Developing 4x5 sheet film

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by optique, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. optique

    optique Member

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    I am trying to decide how to develop sheet film long term.

    The two options I am considering are the:
    1. Combi Plan T - I've read too many posts about leaks, uneven development that I am scared of this. The Combi Plan T is cheap though.

    2. Jobo 2521 and manual roller base method - I've read mostly positive things about this system. The disadvantage is that it is nearly 3x the cost of the Combi Plan T. Also could someone let me know if this is the right kit? http://www.freestylephoto.biz/554341-Jobo-Single-Reel-4x5-Sheet-Film-Kit-with-Loader-Up-to-6-Sheets

    I like the fact that I can develop six sheets at one time.

    I guess I need reassurance that the Jobo route is the better bet / choice.

    TIA
    Steve.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Yes definitely the better choice. I use two Jobo 200 tanks they both take 1 or 2 reels 6 sheets per reel, I've used inversion agaition for over30 years.

    Place a wanted advert, here on APUG that's how I got my second tank, now I have one in the UK, the other here in Turkey.

    Ian
     
  3. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Steve,

    There are lots of options, including some that are lots cheaper than the Jobo system. Your choice may also depend on the processing volume you anticipate. The Forum has several threads on the topic of sheet film processing.

    Konical
     
  4. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    I've used an old Jobo tank (I'd have to look at the number on it) and old Jobo reels ( I think they are 2021 or 2021). I use this combo on a unicolor base. The tank will hold two reels and the reels will hold six sheets, although I never put more than four on a reel.

    I don't think I've got $60 in the whole deal, not counting shipping. Everything came off Ebay.

    Works well.

    Mike
     
  5. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    If you go with the Jobo, be sure to get the 2509N reels, not the 2509. The 2509 reels for 4x5 had the potential to form flow patterns of different density on the film. The N version of the 4x5 film reel has clips that help hold the film on the reel and break up the standing wave flow pattern, resulting in more even development.

    Lee
     
  6. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Optique,

    Splurge on a used CPE-2 or CPE-2+. It may seem expensive but the ease and consistency will win you over. Personally, I don't find it necessary, but those with a lift swear by it.

    Neal Wydra
     
  7. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    My "system":

    Jobo 2553 (same tank may also be called a 2551)
    5 roll film reels
    1 2509 reel
    1 Beseler base
    1 Uniroller base

    Total cost:

    $18 Uniroller
    Gas to collect or postage to deliver for the rest.

    Results: Priceless!
     
  8. optique

    optique Member

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    I went ahead and ordered the jobo kit and manual roller base. I did not see anything on ebay or on the classifieds.
    I appreciate all the responses.
    Steve.
     
  9. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    I have used a Combi-Plan T tank for over 25 years, for b/w, color neg, and color transparency with no problems whatsoever. But, having said that, I MUCH prefer developing film on hangers in "deep" tanks. I can develop more, the chemistry is more stable in larger quantities, and I get good results. Hangers and tanks are very inexpensive used. I only use the Comb-Plan T for odd or unusual processing now.

    I should add, that I am a prolific shooter. For a day of shooting I seldom come back without 40 5x7 b/w sheets exposed. Developing them just a few at a time would be a royal pain.
     
  10. optique

    optique Member

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    Phototone,
    I did quite a bit of research on Jobo vs. Combi-plan t. Seems like it was about 10 to 1 in favor of the Jobo system, and the people who hated the combi, really hated it. Few people who tried the Jobo had negative (no pun intended)comments. I did read about a handful of people like you with decades of good experience with the Combi, and I thank you and others for your input.

    Everyone, have a good day!
     
  11. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I recently bought a Phototherm 4x5 adapter for my old FP-1 processor, which uses standard Paterson reels for roll film. When I got the adapter out of the box I noticed that it's perfectly sized to fit in a Paterson multireel 3 tank. I haven't tried processing with it yet in a Paterson tank, but it fits like a glove just dropping it in to see if it really fits. I have been using it in my Phototherm tank, and it works great in that.

    Here are some pictures : http://www.apug.org/forums/members/...totherm-4x5-adapter-paterson-3-reel-tank.html

    The problem is that it's expensive. I think Photherm doesn't have the volume to get costs down, and that's partially because of inadequate marketing. I think if the sales volume was a bit higher, then the costs would come down. As it is, the thing is $130 for about $1 of plastic and probably $3 of manufacturing labor. The remaining $126 is carrying costs and overhead - at least this is my guess.

    On the other hand, it beats the pants off anything I could make for myself to use in the Phototherm processor. And the coincidence that it could be pressed into service for use in a Paterson tank is incidental to me.
     
  12. edtbjon

    edtbjon Member

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    The Combiplan is OK, but the Jobo is a more modern system. There are less issues (read: "risks") with the Jobo tanks and reels. As the Jobo is intended for continuous rotary processing, it has a couple of pros, i.e. it takes less chemistry and with continuous agitation there is less risk of uneven processing. Almost all of my film processing is done in a Jobo CPP2 nowadays. I know that I get consistency, with exact temperature and agitation control. It's just a matter of geting back to the wet-bench when the alarm rings. :smile:
    I still use my Combiplan for semi-stand processing though. Mine doesn't leak (more than the odd drop or so), so that isn't an issue for me.

    //Björn
     
  13. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    Optique, I just noticed that you are in Houston. So am I, most of the time. Small world, hey? Glad to know that there is another film user in what ammounts to a Digital Black Hole.
     
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  15. optique

    optique Member

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    Yes, NW Houston off Barker Cypress.

    I go to that store on Richmond, Houston Camera Exchange. Fairly nice people, and some used stuff too.

    Is there even one local shop with LF stuff?

    thanks.
    Steve.
     
  16. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    Whoa, we're neighbors! My apartment is at Huffmeister & Hwy 6.

    Houston Camera Co-op has a ton of large format stuff. That's where I got my Uniroller, Jobo 2840 drum, various used odds & ends like cable releases and filters and they stock a lot of chemicals and paper. They have a display case full of MF & LF hardware. Cameras, backs, holders, lenses. Be prepared to spend many hours in there. They have other cases with used 35mm SLR & rangefinder goodies.
     
  17. konakoa

    konakoa Member

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    I think Michael's Phototherm adapter is a intriguing idea. I use a smaller Paterson tank (the universal) for developing 4x5 film. I've always wondered why no one has made a simple insert for developing 4x5 film in the Paterson tanks.

    How many sheets of 4x5 film will the Phototherm adapter hold?
     
  18. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    I use a Combi Plan Tank - or more accurately a series of them.

    I pre-fill the tanks with Dev/Stop/Fix & water for washing in a production line

    I then load the film cassette and dunk the cassette into the pre-filled tank of dev

    I vigorously agitate for the first 20 sec then I stick the lid on - carefully

    I then agitate the tank as I would a Roll Film Tank

    Again in the dark, I remove the film from the tank at the end of the development time and dunk into the stop then into the fix. I don’t bother with the lids for these two steps but vigorously “chug” the cassette up and down.

    Initially I was having problems with uneven development, but by rolling the tank +/- 90deg 12 times each minute I overcame the issue. It is also important that you have a minimum number of sheets of film in the tank- to create baffles and hence turbulence when agitating the developer – I use the inevitable used/blank/dead/fogged spare sheets of film I inevitably collect when using my LF Camera.

    Yes – the top does leak – a bit but no more than all my Paterson tanks

    The reason I went with the Combi Plan was to be able to use semi-stand development which is the recommended dev process by Ilford

    I do batches of film processing so having several sets of tanks & cassettes is an advantage, I can take the cassettes in tern and dev sheets of film while the earlier cassettes are either still washing film or are drying ready for re-use.

    However, if you only want/need to do a single cassette of films at a time, I have found that Lock & Lock Food Containers make a container that is almost a perfect fit for the film cassette

    The Lock & Locks are not perfect – they seal fine but do take on the stain of the Stop Bath.

    I therefore only use the Lock & Locks to Stop or Fix or what ever else and never mix them up.

    I also store the Lock & Locks empty and dry to minimise the absorption of chemicals.

    The big advantage of Lock & Locks is they are only a few Pounds/Dollars each new – something you can never accuse any photographic equipment of being :rolleyes:

    Good luck

    Martin
     
  19. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    The Phototherm adapter holds 4 pieces of 4x5 sheets, and it's pretty secure, too. Obviously, since it has to hold the sheets under the rotation of the Phototherm machine, they can't be floating around loose. (You can load fewer than 4.)

    That's not as many as the Nikkor tanks, which hold 12 sheets. But the last Nikkor I was watching on the bay went for almost $250. I thought that was kind of pricey.

    The down side compared to the Nikkor tank is that the Phototherm adapter is not adjustable, only holding 4X5 sheets - not 2.25X3.25 or any other size for that matter, whereas the Nikkor tank is adjustable. The Photherm adapter is a one trick pony, but it does that trick extremely well.

    If you're already using a Paterson Multireel 3 tank, this just fits right in.

    If anyone is interested the address serve-at-phototherm.com goes to Kathy. I wrote to her and suggested they should market the things to the LF hobby market, but didn't hear back yet. While they haven't abandon the film market, their bread and butter products are temperature and agitation controlled medical specimen lab devices. (The actual invoice came from Cyto-therm, not Photo-therm.) I'm sure the medical lab market is a lot higher margin than photo hobbiests, and with Pro-shops closing down like buggy whip manufacturers a hundred years ago you can't blame them for shifting focus.

    It also occurs to me, since there is a parallel discussion going on about 5X7 tanks, that the same concept could be used to make a Paterson tank adapter for two 5X7 sheets. The Phototherm 4X5 adapter probably couldn't be modified without wrecking it, but the construction would be extremely similar, and the dimensions would work fine. After all, if two 4X5's will fit side by side, then clearly that's 5X8 plus a little for the divider, so a 5X7 would fit in the same space. So, instead of two 4X5 on the outer section and two on the inner section you would have one 5X7 on the outer and one on the inner.

    MB
     
  20. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    Houston Camera Co-Op also stocks 4x5 sheet film, both color & black and white.
     
  21. djacobox372

    djacobox372 Member

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    I can vouch for the Combi-plan t... it's not quite as idiot proof as the Jobo, but you get what you paid for!

    Uneven development from the combi-plan is likely due to people pouring developer in the top and emptying it out of the bottom, which is what the stupid instructions tell you to do. Obviously if you do this you are leaving the bottom of the negs in the developer longer. If you empty out of the top this isn't a problem. I also recommend rotating inversions on the same plane as the film, if you invert the tank so that the liquid pushes against the face of the negative it can dislodge it from the holder (only happened to me once--the first time I used it).
     
  22. rshepard

    rshepard Member

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    Steve,

    It's interesting how everyone replied with their favorite system and advice for you, but no one asked you about the film or developer you plan to use. If you use a developer and constant agitation, then any of the suggestions will work for you. However, that's not the only processing algorithm.

    A few years ago I decided to use only pyro developers for my films. For the 120 roll film I use ABC+ pyro (rollo pyro) in my Jobo CPA processor and have been very satisfied with the results. But, for sheet film (2 1/4 x 3 1/4, 4x5, and soon 5x7) I use Pyrocat HD (in glycol) and minimal agitation. That is, the film develops for 30 minutes and I gently agitate it for 15 seconds initially, then at 25, 50, and 75 percent of the processing time. I use a Yankee tank for this and have had excellent results. For all films, I use a 5 minute distilled water soak before developing, a water stop bath, and Formulary's TF-4 alkaline fixer. The whole process is odor free and provides high accutance and great tonal range on my Efke 100 films.

    So much of the technique depends on the films and developers used that I don't like to offer generalizations.

    Good luck!

    Rich
     
  23. ZoneIII

    ZoneIII Member

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    I realize that my preferred methods are not on your list of options but I prefer to tray process my b&w film. I do have a Jobo and I use it for color film. I have used the Jobo for b&w film but I still prefer tray processing. The reasons for that are that my my Zone System calibration testing was done with trays and I just don't feel like doing them again and, more importantly, I find it easier to do N, N-, and N+ developing in trays. For example, if I have only six sheets of film to develop and one of them is N-1 and one is N+1 and the rest are N, I can develop them all at the same time in trays simply by transferring them to the stop bath at different times. With a Jobo, I have to run separate batches and the N+1 and N+2 runs in the 3010 drum still require the minimum amount of chemistry although I can re-use it, of course.

    When I have large amounts of b&w film - say from a trip - I much prefer to process in a water-jacketed line sink ... dip and dunk. They are dirt cheap on eBay these days and you can process a LOT of film quickly. In addition, I have never experienced any of the problems some say they have with this method. This method is also great if you develop film regularly because you can keep the chemistry for a long time and replenish it. In fact, that is how I would always develop my b&w film if I was shooting constantly but it's not good for small amounts of film done intermittently.

    One thing that drum processing is excellent for, though, is Pyro. I simply can't handle film with surgical gloves on.

    I just wanted to mention these things to remind you that there are more ways to develop film than the ones you mentioned. I would definitely avoid the Combi Pan tank. I tried one many years ago just to see how it works. I got poor results.
     
  24. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I use a Combi-Plan, fill it from the top, and empty it from the bottom. I do not get unevenly developed negatives. The trick is to use a developer with a long working time - about 10 minutes or so. This way, the fill and drain times are only a very small fraction of the development time. Also, the tank drains quickly enough if you open the top air vent. Yes, the sheets can be dislodged but not that easily if the top clip is properly installed and secured. It is not as foolproof as a Jobo or a Nikkor tank, but it does work. It's the best compromise I've seen between cost and convenience for the low volume user.
     
  25. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    My experience with the Combi is similar to Franks, though I must thank him for the suggestion about using extended dev. times. The standard times/dilutions/temps make a bit anxious every time I emptied it.
     
  26. Bobby Ironsights

    Bobby Ironsights Member

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    I have two combi-plan T tanks. They dribble a little, like all my other cheap plastic tanks for 35mm film. They're cheap, and alot of people associate cheap with bad. Unless you don't fill the tank all the way to the top, you can't get uneven development.

    I wanted to know, so I timed it. It takes less than 25 seconds to empty the tank from top to bottom. Unless you've got a 2 minute development cycle, you'd need the electronic eyes of the six million dollar man to see the difference.

    I was paranoid about it though until I did split development and figured out that there was no difference at all, the developer soaked into the gelatin wasn't exhausted while the tank was draining. It was all in my mind.

    Then I figured it out.

    Although; people had complained about uneven development, nobody had ever showed an uneven negative online. People see what they expect to see, it's not snobbery over expensive equipment, it's a known psychological phenomenom. Since then I've used my Combi-T's that I got used for about a year and a half.