HP Combi-Plan Developing Tank

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by normmamiya, Jan 24, 2010.

  1. normmamiya

    normmamiya Member

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  2. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    Combi-Plan is a good system. A little fiddly with pouring in solutions, but a good system that you can treat like a reel tank once you get it loaded. (inversion agitation and work in room light) Mine always goves nice uniform development.
     
  3. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    I use the Combi Plan tank. I like it, some don't. Some things I have learned using it (which may violate instructions :smile:). When setting the orange guides on top of the slots before loading, I use a rubber band to keep them from popping off during loading, then remove them before putting the ratchet clamp on top. When putting the lid on (I load mine in a dark bag), secure it pretty well, but after removing it from the dark bag, go around the edges, particularly the corners and press the lid to the tank edges as hard as you can. This will virtually eliminate any and leaks or dribbles during inversions.

    Many complain about the fill and empty times, but I have found it really is not a problem, just take them into account. It speeds things up a bit if both "spigots" are on the same side and you fill and empty through the bottom one (instruction violation here, but it works and I have had no problems).
     
  4. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Fill the tank with developer before loading the film.

    Of course, if you are loading the tank in a changing bag in a sandstorm, that isn't convenient.
    At home, or in an hotel room, it is usually fine.

    Side fill: cool idea.
     
  5. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    I have one & use it to develop my film in it

    IMO it works fine

    As with all things on APUG there are CombiPlan lovers and haters – so be having lit the blue touch paper stand well back and be prepared :rolleyes:

    It is one of the ways of processing 5x4 film - each method has their pros and cons

    As far as I can tell no one method has outstanding advantages over any other, so it is very much a matter of personal choice.

    For:-
    Simple
    Easy to use
    Cheap

    Against
    They are a Pig to Fill (see bellow)
    Leaks

    As they are difficult to fill, I pre-fill mine with 1100cc of dev solution, then in the dark load the cassette with film, when loaded dunk the cassette into the tank, agitate for 30sec and finally pop the lid on.
    If the top is put on properly, it should hardly leak (at least mine doesn’t)
    I then use an inversion agitation method for the remaining time.
    When you invert the tank hold it so the long side (and then sheets of film) is facing you and rotate to the left and right – the chemicals slide past the face of the film sheets.
    Rotating the tank the other way can cause the film to pop out of the retaining groves under the weight of the chemicals sloshing around.
    I rotate about 120deg to the Left and then a similar amount to the Right 6 times each minute
    YMMV

    I then have a series of these food containers in a sort of production line - http://www.lakeland.co.uk/F/product/2378
    I have them pre-filled with Stop / Fix / Wash Water
    The food containers are cheap but are not chemically inert – so don’t mix them up – the Stop Bath container is always the Stop Bath container
    However, with the lid on they are leak proof – so can be inverted if required.

    As I tend to do my film processing in batches, I have several cassettes, so while one batch of film is washing I can be processing another batch.
    Again YMMV

    To wash my film I use one of these - http://www.novadarkroom.com/product/167/Nova__5x4_Film_Turbo_Washer.html
    I’m not sure if they are available with you
    If not the Ilford wash method would work in one of the food containers.

    Good luck :smile:

    Martin
     
  6. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    I'm considering this system too (the trays aren't working for me..).

    My 'local' post order outfit has instructions to do the sideways filling on their site:
    [​IMG]
    Is it really against the instructions?

    They also recommend a 'falling leaf' pattern motion for agitation. Anyone wanna comment on how they agitate theirs?
     
  7. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    We have a member who is a rep. for the Combi Plan and felt that neither the filling through the bottom (I believe he suggested this shouldn't be done), nor the rubber bands should be necessary if it were assembled and used properly. I just found that these techniques work for me, make things a bit easier and have no downside to them in terms of the developed negatives.

    P.S. Pic in the previous post is exactly how I fill and empty mine.
     
  8. edtbjon

    edtbjon Member

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    A few tips from more than a decade with the CombiPlan:
    If you start with the film in an empty tank, I would recommend a few minutes of pre-wash, as it "evens out" the beginning of the development phase (just add 20 seconds to the dev-time to compensate for the time it takes for the developer to replace the water in the emulsion).
    Second, choose a developer/dilution which gives you medium to long development times (7-8 minutes or more), which helps in giving you even development.
    These tanks and especially the holders are a bit fuzzy to work with. Make plenty of dry practice runs, first in light and then in the dark. See to that you have 6 blank or ruined sheets to practice with.

    When done with the developing step, i.e. when you're about to pour in the stop bath, you can be pretty bold. There are two videos on youtube which shows how to develop with BTZS tubes. In the first video, when the development phase is done, Fred Picker (?) simply screws the cap of and puts the tube in a tray filled with stop bath. This is done in full white light. Once I saw the older version of the instructions, I tried it with my CombiPlan like this:
    Develop like normal, but when there's 30 seconds left, I have only a red light on in the other end of the room. I then lift one corner of the lid and pour out the developer (in a jug or in the sink, depending on if I will reuse the developer or not). When the timer rings, I lift the corner a bit more and pour in the stop bath, after which I put the lid back and agitate for some 30 seconds. I then pour out the stop bath and pour in the fixer. The film is now definitely light-proof and I can take the lid off and agitate by lifting/dropping the film holder until done.
    I know that this may sound controversial, but it's safe and saves you both time and effort.

    //Björn
     
  9. tim k

    tim k Member

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    I'm a bit of a klutz in the dark, but I found them quite easy to load. For what its worth.
     
  10. mightyomega

    mightyomega Member

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    I've had one for quite a long time. I like it, even if it is a bit fiddly sometimes.
    I've been using it with Diafine lately, so the fill time doesn't really matter. Previously, I've been using it with high dilution Rodinal with relatively long development times (10-15 minutes), so the long fill/drain time (about 30 s) hasn't seemed to make a difference. I do put the fill and drain on the same side.
    It has been my experience that you really do need to assemble it carefully lest the film slip out of the slots. Also, the lid does need quite a bit of pounding to get it on tight, lest it leak a bit.
    Is it perfect? No, but it's been the only daylight 4x5 option that hasn't annoyed me badly.
     
  11. redrockcoulee

    redrockcoulee Member

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    I am another one who uses it incorrectly. It does help to double check the lid after the lights are on and to fill from the bottom just seems to work better (for me). The only problems I have had loading them is with Technical Pan film due to the film's extreme thinness. One of my tanks has a broken rachet clamp and even with it not working completely it still does its job.
     
  12. Miskuss

    Miskuss Member

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    . One of my tanks has a broken rachet clamp and even with it not working completely it still does its job.[/QUOTE]

    I think I've used that tank.
     
  13. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    Another opinion :smile:
    I have experimented at various times with the Combi-Plan, with developing tubes, and with tray development. I found the Combi-Plan a bit annoying to use - for the various reasons mentioned above. I have now settled on tray development in a plastic 4-sheet slosher tray. I mostly just use the Combi-Plan for water-efficient washing of the developed sheets.
    Ian
     
  14. redrockcoulee

    redrockcoulee Member

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    I think I've used that tank.[/QUOTE]

    Probably why it is broken :D
     
  15. Miskuss

    Miskuss Member

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    Probably why it is broken :D[/QUOTE]

    Most of your gear is. :rolleyes:
     
  16. AmandaTom

    AmandaTom Member

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    I used the Combi for awhile. It was a great improvement on the Yankee, but I was irritated by the constant leaking. I think had I used it longer I would have put some teflon tape on the bottom spigot since that was where it always dripped. I do really like using the innards to rinse sheets as well as to dry them.
     
  17. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    Awhile back I bought an old, used Yankee tank at a local photo store for $1.00, and have been using it without problems, although admittedly I am just now beginning to shoot and process more large format film. It loads fine for me, and as long as I don't get too violent with back and forth agitation, it is not too messy.

    I am wondering what people do not like about the Yankee tank, and what I am missing by not investing in a combi tank?
     
  18. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    I've yet to experience any leaking at the bottom spigot, only very minimal at the lid, and also none at the top spigot. And I reduced and even stopped leaking on one tank by shaving the left over plastic with a razor blade at the top edges of the tank from where it was formed in the mold, that seemed to create a better seal at the lid. Also, when I'm done with tanks, I clean them (of course) but I remove the spigots from the tank and I don't let them remain for long periods----I believe (but I don't really know) this takes better care of the gaskets in the spigot caps.