Developing Large Format Negs

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by kjsphoto, Jun 3, 2004.

  1. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    Ok,

    I have decided to find a 4x5 camera and enter this new world of photography. Here lies the problem. I do not have any place that I can use as a darkroom for tray developing. Right now I have to use a changing back and steel tank for MF. I read on here that the Yankee tank is no good and the Nikkor tanks are not made anymore and the Cambi isn’t so hot either. And I hate to fork out the dough for a jobo processor, as I really don’t have extra money for one. I use steel tanks now for 35 and MF and have excellent results.

    What can I do to be able to process 4x5 film?

    Thanks again,

    Kev
     
  2. Chaska

    Chaska Subscriber

    Messages:
    93
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2003
    Location:
    Charlotte, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Check out using a Uniroller and Unicolor paper drum, directions are at largeformatphotography.info. I got mine in pieces off of eBay for under $50 and it works well.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I like my Nikor tank, but it doesn't work for everyone, and they are hard to find.

    I know more people who seem to like the HP Combi-Plan tank than don't, so I'd figure out what they are doing to make it work for them. If it's a slow fill issue, then the thing to do is pour the developer in the tank and then insert the rack with the sheets and carry on in daylight. I do that when I do PMK in my Nikor tank, because there are issues of uneven staining with PMK if you don't immerse the film evenly.

    I think Jobo makes an inversion tank with a plastic reel that works like the Nikor tank, so you wouldn't need the whole processor to use it.
     
  4. Mongo

    Mongo Member

    Messages:
    960
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2004
    Location:
    Pittsburgh,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'll second Chaska's recommendation. Unicolor Print Drums (not the film drums) work great for 4x5 and 8x10 film development. My set was around $30 used. I use around 250ml of chemicals for my processing and haven't had any problems that I can attribute to this setup. (The one problem I did have was my own fault...I loaded both sheets of 4x5 into the same side of the chamber and they overlapped. Don't do this.)
     
  5. bmac

    bmac Member

    Messages:
    2,156
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I'll Thirs Chaska's rec for the Unicolor setup. I use it for 4x5 and 8x10. I actually use 500 ml of solution for either 2 4x5 (I dont try to use two per side of the tank anymore) or 1 sheet of 8x10. I've got my dev times squared away for the difference. There are always tons of them on eBay.
     
  6. Mongo

    Mongo Member

    Messages:
    960
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2004
    Location:
    Pittsburgh,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Brian does bring up a point here that might be handy to know if you decide to go this route. I don't know how much liquid you can put in the tank and still have it work without spilling (I've never done a test to find out), but I have put in 500ml before (water in place of stop bath) with no trouble at all. My recollection is that the tank could have taken significantly more liquid if I'd needed to put in more. Keep this in mind if you run into a situation where you might go below the recommendation for the minimum amount of developer needed to process the film area you have in the tank.
     
  7. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

    Messages:
    6,242
    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    For 4X5 and 8X10 I develop in BTZS type tubes (minimal agitation/semi stand). I have a Unicolor motor base--just haven't used it for film development.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I use trays. I'll JOBO tank develop my 4x5" or 9x12cm films occasionally - especially if I have lots of them - but mostly I develop in trays. By inspection. All sizes: 9x12, 4x5", 5x7", 13x18, 18x24.
    Unlike may others I prefer trays that are not a lot larger than the film, this gives me better control over the slippery little b*stards. So 9x12 to 13x18 goes in 13x18 trays, the 18x24 in 8x10" trays.
     
  9. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,709
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Morning,

    I'll agree with the comments above about using a motor base and a color processing drum. I've used a Chromega 8 x 10 drum for at least twenty years and never had a problem except that a very thin film, such as Technical Pan can escape the guides and separator and end up on top of one of the other sheets in the drum. This may have happened because I tend to be generous with solution amounts (usually 10 to 12 ounces), and the force of the liquid apparently lifted the film loose during rotation. That doesn't happen with films of "normal" thickness. The Chromega info sheet suggests that only 3 ounces of solution are adequate for an 8 x 10 drum, but I see no point in being that chintzy with B & W chemicals.

    In my view, the number one reason to use the drum method is the absolute evenness of development it produces (I do use pre-soak). The number two reason is that, with careful loading, scratches or other damage are virtually impossible. The number three reason is that working in full light makes things simpler.

    I seem to recall from various postings here or on other sites that Unicolor drums can sometimes have leakage problems, but can't be sure because I've never used them. I do know that my Chromega drums have never had even the slightest leak during usage. I don't think they're available new any longer, but they do pop up occasionally on E-Bay.
     
  10. Steve Murray

    Steve Murray Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2004
    I used to use trays, but I recently obtained a couple of Jobo 2500 series drums with the 2509n 4x5 sheet film holders for a good deal used ($30 for two tanks and two holders). I'm having more success with this system than I did with the Unidrum/Uniroller. The Jobos are well designed. You don't need the optional film loader unit BTW. I can load the 2509 holders even in a changing bag. To turn the drum for agitation I simply attached 4 small furniture casters from the hardware store to a board, and I rotate slowly by hand. No need for a motorized base in my opinion. The development has been very even. With the smaller drum which holds one film holder you can either use the typical inversion method, although you have to fill up the 1500cc tank, or the roller method, which uses about 500cc to 700cc developer. I use more than the minimum amount of developer to ensure enough developer solution per film square inches. The 2509n film holders each hold 6 4x5 sheets. I would highly recommend the Jobo tank, however you decide to agitate. I like tray development too, but you need a darkroom, and my basement is too cold to use in the winter.
     
  11. Francesco

    Francesco Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2003
    Location:
    Düsseldorf,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    BTZS style three-piece tubes that facilitate easy loading and unloading of film, especially when using minimal agitation procedures.

    Francesco (www.cicoli.com)
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,974
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2002
    Location:
    Wine country, N. Cal.
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    HP Combi-Plan tanks. Six 4x5 at a time. Works well for me the way David described.


    Michael McBlane
     
  13. fingel

    fingel Member

    Messages:
    298
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2003
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I also use the Jobo tank. I use the inversion method to develop six sheets at a time. It works great, and if you use a dilute developer like Rodinal 1:50 or so, it doesn't cost a lot to fill it up either.
     
  14. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use a Nova handline or combitanks for 5x4. One combitank fills in 25 second, but the other takes nearly 50 seconds??!! With normal dev times of about 10 or 12 mins, I have never noticed uneven development and that includes using staining devs. Disconcerting as the slow fill times may be, I have had no issues there. The only prob was with the negs popping out of the grooves once in a while; which I solved. It was caused by the whole carrier not being laterally rigid (due to poor moulding accuracy) and the top clip which presses down on the film being too tight (so when the film got wet and soft, it bowed more and slipped out of the grooved under the pressure. I fixed this by using glue to fix the carrier perfectly straight and rigid and ensuring that only the minumum pressure is exerted by the top clip thingy. Since then 100% success, daylight convenience. The only prob with the slow fill being that when using tanning/staining dev the repeated rinses, reimmersion in dev etc all takes time.
     
  15. Stan. L-B

    Stan. L-B Member

    Messages:
    342
    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2004
    Location:
    London & Fri
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Hello All.
    If cost has to be the primary consideration for processing 5X4 colour or B&W, then any Patterson universal drum can be cheaply and easily converted to take up to four sheet of film without overlap. before I got into the JOBO system, I used the small Patterson universal drum to develop two sheet of 5X4 at a time which was very ecconimical and produced perfect results every time. It is done by discarding the reel, and making a 1/8" hole through the centre support. Then pass a stainless steel rod through the support so that it is a tight fit on the sides of the tank. The film is then kept under slight tention and away from the sides of the tank, even development is assured every time. So cheap - it's almost sinfull! Good luck :wink: Stan.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2004
  16. gma

    gma Member

    Messages:
    793
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think all the difficulties some have encountered with the Yankee tank are due to OPERATOR errors. With reasonable care ( what else? ) anyone can achieve good results without purchasing professional equipment. For a novice I think the Yankee sheet film tank is a good value.
     
  17. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Try the HP CombiPlan tank. Agitate by inversion.
     
  18. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    Inversion? I thought the tank will leak since it is not air tight. People say with that tank that it leaks. So how would inversion work?
     
  19. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,322
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    For now I am going to try and find some fabric to cover the window and door and go for tray processing once I end up getting a 4x5 camera. I think this will give better results as everyone is saying this is the way to do it.

    If I cannot get the room light tight then a Combi-Tank looks like answer.

    Thanks,

    Kev
     
  20. mwtroxell

    mwtroxell Member

    Messages:
    73
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Jasper, Tenn
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Have you taken a look at the slosher trays sold by summitek (www.summitek.com)and Photographer's Formulary(www.photoformulary.com)? I've been using them for over 6 months and nothing I've used (trays, tubes, etc.) works as well for me.

    Mike Troxell
     
  21. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Kevin,

    I'm a "slosher" too - except when I have a single sheet to process, then I use a tray by itself.

    A "slosher" or "cradle" is a compartmented plastic tray with holes in the bottom and sides to allow fluids to flow through. The "slosher" is designed to fit inside a conventional developing tray.