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How to develop color slide film with Tetenal Colortec E-6 3-bath kits?

Instructions of developing color slides, is very similar to black and white negatives. Except that the temperature of the solution should be 38±0.3 °C instead of 20 °C. To do this, i use the Tetenal Colortec E-6 3-bath kit. But it is best to initially know little about the structure of color slide film.

Structure of color slide films

Structure of color slide films, essentially, like color negatives, is composed of crystals of silver bromide or iodide, mixed in gelatin. Emulsion of color slide films, according to structure of Fuji velvia, has three main distinct layers, that would be sensitive to blue, red and green light. In addition to these three layers, there are several other sub-layer.

In the top section of emulsion is located, anti-scratch coating. The second part, is composed of blue sensitive layer, plus, colorless yellow coupler. To avoid blue light passing, to bottom layers, yellow filter is located under the blue sensitive layer.
The fourth layer, an interlayer, which is composed of a special adhesive. The fifth layer, is composed of green sensitive layer, plus, colorless magenta coupler, and again under that, is located another interlayer. In other section of color slide emulsion, there is a red sensitive layer, plus colorless cyan coupler. Again, the eighth layer formed from the interlayer, and below it is the anti halation layer. The film base, acetate cellulose, is located under the anti halation layer. In the end, the back layer is placed to keep the flat surface of the film.
(Note: the color negative, in addition to the layers of color slides, an integrated mask also is used, consisting of two layers of yellow–pink. That after the developing, the whole surface of the film will be shown in orange. This mask will prevent the problems caused by pigment Magenta and Cyan, while printing.)

The following figure shows the Fuji velvia color slide layers before developing.

Fuji velvia film structure before exposure
Fuji velvia slide film base before exposure

What happens during the developing color slides?

Developing material of color slides E6, is mainly composed of five solutions, the black and white developer, reversal bath (inverter), color developer, bleach bath and fix bath. When you're exposed color slides, each sensitive layer, is influenced by a kind of range of light colors. So at this stage, three monochrome invisible negative image, is formed on a sensitive three-layer of film.

In the first step, the first developer, as usual developed only exposed silver crystals in each layer. And their color will be black and gray. So do not reaction with the pigment couplers sticking to them.

The second step, reversal solution, affects the rest of the unexposed silver crystals. (Just like the film is exposed again). The third step, color developer, convert silver crystals of previous step to black grains and pigment couplers them, to color grains them. In this step does not any reaction with silver grains blackened from the first stage. The colored grains made up ​​in the end of third stage, would be representative of the final grains a positive image.

The fourth and fifth steps, bleach and fixing solutions, delete all remaining silver, sub-layers and additional materials (including pigments that have reacted in the first step), the overall from the film surface. So what's on the surface of the film is fixed, would be only the colored grains made ​​of three layers, after the color developer step. These three layers are not separable, and together will constitute a positive image or color slide.

Slide film after developing
Slide film base after developing
Slide film top view
Slide film base after developing top view

An introduction to Tetenal Colortec E-6 3-bath kit

Tetenal Colortec E-6 3-bath kit, has summed the five stages in three stages, the first developing, color developing and bleach/fix. In the first step only will appear, the exposed silvers. In the secend step, color developer, acted such as mixture of color developer and reversal bath, and will developed unexposed silvers and pigmet them. In the third step, bleach/fix solution, will separate all the silver and additional material from the surface of the film.

Tetenal colortec-E6 kit is offered as a prepared package, in volumes of 1, 5 and 15 liters. In each package, there is a 6 bottle in the following order. That after the mixing and dilution will be used.

1– FD, First developer
2– CD part 1, Color developer part 1
3– CD part 2, color developer part 2
4– BX part 1, Bleach/Fix part 1
5– BX part 2, Bleach/Fix part 2
6– STAB, Stabilizer

Tetenal Colortec-E6 kit package contents
Name Bottle For 1 lit For 5 lit For 15 lit
First Developer FD 200 1000 3000
Color Developer CD part 1 200 1000 3000
Colour Developer CD part 2 120 600 1800
Bleach Fix BX part 1 200 1000 3000
Bleach Fix BX part 2 200 1000 3000
Stabilizer STAB 100 500 –––
Tetenal Colortec E6 3-bath 5lit kit
Tetenal Colortec E-6 3-bath 5lit kit

Each kit will enable the developing of a limited number of slide film. The following table is provided.

Maximum yields developing per number of slides
Kit size 135-36 roll slide film 120 roll slide film 4x5in sheet slide film
1 lit 12 12 48
5 lit 60 60 240
15 lit 180 180 720

I usually, at any time, will developed only 4 film 120mm to manually. If you're using jobo developing devices, can according to the capacity of the device, change the number of films. I have more control on the process, in developing to manual methods. But for manual developing of four films, more time will be spent.

In the following table is provided, the preparation of first developer, color developer and fix/bleach solution for 1, 5 and 15 liter kits.

The preparation method of Tetenal kit solution
Mixing Water Part1 Part2 Kit volume
First Developer
800 200 –– 1,0 lit
4000 1000 –– 5,0 lit
12000 3000 –– 15,0 lit
Color Developer
680 200 120 1,0 lit
3400 1000 600 5,0 lit
10200 3000 1800 15,0 lit
600 200 200 1,0 lit
3000 1000 1000 5,0 lit
9000 3000 3000 15,0 lit
20-25 °C
900 100 –– 1,0 lit
4500 500 –– 5,0 lit

Table recommended by Tetenal, are provided for the preparation volumes 1, 5 and 15 liters. But I'm prepared fresh solution, according to the amount consumed and the number of slides. Also, as was mentioned on developing of black and white negatives page, due to adding on lifetime of solutions, would fill the empty space of the original bottles, by glass marbles. Thus will increase lifetime of concentrated solutions.

The following table, i calculated the required amount of the concentrate solution for preparation of developing solutions, per 4 roll film.

Prepare a solution for developing of 4 roll color slide film
Mixing Water Part 1 Part 2 Final Volume Number of film
First developer
160 40 ––– 200 8x 4x5in
280 70 ––– 350 4X135 or 120
Color developer
136 40 24 200 8x 4x5in
238 70 42 350 4X135 or 120
120 40 40 200 8x 4x5in
210 70 70 350 4X135 or 120
180 20 ––– 200 8x 4x5in
315 35 ––– 350 4X135 or 120

In this table, Each solution was diluted with quantities water, and can be used. For example, to prepare a FD solution, for the 4 reel of 120mm film, 70 ml of concentrate FD, mix with 280 ml ​​water.

Equipment required

The equipment for developing color slides, will be the same equipment used for developing of black and white negatives. At following list, is provided equipment required for developing of color slides.

1– Developing tank for roll films, and jobo special tank, or 3 pcs developing tray for sheet films
2– Water bath with temperature control in the range of 38° C
3– Thermometer 0 to 100° C with an accuracy of 0.5° C
4– 500 or 1000 ml glass bottle or plastic accordion bottle for storage solutions
5– Glass marbles for filling empty space of solution bottles
6– Timer
7– Container to measure the volume of liquids (graduated cylinder)
7– Glass or plastic agitator
8– Plastic funnel
9– Film Clips for drying
10– Darkroom or changing bag
11– A place to drain rinse and add solutions
12– And of course, slide film, prepare for developing

Because, the temperature of developing color slide is 38±0.3° C, should be used as a warm bath to warm up and stabilize the temperature. For this purpose, I am using an electric heater with controller for heating, and an aquarium pump for water circulation and uniform, at a 20-liter tub home. So will be water temperature throughout the bath, consistent and controllable.

A bath for developing slide film
Homemade developing bath
Temperature controller with aquarium pump
Temperature controller with aquarium pump

Description of the process and its time, (Time Processing)

In the table below is given a color slide processing, depending on the type of film

Process of developing color slides for 4 reel
 Process Working Temperture °C Kodak
Pre–washing 38±0.3 5' 00"
First Developer (FD) 38±0.3 6' 15" 6' 30" 6' 30" 7' 00"
Washing 38±1 2' 30"
Color Developer (CD) 38±1 6' 00" 7' 00" 6' 00" 7' 00"
Washing 35±5 2' 30"
Bleach–Fix (BX) 35±5 6' 00" 7' 00" 6' 00" 7' 00"
Final washing 35±5 4' 00"
Stabilizer (STAB) 20–25 1' 00"

For developing of a color slide film, can do the following instructions:

1– Please load the film in developing tank.

2– Prepare a warm water bath.

3– Prepare 5 liters of warm water 38° C for washing, and put into the bath.

4– Prepare, the first developer FD, color developer CD and bleach/fix BX, based on number of films. (If your films is 4, according to my table, and if your number of rings film is less or more, calculate and prepare, the appropriate solution accordance with the table provided by Tetenal)

5– Put the bottles into the bath, and please measure temperature with a thermometer. (Do not sink, thermometers contaminated of a solution into another solution. Before to check the temperature of each bottle must be thoroughly washed thermometer, with water.)

6– After the temperature of all solutions was 38±0.3° C, the process can start.

7– Pre-washing: The film inside the developing tank, a few steps please wash and drain with 38±0.3° C warm water. Then fill the tank of warm water, and put into the bath for 5 minutes, until the temperature is stabilized at 38±0.3° C.

8– First developeing: Please drain the water completely, and add a solution of FD into the tank, and simultaneously turn on the timer. Please enter several impact to out of the tank until be removed air bubbles from the surface of the film. In the first 15 seconds continuously, and then shake the tank once every 15 seconds.

Shaking developing tank
Shaking developing tank

9– Washing: After completion of the first developeing stage, mentioned solution back into the bottle. Then wash thoroughly and drain tank, within 5 to 6 times with 1 lit water 38±1° C.

10– Color developing: Add a solution of CD into the tank, and simultaneously turn on the timer. Please enter several impact to out of the tank until be removed air bubbles from the surface of the film. In the first 15 seconds continuously, and then shake the tank once every 15 seconds.

11– Washing: After completion of the color developeing stage, mentioned solution back into the bottle. Then wash thoroughly and drain tank, within 5 to 6 times with 1 lit water 38±1° C.

12– Bleach/Fix: Add a solution of BX into the tank, and simultaneously turn on the timer. Please enter several impact to out of the tank until be removed air bubbles from the surface of the film. In the first 15 seconds continuously, and then shake the tank once every 15 seconds.

13– Final washing: After completion of the Bleach/Fix stage, mentioned solution back into the bottle. Then wash thoroughly and drain tank, within 15 to 20 times with flowing water 38±5° C.

14– You can now open the door of developing tank, and the film is completely washed again.

15– Stabilizer (STAB): After perfect washing, separating the film from reel and attach the ends of it clips. Stabilizer solution STAB pour into another tray, and the film with the help of clips attached to it, will pass slowly from the solution.

16– Please hanging the film to dry in a place free from dust.

A few recommendations:

– First, I recommend to determine a standard method for yourself.

– The time of first developer is very critical and will have a major impact on quality of the final images. Time, temperature and shaking conditions must be completely controlled and stabilized.

Fuji and Kodak films have different in developing time. Use the time of process for them according to the table.

– According developing the process table, after developing of the first two rolls for Kodak film 15 seconds, and 30 seconds for Fuji film, you should add to developing time.

– Do not ever developing two films of different companies with a solution. This action will change the color balance slides.

– Increased 25% to first developing time, almost would be equivalent of 1 stop increase in exposure, and decreased 25%, to approximately 1 stop lower exposure.

– Any transmission of infection from one solution to another solution, will have a major effect on the final result.

– Transfer materials, from first developing to color developing solution, even in small amounts, or its vapor, reduces the density of the image.

– After finishing power solution, do not mix them with fresh solution.

– Some plastic developing tanks, over time, absorb the color developing drastically. This may affect the color balance of upcoming films.

– It is recommended, do not add (STAB) stabilizer solution to the developing tank.

– Stabilizer solution (STAB) is toxic and carcinogenic. So please working with, more cautiously.

– Always use each bottle only for an solution.

– Keep the cleanliness.

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