Developing sheet film?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Robert, Sep 21, 2002.

  1. Robert

    Robert Member

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    So I've got a big enlarger now. I may get lucky and find some sort of camera for a reasonable price. Hey it could happen-) Once I get to that point how do I deal with the film?

    1) Tray development. I can see this working just fine for one sheet at a time but how much of a hassle is it to do say 4 or 5 sheets? I get the impression most people recommend 5x7 trays when doing 4x5s. Why not 8x10? Is it to just save on the chemicals? Or something else?

    2) Daylight tanks. Seems the Yankee model is not highly regarded.

    3) Tubes made out of PVC pipe. This seems ideal in many ways. What are the drawbacks?

    4) I've heard something about hangers that can be used to just dunk into each tank. I could handle this even if it wasn't daylight proof. Actually sounds okay but I'm guess the tanks use alot of chemicals.

    Now an enlarging forums exists should a developing forum exist to-)
     
  2. paul owen

    paul owen Member

    Messages:
    106
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Get yourself a CombiPlan tank. This is a daylight tank (load in the dark and process in the light). The system consists of a hanger (plastic) which will take up to 6 sheets of 5x4 film. The film is easy to load onto this rack and a clip holds the sheet in place. The hanger/rack then sits inside a plastic box which has a snap on lid complete with a light proof valve. Chemistry is poured through this valve (via a funnel which is supplied) and the tank is agitated as you would a 35mm/120 tank, BUT slower (almost slow motion!!). This is important as the sheets of film can spring free from the rack if the tank is too vigorously agitated. Chemistry is emptied via a light-tight valve at the base of the tank. It is a bit quirky to use, slow agitation, slow filling time etc, but once gotten used to it is a very easy method to use. The tank takes just over 1000ml of chemistry for 5x4 film.
     
  3. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

    Messages:
    2,512
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2002
    Location:
    Omaha, Nebra
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Tray developing is actually pretty easy with up to 4 sheets at a time. Just practice in the daylight shuffling sheets untill you can do it smoothly.

    I use a JOBO processor, one of the older CPE-plus2 models. I use the older 2500 series tanks that allow 6 sheets to be developed at one time. This provides very consistent results for all my normal and N+ processing. I rersort to trays for any N- development.

    JOBOs can be found in near new condition for very reasonable prices on Ebay all the time. When I first purchased mine a wondered if I would justify the cost, but have paid for it many times over with consistency and convenience of being able to process 35mm up 8x10. There are numerous posts on the photo.net film processing forum archives discussing JOBO.
     
  4. EUGENE

    EUGENE Member

    Messages:
    38
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Robert, it depends on whether you want to go through the entire film development process in total darkness, or merely load your film in the dark and then proceed with the lights on. Avoid developing tanks for 4X5 film. Tank development works fine with 35mm and medium format film, but it is extremely difficult to get even development in a sheet film tank. Jobo processors are the exception, but they are expensive. If you are planning on doing high output developing, look for a good buy in a used Jobo outfit. Personally, I've learned to develope sheet film in trays, in total darkness, and I am comfortable doing 6, or 8 films at a time. It's relatively simple to do, but takes practice. Quite a lot of detailed planning is necessary in order to create a totaly light- tight darkroom and still maintain fresh air circulation. I use 8X10 trays for 4X5 sheet film. Two 8X10 trays fit into a 16X20 tray that is used as a water temp. control bath. I usually need to chill the chemicals down to 68 degrees F by using plastic zip-loc bags filled with ice in the temp. control bath. Now here's an easier way to go: buy a Polaroid 545 film holder and use Type 55 film. It will give you a proof print and a negative, and you will never need to worry about the development process.
     
  5. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

    Messages:
    214
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Nuernberg, G
    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (EUGENE @ Sep 21 2002, 07:29 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Now here's an easier way to go: buy a Polaroid 545 film holder and use Type 55 film. It will give you a proof print and a &nbsp;negative, and you will never need to worry about the development process.</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    If I might add, the Type 55 film from polaroid produces negatives that are really quite sharp, and do indeed make very good enlargements. I've used this film in the studio when time was of the essence, and the enlargements had to be done "yesterday".
    But, the film is much more delicate than "regular" film and is prone to scratching more easily.
     
  6. BobF

    BobF Member

    Messages:
    205
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Pikes Peak
    While I would love a Jobo Expert drum, the cost is too much for now. I have just recently experimented with a Nikor 4x5 tank and the results are great. Good even development and all but loading is in daylite which I prefer. Did a lot of research and talked to several people that have had long term success with it before I chanced my first load.

    I have tried trays, good results but to long sitting in dark shuffling along. I have tried home made tubes, same problem but have to refix. Settled on Unidrum before the Nikor with great results if I only processed two sheets at a time (couldn't stop the negs from overlaping when I processed 4). I have never used Yankee or Combi as many warned against them.

    Many have warned against the Nikor tank also, but so far so good and I am excited to be able to process up to 12 sheets at a time in daylite. However I have only done three loads so far so there may be a snag down the line which will change my attitude.

    Almost forgot, have also used Polaroid 55 but my 545 doesn't hold film flat at roller end and that bugs me when the cost is higher per neg.
     
  7. Robert

    Robert Member

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    I don't mind the dark-) Well the problem would be the fact I tend to use dilute developer with long times. If I went to stronger mix with less dilution I guess that would okay. My "darkroom" is actually the basement. With only three windows it's relatively easy to make it light tight. Cardboard cut to size fits the window openings. Over that goes heavy drapes. It's a fairly open space so any vapours drift off. The only problem is in the dark I've gotten lost once or twice. With houses on both sides the windows only get strong sun early morning. Of course it works even better at night. Well except for the night we had an unscheduled thunderstorm when I was about to take some paper out. You know I'd forgotten to block the windows that night. It won't be high volume. Just a few sheets [maxing out at four or maybe six I bet] when I feel like hauling the camera out.

    How do you time in the dark? I've got a red alarm clock would I risk fogging if I set that up across the room? With the limations of the cameras I'm looking at I won't be using anything faster then 100 ISO most of the time.
     
  8. EUGENE

    EUGENE Member

    Messages:
    38
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Well, Robert, it looks like you're ready to go down the tray development path. I suggest that you read the description of the entire process in Anchell's book "The Film Development Cookbook". A good addition to anyone's photo library. As far as timing, I use a Gralab 300 timer. It glows in the dark. It sits across the room and does not fog fast film at that distance. I don't recommend LED readout timers for film, although they work fine for paper. Tray development takes practice. Don't become discouraged if you get a few scratches at the beginning. Oh yes, cut your fingernails very short.
     
  9. Robert

    Robert Member

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    I guess it does make the most sense to start that way. I've got the trays. I intend to use gloves and tongs. I have enough trouble keeping my hands out of the trays with the safelight on.
     
  10. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

    Messages:
    214
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Nuernberg, G
    Robert,
    tongs for tray development is, IMO, not a good idea. The film emulsion will become so delecate that you'll really need a "hands on" approach. When doing the film shuffle, I use my right hand to gently lift the top sheets (to prevent any corners from creating scratches) and with my left hand, bring the bottom sheet out and move it t o the top of the stack. I use surgical gloves with a nice snug (but not too tight) fit and this allows me to move the film gently about and prevents my fingers from turning brown.
    I remember my first split D23 development. I used no gloves (with developers like the T-Max developer, which I had previously used, your fingers didn't stain)
    and my fingers were stained brown you many days. Among photographers, no big deal, but go out to dinner with your girlfriend, and suddenly your figuring out ways to hide your hands.
     
  11. Robert

    Robert Member

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    I guess since I'll be starting with one sheet at a time I could just rock the tray?
     
  12. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

    Messages:
    214
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Nuernberg, G
    With one sheet, rocking will be sufficient, though I do suggest you "get your hands wet" and do a "flip" every now and then just to get use o handling wet film. You'll quickly be moving on to several sheets in no time.
     
  13. Robert

    Robert Member

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    It's going to depend on how many film holders come with what ever camera I end up with. Most of the ones I've been looking at are so old they don't take modern holders. That's fine with me. My first task is to learn how to load the holders-) Then to use the camera and then to get used to processing the film. If after that I feel the urge I can make the investment in something nicer.
     
  14. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

    Messages:
    368
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    View Camera magazine has a one page description of a foolproof tray processing method for sheet film. Call us and we will send a copy

    View Camera Magazine
    505-899-8054 m-f 8-5 Mountain Time


    steve simmons
     
  15. baronfoxx

    baronfoxx Member

    Messages:
    97
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    robert, I use a Paterson orbital processor in whch you can develop 4 off 5x4 negs at one time or 1 off 10"x8" neg.
    the tray consists of a bottom half with peg holes to seperate it into four sections, the top half is a light proof lid with inlets and outlets for filling and draining.
    the tray sits on a dome which when switched on rotates and tilts the tray for the process times, after loading the film the process is carried out in daylight.
    I bought the unit about 15 years ago for developing 10x8 cibachromes and only recently used it with 5x4 negs all of which have been ok.
    I dont know if you can still buy them new but I have seen them on UK ebay.
    I hope this helps.
     
  16. David Vickery

    David Vickery Member

    Messages:
    67
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Central Texa
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Hello, all of the posted methods will work fine once you get used to it. The method that I found the greatest success with for 4x5 film was to use several of the Combi Plan tanks lined up like a deep tank line. These tanks are fantastic for 4x5 film. I never had problems with uneven development. I felt that when processing more than a couple of 4x5s in a tray was difficult because I couldn't keep them all together(they're too small). The Combi Plan system keeps each sheet of film separate, nothing toaches except for the edges. But I did not like using these tanks as a daylight system. For me it just made a lot more since to use them lined up like deep tanks. If you only have one Combi Plan tank then just dump it with the top off and pour the next chemical in without trying to use the little funnels and stuff. When you get to the wash bath just fit a house over the lower outlet that comes with the tank and you have a great film washer built in.