There’s something very exciting in the mix for film photographers today: a brand new Kickstarter called Lab Box wants to allow photographers to develop their film in daylight, at home, on the road, or pretty much anywhere. I’ve known about this since Photokina 2016 and I’ve been keeping my lips sealed until today when the cat is finally out of the bag.
So how does it work? Essentially the Lab Box is a combination of a film tank, agitator, etc. You put either 35mm or 120 film inside, get it out of the spool, add the chemicals (which you can do in full daylight) agitate, and when you’re all done then you take your film out and get ready to either scan it or print it. There’s also a monobath that both develops and fixes film at the same time. This can be done with black and white or color film.
Essentially, the Lab Box makes it so that anyone and everyone can develop film. You don’t need a darkroom any more and there are loads of tutorials online that let you figure out how you’re supposed to develop your film. Of course, the chemicals also need to be certain temperatures. Plus, you’ll need to read up on what chemicals you need: for example, Rodinal is very popular with many black and white shooters.
Another big reason why the Lab Box is so exciting is because it means that the new breed of photographers who started in digital and then took up analog film photography can now experiment more. You can cross process at home, do bleach bypasses, develop with caffenol, etc. With time, you’ll get better and you’ll figure out all the ways you can develop you film. Maybe, just maybe, this will mean that Kodachrome will have a better chance at coming back.
If you’ve never developed film before I totally understand why you’d be scared to do this; and that’s why you first try it out with a test roll of a more crappy and cheaper film. Once you’ve got that down perfectly you can move on up to the more advanced stuff.
For more information on the Lab Box, you can head over to their Kickstarter and back them.