Developing 120 film myself... (newbie question!)

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ilona, May 11, 2006.

  1. ilona

    ilona Member

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    Hi all!

    I'm quite a newbie; I never developed a roll of film yet. I bought some chemical though.
    wondering. I've been shooting some 120 film and I wanted to develop it myself.
    But I was wondering: there is that paper at the back of the film. How do we get rid of it actually?

    Ilona
     
  2. Marc Leest

    Marc Leest Member

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    You tear it off in a completely darkened room, preparing the film for putting it on the development reel

    M.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2006
  3. knutb

    knutb Member

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    The film is attached to the backing paper by a single piece of tape in one end of the film. Simply tear off the tape from the backing paper. And remember to develop the film, not the backing paper :smile:
     
  4. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    As I unwind off the spool, I hold the film (by the edges), winding it into a roll, and let the paper fall away. Once all film is off, pull tape away from paper.
    Some people remove the tape from the film, some just fold it over the end of the film, others just trim off the excess. Be aware that sometimes (low humidity) removing the tape from the film can produce a static spark that can show up on the film.
     
  5. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    I would strongly recommend getting an unused roll of 120 film, unravelling it in the light and examining how it's put together. Also, practice loading it on to your developing reels, first in the light and then in the dark. It can be quite difficult to load 120 film until you get the knack -- I speak from experience :sad:

    Mike
     
  6. ilona

    ilona Member

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    Oh, OK. It's simpler than I thought. I'll give it a try with a roll that I can shoot again easily ("mistake-proof" :smile:.
    Thank you all!
     
  7. ilona

    ilona Member

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    Yes, I was thinking that some practice would be useful. I have an expired roll that I can easily use for that.
     
  8. Fintan

    Fintan Member

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  9. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    here's how I load a plastic (Paterson style) spool...

    1. Arrange tank on bench. I put the tank nearest me then the lid behind.
    2. Make sure the centre post is in the reel.
    3. Get my scissors and break the sealing tape on the film, making sure I don't drop the film!
    4. Hold the film in one hand and turn off the lights
    5. Put a finger under the 1st layer of paper backing and start unrolling it. With my finger I'm feeling for when the film starts.
    6. Once the film end is located, I get the scissors and trim the paper backing leaving about an inch or so of film poking out. This lets me handle the film to get it started in the reel without touching the film as the paper backing is still covering the majority of it.
    7. Pick up reel and feel where intake slots are, rotate the two sides so they are apart (not lined up) and poke the film into the 1st one. Push it in feeling the other side in to it's slot.
    8. Grab the end of the film in the middle and pull it past the ball bearings
    9. Make a few wiggles back and drop the film so it hangs down.
    10. Shuffle the reel sides back and forward until feel the end.
    11. Tear the rest of the paper backing off and fold the tape over onto the film. I used to remove the tape but there was always the risk of kinking the film if it was stuck too hard. For J&C Classic, I do remove it as it's not stuck much at all and wory it will float off during development
    12. Wiggle the reel again to take up the last couple of inches of film and place it in the tank.
    13. Put the lids on.
    14. Turn lights on.

    Easier down than explained! Takes me between 1 and 2 minutes.
     
  10. Blighty

    Blighty Subscriber

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    Ilona,
    Let us know how you get on. Best of luck (actually, it's not all that difficult after a bit of practise) :smile:
     
  11. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I went into a dark little room,having never seen a roll of 120 film unraveled, or having loaded a reel of any sort. The reel was second hand, and the previous owner somehow managed to assemble it with the take-up tabs not aligned (how!?). Not knowing any better, I didn't catch it, and having a great "how hard can this possibly be" attitude, I went it. Well... I got it done... almost half an hour later!!! Having to solve the reel in the dark with film in one hand was the worse part... Ah, memories :smile:

    The reason I am relaying all this rambling - I did it without any prior practice in the light, and as such I highly recommend that anyone trying this NOT do what I did. It will save you so much headache, even if it costs you a couple bucks.

    I think Nige summed it all up about as well as I have seen done anywhere - nothing to add except a couple minor disclaimers:
    - myself and many others separate the film from the backing first, then load it. I find it much easier - but that's how I tought myself to do it. There is a definite adventage to doing it Nige's way: you don't directly handle the film. Having said that, I make sure my hands are dry and clean (I use an alcohol wipe right before I start - it degreases the skin and evaporates right away), handle the film very, very carefully and have never had any fingerprints or other film damage due to this. The decision is ultimately yours - I would assume that the size of your hands would probably have an effect on what you find more comfy?
    - arrange the tank the way you will find intuitive. Nothing is critical here, so make sure it fits you and space where you are doing this. I would strongly second the suggestion to make sure the centre post is in place before you turn thelights out. Then be very careful to reach for and handle the tank gently, so as not to upset the post - make it fall out or just move out of its position. This is easy to do if you reach for the tank too abruptly, bump it with your hand or not make the mental note that there is a loose piece in there and move it too abruptly. It sounds silly - but just try looking for that little black piece of plastic in the dark (not that the colour matters, now that I think about it - if it was bright enough to matter, your film is ruined anyway:smile:).

    Again - a lot to write for a couple of simple ideas that will become very self explanatory once you try.

    Just a quick not on the tape at the end of the film. I find that the Ilford films are by far the best in terms of "build quality" - which means, the biggest pain to pull apart. Their tape is (out of the films I have used) the most uniform from roll to roll, spans almost the entire width of the film and seems to be attached most securely. With Ilford, I would suggest you separate from the backing tape very carefully as it requires a fair bit of pull - making it easy to rip something or get that static electricity spark and fog your film or both (and yes, it does happen - I have seen it with my own two eyes) Then just fold the thing (piece of tape) over, as unless you have a bunch of practive, you are likely to kink the film or handle it somewhere that you should not touch. Kodak is second, and most other brands seem to have a much smaller piece of tape (not covering the whole width of the film makes it easier to separate from the film) and the adhesive is not as strong. These are, of course, very un-scientific findings, and except for the tape size, they maybe somewhat subjective - has anyone else noticed that Ilford tape is harder to pull off? I just did a roll of Delta 3200 and Efke 100 tonight, loading them one after another into two tanks - and the experience seems to reinforce my findings:smile:

    Best of luck with your film, Ilona!

    Peter (the really long-winded)
     
  12. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    I do all this in a changing bag. I pop the daylight tank, the reel and the roll of film into the bag. I trim the corners of the film, then begin to load it into the reel. I don't detach it from the backing first, I just let the backing curl up in my hands as I load the film.

    At the end I pull the tape off and fold it over the end. As I'm doing it in a changing bag I don't have to worry about dropping the column for the tank, etc. it's easy enough to find inside the bag.

    I now find 120 film generally easier to load than 35mm. I'm using Paterson universal reels and system 4 tanks.
     
  13. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    This is really stupid - I think I have a majour psychological blockage... I can't imagine doing this in a bag! I know - I CAN NOT see what I am doing either way, it doesn't bother me in the dark, throws me off with the bag!!! How weird is that???

    But you are right - not only do you not have to worry about lsing anything on the floor - its probably a more tidy way to do it. I always worry that I will drop something I need!

    Peter.
     
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  15. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I used to use a change bag, but in summer the humidity/heat that builds up makes the plastic reels start to stick. Now I've got my dedicated darkroom, that's no longer a problem. I also stopped trimming the corners of 120, although I still trim 35mm. A good way of doing that I found was to poke the corner of the film into your finger and then follow your finger with scissors and you nip just a tiny bit off. Controling how hard you press the film into your skin lets you chop off however much you want (i.e. not much preferably)

    Just to add an anedote... I didn't use a trial film either... managed to load it ok, but after processing, discovered I'd put it thru the camera inside out and had no pictures :smile:
     
  16. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    Ah, yes....learning experiences are part of the process. The very first roll of film I ever developed came out with nice even development, good density and contrast, not one printable negative. The roll was full of half-moon kinks from 'fighting' it onto the reel, and some undeveloped spots where layers were touching. I decided it was necessary to spend more time practicing in the dark with a scrap roll. The next one was perfect, but I saved that first one as a memento to remind me that learning experiences happen.

    Bob
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The first roll film I ever developed was 616, in total darkness, chemistry in 5x7 trays, using the old "one end in each hand, middle in the solution, and raise and lower each end for several minutes" method.

    Reels and daylight tanks - they are just too easy! :D

    I periodically try the various types of reels, but with my one hand being the way it is, for 120 I keep going back to the Film Aprons and tanks designed for steel reels.

    Matt
     
  18. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Well, the first roll I developed taught me (obviously) how to load film, but it also showed me how much my wife loves me: it was the dead of winter, snow everywhere and I had to turn all the lights out to have a dark room in the cellar. Well, she asked - how long will this take? I saw a friend do it, it took him all of 3minutes or so. I thought... maybe twice... no, lets say five times as much. So I told her - I should hope no more than 15 minutes. She decided to go out for a smoke, but I told her, if she does that, not to come in until I come and get her, because I was afraid of light possibly making its way in...
    Well, she agreed to it... and she stood there, and stood there... freezing, while "learned" my lessons in total darkness! I love that woman!

    Peter.
     
  19. Samuel B

    Samuel B Member

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    Because I don't have a proper darkroom I always use a darkbag, I find it quite easy, loading film into the tank is much easier than loading 600ft rolls of paper into the magazines for my mini lab, which is sometimes a bit awkward.
    The only problem occurs when you leave a crucial item (like the reel) on the outside of the bag, which I have done a few times!
     
  20. ilona

    ilona Member

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    Wow! Thank you all for your answers! I can't wait giving it a try after all that I read here!
    I already shot a roll of film with a newly-made pinhole camera. I gathered all my darkroom stuff so far and I noticed that I'm still missing bits and pieces (such as a thermometer).

    I also had a look at Ilfords web site (great link btw!). In the article "Processing your first B&W film" and in the film fact sheet (HP5+ 400), they are mentioning some dilution figures when it comes to the developer, something like "stock", "1+1", "1+3", etc. I have no clue what that is. I have a Kodak powder developer that I first should mix. Is the dilution I will obtain then "stock"?

    Also, I'm wondering if I have to maintain the tank at the right temperature (and then how I can do that). Or can I just process at room temperature and adjust the processing time accordingly? The latter sounds easier to me but I don't know what the impact would be on the whole process.

    Ilona
     
  21. ilona

    ilona Member

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    Oh yes, and also: can I process different types of film in the same developer solution? I mean, for example: I process HP5+ on Sunday. Can I process Delta 100 in the same used developer solution on Monday? Or do I need "fresh" developer?
     
  22. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I'll second the warning about the static sparks when you pull off the tape. I find pulling it off very slowly prevents it happening. I mostly use 220, where there are separate backing papers at the start and end of the film and so two tapes: but the principle is the same.

    David.
     
  23. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    Depends what the developer is. If it is D76/ID11 then mix up the supplied dry chemicals to make a 'stock' solution. You can reuse stock solutions with replenishment but this is not recommended with ID11. You are best to dilute it 1+1 with water. If you are using a 2x35mm/1x120 reel paterson tank then you will need 10 fl oz of stock solution diluted with 10fl oz of water. After developing the film for the recommended time pour it out and pour in the stop bath etc. Once you have finished dispose of the working solution you have just used - this is one shot development. 1+3 dilutions are used for greater compensating action but with ID11 you can only process one roll at a time in a two reel tank as there is not enough to process both reels. You should keep the remaining stock soultion for use when you need it. Following the Ilford instrctions is probably a very good idea. THIS book should be really helpful in getting you on your way.

    Hope this helps,

    Lachlan
     
  24. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    Your concept of 'stock' is correct. When you mix the pkt of dry chems, as specified on the label, you then have a 'stock' solution. You may use it as is, or dilute further. 1+1 or 1:1 means 1 part stock and 1 part water. 1:2 would be 1 part stock, 2 parts water.

    There are temperture charts that let you work out what the development time would be for a different temp from your normal one. Probably on the Ilford site. If your room temp is roughly the development temp, I doubt you need to adjust for it as the temp of your developer won't creep much. I personally measure the developer temp after my last inversion sequence and if it's climbed more than 1/2 degree I'll tip the developer straight away (cutting maybe 30secs from the total time). If it's dropped (very rare!) I might give it an extra 30secs. How I decide all this is alchemy!

    You can process different films in the same developer, however you need to worry about two things. The amount of actual developer in the solution to begin with is sufficient too develop the films you want too, and more importantly, the time between developing. Once diluted to 'working strength', most developers have a fairly limited lifespan, and I don't think anyone would advise you to use it a day or more later. Yes it might work, but if it doesn't... your negs will be toast, and what's the cost of some fresh developer compared to the value of your pictures! Most peropl who replenish developer, know what their doing... the rest of us use it "one shot"! (use once, and dispose)

    B&W is very forgiving, but it's best you get into good habits straight away! Be orderly (label jugs, etc) Concentrate on the task... don't try to do other things as the same time.
     
  25. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Ilona,

    The powder you have will yield the "stock" solution. All the 1+1, 1+3, etc. refer to further diluting that "stock" with water. Different dilutions give different "looks" to the finished product - its not simply a case of less diluted=less developing time (although this is usually true as well, obviously). Stock sloution keeps a lot longer - generally, once you mix a developer further with water, it is only good for that one use and should then be discarded.
    Be sure to use very warm water to mix your chemicals as per the instructions on the bag - if you don't, you will have issues with properly dissolving all the chems. Of course, follow the instructions exactly to get the right volume when finished. Of course, be careful when you do this - make sure you don't get a face full of powdered chems. This is unpleasant enough when you mix powdered drinks...
    Which leads me to the temperature question. Yes, the temperature most of these times are given at is 20deg C, or 68 F (are you metric? I am, so I'll keep going with metric if you don't mind). You are correct in assuming that you can adjust development times accordingly, and there are charts available at most manufacturers web sites to show you by how much to adjust for each degree over the baseline 20C.
    From my experience, I reccomend that you try to get all your chems down(or up) to that temperature as best as you can. This is not that complicated - I use a Walmart thermometer and it seems to do a fine job - if you want to spring for a nice photo thermometer, even better.
    If you want to ensure that the temperatures stay constant, use a water bath - place all your containers in water of a known temperature (in your sink, or a basin of some sort). However, I find that unless your house is really hot or really cold, in the amount of time needed to process one roll of film the temperature changes are not very significant to B&W processing, especially seeing as the developer temperature is most important, and that is your first step, so it will be ok if you just make sure you start out at the right temp. The biggest thing to worry about with the other two steps (stop bath and fixer) is not so much the actual temperature (as long as its nothing ridiculous - try to get it the same as the dev to start with) as the temperature difference between the different stages. In other words, your dev, stop and fix should be very close in temperature or you may have unwanted ill effets on your film's emulsion. This, again, is simpler than it sounds - just set up your starting temperature for all three to be the same, and you will be ok when you get to the end with the amount of time one roll takes. Just be sure that your wash is also close in temp.
    I find the biggest pain to be working with stock solutions (like D76 or Acufine) - with Rodinal (which you mix at 1+25 or more), I just run the tap over the thermometer until I get it right, mix all my chems to the amounts I will use, check once more just in case the water temp changed on me, and off I go. With a stock solution, you may have to place it in a water bath of desired temp to bring it to the right temp.
    Just in case you need it - here is an example of a temp/time chart for Ilfords FP4+ (top of page 4). From what I have seen, its remarkably similar for other films.
    I am relatively green at this compared to most folks on this site - but feel free to PM me with any questions you may have. If I don't know, I'll at least usually know where to look or whom to ask! Have fun and best of luck,

    Peter.

    OK - many, many people beat me to it while I was typing my novel :smile:
    and one more thing - I just noticed you mentioned you will be using HP5+... not FP4+... I did read your post, I just had a brain fart
     
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  26. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

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    I'll add one more thing I do when developing film.

    I temper a bucket of water (to 20C) and from that I mix my developer (this might also require a little hotter water or maybe some from the fridge depending on what developer I'm using). I then use the water from the bucket to do my rinses ("stop" is 2 rinses and after fix) This way I always have enough 'correct' temp water handy and I think I have less chance of accidently adding some real hot stuff!