I have always wanted to process colour film, particularly Kodak Portra 160 in 120 format, but every time I thought about it, I was put off by what I read …

The temperature precision required seemed daunting. 38 degrees C plus or minus 0.3 degrees for the developer. The Jobo kit seemed expensive for the number of colour films I would take; alternative methods of keeping to an even and precise temperature seemed half-baked and prone to disappointment.

The thing that swung it for me was the discovery of Ilford XP2 Super film in 35mm and 120 formats (a black and white film that requires C 41 processing). The film’s ability to accept highlights without blowing out, the fact that grain is confined to shadow detail and finally the film’s amenability to scan were all features that made XP2 my ‘normal’ street and kick-about film. I also think XP2 is likely to make a good indoor Pinhole film (more on this in a future post).

So I decided to buy a Jobo CPE-3 set of kit:

Jobo CPE-3

I worried whether I would have a problem setting it up. The instructions were sparse and there was little information on You Tube for the CPE-3. But I was pleasantly surprised. The set up was easy, the thermostat was accurate and the process could not be easier. I would go as far to say that it’s easier than black and white film development.

So here is my first attempt at C41 processing of Portra 160. Not a great photo, but I was pleased with the overall production of the picture.

The Cod & Lobster at Staithes, Yorkshire. 2018. © Tony Cearns

I am sure to get a lot of use from the CPE-3 with the volume of XP2 that I get through. Now, let’s hope Tetenal continues 🙂

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