120 developing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jimi, Jun 17, 2005.

  1. Jimi

    Jimi Member

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    Good evening,

    I got my new Mamiya 645 from post today. Nice camera. I have shot 2 rolls of Ilfords PanF plus. I thought of asking any tips on 120 developing, before I go and mess up with my negs. :smile: I have done only 35mm developing before, anything I should do differently with 120?

    Btw, any thoughs about developing time, dilution, etc? Or should I go with the massive dev. chart's way, 1+50 11min 20C.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    The Massive Dev Chart gives reasonable starting times, but you should test the film for yourself to find the ideal time and temperature for your setup. Les McLean gives a great explanation on how to do this with minimum hassle in his book "Creative Black and White Photography".

    The only thing that you'll have to do differently is loading the film onto the reels. 120's different from 35mm...not easier or harder, just different. I strongly recommend that you waste a roll of unexposed film to practice with, to make sure you can do it right before you risk exposed film. Also, be sure you know how much volume you'll need to cover the film; you'll need more than you did with 35mm. If you're using a plastic tank, it probably tells you somewhere on the tank (check the bottom) how much diluted developer you'll need.

    Best of luck to you. Seeing your first MF negatives come out of the tank is a great feeling.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 17, 2005
  3. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Mongo's got it. I can only add that some dev times are longer with 120 than with 35mm; 10-20%. Fire off another roll of Pan-F (shoot the dog, tree in the yard, etc.) just as a test roll in the dev you'll be using. This test roll will give you an idea on dev times for your important rolls.
     
  4. Joakim

    Joakim Member

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    It's definitely a good idea to practise on a roll before doing one for real. It can be a little tricky to insert the leading edge of the film onto the reel at first, but once you know how to do that I've fount it to be less troublesome to load 120 film than 35mm. Not that it should be troublesome at all, of course, but when there's lots of moisture in the air 35mm film sometimes sticks to my reels. That never happens with 120 film.

    Another thing is not to give up prematurely when trying to adjust your Paterson reels (if that's what you use) to accept the larger format. I was convinced there was something wrong with mine, but all it took was a little violence. :smile:
     
  5. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    120 film is taped at one end to the paper backing by a little piece of masking tape. I usually fold it back onto the film so that I have a sturdier edge to insert in the reel. When using steel reels it doesn't make a big difference, but it's really helpful on the Paterson ones.

    For dev time, check the Ilford literature first (on their web site), they will give you accurate starting points, but as said before, it's a good idea to test a bit. Manufacturers tend to give more developing time than needed, probably to compensate from improper exposure by beginners (you can always manage a little better with an overdeveloped neg than with an underdeveloped one).
     
  6. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    You already have some great advice here - so let me just weighin with a little beginers perspective, what I found difficult, etc.

    First off, check that patterson reel before you go into the dark - mine was snapped together wrong ( the parts accepting the film were about 45 degrees of each other...). I bought the tank and reel, and didn't even look at the reel. So... I had to figure out what was wrong in total darkness, while holding a roll of "naked" film in one hand...

    Sounds like I belong in the special olympics... but its just a little example of what happens when you get to eager and too excited and just want to get on with it! And I really had high hopes for the negative, so I didn't have the option to turn on the light and just say "screw it"....

    The other thing is - when you get the end and pull off that tape DO IT SLOWLY! I thought it was just an overcautious physics nut that warned of the electrical discharge that may take place if you pull the tape off too fast... but its not. I saw it with me own two eyes, it happens, GO SLOW.

    Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly - I wipe them down with rubbing alcohol and wait a couple minutes, because you have to cradle that MF film in your hand while unrolling the backing tape, etc. its touching your skin longer than a roll of 35mm - you want no oils or anyting else getting in there.

    Also, the Paterson reels have those tiny grooves that the film sits in. I am sure I don't have to tellyou all about the clenliness of it being important, but those suckers NEVER DRY! They have to be facing open side down, or better yet, give them a wipe with a clean pieceof paper towel or somethig else that won't lint. I had some nasty little marks on the edges of my negs untilI realized there was water in those grooves.

    What else... well, the film is thinner, so its not as sturdy, or rather rigid - so be careful not to crease it - I find grabbing the end and pulling it into the real for a few inches helps, rather than relying entirely on the ratchet action.

    If I was to do it over, I would doit in the light a few times with a practice roll - better advice I have never heard. Of course, I didn't, and while the pics came out, when I did it was 45 minutes later, sweating like a pig, frustrated and with a roll of filme that was a bit worn around the edges :wink:

    Best of luck - if you have only shot 35mm so far, that first MF neg will blow your mind! As I am sure that first LF one will do for mine...what's that honey? NO, I am NOT buying another camera, don'tbe silly....shhhhhhh, she's listening :wink:
     
  7. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    All I can do is reinterate what everyone else has said.

    Make sure that the reels are dry. I sometimes put them in a dryer or even the oven (on very, very low) to dry them out first.

    Practice loading a scrap film in daylight first, then with your eyes closed and then in the dark! I had endless hassle loading my first couple of 120 films. Like mhv has said, the best advice I had was to unwind the film completely first and take off the backing paper. Fold over the masking tape at the end onto the film and use this end to feed into the reel first. The masking tape makes it more rigid and easier to feed into the slots.

    Mike
     
  8. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    One more thing, the roll you will use to practice on is not wasted, it is an investment!
     
  9. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    A couple of comments..

    There is *NO* difference in the emulsion or base in either 35mm or 120 ... at least not in the Agfa films I am addicted to, and if memory serves, in none of the others either. "Suitable" development times (note that I did not say "perfect") vary from photographer to photographer, along with superstition, the phase of the moon, ambient gamma ray distribution, if a lark is singing at midnight.... The only way I know to sort it all out is to try it and decide on your own. The various "published" times/ temperatures are valid places to START, and will save a lot of fooling around.

    120 SEEMS more flexible when loading it on a reel. It is, not because it is thinner, but because there is a greater unsupported span from the sides of the reel. Practice loading, with you eyes closed, until you wife/ significant other/ neighbors cannot stand it any more. That indicates the minimum practice threshold. More is advantageous.

    I remove the paper backing completely. Easier to handle consistently that way. I remove the tape, most of the time - envisioning possible chemical contamination - which, incidentally has never occurred. You may notice a "line of light" as you peel the tape off - resembling a static discharge - which I have been informed by Ole that it is not. Out of all the 120 I have processed, I have never seen ANY effect from this weak light.

    Periodic scrubbing of the grooves in the reel is a good - wonderful idea! I use a high-tech device, known as a "toothbrush" and various cleaners - something mildly abrasive might be good, to keep the grooves clean. Helps to induce the film to slide freely through the grooves while loading.

    Yeh, yeh ... it IS a dedicated toothbrush.
     
  10. nyx

    nyx Member

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    loading two films

    I've got somewhat different question. I have Jobo 1520 tank and it is supposed to take two 120 rolls. How to load the second one? Or to make it more clear - how to get the first one "deeper" into the reel to make space for the second? Do you simply take it at the end and push it there by force until you reach that small red separator. Or is there some different way?

    PS: I'm still waiting for my MF camera to arrive and I've never loaded 120 film into that reel yet, so maybe it will be obvious when I try for the first time (like almost everything I did in darkroom so far).

    And other thing - how hard is loading 120 film in changing bag? I still don't have really dark darkroom, so I'm loading my 35mm film this way (and cursing aloud every time).
     
  11. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    All good advice so far. One more thing - you may find that agitation pattern and timing may need to be different with MF than 35mm, depending on your film/dev combination. I do 4x5 continuous, 35mm a couple of rotation/inversions every 30 sec (not too fast to avoid sprocket hole patterns), but I had edge to center issues with MF until I got the right combination of timing and "violence" when agitating. It took a lot more movement and more frequency than I thought it would to keep the edges from being more developed than the middle (I use Nikkor tanks). If you have this problem (and you may not depending on your materials) you may want to try tripod mount facing a wall about a half a meter away (no shadows) and focus at infinity. Expose to place the wall as a middle tone, or slightly lighter. Shoot all exposures identical. Process, do a contact sheet with grade 3 or so. You will know if you have even development. Normal subjects may mask uneven development (until the wonderful shot you made that has an uneven sky that you can't quite burn in to your satisfaction.)
    Best of luck, as someone earlier said, 6mm is a great format, and the negs look great coming out of the wash.
     
  12. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    I'm a little puzzled..? When loading two rolls of 120 on a 1520 reel, you first retract the red "pin" separator by pulling it out and away from the body of the reel. Do the clockwise/ counterclockwise exercise (a la Paterson) or "push" the film on until it reaches the reel core. Then press the red tab IN - behind the end of the first film. It will (usually) prevent the next film - loaded the same way, from overriding the first.
     
  13. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    You may not have a darkroom but you likely have a dark closet. Or wait until they turn the sun out for the night. While I've got a bag for emergencies it's a lot easier to walk into a big closet and load. If I intend to develop film the next morning I'll often load it the night before. Lay a towel etc along the bottom of the closet. If it doesn't face a big sunny window it'll be dark. Place your back to the door and any light needs to go around your body.

    One trick is to get a 11x14 tray or something similar. Put everything [tank,film and reels] onto the tray. With the lights off all you need to do is find the tray. Cuts the fumbling.
     
  14. Frank F

    Frank F Member

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    I never tried the back to back or one in farther than the other approaches. It would seem too likely to wcrew up the rolls and get overlap. There are those with experience that will say otherwise, and more power to them.

    However, look at the cost of taking a picture. The predominant cost is not chemistry or reels/tanks.. the predomminant cost is the time and effort and expense of getting to the destination for the shoot. So why risk all that and the once in a lifetime shots to some technique that saves you $50 over your life time?

    Buy a JOBO 1530 extension tank tube. It "bolts" onto the top of your 1520 tank. It will allow you to use 3 120 reels. If you use a 1510 tank, it works as well, but you are limited to 2 reels tall.

    Emulsion bases do differ in certain films from 35 to 120 to 4x5. The 120 backing is usually the thinnest, and therefore the easiest to bend. Certain 120 film is the hardest to load becasuse of this thiness. It takes a while to acquire the skills to load 120 easily.. Take your time and practice, practice, practice.

    Finanlly, use the new HEWES made SS reels in your 1500 series JOBO. They are specially made for your tank core ( big center hole). They work beautifully, much easier to load than the plastic reels, IMO. Part numbers are 1556 and 1555 ( or is it 1565 and 1566 ? I forget....) Remember they use the same plastic cores as the plastic reels.
     
  15. Stuart Turnbull

    Stuart Turnbull Member

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    Hi Jimi,

    There are some great responses here and all of them relevent. Please practice with a scrap film first. Take care if loading in a changing bag, as your hands, arms and the film becomes 'sticky' with the moisture inside, causing the film to stick to itself. Remove the film from the paper backing SLOWLY, or you WILL cause a spark due to static discharge. I noticed this especially using T-MAX Film (which is still superb film to use). At the end of the film you will find a piece of sticky tape holding it to the paper roll. I usually fold this over the end of the film and find it 'rigid' enough to load onto the reel, especially when using Paterson reels. Also (what there's more?) try not to 'kink' the film otherwise you'll be left with small 'crescent' or 'thumbnail' white marks on the film which you cannot remove! Anyway, good luck with it.