Beginner questions

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by warrennn, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. warrennn

    warrennn Member

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    I am very interested in getting into MF film processing but have little experience in this area (I did some more than 50 years ago with poor results). My ultimate goal is to process E6 slides (Velvia 100) shot with my Hasselblad 501cm, a camera I have come to have a great deal of affection for after a number of teething problems. I have done a fair amount of research on the web, but wondered whether some of the more experienced people could help with the following questions? Thanks in advance.

    I will start, of course, with BW processing. I ordered a pair of tanks from Freestyle: a Patterson plastic tank/reel and the highly recommended Hewes (120) reel with an Arista SS tank. Can someone suggest a BW chemistry which would be appropriate for a beginner?

    Can someone recommend a good agitation procedure with these tanks? I understand that this is a hotly debated topic. Also, should the SS top for the Arista tank make a good seal for when I invert the tank?

    I will purchase most of the supplies from Glazers camera (local) - things such as thermometers, beakers, etc. I have an excellent basement room which can serve as a darkroom - should I skip the changing bag and use it?

    When I get to the E6 processing, I understand that temperature control is very important. Should I purchase an aquarium heater (which can go to 100 F) and use it with a largish water bath? Also, would the Kodak 3 solution chemicals be adequate? I notice that Freestyle sells a kit which seems to work at a number of temperatures (with different developing times) - is this a good investment?

    Any other suggestions/warnings would be much appreciated.

    Thanks very much!

    Warren Nagourney
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2010
  2. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Hi Warren,

    I was where you are now a few years ago, and although I can't help you with the colour processing, I can (a bit) for the black and white.

    When I started I used Kodak's D-76 developer, and with few exceptions (Rodinal for slow films), I'm still using it. Ilford has an equivalent developer (ID-11 I believe) that comes in liquid form so will probably be more convenient. For stop bath and fix, any brand should do well for you. You probably will want to get some photo-flo for the final rinse (in distilled water) to keep spots from forming on your film.

    In terms of supplies, the tanks should be fine. I don't get leakage from the top cap with SS tanks, but sometimes when the fix is in it, it will leak out the sides (due to increased pressure in the tank). To avoid that I just remove the cap after the inversion. In terms of agitation techniques, my recommendation is just to start with the recommended times and inversions (usually continuous inversions the first 30s, then 4 inversions every 30 seconds) and see how you like it. Everyone has different preferences so only you can know what you like and don't like. But don't worry, going with the standard will give you good negs.

    Finally, if you have an absolutely light-tight darkroom, you may want to use that for everything. My former darkroom (I'm in the process of trying to rebuild one here in Japan) was great for printing, but I would not unload film in there. For some reason, I tend to get nervous in total darkness, and prefer using a changing bag for film. But that's just me.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Hi, and welcome to APUG. Sounds like you have a good start on gear. You dont need a light tight room to load film into processing tanks, a changing bag works wonders for that, allowing for developing in regular light. Find a good darkroom manual and follow the directions. Follow the specific manufacturers instructions for whichever chemical you choose for developing. IMHO, D-76 is a good developer to start out with, its been around for decades. Kodak chems are all good to use, stop bath and fixers, hypo clearing agent, and photo-flo. Make sure you take good notes on everything you do in the D R will aid you in becoming more proficient at developing. Here I will advise you to watch Jason Brunners videos on developing film (available free here) it will help tremendously, there is a link in the sponsors section. Relax, and ask many questions and recieve many answers, the folks here are most willing to share their experience and knowledge.
    I wouldn't concern myself with E-6 for now, the best thing is to take it one step at a time. Getting acquainted with developing through B&W is all you should have on your mind for now. The color work will come soon enough. The equiptment you are buying for B&W will suffice for color, only the chems will change(basically).
    As to the tank you are buying, yes it will seal and not leak when inverted. If it does leak, its a defective tank and should be sent back. Occasionally, chems do build pressure, and a litle liquid will be expelled, thats normal, and minimal.
    If theres anything else I can help with, feel free to contact me personally, I'll be glad to assist in any way possible.

    cheers
     
  4. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    If E-6 is what you like why start with B&W? :confused: E-6 is not that tough, I did it before I did B&W.

    The Kodak directions include everything you need.

    Two burner GE hot plate from WalMart and a non-disposable Turkey pan 1/2 full of water.

    The Kodak kit has more steps and requires ~100 degrees but it is very doable especially with the hot plate water bath.

    Consistency in your process is more important than a perfect 100 degrees.
     
  5. warrennn

    warrennn Member

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    Thanks very much for the replies! What a treasure this forum is for the support of chemical photography (despite being a retired physicist, I have absolutely no interest in "electronic" photography!)

    I have indeed seen Jason's excellent videos - he shows how to load an SS reel with 120 film and lots of other useful things. I purchased both an SS tank and a plastic one under the assumption that the latter will be easier to learn on while the Hewes reel might be more satisfying to use once I learn to load it (Jason makes it look easy). I'll practice with some discarded film.

    The changing bag looks like the better approach - the room has no windows but is not absolutely light tight. I have a sink and even a shower (it is a disused basement apartment.)

    Thanks again.

    Warren N
     
  6. warrennn

    warrennn Member

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    Thanks, Mark. I thought that B&W would be easier since it has fewer steps and temp control is less important. There are a number of basic darkroom procedures I need to become familiar with before getting into something fairly complicated. In addition to the stuff I did as a kid, I taught an optics class 5 years ago and we developed hologram negs (Kodak tech pan - heavens knows what they are using now), so I am not an absolute beginner, but I'm still not completely comfortable with some stuff and need to relearn it.

    wn
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Don't ignore one other resource - the staff at Glazer's.

    For loading the reels, I personally strongly recommend a darkened room over a changing bag. This will nearly eliminate problems with heat and humidity, and will also provide you with better auditory information as well (a properly loaded reel has a particular sound).

    If you are concerned about light leaks, you can often solve the problem by loading the reels and tanks at night - the film will keep fine until the next day.

    In case you haven't seen them yet, there are good beginner's guides on both the Ilford and Kodak websites.

    Kodak: http://wwwtr.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/aj3/aj3.pdf

    Ilford (various titles in the "Getting Started" section: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/page.asp?n=9

    Have fun!
     
  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    More steps sure but, if artistically you "see" in color, you will be happier with color film.
     
  9. warrennn

    warrennn Member

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    Thanks Matt. I must confess to having had mixed experiences at Glazers. Some of the people are very helpful and some treat me as though I am wasting their time. Also, their analogue people are drifting away and the electronic "whizzes" often act as though I am some sort of throwback for still doing film photography.

    wn
     
  10. warrennn

    warrennn Member

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    I really love Velvia transparencies in 120. I have my share of 35 mm stuff (an F, F2, F3, FE2) and love the workmanship of these gems, but putting a 120 slide next to a 35 mm slide on my light table brings out how much more luscious the larger format is. I don't have an enlarger, so there is some sense in "focusing" on E6 (I do have a 6x6 projector).

    wn
     
  11. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    I recommend picking up the Fuji CR6 or Kodak E-6 that comes in 40 to 100+ litre kits for not much more than the tetenal 5L stuff.

    Helpful tips with the chems is divide down the mixing instructions to only what you need at the time: 300ml, 500ml, or 1l etc.

    Not sure where you live.. but I find ebay to be the best source of fresh film, it has the cheapest shipping (only a couple of bucks for international shipping compared to $50+ US shipping ripoff from other places) and great prices, Provia 400X is about $3.60/AUD per 120 roll at the moment including delivery, Velvia 100 and 100f is about $5/roll I think.
     
  12. imokruok

    imokruok Member

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    First issue I can think of is the Paterson tank. I have the Paterson tank, can't recall the exact model, but it takes one liter of fluid. I can do two rolls of 120 in it. I would prefer the inversion method of agitation, but the Paterson cap does not quickly seal. You can get it on there, but it takes me 30 seconds to get it right without leaks, and that's too long to wait before agitation. So I use the stir-stick method with the stick provided with the tank. It seems to work just fine this way as long as you are firm - but not fast - with spinning the reels.

    On the changing bag, I actually do better using one than without. Unlike in a darkroom, I can still see where my arms are in relation to each other, which is great if I'm snipping the leader off a roll of 35mm. I use the Arista bag from Freestyle. No issues. But give the darkroom a shot before you spend more money.

    Finally, on temperature control, I use the Kodak E6 six-step process. Freestyle also sells this for about $55, but I'm unsure if they ship it. It really is a wonderful batch of chemicals, and is not much more effort than the three-step process. Also, I don't think you need any sort of heater if you have a sink basin that can (1) hold all of the bottles, and (2) has access to hot water. I do mine in the left basin of the kitchen sink. I mix the chemicals at the upper range of Kodak's recommended mixing temperature, then I stop up the sink and put them all in a hot water bath. I will have to drain and refill with hot water two or three times over the course of 30 minutes, but by the third time the sink temp is stable enough to do the whole process.
     
  13. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    Before anything else, waste a roll of film and practice loading it on the reel !! -- no matter if you use a bag or do it in the dark you are going to be doing it by feel. Loading a reel properly is by far the most important part of the process. I can guarantee frustration and choice words at some point.

    Just grab you reel and dummy film and watch some TV and load and unload that reel a hundred times before going into the dark with a roll of film you don't want to screw up. Watch for kinks, get a feel of how tight and how long the film is, get a feel for it loading correctly, get a look at not making half moon creases in the film as it loads...etc, etc.
     
  14. warrennn

    warrennn Member

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    Thank you all for your suggestions! I am sure I will be back with more questions when the equipment arrives and I start. Thanks again.

    Cheers,

    Warren Nagourney