4x5 B&W Tray Processing

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by aaronmichael, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. aaronmichael

    aaronmichael Member

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    Learned how to use the view camera about a week ago from my professor and am going out tomorrow to Freestyle to pick up some Arista ISO 100 film and hoping to shoot next weekend. I've never developed 4x5 though. We got a demo from our professor on doing it with the trays so I think that's how I'm going to do it. However, there were a lot of steps and things he might not have mentioned. Any advice to a newbie on things to be careful of and how to handle the film? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Just don't want to go through all the "trouble" of using the view camera and then having my negatives turn out horrible.
     
  2. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Hi,

    I would use a tray one size bigger than your film, and don't skimp on developer. You can squeeze by with 4 oz. of developer for one sheet of 4x5 in a 5x7 tray, but the level is very low; I prefer to use 8 oz., even though it is a bit wasteful.

    I personally avoid the "shuffle" method because I am no good at preventing scratches, no matter how careful I am. But many people swear by it.

    I would also agitate by lifting the film out of the solution and draining it a different way each time, as opposed to rocking the tray. Rocking works fine, but lifting works better IMO. Try to find a tray with a ridged bottom, if possible. And wear gloves, even though it is a PITA. Even if you don't have any reactions to the chems, they can develop with exposure over time (kind of like poison oak; the more you come into contact with it, the more allergic you get); and no photo chemical is actually good for you to touch, even if it won't necessarily hurt you.

    IMHO, Nikkor tanks and hangars with replenishment is the way to go if you will be shooting lots of sheet film. D-76 is a good choice for this. Does CSULB have 1/2 gallon tanks and hangers, or are they only set up for tray development? I've heard their photo department is very good; I would be surprised to hear that they do not have Nikkor or Kodak tanks and hangers. Bring your own two quarts of D-76 to fill the tank, and another quart of D-76 replenisher, and you are set.
     
  3. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Agree with 2/F 2/F - don't skimp on developer. I use a quart (a pint of D-76 stock plus a pint of water) in an 5x7 porcelain tray.

    Gloves help reduce scratches from your fingernails or rough callouses.

    I develop emulsion up. I try so hard not to agitate too much. For example my goal is to slide one sheet from the bottom and place it on top once every 15 seconds. The fewer moves, the fewer scratches. In the end, I always have fine scratches in the base but only occasional scratches in the emulsion. Smooth skies is the reward of tray development.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Wow! That is a ton of developer for a tiny 5x7 tray, Bill. But you are doing the shuffle method. I was talking about 8 oz. for one sheet.
     
  5. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    another method

    I agree with you if you've gone to the trouble of using a 4x5 not to mention the expense its a sorry day to ruin it in the darkroom. That said: i've tried the shuffl technique and failed miserably with otherwise beautiful images ruined by scratches. I develope my 5x7's singly in an 8x10 tray with 1L of developer and use the rocking technique for agitation works beautifully. For 4x5 I took an 8x10 tray and made dividers to create four sections and glued them in place with aquarium cement. The dividers were made from sheet plastic. I used a hole saw to make 2in holes then cut the plastic in strips cutting the holes in half then glued them "hole down" this seems to allow adequate flow for agitation as I never have any trouble with uneven development even with highly diluted developers such as XR1. But it took some time to do the construction. Photographers formulary sells a tray that fits into an 11x14 paper tray and is divided to do 6 4x5's or 4 5x7's. If you are in a hurry develope them singly in a 5x7 or 8x10 tray that's the best way to keep them safe.
     
  6. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    If you're going to go with the tray method, make the effort to find a 'slosher tray' -- a rack that drops into your tray and holds each sheet in its own little compartment.

    Works great, I have one and when I tried tray development it worked very well.
     
  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I develop 7 sheets at a time, one Grafmatic load and one test strip.

    I float the 5x7 tray in an 11x14 tray with some water to keep the temperature in the smaller tray steady.

    Not too much water in the water bath though. Once I noticed something funny so I measured the tray when I dumped it. I wrote in my notes that the tray had 10 oz more water in than when I started, so what started out 1:1 ended up 1:2.

    That brings me to a clarification/correction. I checked my tray. It barely holds 32 oz, so I must really mix only 10 oz D-76 + 10 oz water for 20 oz total.
     
  8. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I tray developed 4x5 one at a time in 5x7 -- two 5x7 trays sitting in an 11x14 tray so I could do two at a time. Film face up on the bottom of the trays and rocking the 11x14 tray.

    I slipped the fixed film into hangers to wash.

    One learns from one's mistakes, so don't stress about making a bunch!
     
  9. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Slosher trays sound like a good idea.

    The bad news, skies are magnets for scratches that are very difficult to hide.

    The good news. With practice, you will get fewer scratches. And scratches in a forest take about 15 minutes to spot out to invisibility.
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I was surprised that you had a 5x7 tray that holds a quart, but when you said it, I thought that your porcelain tray might have tall sides. I love porcelain trays, but every time I find them, they have chips.
     
  11. aaronmichael

    aaronmichael Member

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    Thanks everyone for the responses. That was a lot of good information. We do have the tanks that you can dip the photos into but we never got a demo on how to do that so I want to stick with tray developing for now. Thanks for the advice about the chemicals. I wasn't aware that just coming into contact with them could be bad. I'll be sure to use a little bit more developer than I need.

    On that note - should I start off with D-76 or HC-110? I've heard that the Arista stuff comes out pretty nice with D-76 and I also heard that if I was to use HC-110, then it should be diluted to a weaker dilution to lengthen development time since it's very quick for Arista.

    What kind of gloves should I be using? Latex?

    As for agitation and scratches and number of photos - For a beginner at this, would it be better to develop one at a time in a tray or do multiples in one tray? If I'm doing multiples, then should I do the shuffle method instead of rocking the tray? And if I'm doing a single sheet, the agitation would either be rocking the tray or just lifting the negative out and putting it back in, correct? Can't really shuffle with just one photograph. Lastly, the emulsion side should be face up? Seems like it would get less scratched that way.

    I'll definitely look into the slosher trays - maybe we have some of those in the lab.
     
  12. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I've tried tacos and sloshers and deep tanks and hangars and I'm back to tray processing for all around even development and convenience. I use a liter of developer in an 8x10 tray. HC110 50:1 or 100:1 is cheap enough or you can use a replenished developer. I alway pre-soak for at least 30s. I use the shuffle method emulsion up, moving the bottom sheet out, then draining it from the corner, and putting it back on top. Just concentrate on what you are doing and realize there is no hurry and you can avoid scratches. The shuffle method is much easier with an 8x10 tray because you can slide a sheet completely away from the rest of the stack before moving it vertically. I don't wear gloves, and I don't worry about chemical temperature changing while I'm developing. With 1L of developer, I don't think my process control is tight enough for it to matter.
     
  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    As for gloves, I would recommend Nitrile (but not the powdered ones). I buy them cheap from Costco.
     
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  15. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I just tray developed a sheet of Arista 100 the other day. I used HC110 at dilution "E" (1+47) and 6.5 minutes, right in the middle of the range they suggest for D76 straight. It was pretty decent, maybe slightly thin, but I think the developer was a bit cooler than 68ºF (and for whatever reason, didn't check). 5 mL of syrup to about 240 mL of water was enough in a standard 5x7 tray for one sheet. If doing a bunch I might want a little more to cover carry-over loss.

    I usually grip the tray by a corner and gently lift with alternating motions between side to side and end to end. Keeping time is my biggest PITA, but I have a silly cardboard thing with a small neon lamp that tapes over my ancient mechanical stopwatch. The top of the container has about a 1/4 inch hole to peep through at the watch. It works, though it was easier when my eyes were 20 years younger!
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    If you do multiples in the same tray, I highly suggest against rocking the tray. A basic photo textbook should explain the "shuffle" method.

    You can use HC-110 or D-76, or whatever else. X-Tol is a good choice too. I prefer HC-110 because it is easier and just as good IMO. But D-76 is easier to replenish if you ever go to the tanks and hangers. HC-110 Replenisher has been recently discontinued.

    You are 98 percent likely not going to have any major problems with chemicals, but minimizing your exposure won't hurt. If nothing else, it'll keep your hands from reeking of fixer.

    The Arista sheet film is rebranded Foma, I believe, though that may have changed since last I checked.

    For tray developing, or anything else where I need good dexterity, I use a single nitrile glove. I keep my dominant hand gloveless and dry in case I need to do something else without getting chemicals all over stuff. For printing, spiral tank film developing, or tanks and hangers sheet film developing, I use dish gloves (on both hands). They are less wasteful and give better protection, since they cover the forearms. A pair can last years. I just turn them inside out and scrub the insides with Dial every now and then.

    A basic photo book will also show how to develop film in tanks and hangers. I honestly think this is the best way to go if you will be shooting a lot. But that is because I am biased against the shuffle method due to the fact that I stink at it.
     
  17. aaronmichael

    aaronmichael Member

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    Thanks again everyone for all the tips and personal preferences. I think I'll just have to do some shooting and developing and see how it goes. If it turns out bad then I can see what went wrong and revise it for next time. There's only so much you can learn online and in books.
     
  18. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I recently developed 4x5s for the first time. I started off with two negatives in a tray and shuffled them. They weren't scratch free but they were pretty good over all. I still haven't printed any yet - my exposure was way off with some and the others were only decent as compositions go - but I was surprised at how easy it was over all. For my second pair, I decided to take the negatives out of the holders instead of unloading the holder and putting the negatives directly into the tray as I went. That was a mistake as my hands were still damp and they stuck together. :smile: At least that was one lesson learned.

    The next round, I tried shuffling sheets to the bottom of the tray, with the emulsion up. I had fewer scratches with that batch.
     
  19. Terrence Brennan

    Terrence Brennan Member

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    Tray processing

    I process 4x5 film in a 5x7 tray, which I place in an 8x10 tray to catch the chemical which sloshes over the sides.

    You can fill the 5x7 tray with developer and shuffle the film, or you can use a minimal amount of developer and use the tilt method, formerly known as ASA agitation. Either way, the 8x10 tray will catch your spilled chemical for reuse.

    If you find that a 5x7 tray in an 8x10 tray doesn't give you enough "elbow room" when shuffling, try an 11x14 tray instead.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 19, 2011
  20. Dave_ON

    Dave_ON Member

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    I use a slosher tray if I'm processing 8 or more, which is most of the time. It has all the benefits of tray processing, with zero risk of scratches. The only downside is I use more chems, because I use a 4 sheet slosher in 11x14 trays.
     
  21. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    8 oz for a single sheet is the minimum if you don't want to run into under-development problems from developer exhaustion at some time.
     
  22. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Why worry about catching the overflow for future use when it is already weakened from partial use and most developers are single shot once diluted. The minimal cost of developer makes it false economy to do so when it might cause you to under-develop the best image you have ever made.
     
  23. aaronmichael

    aaronmichael Member

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    I don't think I'm going to be putting trays into other trays and all that, seeing as I'm just starting out. I want to keep it as simple as possible. I was just looking for the best agitation method, how to keep from scratching, amount of developer, type of developer...etc. And all of that has been covered for the most part so I think I'm ready to get started shooting and then develop over the weekend.
     
  24. aaronmichael

    aaronmichael Member

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    PS - Just got bike from a nice 18.2 mile cycling ride to Freestyle and back and picked up the film (Arista EDU.Ultra ISO 100). I asked the guy if the development times were available on their website and he said yes. I checked right now and it says for a 1+1 D-76 it should be 10 minutes. However, it doesn't say whether this is for 35mm or 4x5 - does it matter?
     
  25. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    It will be close enough. No matter what time you use, you can always tweak it a couple minutes either way if you don't get the results you want. With that film, I would err on the side of underdeveloping.
     
  26. aaronmichael

    aaronmichael Member

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    Thanks for the tip.