Anyone use a Print processor ?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by srtiwari, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. srtiwari

    srtiwari Member

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    I am thrilled to have recently bagged a Focomat 1C enlarger for a very reasonable price, and am anxiously awaiting its arrival.
    As I expect to do this work in a small bathroom, I am trying to be as space efficient as possible. I would like to make prints as large as 20x30, but can live with 11x14 if need be. I am intrigued by the Nova line of Print processors, but don't know what that experience will be- that is, if I could even manage to get one sent here to the US.
    So, wonder if it is a good idea, or should one stick to the 3 tray system ? (Once this whole thing gets going, don't know how difficult it will be to keep things clean and tidy- my bathroom already smells of Fixer from my film developing !)
    Look forward to some expert opinions on this.
     
  2. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    Congratulations on the enlarger! Welcome to the addiction! There's no hope of recovery.

    Do you mean a vertical slot processor? That's the only line from Nova that I'm familiar with, and if you have a small bathroom then you can't possibly be looking at a roller transport processor.

    If you're just starting out trays are easy and cheap. There's about a gazillion of them on eBay on any given day. I'd start there before investing in a slot processor.

    Having said that, I have a couple of the Nova vertical slot processors, and I think they're superb. you would have a hard time convincing me that tray processing is better unless you're trying to do something very special. For ordinary print processing you cannot beat them. Once you get the exposure for a particular film figured out you can make prints like an assembly line.

    If you're doing Lith or some alternate process it isn't suitable. But for straight FB or RC paper that you'll be developing to a standard time they are fantastic.

    What I found is that the shipping on mine (used, packed by inexperienced owners rather than the factory) caused some minor leaks along the weld (glue) joints. A new one shouldn't have that problem. So, if you find a used one fill it with water and examine it carefully. Put it on a counter without anything under it so you can SEE THE WATER if it has a tiny leak. Then let it sit for a day just to be paranoid. If there's no water around it after a day then it's water tight.

    It there is a small pool then start looking closely at the seams to find the leak. Don't use aquarium cement from a home improvement store if you need to repair a seam. Use Acrylic cement. You can order it directly from Nova. If you are not in the UK it takes a few weeks.

    Obviously if there is a large leak you'll see that immediately.

    And also obviously if there are no leaks then pour out the water and fill it up with chemicals and go to town making prints.

    MB
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Nova slot processors are excellent as Michael says, I have one I use for colour but it would work equally as well for B&W. very small footprint, mine will handle 16"x12".

    Ian
     
  4. srtiwari

    srtiwari Member

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    Thanks fot those quick responses - yes I am looking for the smaller one. Unfortunately no one here in the US seems to have them. Also, a swarch on EBay produced lttle.
    Michael, did you have them shipped from the UK by the manufacturer ? That might turn out to be expensive...
     
  5. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    Hallo,

    I would suggest dropping Nova an email about suitability and shipping to the U.S.
    I talked to them on the phone when investigating print washers - they were very helpful to me which resulted in a sale. I don't have a print processor but the Nova print washer I bought is excellent and worth the money. Very well made. I suspect that the international packing/shipping costs may be quite high though.
    Email them and good luck.

    Sim2.
     
  6. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I got mine by trolling eBay for a couple of years. They show up rarely, and often go for higher prices than I can afford. But if you keep at it they're there.

    OTOH, Nova does have used ones on sale occasionally. More expensive, but way more likely to work "out of the box" when it arrives. And the smaller new ones aren't too expensive either.

    For starting out with B&W in a small bathroom I suggest the small three slot unheated 8x10 model. They're inexpensive compared to the others, work just as well so long as your ambient temperature is controlled, and small enough for a little bathroom.

    EDIT: Here's a link - http://www.novadarkroom.com/product/118/Nova_Monochrome_Processor.html

    MB
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2010
  7. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    I use a Nova 8X10 for smaller prints and contact sheets. Even though I have a decent amount of space in my basement darkroom, I like being able to make a few prints without the setup and cleanup time that trays require. For 11x14 prints, I use a print drum with a roller base.
     
  8. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I've got two Novas - an unheated 10x8 'Monochrome' model which I use for black and white and a heated model which I use for colour. I think they're great and without them I don't think I'd be able to print in my tiny, tiny darkroom. They crop up fairly regularly on UK ebay but sadly the postage costs usually kill any overseas deal. You may also have luck here: http://www.secondhanddarkroom.co.uk/www.secondhanddarkroom.co.uk/info.php?p=5
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I've had a Nova 16x20 print processor for years. It is a wonderful device and a godsend for a small darkroom. You CAN run fiber paper in one if you are vigilant or if you stick to smaller paper sizes (11x14 and below). The waffle texture of the slot walls though tends to form a bit of a vacuum effect in spots on the paper and you end up with visible patches of waffle texture in your prints. I believe this only happens to fiber paper though, because it is heavy and absorbs a lot of liquid, making it prone to sticking to the wall of the slot. These devices were designed for processing color and/or b/w RC paper, so they will do best with that medium.
     
  10. ozmoose

    ozmoose Member

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    How about a secondhand Jobo Duolab?

    You will LOVE the 1C. I bought one SH in +/- 1998, paid heaps for it, have used it regularly and consistently without a hitch other than having to replace globes for it twice. The thing is like a Rolls-Royce, ideosyncratic but superbly designed and built.

    As regards a processor, have you considered a secondhand Jobo Duolab? They were the 'poor relation' of the Jobo line - I bought one in Melbourne in 2003, new at discount price from Vanbar's, and liked it so much, I blew my budget and bought a second a year later when they had only 1-2 left. Cost about A$300. Both run perfectly and if you can live with the tiny (max 8x10" or 9x12") slots, they produce super good work. Each takes a liter of chems. The heating is quite good for such a basic design (someone once wrote the Duolab was designed from a coffee maker heating system!) and I find with care I can do excellent to fine RC and FB prints with mine.

    The Duolab also comes with a 35mm/120 film tank operating on a roller system with water controlled temperature. Mine is always exact at 24C

    My tuppence worth only. Everyone has different requirements and needs. I still do the three tray routine now and then, to take me back to my student days (1960s) in Canada, when I did news photos and commercial work (put myself thru uni shooting weddings) in my family's converted closet and linen cupboard. The fixer smell remained in the closet for years after we reconverted to linen and clothes storage in the 1970s.

    I now and then see a Duolab up for grabs on THAT web site (the last one went about a year ago for A$120 as I recall) but as a product they appear to have gone the way of the Ford Edsel. Too bad. They are a unique if very basic product and Jobo thoughtfully provided them as a kit complete with a tank, funnel and an odd brushlike gadget with suckers to attach to the back of a print before processing them in the slots. This was probably a good basic idea in the R&D stage, but never did work very well.
     
  11. srtiwari

    srtiwari Member

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    Thanks for all the helpful advice.
    I am now on the lookout for a Jobo Duolab, or a Nova Monochrome. I'll scour the EBay ads for a while and maybe talk to Nova about shipping a new unit.
    Amazing that the American market never seemed to have warmed to this product (or anything similar), or there'd be a lot more around to choose from.
    Since its only 3 light and air sealed narrow tanks, might there be an easy DIY project ? Has anyone done this ?
     
  12. ozmoose

    ozmoose Member

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    I am somewhat of a newby to all this, and inadvertently sent my email yesterday without correcting my first draft. I MEANT to add the following: I use an old set of metal spring clip tongs to hold my prints in the slots (there are 4 slots in all), to ensure one doesn't escape and float down to the bottom of the slot - they are quite deep. Also, the temperatures can vary slightly from the developer (ie the first) slot to the last (I keep a water bath), but not sufficiently to significantly affect the tone or process time of a B&W print. In warmer weather I also keep a fixer tray for my prints so they do not actually spend any time in the 3rd or last slots (filed with clean water) .

    The Duolab takes a bit of getting used to, but is good value for money. It is also a bit larger than the Novas, but not gigantic. (I use mine on top of my beer fridge in the spare room, where it fits nicely). It has a pleasant gurgle when the heating motor is on, a bit like an old asmathic cat purring between breaths.

    As for the Focomat, as I said, you will love it! Pleasure ensure the autofocus wheel works properly, and remember to keep it lightly oiled (once a year will do it) so it doesn't stick. It will probably outlast you (I am sure mine will definitely outlast me, as I have just turned 60, and so am just a tad older than my Focomat!).

    A trick I learned from using the Focomat, is not to close my lens down too much during print making, the Leitz condenser is one sharp optic!!!

    If you could eventually find an Ilford Multigrade 500 VC unit, as I did (I picked mine up at a garage sale, paid more for it than the 1C, but it was still a bargain) with an exposure/filter 'keyboard' (the exact terms fail me), you would be set for life. You can use it for white light printing also. Ilford has the instructions to do this somewhere on its web site.

    Happy printing!
     
  13. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    It's easy conceptually, but practically it's not as easy to get the materials as you would expect. At least not as easy as I expected when I first researched it.

    I thought about making one from sheet acrylic, but when I priced sheets large enough the saving quickly evaporated unless I was going to buy very large quantities and make a dozen or so. And I doubt one could sell the remaining eleven homemade units for the same price Nova gets for theirs.

    One potential source I have thought about since is to rob the light diffusers from discarded commercial florescent light fixtures. It's actually a little too thin, but if you've got enough material you could make stiffeners.

    Of course, if you happen to be in a position that acrylic sheets are readily available to you free or at at reasonable cost it isn't rocket science. You won't have the advantage of Nova's manufacturing experience, so you might have to work out a few kinks on your own. But if it's "almost free" then that makes the price right.

    Michael