First I just wanna clarify that this not a rant against – shit happens – It’s more like a heads up to them, that there can be a problem ( if you should happen to reading this and want to know more, feel free to contact me).


A few days ago I did my very first developing with the from Ars-Imago. I backed the LAB-BOX – see my post on that one here – and got the “deluxe” version with 6 rolls of film, the crank and their monobath developer.

I’ve used the monobath from Cinestill before, and I really like it. So I was really looking forward to trying Ars-Imago’s.

I started developing a 35mm – actually an Imago 320 film, one of the films I got with the LAB-BOX – I measured the temperature of the developer to 22 degrees Celsius. And on the bottle it says 8 minutes with a temperature between 18-24 degrees Celsius. That makes my film almost straight in the middle – Perfect!

Blank 35mm film

I sat my timer for 8 minutes and started pouring in the developer – I actually used the LAB-BOX for this – When the time was up, I rinsed the film and opened up the LAB-BOX, and found a blank film inside.

OK, where did I go wrong? That’s always my first thought when things are doing what they are not supposed too.
I checked the bottle for the developer time again, because I was pretty sure that the film was over developed. But I did it correct – 8 min. with degrees between 18-24C.

OK, maybe it was the LAB-BOX, It’s still pretty new for me, to used that for developing.
So I took out one of my trusted Paterson tanks, and spooled up a 120 film. This time I shortened the develop time to 7:30 minutes. But I still ended up with a blank film.

Well, maybe I’m not doing anything wrong. After packing everything away. I turned to Google, and started searching “how to develop with Ars-Imago monobath”
And here the fun begins, I found a video made by Ars-Imago on how to use their monobath. And here I noticed that the chemical they used look a lot different from mine.

Here’s a screen dump from the Ars-Imago video, see how clear the chemical is.

And here’s a photo of my chemical. I used it twice for developing, but it looked the same before I used it, so it doesn’t really matter.

My chemical, which is clearly much darker.

And that got me think about one of the plastic bottles with the chemicals. When I opened it, it was a little odd.
So I went back and pulled it out of the garbage. And with a closer look, I could see that it looked just like the some of the plastic bottles I use to keep mixed chemicals in.
The cap had brown stains, the protection lid was dried up and brownish and there was some dirt at the bottom of the bottle. Just like some of my storage bottles have.
And just the caps on the two bottles used for this developer where different looking.

So what’s wrong with it? I don’t know for sure. But it looks like used chemical to me. With the dark color of the chemical, the brown spots and the dirt inside the bottle.
But it could be that the cap was leaky, and that made the chemical bad.
I’m still to green with all this developing, and don’t have enough experience to tell you exactly what’s wrong.

Here are a few more photos of the bad bottle.

And before you all, get started. I know I did a lot of things wrong.
For once why didn’t I check up on things beforehand, well I’d used the Df96 from Cinestill, and here I just went with what it said on the plastic can, and it worked out just fine.
I have been out checking this one as well, and found out that there is more to it than that. For one, you have to add 15 sec. for every new film you develop, pretty good to know I think.

And secondly why in the world did I go for a second developing, when the first went so terribly wrong. That one I don’t have a straight answer to, but apparently I have it in my DNA to question myself first, before I start doubting the products/things I use, in most cases.
I know I hate it to, but I guess that’s who I am.

After researching the film, I also found out that the developer needs agitation for the first 30 sec. and then again for every 30 sec, a good thing to know.
You can find the data sheet right here (PDF version – ready to download)

So what’s the lesson in this “story” – well it must be, that you got to check up on everything, even the things/steps you’re quite sure you got covered.
And then it’s just a bit of information, to other newbies – like me – in the developing world. So they hopefully don’t make the same mistake I did.

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