Most of the people who read my blog posts will not have heard of Bellini. Or even know what a C41 process is. Let’s start by saying that whilst, from the title, this looks like it’s going to be a pretty niche blog post, there are some photographs to look at too. So, if you’re not massively into your home processing, scroll on and enjoy the images.
For those of you who are staying with the text, I hope you’ll find this helpful. I should also mention that all views expressed are only my own opinion based on my experience.
I’ve been processing my own colour film for a while now, maybe three years or thereabouts. I came at it from a financial point of view. I used to use the excellent UK Film Lab. But then they became Canadian Film Lab. I’m sure you can work out what changed. The problem that I had was that Christian & Erica at UKFL were just so damn good at what they did, that when I tried to find a new lab, everyone came up short. At least the ones in my price range did anyway. That’s when I decided to start doing it myself. I’m not going to bore anyone with what kit I use – everyone has their own temperature control methods, agitation methods etc. I want to specifically talk about chemistry.
I started off with Tetenal C41 3 stage kits, with the Bleach & Fix together. The results were acceptable and I was happy. Then it got really difficult to find anyone who had any in stock. Recently, Tetenal have had some financial difficulties and I think that they had a buy out from their employees? I hope so, I like it when that happens & if it’s true, I wish them the best of luck. After that, I moved on to Rollei. The Rollei kits were almost identical to the Tetenal ones except I just wasn’t quite getting the results I wanted. Things just looked a little…well…flat. Shadows seemed to have a red cast. Grass was never quite the right green. I know you can fix all that in the scan but I just didn’t want to.
Then, I made a mistake. I was going to give the Rollei one last go & try to get it right, but, instead of buying the 3 stage kit, I accidentally bought Digibase. I believe the term the kids are using these days is O.M.G.!! (I’m actually pretty sure that kids aren’t saying that anymore and I’m just showing how unhip I am. As is using ‘unhip’ outside of the 1970’s). Words cannot describe how I hated that process. Digibase has so many steps. Splitting the Bleach and Fix is fine. It’s when you add in all of the rinses necessary between stages that it becomes some all-consuming, mad scientist kind of affair. Digibase and me – we’re not friends.
That’s when I got to Bellini. I saw a Facebook post, at just the right time, while I was looking for a new C41 process. It’s spooky how that happens, isn’t it? Those rather splendid people at Nik & Trick were selling something touted as ‘The best C41 kit available anywhe