Processing Black and White Film

Developing black and white film will vary depending on the processing chemicals you use for black and white film photography, but it largely remains the same. Black and white film requires a constant temperature, but is much more flexible than color print film during the C-41 process or color reversal film during the E-6 process. Additionally, water temperature does not need to be kept as warm as the color film types, as the ideal temperature is around 68-72° F instead of 100° F – making black and white film development a simpler process. However, different black and white film types have different development times and different film speeds have different development times.

Steps for Processing Black and White Film

The following black and white film development guide is a general outline and you should consult the instructions from the chemicals you purchase for specific development times. Be sure your black and white film is not C-41 process film as it will not work for standard black and white film processing. Please also note that the chemicals are diluted with water, typically using a 1:9 or 1:8 chemical to water ratio. Again, please consult the chemical manufacturer for the proper dilution.

  • Developer time varies upon water temperature, film type, and film speed. The ideal temperature is 68-72° F and development times will run anywhere from four minutes to 20 minutes. ISO 100 is different than ISO 400. Kodak ISO 100 is also different than Ilford ISO 100.
  • Water rinse for one minute at 68-72° F to stop and remove developer.
  • Fixer for five minutes at 68-72° F to remove silver and eliminate light sensitivity of the film.
  • Fixer remover for two minutes at 68-72° F to remove last of any remaining soluble silver and fixer.
  • Water rinse for 10 minutes at 68-72° F to remove any remaining chemicals.
  • Final rinse in photo-flo for one minute for consistent and even drying.
  • Dry in dust-free environment.