Category Archives: Film Developing

Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera

Coca-Cola began using polar bears for print advertising in 1922. And the polar bears would appear occasionally in printed advertisements over the next seventy years. It wasn’t until 1992 that advertising professional Ken Stewart gave life to the Coca-Cola polar bears in the popular Northern Lights television commercial in February 1993. The Coke polar bears were one of the first digitally animated advertising campaigns. The television commercials featuring the polar bears touched on the emotion and magic that many of Coca-Cola’s previous ad campaigns had done. Starting in 1993, the Coca-Cola Polar Bears from the “Always Coca-Cola” (admit it, you just sang that in your head) series of advertisements and many more successful marketing campaigns came complete with matching Coke merchandise.

Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera

Manufactured in 1999, the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera could be purchased in a Coca-Cola collector tin or bought by itself in a sealed plastic clamshell package. The camera came with two AA batteries and a roll of Kodak Max 400 color film, a Coke branded camera case, and camera strap. The camera is a simple point-and-shoot, with no special features other than being automatic and motorized. Sliding the polar bear, holding his beverage of choice, to the side reveals what I’m guessing to be a 35mm f/5.6 lens. The camera automatically senses light and fires the flash if needed. The top of the camera features a frame counter and a switch to rewind the film. The shutter is triggered by pressing the Coca-Cola bottle cap.

This camera was given to me last Christmas by my oldest son, Caleb. My initial test was an incredibly expired roll of Kodak Gold 400. The roll was not stored in a box, so I don’t know the expiration date, but the shifting colors are a good indicator that it was past its prime. I developed this roll with the CineStill C-41 one quart developing kit. I like quirky branded toy cameras like the Coca-Cola Polar Bear Camera. I wish they would make a camera featuring my preferred drink, Coke Zero.



Developing Color Film for the First Time

For Christmas 2018, I received the CineStill C-41 one quart developing kit. This seemed to be the right size for my first attempt at developing color film. At $25, the kit is a price I’m willing to pay, to experiment and learn. Plus, the amount of chemistry is enough to get me through roughly 8+ rolls of film. That should be enough to determine if I’m really interested in color film developing.CineStill CS41 Liquid Developing Quart Kit for Processing C-41 Color Negative Film The CineStill C-41 kit I used is a liquid kit, they also have a powder kit available. Before using the chemistry for the first time, you mix the developer, blix and rinse stabilizer. Using the FPP Heat Helper, I heated some distilled water and followed the instructions included in the box, mixing each of the items. Doing this for the first time, I pre-read, re-read, and re-re-read the instructions. CineStill has done an excellent job documenting each step for both mixing the chemistry and developing. To summarize mixing the developer and blix: heat the distilled water to the correct temperature, measure out the correct amount of water, stir in Part A, stir in Part B, stir in Part C. For the stabilizer rinse: measure out the correct amount of room temperature distilled water, stir in Part A.

CineStill Cs41 Liquid Developing Kit for C-41 Color Film - 1 Quart

During the Christmas season, I shot two rolls of film that I intended to be my experimental developing rolls. The first roll was Agfa Vista 200, the second was an expired roll Kodak Gold 200. I developed both rolls at the same time in a Patterson tank. The instructions provided by CineStill are straight forward. So easy, even a caveman can do it! And depending on your skill with the kit, they also provide the details for pushing up to 3 stops and pulling 1 stop.

In the end, the results surprised me. Could it be that developing color film is easier than black and white? The color developing process was much faster than black and white. The step that took the longest was heating up the chemistry. And stepping through CineStill’s instructions was incredibly easy. After this experience would I recommend developing color film at home? Yes.

Camera: Canon EOS 10S (1990)
Film: Agfa Vista 200
Process: CineStill C41 Kit
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo


The FPP Heat Helper

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t recall seeing so many sous vide cooking options when walking through the kitchen appliance department in retail stores a few years ago. It seems like instant pots and sous vide cooking is the new trendy way to prepare meals at home. One method is incredibly fast, and one is incredibly slow. This past Christmas, we added both of these appliances to our kitchen. Only the sous vide wouldn’t be used for cooking food.

The Film Photography Project saw a cost effective and dependable way to help photographers heat C-41 and E-6 developing chemistry. In the past, photographers have used other methods to heat chemistry: aquarium heaters or running gallons of household water in a sink. The popularity and price of a sous vide, or immersion circulator, provides more control over temperatures, and it’s convenient.

The key to color film processing is a consistent temperature. And using a modern sous vide allows you to dial in the exact temperature you need. When testing the FPP Heat Helper for the first time, I decided to use it to heat up enough FPP SuperMonobath to 75° and develop two rolls of black and white film. The top of the FPP Heat Helper contains a digital display with a large circular temperature adjustment knob. The unit must be placed in a tub of water that’s large enough to hold your chemistry, plus the unit clamped to the inside of the tub. Once the unit is plugged in, the temperature can be set by turning the knob clockwise or counter-clockwise.

Film Photography Project Heat Helper

Film Photography Project Heat Helper

Film Photography Project Heat Helper

Film Photography Project Heat Helper

Here’s a few things to keep in mind when using the FPP Heat Helper:

  • The unit has a power cord, so you need to be within a few feet of a power outlet.
  • Because you’ve dialed up an exact temperature doesn’t mean your chemistry is the same temperature. Make sure to use a thermometer in your chemistry and monitor that temperature.
  • The unit has lines that mark the minimum and maximum water levels. Use a water level in your tub that matches the liquid level of your chemistry. If you use too much water, you’re going to be waiting for the temperature of your chemistry to rise because the unit is circulating excess water.
  • Is the FPP Heat Helper made specifically for film chemistry? No. In fact, the unit they sell is a Power Precision Cooker that’s made in China. You’ll find them in several stores, but any sous vide unit will work. However, I recommend buying from the FPP because this helps them continue to provide us with film and other cool stuff!

Some seasoned film photographers may find this trivial, but my next step is developing color film at home using the FPP Heat Helper and the CineStill CS41 Liquid Developing Quart Kit. You’ll be able to see my results and read about my experience next week.


Save Water & Time When Developing

Utah is the 2nd driest state in the country. Mother Nature gives us an average of thirteen inches of water per year. Yes, we’re in a high desert, and we boast The Greatest Snow on Earth. Our Wasatch Mountains receive an average of sixty inches of water per year. Water is an essential, but a limited resource. About 40% of our municipal water supply comes from surface water sources. Meaning, we have some natural springs and wells, but the majority is collected in reservoirs. Most of the water we use for landscaping comes from a secondary source, untreated water stored in reservoirs and dams. Water is critical, and water provides life.

FPP Archival Wash

Last year while developing film at home, I kept asking myself, “I’m rinsing this film for 10 minutes because the Massive Dev app tells me to. Why?” It seemed like such an enormous waste of water. About this time, the Film Photography Project Store started to produce and sell FPP Archival Permanent Wash for Black & White Negatives. There’s nothing new about archival wash, but it was new to me. I emailed Leslie Lazenby at the Film Photography Project and asked her about it. This is her response:

Hi Shaun,

Good to hear from you! Personally, and professionally I don’t know any film that will have any permanence with just a 10-minute wash time. Depending on the film and the fixer used it is a minimum of 30 minutes to 1 hour. So, yes FPP’s Archival Permanent Wash is just the ticket for the 2nd driest State in the Union.

Here’s how it works:
Mix 3 ounces of it with enough water to make 1 gallon of working solution.
After the Fix step, wash your negatives for 1 minute in running water.
Soak the negatives in your APW working solution for 1 minute (remember this working solution is re-useable for at least 75 rolls!).
Final wash is 1 additional minute in running water – done!
If you use a wetting agent like PhotoFlo it would follow here.
As an archival freak and a water advocate, I love this stuff.

Now I’m saving over 90% of the water I used to waste on rinsing film. Plus, instead of rinsing for 10-minutes as indicated by the Massive Dev Chart, the final steps only take 3 minutes. And now my black and white negatives are archival. The 1 quart bottle of concentrate makes about 10 gallons of Archival Permanent Wash working solution that can be reused for up to 3 months or 75 rolls. And if you don’t want to mix a gallon, you can use the directions on the bottle to make smaller quantities. Here’s an example of my modified recipe in the Massive Dev app:

Kosmo Foto 100 – 35mm, ISO 100
Kodak D-76 (1+1)

Development: 9 Minutes
Stop Bath: 1 Minute
Fixing: 5 Minutes
Rinse: 1 Minute
FPP APW: 1 Minute
Rinse: 1 Minute
Photo Flo: 1 Minute

You can also listen to Leslie Lazenby respond to my email in the “Dr. Is In” segment on the Film Photography Project Podcast, 54:26 into the podcast.

If you have a product recommendation or a tip on saving water while developing film, please let me know in the comments. I’m interested to learn what other people have done to conserve water and save time.