Processing your film- a quick introduction

Developing your own film is fun, satisfying and offers considerable savings against the cost of having your film processed by a lab.  With processing costs averaging between £10 and £20 per roll, our "Sam & J' famous Film Developing Kits"  will have paid for themselves by the time you finish the first batch of chemicals supplied. Your only cost, after the initial outlay for equipment, will be to replenish the chemicals, and these are cheap.

With the savings you make on the cost of processing... you can buy more film! Or perhaps have a photo printed traditionally. Or join a dark room club and print your own. Or get a scanner so you can share your photos online.

Our kits are build around the Paterson universal developing tank and a changing bag, both of which allow you to develop your films without the need for a darkroom.  

Developing a photo is a two stage process. 

STAGE 1: Developing your film is easy, can be done in your bathroom or kitchen and does not require a darkroom or expensive equipment. It is the first stage in obtaining traditional photographic images, and creates the negatives. Our Film developing kits (NUMBER ONE and NUMBER TWO) contain the essential equipment, chemistry and protective gear you need to create these negatives. 

 STAGE 2: A positive image, the actual photograph as it is meant to be seen, is generated from the negatives. This is achieved by scanning or, traditionally and for the full film experience, wet printing in the darkroom. So, scanning or printing. A traditional "wet" print is done in the darkroom, using a similar chemical process to the developing of your negatives (3 chemical baths: develop, stop, fix) but requiring an enlarger. 

Just like you exposed your film by focusing your subject through the lens of your camera onto the film, the enlarger projects a light through the negative and focuses this image through a lens to expose the light-sensitive photographic paper. 

 Click here to explore our products


Traditionally, most home processing is limited to black and white film. 

Black and white film is by far the simplest to process at home. We recommend that you do not attempt developing colour film at home until you are well acquainted with the black and white process. 

The main reason is that colour film processing requires very precise temperature control at every stage, meaning all the chemicals have got to be brought to temperature and this temperature maintained throughout the process. 

Black and white, on the other hand, tolerates inexactitude extraordinarily well. Any variation in temperature can be compensated for by extending or reducing the developing time.


  • Negative: The exposed film after processing: the processing stops it from being sensitive to light and fixes the images captured). It is so called because light sensitive chemicals go dark when exposed to light. So a bright light becomes a black spot. This has to be reversed. This happens in stage two of the development process which creates the positive image.
  • Photographic paper: The paper used in traditional photography. Like film, it is coated with a light sensitive emulsion. It will yield the positive image: The photograph. This is achieved in a similar way to how you exposed the film in your camera, by exposing it to light projected through the negative, then treating it chemically to develop and fix this image. 
  • Positive image: The actual photograph as it is meant to be seen, created from the negative either traditionally by projecting a light through it and exposing the photographic paper (or other medium), or digitally by scanning and editing. 
  • Wet print: A photographic print that is developed traditionally in chemical solutions. 
  • Developing tank: A light-proof tank that is used to bathe the film in various chemical solutions to develop the negatives. Ours are small, handheld tanks that can process 1 or 2 films at a time. 
  • Changing bag: A light-proof cloth bag which serves as a mini darkroom, used to handle film without exposing it to light. It is used to load the developing tank, or to open up a camera that may have jammed in order to save the film.