4x5 developing options - opinions?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by terri, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. terri

    terri Subscriber

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    Guys: I am brand new to LF and could use some suggestions about 4x5 development.

    I've been shooting MF and 35 for a number of years and have a home darkroom. When I bought an enlarger, I was thinking to stick with what I used in class (the good old reliable Beseler 23 C) but my forward-thinking husband advised me to "think LF" and I ended up with an Omega D5 XL that I picked up for a song from a pro lab that was scaling back. It's done the job for smaller formats. At Christmas, I was shocked to open a Tachihara which I'd been saying was probably the one for me (being somewhat of a girlie-girl, weight has been a major concern). And yes, my husband rules! :tongue:

    Weather has finally cooperated enough for me to go shoot some tests and I am starting out with tray development, since it's what I have at the ready. But I would like to explore other developing options. I've done some lurking and searching on here and there seems to be high praise for the Jobo 3000 series. I guess my questions are basic: does the apparent ease of use make the price worthwhile? Are there comparable setups that are a bit less expensive? I'm not rich, but price isn't too big an obstacle since the aim is to get consistency in development. I'm a big fumble-fingers at the moment, but I'm pretty smitten with the camera and will use it a lot.

    Could use some feedback! Thanks in advance.
     
  2. domaz

    domaz Member

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    I use a Jobo 2500 tank with the 2509 reel. Quite a bit of a cheaper setup than the 3000 or Expert Drum series, and if you have a Jobo CPE-2 you can't use that series anyways (need a CPP or better). The downside is the 2509 is kind of a pain to load. BTZS (Beyond the Zone System) tubes, either bought at the View Camera Store or home-built, also seem to be a good option, but they require you load them and pour in developer in total darkness, so a bit harder to use.
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Jobo 2000 & 3000 series are well worth the money. I've had my first 2000 series tank since 1976 and it's processed 100's of5x4 negs. I bought a second via APUG 3 years ago so have one in Turkey the other in the UK.

    Ian
     
  4. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    If you're going for the 2500 series tanks and reels, be sure to get the 2509N (not just the 2509) reel. The 2509N has snap in tabs that break up developer flow which can cause uneven development on the plain 2509 reel. Experiences vary, but I had very poor results from a plain 2509 reel. There is a reason the 3000 series tanks were introduced; more consistently even development, and I'd recommend them over the 2500 series, even at the higher price for tanks and a compatible processor.

    I currently use trays and a Summitek Cradle, discontinued, but essentially the same as this: http://www.photoformulary.com/Deskt...tabindex=2&categoryid=78&selection=0&langId=0

    I get very even results. It requires working in the dark, which you might find a drawback. I like the option of varying agitation to tweak the film curve, something you can't do in quite the same way with constant rotary agitation.

    Lee
     
  5. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    There are several ways to go in processing 4x5 sheet film. The Jobo way..in a tube, the Daylight tank way, such as a Combiplan-T tank, and my preferred way, on stainless hangers in deep tanks. I like the "deep" tanks best because I can process lots of film at once. 40 sheets or more, using hangers that hold 4 sheet each of 4x5. Deep tanks are not really "deep", but rather just deep enough to hold the hangers. 3.5 gallons.

    OH, and for those who are really on a budget, you "can" develop sheet film in print trays by the shuffle method.
     
  6. rmolson

    rmolson Member

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    4x5 Developing options

    I have use an old Unicolor 8x10 processing tube and their Uniroller for years.When I got back into large format I dug out the old processor from the days when I did color printing(never throw anything away) and it worked perfectly The 8 x 10drum holds 4 sheets of 4x5 film within slotted guides and a rubber separator .Never had a film touch another one during processing. The continuous agitation is more or less countered by using a large enough volume of developer. I use 500 cc's of HC-110 1:50 or D-76.full strength. However as I use cold light enlargers I prefer full bodied negatives. You can probably find one on E bay for a song
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Jobo's are daylight tanks, well mine is :D

    Ian
     
  8. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    Another person who uses the Uniroller setup.... Pretty slick and can be obtained off Fleabay.
     
  9. DannL

    DannL Member

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    (me three)

    Might I suggest the basic equipment and procedures described at the link below.

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unicolor/

    The outlay for equipment can be quite low. Although for my own purposes I have chosen to use Chromega drums on the same Unicolor roller bases, the process is still the same. You can develope 4 sheets of your 4x5 film (and/or 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 prints) in the same drum.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2009
  10. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Another user of 25xx series tanks and reels on a CPE2 here. I have never used the 3000 series tanks but I am assured they are a cinch to load. The 2509N are a bit of a pain to load, especially until you get the hang of them - and even then are a bit slow as I find I have to double-check that I have loaded them correctly after each sheet (by feeling along the ends to check that the gap between sheets is even).

    BTW, with the commercially available BTZS tubes you do not have to pour the developer in the dark - the developer goes in the over-size caps and you stand the tubes with caps attached upside down until you are ready to process at which point you place the tubes horizontally and the developer flows into the rest of the tube where the negative is waiting patiently to receive it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2009
  11. terri

    terri Subscriber

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    I knew I could count on you guys. Thank you, thank you for the links and all the suggestions.

    I will be trying tray development for the first time and expect to have reasonable luck, since I'm only doing 2 sheets! :D As I move ahead I'll need the ability to do more, so I am grateful for the study time you've provided.

    I could babble on about my newbie excitement but I'm sure you've heard it all before.
     
  12. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I use a CPE-2 Jobo with 2509n reels for most of my 5x4. I still have, and use my home made tubes for doing single sheets by inversion. There is also the 'taco' method for using a standard daylight reel tank.

    Any of the methods work, it just depends on what your resources are, how many sheets you want to do in a session, and what seems most comfortable. It's the result that counts.
     
  13. malcao

    malcao Member

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    I also have just bought an Omega D5 it came with Combiplan tanks. Not developed any film yet. I checked different methods on how to develop and by a coincidence I happend to have a Paterson Orbital (never used). For me it seems an easy way to develop film with less chemistry.

    http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photoschool/ps how orbital.html
     
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  15. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I could babble on about my newbie excitement but I'm sure you've heard it all before.[/QUOTE]

    ******
    But it's no less fun to hear about others's excitement in new photographic adventures.
     
  16. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    I started out with tray development for 5x4 film. Never could get it right. Consistency was difficult. Scratches were hard to avoid.

    Moved to BTZS tubes. This was an improvement in some ways and not in others. Many people report good consistency with this method, but I lost some good shots to uneven development in clear smooth tones like skies. I also didn't like the way you have to nearly rip the film from the tubes because the design keeps the developer off the back of the film -- and basically causes the back to glue itself to the tube. Yucko.

    Moved to a Jobo 3010 tank. All problems solved. I've put close to 1000 sheets of 5x4 film though my 3010 in about five years now. I get beautifully consistent results, perfectly even development, every single time.

    I'm not one who's in photography for the process. I'm not a big fan of standing around in the darkroom -- I just want something that works, works really well, and is really repeatable. I want the process to be as close to automatic as I can get it. That means developing using a Jobo 3010 tank.

    Many people try to save money and use lesser methods. I did. And I'd read the same things you have. So don't feel bad if you start out with tray developing and work your way up to a 3010. But you could save yourself a lot of time, effort, frustration, and trashed film if you'd just start with a 3010 in the first place. I'm just sayin'...
     
  17. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    Depending on how much you want to spend, you might want to find a Phototherm (Photo-therm) on ebay. If the item includes a 4x5 reel (which holds four 4x5 films), so much the better. Otherwise you could by a 4x5 reel directly from Phototherm.

    A Phototherm is a much higher quality piece of equipment that a CP-series Jobo, is more automated, and is easier to use. The down side is that Phototherms are somewhat less flexible in the development programs you can run. This is a consequence of the fact that Photo-therms are automated, but the CP-series Jobos are not.

    Auction prices for Phototherms range widely. I have two. One cost me ~$75. The other was ~$300 as I recall. Sometimes they sell for well over $1000.

    There are three basic series. The oldest is FP-1. The next is Sidekick. The most recent is Super Sidekick. The mainframes come in two sizes. One can handle tanks that hold up to four rolls of 35mm (or 4 sheets of 4x5). The other can handle tanks that hold up to eight rolls of 35mm. Although I can't swear to it, I think the 8-roll phototherms would also handle up to 8 sheets of 4x5 film. All the Photo-therms are table-top units.
     
  18. ronlamarsh

    ronlamarsh Member

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    4x5 developement

    I haven't read anyone suggesting John Sexton's slosher. Its basically a tray with dividers. Mine is homemade from a paper developing tray with glued in plastic dividers with plenty of holes to provide for agitation. I have tray that hold four or six 4x5's and one that holds 4 5x7s. If you make it yourself its dirt cheap, easy to use and sinece the films are separated no scratches. I am sure that the various tube systems out there are great but I am too cheap to buy them and to lazy to learn their use.
     
  19. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    See post #4 in this thread with a reference on where to purchase commercially.

    Lee
     
  20. David William White

    David William White Member

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    I only do 8 or 12 sheets a week, and I still do them in trays. It's cheap, reliable, fast, and cheap. I don't know what all the fuss is about with scratches and stuff -- never had them -- and figure most of the other gizmos mentioned above need to be loaded and unloaded, which might cause scratches. If you are doing vast numbers and/or you don't have a darkroom, well, yes, but if it's a casual thing, there's no shame in doing the tried and true.
     
  21. terri

    terri Subscriber

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    Thank you for saying that. I am pretty turned on by all of this. The Tachihara itself is just a beautiful camera - it's not the "red" cherrywood design, it's made of black rosewood and has chrome hardware. So even while my mind is moving ahead with these practical considerations, there's a big part of me that's still in the "Shiny! Pretty!" stage here. :tongue:

    Right. I hear what you're saying, Bruce. It's this kind of commentary that helps me sort it out. I'll know a LOT more just by doing the tray development a few times and examining my results. As mentioned, I am a bit of a fumble-fingers so I expect to see some scratching with my first few attempts. Learning curves with everything, of course, so I'll just have to see what feels comfortable.

    I'm so happy to be able to come here and get all this input! I do like being able to study on the choices I now know I have.
     
  22. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    If you are doing only one or two sheets at a time, you can develop them in a 120 tank - either singly by bending the sheet emulsion side in, or multiple sheets by slipping an elastic band around the sheet (so called taco method). I used this method when I began, and it works fine.

    For most plastic tanks, you need the centre column in if you want the tank to be light tight.

    I've since gotten hold of a Paterson Orbital, which is sort of like a tray with a lid on, so can be used for daylight developing. It can do four 4x5" sheets, two 5x7" or one 8x10. Very easy to load, and uses a minimal amount of chemistry. No problems with scratches or uneven development.
     
  23. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    My experience to date:

    Jobo 3010 and 2553 (2551 is the same tank, different lid) tank with 2509 reel. Either one riding on a Beseler or Uniroller motor base. The 2553 also accepts 35mm and 120/220 reels. I assembled all of this for decent prices.

    My opinion of the 3010: One of the best pieces of hardware I own. Possibly worth more than it costs. Ditto for the 2551/2553 twins.

    The Jobo 2551/2553 tanks are the only ones that are long enough to span the rollers on the Uniroller & Beseler bases.

    Places to shop: craigslist, Glazier's, here at APUG, Large Format Photography Forum. Sign up now at the LFPF becasue you have to be a member for 30 days before you can use the For Sale listings. It's a great forum for big camera using folks. You will like it.
     
  24. terri

    terri Subscriber

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    Thanks for those suggestions, Venchka!
     
  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Wanted adverts here on APUG usually work:D so give it a try, when I wanted a 5x4 tank I was offered exactly what I was after another 2000 series Jobo with two reels. Last advert has been less successful :sad:

    Ian
     
  26. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    Terri,

    I'm sorry. I thought you were in Seattle. Glazier's is a good LF camera store in Seattle. If you are near any real camera stores, they may have used stuff. I have found several Jobo items and my Uniroller at Houston Camera Co-op. You may have a similar shop near you. Want To Buy works too!