Testing old film.

Busy day checking some old Ilford HP5 plus, which has been in the freezer for at least 10 years.
Used a ‘two bath’ development formula from The Film developing Cookbook – Anchell/Troop:

The negative was scanned and inverted in P/S then a selenium brown tone added – nearest colour I can get to the Kodak brown I use in the darkroom. Other than that, not much else done with the image. As I have about 20 6×6 rolls, I can now quite confidently use it with just a slight reduction in my normal speed of ISO 320.


Leitz formula:-
To make 1 litre.

Bath A.

Metol 5  grams.
Sodium Sulphite anhydrous 100 grams.

Bath B.

Sodium Carbonate anhydrous 15 grams.
Sodium Sulphite anhydrous 6 grams,

Each bath made by adding chemicals into 2/3 of the water in the order written (add pinch of the Sodium Sulphite with Metol because on its own it will not easily dissolve) top up, making 1 litre. Store in brown litre bottles and as long as bath A is not contaminated with B, both should do at least 15 35/6×6 films.
Do not ‘pre-soak’ film before development; other than that, it is 3 to 4 mins @ 20deg.C with constant agitation (adjust for desired density) in A. Drain but don’t rinse, add bath B and again agitate as before, drain, stop, fix & wash……… Print or scan – whichever is your preferred method.

I have some base fog (age of film most likely) which is no real problem, but I may try adding Potassium Bromide (10ml of 10% solution) to bath A.

As you can see the negative has a good range and scanned with the minimum of correction. Which is why I used the two bath method, it is almost fool-proof in that it uses the same time for most films and speeds.

All this can be done with the minimum of equipment: no excuse if anyone wanted to try film and thought they couldn’t because they do not have the necessary darkroom & enlarger.

6 thoughts on “Testing old film.

    1. Thanks,
      The one good thing about the two bath is it’s quick and easy; also very forgiving of film, time & temperature – all good characteristics in this case 🙂


  1. Nice work. It’s been a long time now, since I developed and printed with chemicals. I don’t know if I’d go back to it now. But I still have a few cameras I really loved… and still look at, once in a while… with longing.

    1. Shimon, you must use them ! it’s therapeutic if nothing else and as long as you have a flat-bed scanner with film attachment, no excuse 🙂


  2. Excellent results. I used a method similar to this years ago and it worked very well for me. Though I still have a functional darkroom, I haven’t used it since I purchased a digital camera 5 years ago. I loved printing but not developing negatives very much, although it was nice to have alone time and listen to good music. Good luck with the other 19 rolls.

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