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  • Writer's pictureJo Sutherst

Final Major Project: IoP Symposium Workshop – Machine Film Processing – 17-02-18

The first workshop that I attended at #iopSymposium18 was a machine film processing workshop. Each participant brought along a film to develop. The film I chose to take provided a little challenging in determining the correct development cycle. I took a Lomography Lady Grey 400 ISO film, which did not have any processing or base film stock information on the film canister.

The machine used for the black and white processing is one of three machines in the department. The machine is made by Colenta. A schematic of a typical Colenta machine is shown in figure 1. The machine replenishes the chemicals at the required rate.

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 18.12.00

Figure 1: Colenta Machine Typical Film Transport System Schematic (Nowak 2018)

The machine has four tracks for 35mm film.  The images below explain the process.


Figure 2: Film canister opening equipment (used like a bottle opener)


Figure 3: Hole punch for end of film (so it can be attached to the leader). The tongue is first cut off with scissors

Figures 4-6: Attaching film to leader (helps guide the film through the machine)

Figures 7 – 10 : Film loading bay at end of machine (lightproof sleeves)

Figures 11 – 12: Loading our film inside the loading bay. All tasks have to be completed by feel alone.

Figures 13 – 16: Machine controls

Figures 17 – 18: Processed film exit end of machine

Each black and white film is processed based on the manufacturer and ISO. This was where the Lomography film was tricky. Research online indicated that the base film could either be T-Max or Fomapan. We decided to process the film as Fomopan, which has the same settings as Ilford HP5 film. Each film takes around 10 minutes to be processed.  This was a nrevous 10 minutes for me.  I was unsure if the processing time would be correct.  Also I had had issues in camera as the film was not DX coded and proved tricky for the camera to interpret – I ended up shooting everything in manual mode. I was really happy to see that the film contained images (as everyone in the IoP heard when I exclaimed that I could see ponies on the film).

Figures 19 – 20: Successfully developed film – cut into strips and placed in a storage sleeve

A thoroughly enjoyable workshop, useful for development of my practice.


Figure 1: NOWAK, ALEXANDER. 2018. “Colenta Labortechnik GmbH & Co KG – Digital & Conventional Color Processing equipment – Film and AERIAL Processors”. [online]. Available at: [accessed 17 February 2018].

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