Alternatives to Tray Development

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Richard Jepsen, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I have a small, dry home DR and don't have room for (3) 11x14 inch trays. In the past I have single tray processed but don't feel that is the best solution. The last two days I used a Unidrum II with Uniroller. I develop my test strips in 5x7 trays and then use the drum for the 11x14. Does anyone else use a drum or tubes vs tray develop. Is there something better than the Unidrum solution?
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The Cibachrome Mark II tubes work very well for me with RC paper.

    I have even used them for the postcard exchange!
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Many of us use the Nova tanks for colour work but they are just as good for B&W. Much quicker than using a tube or rotary tank.

    Ian
     
  4. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Richard,

    Trays can be stacked vertically if you have room for a little stand. There was an example in the "Darkroom Portraits" section sometime during the last few months. Years ago you could purchase a wire rack frame from B&H, but it would be easy to build something yourself.

    Neal Wydra
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The Nova processors are great, though on this side of the pond you have to be patient in finding one, or else be prepared for a big investment to get one from the UK.
    Aside from the fact that they put 3 11x14 trays in the foot print of one, the floating lids mean you can go from walking into your DR to printing in maybe 1 minute.

    I found using tubes for B&W frustrating and slow. The racks work well, but I like the Nova better for most thngs.
     
  6. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    Another vote here for Nova processors + they work just as well for FB as RC.
     
  7. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Richard,

    Drums work fine for print development. The drawback is that you need to be sure that the drum is thoroughly washed out after each print is processed. I suppose that a very small amount of fixer left over would probably not be too harmful, especially if you use a generous amount of developer, but I would err on the side of caution. If you need to make more than a quick print or two, tray processing is a lot less nuisance. I'd follow Neal's advice and try to stack trays if possible.

    Konical
     
  8. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Neal, I failed to mention my DR is unvented. No problematic fumes using 5x7 up to 8x10 trays. I do notice the fumes using 11x14 trays. I use a water stop except with 11x14s which are processed in a weak acid stop.

    How much chemistry does a Nova tank need to process a 11x14? How do you ensure consistent developer activity (oxidation) after a day or two? Don't you have a cleaning problem with a slot processor? How hard are they to drain if you have to carry it to a sink? Doesn't Jobo have a drum/tube processor for prints? I know they have one for film.

    Using the Unidrum I discovered 4 oz of LPD mixed 1:2 will develop (2) 11x14s. When I developed the third 11x14 you need to add factoral development (20 to 40 sec) to make a 100% match to the first print.

    I probably will just toss the developer and mix new on the 3rd 11x14.

    I tray wash the fiber prints restricting the number produced in one DR session. My process is to perform test strips in one DR session. The next day I pull a few 11x14s using the Unidrum. I tried this for the 3rd time last night. Its a slow work-around to not having a full DR but works. My DR session is 1 to 2 hours.

    Its a disadvantage to not see the print develop but the drum has offsetting advantages.
     
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  9. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    I've done the tray stacking....that turned out to be more of a mess for me---unles you shuffle the trays so the working one is on top and next to the sink or something..I find I always need at least 2 trays side by side for a trouble free transfer.....I did tubes for 16x20 and had problems washing...I gravitated to tubes for processing and a separate washer...which turned into a tray for washing in the tub--the washer was way heavy and scary when filled with water.

    tubes do work, but you just need more than one of them so you can cycle them...test strips--use trays for them. I'd go tubes for 16x20 or larger.....trays for anything smaller---find a way...put some on the floor...the small stuff goes quick and you'll run out of room with tube storage if you get a bajillion small tubes---UNLESS you do a 3 tube method where the chemistry stays IN the tubes like trays--just have like half full tubes--you'll need good sealing gaskets for the pressure though when you put a 1/2 full tube on the side--I never tried this but may in the future--that way you only need 3 tubes (vertical on floor with chemicals)--one roller base and one wash tray/sink....next 16x20 print session I just may try this it has promise.....
     
  10. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Are tubes the equivalent to a Unidrum? To avoid having a 11x14 overlap you need a diameter of about 12 inches; I assume a drum is the same thing as a tube.

    I just looked up a Nova Processor: The site identifies the unit as a RC print processor. I'm developing fiber. Also, to process 11x14s I need the larger unit.

    •16x12in, Unit Dimensions (Inc taps)
    L45xW14xH36cm, Capacity 1.8litres solution per slot

    The capacity required would make it heavy to move. I don't see how the chems would keep. The Unidrum type solution seems more a fit.


    I believe I can wash out the drum easier than a tray between processing.....the drum fits in the kitchen sink easier. I use the fill and dump method for cleaning. Three drums/tubes would not be easier. It takes time to carefully remove the wet paper from a drum.
     
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  11. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    I dunno about that--having used multiple dry tubes for entire process through and trays, I'm thinking a multi-tube may actualy work better--especially if filled with a lot of chemistry---then the paper will slide in and out easier due to the liquid pressure pushing on the back of the paper. I'm a gonna try it myself next time I do printing something big....there's only ONE way to find out, right? and I've never heard of anyone trying it, it's certainly better than tray stacking (for me). hey-I'm not gonna condemn anything till I try it first.

    like chicks--you like one that don't mean I"m gonna like her, right---each person has to find his own way.
     
  12. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Is the Jobo CPE portable?

    After I looked up the Nova processor I Googled Jobo. I forgot Jobo was more than just a film processor. I have seen them. At the time thought they were way expensive and complicated. Why would anyone want one.

    But looking now, it is contained with what seems to be a small foot print. Would it be easy to move a CPE steps away from storage to the top of a Maytag washing machine. My dry DR is a laundry room with trays/Unidrum on top of a washing machine?
     
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  13. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    FWIW, I have four sets of caps and two 11x14 Cibachrome tube bodies that I use for 11x14 RC prints when I decide to use trays.

    The bodies are easy and quick to wash and dry. The caps take a bit more time, and benefit from a chance to drip/dry.
     
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  15. CatLABS

    CatLABS Subscriber

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    CPE2 is fairly small, and very light and empty, and you only need to fill it with water if you are doing color processing.
    If you have more then one tank, you can have several prints made in succession, with out having to wait and reload in to a wet drum.
     
  16. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    John mentioned moving prints between tubes. Less of a problem if the print is RC. After full processing I was having a little difficulty extracting a fiber print from the Unidrum. Unidrums are similar to a Patterson film developing tank in quality and function. I bought a new Unidrum ($15) to ensure new lid gaskets. If a lid leaked or fell off it would be a disaster with my wife. What spouse would be happy with spilled fixer on the Maytag washer.

    Matt, does the Cibachrome tube body have two notches where the paper juts up to as it wraps around the tube? If so, this would be similar to the Unidrum configuration.

    Jobo is an expensive answer. Current e-bay price is $400 for a mint unit without drum. Drums are over $50.00.

    Since my concern is a leak, if the JOBO end cap is robust and leak resistant, I could buy a JOBO tube and process without a mechanical roller. What JOBO tube part number would process one 11x14 inch print??????
     
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  17. CatLABS

    CatLABS Subscriber

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    Jobo drum 2840 will do up to 12X16, you can use a uniroller to agitate it.
    Jobo drums do not leak, and unless you do not close them properly they will never accidentally open during process.
     
  18. CatLABS

    CatLABS Subscriber

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    Also, the 2800 series tanks from Jobo, have small ridges inside going from top to bottom, making extracting the prints a breeze.
     
  19. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    A Jobo CPE is a bit of overkill for B&W, and needs the foot print of about 2 11x14 trays. For tubes and space savings a roller base and tubes from unicolor, Jobo or Cibachrome would be a better choice, absent other considerations.

    My 11x14 (12x16 actually) Nova takes about 1800 ml of chemistry per slot. If you use a developer with good longevity then it can last for weeks. The slots have tubes and valves for draining, and if you're working in a temporary space you could drain it after each session, you probably don't want to move it around full. The drained developer would last even longer in a full, tightly closed bottle.

    Doing B&W in tubes slows down your workflow considerably. First off, since you can't monitor the print progress you don't know until processing is completed that your exposure is way off. Then there is all the cleaning and drying between runs, even for test strips. Multiple tubes help, but don't eliminate the problem. Finally, a print isn't always processed to "completion", but if you're using a tube you're stuck with processing strictly by time, or doing muliple tests just to find the best processing time. Experience and perhaps working with a meter will help, but not eliminate those issues.

    My darkroom is tiny, and I initally tried tube processing in my Jobo, but abandoned the idea pretty quickly, then I found a Nova at a good price and never looked back. YMMV though. If I were doing a temporary space shared with the laundry, I'd build a plywood "counter" to go on top of the machines and put the trays on it side by side. I'd probably build it with a short lip maybe 1 inch high to contain any spills. Then, when the printing session is over, empty the trays, wipe down the plywood and set it on it's end/side wherever it could go.
     
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Richard:

    There are no notches in the Cibachrome tubes. I usually have no problem removing my (RC) prints, although sometimes I'll "encourage" them by starting the first corner in standing water.
     
  21. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Wow, thanks krifartida for the drum model. It's possible to not install a Unidrum lid on correctly. Good to know the JOBO tanks are better in this regard. I'll buy one JOBO tank and rotate by hand or use a Uniroller.

    This is exactly what I do with 5x7 and 8x10 trays. 1/8 thick, stores next to the washer out of sight. I will continue to tray develop when processing 8x10s. Just the 11x14 was an issue.

    I use 5x7 trays for test strips, when statisfied with the print map/exposure/burn, I project the image on 11x14 paper, develop, weak stop, water flush, TF-4, 60s water flush, move to a hold tray, rinse out tube. Back to the enlarger for repeat. Its slow but I'm not trying to be quick.

    Bdial, I read Nova processors can be used for fiber. A fiber Nova unit uses additional clips and a tapered construction. Definite benefits seeing a print develop. Having the unit ready to go is also great. My concerns on chemical shelf life seem unfounded.

    My process results in the enlarger remaining on a counter top between the washer and dryer. I would have to move a Nova system. A processing tube for larger prints is a case where less is more; often the desirable path in photography.
     
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  22. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    A 12x16 Nova would be great for you but needs draining before moving. That's the water jackets and slots.The weight of liquid in the jackets and slots when moving is likely to strain the processor. An exception might be if the processor just needs moving on the same level i.e. no lifting. Then moving it on its feet in a crab-like fashion might be possible without undue strain on the structure.. I think the later versions have drain taps for both jackets and slots. Mine only has drains for the slots so needs upending to drain the jackets which is a bit of a pain if this has to be done every time you use it.

    pentaxuser
     
  23. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I have a 16x20 Nova slot processor. It takes up less space than a single 16x20 tray. I've printed 16x20 fiber paper in it before without issues. As to the chemistry oxidizing, well, bear in mind that A: they are supplied with floating lids for each slot, and B: the surface area of each slot is only about 3/4" x the long dimension of the largest size paper the processor is meant to handle. I used Ansco 130 as a paper developer in mine and it was still going strong over a month after mixing it. Ideally, you should get a small rolling cart you can keep the processor on and then wheel it in and out of the darkroom when you're not printing. Then you'd just need to drain the chemicals between printing sessions. Also, I'd use an acid stop with the Nova, not a water stop, because you'll get too much chemical carry-over.
     
  24. Alex Muir

    Alex Muir Member

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    I use a 3 slot Nova for all printing up to 16x12". There is a dedicated fiber model, but I have processed fiber without a problem in the standard unit. It tends to need about 2 litres per slot. The chemicals last for weeks, but developer level drops thru use. This is easily dealt with by topping up 100-200ml every few sessions. The unit footprint is less than a 16x12" tray. It stands just over 12" high. You can monitor development by lifting the print periodically during processing. I bought some clear plastic tube from a DIY store and cut it into 1 metre lengths. It fits over the drain taps and allows the chemicals to be emptied in seconds. The unit is heavy with the water jacket full, but can be moved much more easily without the chemicals. You would have to be careful if it remained on top of a washing machine which was operating as I suspect the vibration could damage the heating units. Having used one of these for about two years I have found it to be easy to use and very convenient. You could make a simple tray to help lifting it from a wooden plank with handles secured at either end. That would minimize distortion of the plastic casing during moves.
     
  25. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    yeah...them unicolors--they're nice because of the caps that aren't friction fit, but that's why they all leak eventually. but hey--any drum will lieak out the pour spout anyways after filling...a little drip here and there--no matter what drums I use I always put a tray under the fill spout--for leaks AND for the case I have a pouring mishap...the tray provides accident containment (hopefully)

    The friction fit ones rule for no leaks, but sometimes hard to get off.....not a perfect world...no it isn't
     
  26. CatLABS

    CatLABS Subscriber

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    Jobo drums will not leak, unless you use a huge amount of chemistry, say more then 1000ml per run, simply because the chemicals are never as high as the pour in spout. I have yet to have seen a lid accidentally come of a Jobo tank...
    Those cant be too expensive, on CL or the auction site...