Film development: Lab-Box

Something new in the development of black & white and color film films, the Lab-Box. Its promise: a daylight end-to-end development.

Developed by the Italian company ars-imago, the Lab-Box is the modern version of the Paterson tanks.

As a reminder, Paterson tanks are opaque cylindrical containers allowing film to be loaded onto turns to develop them.

Paterson’s tanks

The Lab-Box: how it works

As the name suggests, the Lab-Box is a box. Compact and airtight to light, it is designed to facilitate the development of 135 and 120 format negatives. It consists of two parts. A first which is similar to a loading magazine in which the film to be developed is placed. The second part contains a reel and accommodates the development bath. The lid placed on the top of the box allows all development operations to be carried out in broad daylight.

Lab-Box with two tanks

Just like in a Paterson tank in the end. Well no !

In a development process with a Paterson tank, the first step, loading the exposed film, must be done in absolute darkness. You have to put the film on the coil, then put it in the tank and close the latter, then the light can be re-turned on.

For the Lab-Box, loading is done in broad daylight, an undeniable gain in comfort. It is no longer necessary to have a completely blind part or a sleeve.

For the rest, the process is similar to a Paterson tank. Note however that an additional module, the Lid Pro, provides the tank with a thermometer and a timer.

Module Lid Pro

The Lab-Box: price

On the price side, the Lab-Box displays the following prices: :
Lab-Box (Black, Green or Orange) + Store 120 or 135: € 159
Lab-Box (Black, Green or Orange) + Store 120 and 135: € 199 :
Crank (Black, Green or Orange): € 19
Lid pro : € 79

Paterson vs Lab-Box

Undeniably the Lab-Box easily wins the ergonomics match. But, and this is where the bottom hurts, the price leaves you thinking. There are, without difficulty, Paterson tanks with one or more turns around 50 €. You therefore have to pay almost four times more to be able to develop 135 films and 120 films with a Lab-Box.

As for the Lid pro, 79 € to know the temperature in the box and have a timer, it is simply money thrown out the windows. In any case, you must have a thermometer to know the temperature of the product before pouring it into the Lab-Box or the Paterson tank.

Find out more Lab-box

Practical information

Website :

Recommended price: € 159 for one store, € 199 for two stores.

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Nicolas Beaumont is a photojournalist, director and writer specializing in social and humanitarian photography. Among our clients are the French Red Cross, Emmaüs, Handicap International, Secours Mag, Dimatex, Actusoins. We make films, photographs and articles around the world on current topics: migration, war, displaced, natural disaster, flood etc...

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