Several manufacturers sell E-6 processing
kits. They vary only slightly. Whichever you choose, be sure to follow
the enclosed instructions for that kit precisely. Tack them up near
your work area so you can glance at them easily.
The procedure which follows is for the popular Unicolor kit. (The
processing times are the same for any of the E-6 films unless you have
pulled or pushed the film to change its effective ASA rating.)
Mix the chemicals in the order in which
they will be used according to the instructions. Label each bottle with
the name of the chemical and the date mixed—these chemicals have a
definite shelf life after which they must be discarded. Put a number on
each label, too, according to the sequence in which the chemicals are
used. The number should also go on the cap to avoid mixing up caps and
contaminating solutions. If you plan to use solutions immediately, mix
them at the proper temperature, 38° C (100°F) for inversion-type tanks.
40.5°C (105°F) for motorized agitators.
Pour a little of each solution, after it's mixed, back into the bottle
it came in, cap the bottle, shake, and pour the contents back into the
graduate. This ensures that you've got all of the chemicals into
solution. After that's done, pour the solution into a clean brown glass
bottle, cap it, carefully wash the graduate and the thermometer (which
doubles as a stirring rod), and go on to the next solution.
Place each bottle, after it's filled,
into your plastic tub water bath. This should contain water at about
39°C (102°F), assuming you are using an inversion-type tank. It is
critical for the success of this procedure to maintain the temperature
of the chemicals at 38°C (100-7 plus or minus one-half degree C (one
degree F). Without a temperature-controlled water bath, you will have
to check water-bath temperature frequently and add hot water as the
temperature drops. Between steps, take the time to check the
temperature of the chemical itself for the next step. You may need to
run hot water over capped bottle to adjust the temperature. Keep some
cold water or ice cubes nearby, too, in case you overcompensate and get
the water bath or solution temperatures too warm.
A changing bag is all you'll need in the
way of darkness for E-6 processing. In the bag, load the film onto the
reel just as you do for black-and-white film. Place the film in the
tank and attach the tank cover. Put the developing tank into the
water-bath while you do step 4. Because the tank is empty except for
the film, it may float in the water—that's okay.
Check again to be sure all solutions and
the water bath are at 38° C (100°F). Set your time for 61f2 minutes.
Start the timer as you pour the first
developer, solution number 1 into the tank. Tap the tank twice, gently
but firmly, on the table or counter, to dislodge any air bubbles that
may be clinging to the film. Agitate the tank for 30 seconds
immediately and then for 5 seconds every 30 seconds until the
developing time is up.
About 10 seconds before the end of the
6.5 minute period, begin pouring out the first developer. Use a funnel
and pour it back into its brown bottle—it can be used again.
Run water at 38°C (100°F), into the
baffle top of the developing tank for 2 to 3 minutes. Don't open the
tank! Drain tank.
Set timer for 2 minutes and start it as
you pour in reversal bath, solution number 2. Agitate 5 seconds every
30 seconds. At the end of the two-minute period, pour the reversal bath
back into its bottle.
Set timer for 6 minutes and start it as
you pour in the color developer, solution number 3. Agitate, as in step
5, for the first 30 seconds and then for 5 seconds every 30 seconds
thereafter. At the end of the developing time, pour the color developer
back into its bottle.
From the next step on, the solution temperatures are less critical than
in the first developer, reversal bath, and color developer steps.
Temperatures should be between 32°C (90°F) and 43°C (110°F).
Set timer for 1 minute and start it as
you pour in stop bath, solution number 4. Agitate 5 seconds every 30
seconds. Pour the stop bath back into its bottle at the end of the
Another water rinse, 2 minutes into the
baffle top of the developing tank. Don't open the tank! Drain tank.
Set timer for 3 minutes and start it as
you pour in bleach, solution number 5. Agitate 5 seconds every 30
seconds. At the end of the time period, pour the bleach back into its
Set timer for 2 minutes and start it as
you pour in fixer, solution number 6. Agitate the tank 5 seconds every
30 seconds. At the end of the time period, pour the fixer back into its
A third water rinse, for 2 or 3 minutes
into the baffle top of the developing tank. The light-tight top of the
tank must not be removed yet!
Pour in stabilizer, solution number 7,
and time for 30 seconds, agitating gently the first 10 to 15 seconds
only. Although Unicolor specifies room temperature for this solution,
keep it at or near the temperatures of the other solutions so as not to
make too drastic a change for the film. At the end of the one-half
minute period, pour the stabilizer back into its bottle.
The film may now be removed from the
tank. Its appearance will give you a jolt—it will look opalescent and
no images will be visible. That's normal—your pictures will gradually
appear as the film dries. Hang the film, as you do with black-and-white
film, in a dust-free place—in the center of a room away from doors and
windows, or, better yet, inside a shower stall with the curtain pulled.
When the film is dry, you'll want to
mount the pictures. There are several ways to accomplish this. Slide
mounting gadgets are available for almost any budget. Or you can use
the heat-sealed type mount with an electric iron. There are snap
mounts, if you can find them. Simplest of all are slip-in mounts. You
can save money by mounting only the acceptable pictures. Cut carefully,
mount, and enjoy!
The standard E-6 process is much like
C-41 and is a great improvement over previous home processing
techniques. Its predecessor, E-4, consisted of a nine-chemical,
thirteen-step marathon. Taking more than one hour, compared to E-6's 37
minutes, it was a real turnoff.
Be aware that several color chemicals are dangerous if ingested and
cause severe skin reactions in some individuals if not neutralized
promptly. Color developers, bleach, and fix are the principal culprits.
If you are hyper- sensitive to chemicals, you should wear rubber gloves
during most of the processing stages involving the previously mentioned