in Melbourne.

    I got the idea to buy an Anova Sous Vide heater as that is accurate to within .01ºC so that should work as well as something like a Jobo but only costs about A$150. Hopefully that turns up this week and I will put through a test roll and see what happens.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Digibase soft-packs.

    Regards
    Jason

    • janrzm says:

      Hi Jason,

      Sounds like a plan!! I have a friend that went the Sous Vide way, his results look great and his wife cooks some great meals 🙂

      I’ve noticed no difference between the Digibase softpacks and the unmixed which is great, both work beautifully. I kept my softpacks in a fridge but be careful its not too cold.

      Please let me know how you get on, enjoy!!

      Cheers, Jason.

      • Jason says:

        Hi Jason,
        I shot a test roll of Portra 800 around the house as I had it spare and the colours are fantastic. Amazing what having a consistent temperature will do for quality control 🙂 I cranked the Anova to 100F and it heated the water bath up quickly and I just sat my bottles in that and gave it an hour or so to get the chemicals up to temp before starting.

        I found out why I had been having issues as I put my old thermometer in the water bath and it was exactly 1 degree off so between that and trying to keep the water bath warm without a heater was probably the cause of my previous less-than-perfect efforts.

        Going to do three rolls tonight in my large Patterson tank and use both 500ml packs to get it to 1 litre. Hopefully all goes well again.

        I am storing my chemicals in the fridge as you described – mine is at about 5-6C so hopefully that is ok. With the daily temps reaching the low 30’s I didn’t want to have them exposed to that heat and humidity.

        Thanks again for all the tips here – it really helped.

        Jason

        • janrzm says:

          Hi Jason,

          That’s great to hear, it’s very satisfying when it all goes to plan.

          I store mine in a separate fridge in the garage, I run it on the lowest setting which sits around 17′ so not too cold. The chemicals have been great so far. Do some research on temperatures, I don’t know that 5-6′ is too cold but I am sure you probably can store them too cold.

          All the best, keep me posted.

          Jason.

  • Jason says:

    Thanks Jason,
    Yes I can’t see why it wouldn’t work – it is just a method to heat water to an exact temperature and as long as the timing, agitation etc is ok then it should all turn out. In the end I’d probably prefer to be able to drop them off locally but that is getting increasingly harder to do.

    BTW I should say also that I have enjoyed the site for years – you have some beautiful photos and great reviews.

    Thanks
    Jason

  • From David Seagrave of Dunfermline ,Scotland

    I am in the throes of developing a batch of 21 colour print films in a Rollei Digibase 1 lit kit ,11 x 24 exposure films 9 x 36 exposure films and a solitary 120 I use primitive equipment lncluding a developing tank bought in 1963 ! and so far so good I would like to know if I can get SIX 24 exp films from the final run of 250ml of made up solution I am due to do the last three 24 exposure films this coming weekend

  • From David Seagrave of Dunfermline ,Scotland

    I am in the throes of developing a batch of 21 colour print films in a Rollei Digibase 1 lit kit ,11 x 24 exposure films 9 x 36 exposure films and a solitary 120 I use primitive equipment lncluding a developing tank bought in 1963 ! and so far so good I would like to know if I can get SIX 24 exp films from the final run of 250ml of made up solution I am due to do the last three 24 exposure films this coming weekend