Processing Color Reversal Film with E-6 Processing

Processing film for developing color reversal film (slide film) for film photography is known as the E-6 process. The E-6 process has nearly become the sole process for developing slide film as it can be done manually by amateurs with the same equipment for processing black and white film or color film with the C-41 process. However, slide film processing is extremely temperature sensitive. The use of a tempered water bath to stabilize the temperature is highly recommended.

Steps to Processing Slide Film

While different chemicals will have different requirements, this is a generic process for developing slide film using the E-6 processing method. Please consult the instructions with the chemicals you use for specific information related to that set of chemicals.

  • First developer bath will last for six minutes at 100° F using a black and white film developer. The first developer requires to most care in temperature as it controls contrast of the film.
  • Wash the film for two minutes at 100° F to help remove and cease first developer.
  • Reversal or fogging bath for two minutes at 96-103° F to expose the silver that was not developed from the first developer. This re-exposure will form the positive image.
  • Color developer bath for six minutes at 96-103° F changes the silver halides to black metallic silver and forms cyan, magenta, and yellow dye couplers.
  • Pre-bleach bath for two minutes at 90-103° F prepares the film for the bleach bath and stabilizes the dye layers.
  • Bleach bath for six minutes at 92-103° F begins removal of the silver.
  • Wash the film to rinse off the bleach (optional)
  • Fixer bath for four minutes at 92-103° F finishes removal of the silver to leave only the dyes, forming the image.
  • Final water wash for four minutes at 92-103° F to remove any remaining chemistry and soluble silver.
  • Final rinse for one minute at 80-103° F using photo-flo and miconazole to aid in uniform and consistent drying.
  • Dry in a dust-free environment.

Alternatively, slide film can be processed at nearly any camera shop. Some camera shops do not develop slide film on-site and will take a week to send out and return.