Available on backorder today starting at $99.95 and shipping from 10th October 2018, Cinestill’s ºCs TCS-1000 is a compact home film development device created to enable anyone to very accurately control their water/chemistry temperature when developing film.

It might look like a sous vide cooker, it might even kind of act like one but it’s quite the world apart from what you might pick off the shelves or buy online for use in your kitchen.

It’s closer to a small-scale thermoregulation system than something you’d use to get a perfect, flavour-packed chicken breast (although to be fair, you could if you wanted to).

Cinestill ºCs “Temperature Control System” TCS-1000 - Chemistry bath temperature control
Cinestill ºCs “Temperature Control System” TCS-1000 – Chemistry bath temperature control

So it’s not a sous vide cooker?

Today’s home sous vide cookers are an evolution of devices designed to accurately regulate temperatures in fluids – thermoregulation systems. They were not specifically designed to cook food but have been adapted to do so, coming from the factory to restaurants, to homes.

Home sous vide cookers were an evolution of commercial systems and those commercial systems were an evolution of industrial systems. Cinestill’s TCS-1000 is an evolution bringing those original industrial systems into to darkroom.

So why does it look like X or Y sous vide cooker?

Products created do a single (similar) job often creep towards a similar industrial design: scissors, knives, headphones, smartphones, cars.

The most basic principles remain the same (four wheels and a way to turn left and right in the case of the latter) but the internals – what differentiates – them do not.

So it’s kind-of like a sous vide cooker?

Kind of but not.

Like a sous vide cooker designed for use in the kitchen, the TCS-1000 allows the user to set a specific temperature and have it kept there – heating water and chemistry up or down*1.

Where it differs from those devices can be summed up in four points:

  • Very wide temperature range, from 0°C to 95°C.
  • Fine temperature control with a tolerance of +/- 0.1ºC (0.18ºF) against a pre-set temperature.
  • Fully adjustable, two-stage “developer and blix” timers.
  • Corrosion-resistant ceramic temperature control elements and non-metallic impeller blades for circulation.

If you wanted to use the TCS-1000 to directly heat chemistry such as Kodak D-76, HC-110, ILFORD DDX or Rodinal, you can without fear that it’s going to destroy the internals. You cannot do the same with a sous vide cooker. Check this out:

The image above shows a typical sous vide cooker on the left and the TCS-1000 on the right. Note the stainless steel heating elements and impeller on the kitchen product, and the ceramic/non-metallic heating element and impeller on the right. Quite different, I think you’ll agree, even though the device might look similar on the surface.

With one-shot liquid developers, the TCS-1000 could also be used to mix chemistry before use.

None too shabby.

Shut up and take my money

The device is available for backorder on CineStill’s website for the US and EU this very minute, although there’s no word just yet on when it will be available for the rest of the world.

If you’re impatient and happen to be in Cologne between September 26-29, you can drop into Photokina (Hall 2.1/Stand D039) and see it for yourself.

The official press release follows below.

°Cs “Temperature Control System” TCS-1000 announcement

Cinestill The biggest deterrents to at home film processing have been controlling temperature and handling chemistry. We already simplified the process with our Cs41 kits and now the Df96 Monobath, but over the past two years we have refined a system which is efficient and easy to use. Inspired by affordable kitchen appliances, cooking thermostats and even a foot-spa, which were themselves inspired by costly laboratory tools for scientific thermoregulation, we have now come full circle. An affordable immersion circulator thermostat for home laboratory use.

Developing film at home just got a whole lot simpler with the CineStill TCS-1000 Immersion Circulator Thermostat. Whether you are developing black and white, color negative, or slide film, this system allows you to efficiently and easily mix your chemistry, heat it up to the precise processing temperature, and maintain it during the entire developing session. Finally, the at home film processing solution for the modern film photographer.

Main Features:

  • Intuitive ready-to-use interface does not require additional timers, downloading phone apps, nor connecting to bluetooth/wifi
  • Display and firmware preprogrammed to process film with an adjustable two-stage timer for any process (C-41, E-6, B&W, etc.) in Min : Sec
    Simple toggling between °C/°F readouts
  • Universal bottle holder holds two 1000ml. storage bottles (collapsible accordion style, Wide-Mouth, JOBO, etc.) in a sink, tub, or basin of your preference
  • PTC heating element, brushless DC motor and polypropylene impeller
    Stainless steel housing
  • Ground protection and temp/water level/overheat protection sensor

Mixing & Heating Chemistry:

Place the TCS-1000 in the °Cs 1000ml Mixing Jug with the marked volume of water and add each bottle of concentrate or bag of powdered chemistry to the solution. The chemistry is easily mixed and heated to the correct processing temperature in a few seconds without splatter, spill or additional oxidation. Jugs of heated chemistry are then ready for immediate processing.

Temperature Control Bath:

For long developing sessions and the most precise results, the TCS-1000 can be used as a temperature control bath. The included universal bottle holder attachment holds two 1000ml. storage bottles (°Cs Collapsible Air Reduction, Wide-Mouth, JOBO, etc.) in a sink, tub or basin of your preference and prevents them from tipping over. Submerging the bottles at the desired temperature throughout the developing process is by far the most precise way of developing color negative and slide film.

Advantages over Kitchen Appliances:

  • User-adjustable precise temperature control, accurate from 0°C to 95°C (+/-0.1°C), compared to cooking appliances which are only accurate between 45°C to 99°C (film processing ranges between 18°C – 40°C)
  • Display and firmware designed for processing film, starts up ready to process color film with adjustable two-stage timer for any process (C-41, E-6, Df96 monobath, etc.) in Min : Sec
  • Positive thermal coefficient (PTC) heating element heats/cools quickly and is more stable and durable than standard metal heating tubes, which run too hot and rust.
  • High efficiency DC brushless motor offers fast speed, low noise, does not give off heat when processing film at lower temperatures, and has a life cycle over 4,000 working hours, 20-30% longer than most kitchen appliances.

The footnote you were after…

Yes, I said the TCS-1000 can be used to bring chemistry or water up or down to your desired temperature. Strictly speaking, the device doesn’t have the ability to freeze or even chill water/chemistry but with a little help, it can be used to quickly drop developer/water temperatures to the required level – obviously more useful for a traditional black and white process and especially for those of us who live in tropical or sub-tropical regions.

Purely from the perspective of speculations, here’s how I’d use it to cool either pre-mixed chemistry like Kodak D76 and Cinestill Df96, or water that I’d be using for a one-shot developer like Rodinal or HC-110:

  • Clip the TCS-1000 onto a suitable container and add water/chemistry to your desired volume.
  • Add a reusable ice pack(s), set the TCS-1000 to 0°C and turn it on. This will activate the impeller to circulate the cooling effect of the ice pack.
  • After a few minutes (I float ice packs for 5-10 minutes in the summer months), set the TCS-1000 to your required temp (I aim for 20°C) and let it do its job.

The same system would work for cirulating and warming very cold water from a winter tap, or water/chemistry that was being kept chilled in the fridge.

Just remember, if you plan on using the TCS-1000 as both a film developing aide AND sous vide cooker, you probably don’t want to use it to circulate “naked” chemistry. In fact, best buy two.

~ EM

PS. If you’re wondering what sous vide is: here you go.

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  1. Has anyone used this enough to give a a little insight as to if its worth the purchase or not? Seems like a easy way to control temps, I am just putting together everything needed to process color and this is on my list BUT I would love to hear more from the film community…

    1. I once used a heating element from an industrial water heater to make a cup of tea. I guess capability is interchangeable if you strip things down to bare functionality. Looking forward to you confirming the above once you have one to try out 😉

  2. I’ve found a few identical looking devices with identical temp ranges and impeller/elements that do not appear to be stainless on Ebay and Amazon.
    I’m dubious at best at these “key differences” so adamantly noted here.
    (First comments doesn’t appear to be approved due to an Ebay link I included perhaps?)