Update: additional resellers added.

TETENAL 1847 GmbH has just announced the introduction of new developer kits for processing C-41 and E6 film and RA-4 prints under the “Magic Box” brand. Initially available for German-speaking markets only, the kits are being positioned by the company as an option for film photographers wanting to try out colour film and paper development for the first time without first investing in a larger kit.

Magic Box is the first product from “NEW TETENAL”, now officially going under the name of “TETENAL 1847” since February 2019’s management buy out. The company, which once employed ~200 members of staff from sales and marketing to warehousing, chemists and scientists now employs approximately 40 people and under the guidance of Carsten Gehring and Stefania Grimme, is investigating a move to new factory premises from its current aged location.

Each Magic Box comes with enough chemistry to develop a single roll of 35mm 36 exposure or 120 roll film (C-41 or E6) or 18 sheets of 8×10″ colour photo paper respectively. As with other colour development kits on the market today, you can expect to be able to squeeze out a little more than that in real life (likely 2-3 rolls in the case of the C-41 and E6 options).

That volume of a single roll of film for the C-41 and E-6 Magic Boxes may seem absurd to most existing home developers reading this who are more used to TETENAL’s 1L and 2.5L COLORTEC options (capable of developing 15 and 40 rolls respectively), so I should clarify that these are not for you.

The intended target market for these new products are those who are new to colour negative or slide film processing, and to darkroom colour printing. They are also intended as tester options for low-volume colour film shooters and printers interested in developing 1-2 rolls when the mood strikes. Film shooters slightly longer in the tooth may remember similar TETENAL products in the 1980s and 90s aimed at field-based photojournalists – it’s the same concept pointed in a different direction.

All three Magic Boxes – not visible on the Tetenal 1847 online store at the time of writing – are available through German resellers such as FOTOIMPEX, Foto Brenner, macodirect and NORDFOTO.

Average pricing (including sales tax) is as follows:

TETENAL Magic Box RA-4: €14.95
TETENAL Magic-Box E6: €15.95
TETENAL Magic-Box C-41: €12.95

Interestingly, the Magic Box solution is not a new one – TETENAL previously sold such kits in the 1990s aimed at photojournalists who needed fast turnaround times and would develop film using portable daylight tanks such as the Rondinax. While this market may no longer exist in any meaningful sense today, it’s reasonable to assume that some enterprising photographers will be packing one or two of these kits along with a LAB BOX for some in-the-field film development fun.

Read on for the official English press release and pay attention to an interesting point of note: the explicit mention of the company’s next project, film developer in tablet form, first shared here on EMULSIVE on May 20th, 2019.

I can’t wait.

October 2019, Norderstedt

Discover the Magic of developing your own film and colour papers with Tetenal Magic Box. New Products for analog photography from Tetenal 1847.

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In the meantime, the employee-based initiative to save Tetenal has developed to a more than 40 people strong and still growing StartUp, in order to continue Tetenal ́s pivotal role in the analog photography industry. Out of the old Tetenal, the new company, Tetenal 1847, has formed with the claim to develop innovative and new products for analog photography.

Vinyl records and instant photography have shown that a new demand for “nostalgic” products has formed with a target audience that did not grow up with these very technologies initially. This is the case with analog photography as well. Be it a camera found on the grandparent ́s attic, or bought directly from the used equipment dealership, cameras, film and the overall “style” of shooting connected with it are increasingly in demand again. “The fascination of analog photography does, however, not end with the exposure of the film”, says Carsten Gehring, who together with Stefania Grimme has taken over leadership of Tetenal 1864 GmbH. He points out that the team in Norderstedt have made it their expressed goal to proliferate the fascination about analog photography even to households not previously associated with developing film. This claim is clearly visible on the new products leaving the factory in Norderstedt as well: “Magic-Box – Discover the magic of film development.”

The Magic-Box C-41 and Magic-Box E6 contain pre scaled concentrates to develop exactly one colour negative or colour slide film in 135 or 120 formats conveniently at home. The product line is completed by the Magic-Box RA-4 for 23 8×10 sized colour enlargements on photographic paper.

For the time being, the products are being launched in the German speaking market but will successively be made available in other markets as well.

This, however, is not the end, but merely the beginning. Product developers in Norderstedt already are working on the next innovation – tabletized photochemistry. Already leaked here and there, and even part of Tetenal ́s rich history, these tablets will again simplify developing film substantially.

Something is developing in Norderstedt again. This time, literally.

The availability of new film photography products is always welcome here on EMULSIVE and anything that improves accessibility and diminishes barrier to entry – especially for film development – has my seal of approval.

It’s been a rocky ~10 months since news of TETENAL’s insolvency and subsequent MBO. During that time I’ve had more than a handful of conversations with people in our community trying to put the company’s silence into perspective.

My take: We’re used to receiving broad streams of data on demand for almost any question we care to ask and that has led to — my apologies — a certain level of entitlement in our industry. That is, the desire to know everything about everything with little care for due process and pressures which businesses in our small but growing niche. Bringing back an organisation as critical to film photography as TETENAL — with less than a quarter of the staff — has been no small feat. For my part, I can say that while the company has been intentionally quiet on the social media/updates front, it’s been focusing on doing everything it takes to unburden itself from the shell of its original form. This includes but is not limited to: delivering backorders, improving manufacturing efficiency and making new product, managing higher component costs, developing new product lines, maintaining and improving the supply chain (end-to-end). You get the picture, it’s a lot to do with 25% of the manpower.

BUT the important thing: it’s working and I’m grateful for that.

With a toe-dip into innovation through the Magic Box, the end of 2019 heralds the beginning of TETENAL 1847’s story and is the first of many new products the company is working to bring to market.

Considering that this time last year the business was facing the prospect of closing for good, I think we can file this under “feel-good news” and collectively suggest that Carsten, Stefania and the rest of the team in Norderstedt start planning a HUGE Christmas party.

Your thoughts in the comments below,

~ EM

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  1. I use the new RA-4 kit for developing Kodak Vision film that normally requires an ECN-2 process.
    Dilution 1+40 of the concentrate (or 1+4 of the ready paper dilution) works really well at 100F and within 3:15 mts.


  2. I’m a little confused. The E6 and C41 bottles say “for 250mL of working-strength solution”, but a Paterson tank needs 300 mL for a roll of 35mm or 500 mL for a roll of 120. How is this enough solution to develop a roll of film?

    1. I share that confusion. Haven’t been able to find an answer yet. I had hoped to find a digital download of the usage/mixing instructions at the new tetenal website, but no luck. If anyone has the answer to this, I’d be happy to hear.

  3. Yessss! I am happy to see that New Tetenal is coming up with new products here in Germany. Great to see especially this small package of E-6 chemistry. So far, Tetenal’s E-6 chemistry was only available in 30 film packs minimum – too much and too expensive for just trying first home development of slide film. Now, everyone can take a plunge with a first test film.

  4. This sounds great, I only shoot 2-3 rolls of slide film a year at present so being able to do them at home economically would be a awesome.

  5. Hah, I see you’re pre-empting my complaints about Ilford Simplicity. 😉

    The C-41 kit makes a lot less sense to me than the other two, just because it’s so much more expensive than developing a roll with a drugstore ( ~ €13 a roll versus ~ €6 a roll) – and without proper temperature control and agitation, the quality may actually be worse.

    The E6 kit though, is cost effective compared to paying for commercial E6 processing (even though the quality problems are still a risk) – and the “occasional printer” RA4 kit makes a huge amount of sense, even for people who are kitted out with rotary processors and the proper drums to use them with. I don’t even print enough black and white to justify keeping chemicals around. Buying a 1L RA4 kit would be absurd.

    As with Ilford’s product though – it’s still a shame to see manufacturers shifting to the more-waste model of revenue generation.