Processing Color Transparencies - E6 Processing

When you've become proficient at black-and-white processing, you may want to try your hand at color. Though it seems intimidating to consider and does require some extra care and precautions, if you follow the instructions exactly, you'll be successful. More than that, you will have the advantage of greater control over the results and at less than half the cost of commercial processing.

The best way to begin is with color-positive (transparency) film which can be processed by E-6 chemistry. These include Ektachrome, Fujichrome, Agfachrome, and Scotchchrome. All Kodachrome must be processed by the manufacturers.

You'll need a little more equipment than you already have for black and white processing. The extras should include an accurate dial or rod, thermometer and a timer. You'll also need seven sixteen-ounce storage bottles; the brown glass variety available at pharmacies is best. Put a label on each. Protective waterproof gloves are not imperative if you're careful but, since several of the E-6 chemicals are toxic and can cause skin and eye irritation, better safe than sorry. Another warning here: Mix and use these chemicals in a well-ventilated room because the vapors can cause eye and respiratory damage!

If you find you are doing a lot of E-6 processing, you may eventually want to invest in a motor-based film agitator and a temperature-controlled water bath. They are not essential to start, but do ease the process considerably.

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