I unexpectedly find myself a large format shooter and need processing advice

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by adelorenzo, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    I just walked out of our local camera swap with a complete Toyo CX 45 setup in as-new condition. I wasn't planning to jump into larger formats at this time but I couldn't leave it there as the price was extremely low. I'm still kind of in shock, actually. :smile:

    I am hopeful that I can fumble my way through loading and actually shooting this camera. I think I'll just try processing in my 8x10 printing trays for now, but I'm looking for suggestions for film processing?

    Other than trays I also have various Cibachrome/Unicolor/Jobo drums and tanks in various sizes and configurations along with some kind of agitator system that I believe were used for color printing. Could I use that for sheet film?

    Otherwise I'd like to know what people would suggest for a simple, efficient way to process black and white 4x5 film at home. If I do any color I'll send it to the lab.

    Regards,
    Anthony
     
  2. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    I've been doing the film taco method, but what I suggest, if you have Paterson 3 reel tanks laying about, is the Mod54 system. It looks to be something that is *very* easy to use and it's not horribly expensive.
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I was able to pick up a Jobo processor from APUG for $150 and bought a Jobo 3010 Expert Drum [up to 10 4"x5" negatives] new for $300 from FreeStyle. The money was well worth it and I gave up tray development without shedding a tear! Nope, nope, I have never looked back.
     
  4. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    Those expert drums are now going for almost twice that, which is why I didn't suggest it. Heh.
     
  5. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    I started with 2x3 sheet film and playing with those little sheets was a hassle. I was doing 4 at a time in an 8x10 tray.

    I then moved up to 2 /4x5's at a time in an 8x10 tray. I keep my fingers in there almost the entire time to keep the sheets from scratching…and scratch they will.

    I went the tray method because thats what I had and the "taco" method wasn't that talked about back then so I didn't really know of it.
    I eventually got my tray technique down and thats the way I go for b&w.

    You will flip when you see the detail when you start examining the negs/chromes with a loupe.
    I was using all old/tattered vintage lenses and the image quality was just stunning.

    There is no substitute for film area :cool:
     
  6. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    It's a long and slippery slope it is! You will be amazed when you get your first negs, it's not just the sharpness (you will get that with your med.format) but the tonality which makes the difference.
    I have used a few methods for processing, but always come back to the tray method. BTZS tubes are ok, and I have one of those Mod54 racks for the Pateson tanks. The Mod54 is a good idea but I occasionally find that the film will jump out and two sheets will stick together...not good! I still use it when I'm doing a quick job and just load with four sheets.
    Once the tray method is mastered I can process 8 sheets at a time using 8x10 trays and a liter of chemistry.
    Good luck with your 5x4, and all you need now are those extra lenses!
     
  7. cepwin

    cepwin Member

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    Congrats! I just got into MF and I'm trying to learn that but I admit when I see those speedgraflex cameras on the bay it gets tempting :smile: Good luck....I'd like to hear your experiences
     
  8. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I tried using drums meant for print processing for 8x10 negs. A short lived experiment as the negs got scratched both on the way in and out.
    Tray developing has worked well for me for years, but I did scratch a neg every now and then - always something I couldn't reshoot of course. I'm happy now using a slosher tray for 4x5 sheet film - 4 sheets at a time. I've seen various plans for trays, but went for cheap and easy - a plastic letter tray and clothes pegs from the dollar store.
     
  9. rbeech

    rbeech Member

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    Tray processing takes practice but is the cheapest way to go.
     
  10. Len Robertson

    Len Robertson Member

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    At least you didn't have to agonize for months over what LF camera to buy. It sounds like it sort of followed you home like a stray cat. Now you have to feed it!

    Possibly you have equipment enough already to do the poor mans Jobo rotary processing:

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unicolor/

    You must have a drum like the 8X10 Unicolor with ribs inside to hold the film in place. Not all print drums have this. This article is aimed at color processing, but it works fine for B&W. Possibly you must reduce developing times slightly when doing rotary processing, but I can't remember for sure. I've used the Unicolor for several years and it works well (cheap too - both equipment and amount of chems used).

    Len
     
  11. snay1345

    snay1345 Member

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    I just put two sheets at a time in a 2x 120 size steel tank and go that way. I gave up trays as my technique sucks and I hated being hunched over in my bathtub as I don't have a darkroom.
     
  12. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I do the same thing, but I have a wire that zig-zags across the tank, this keeps the sheets from overlapping.
     
  13. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    I'm working on a 5x7 solution that uses a 5-35mm Paterson tank and a piece of plastic to keep things separated. The 5x7 has to be taco'd length-wise instead of width-wise so the taller tank is needed. I just need to get my hands on a tank, which I'm going to do soon. For 4x5, I just taco them up in the little stainless steel I have with plastic, length-wise again, 3 to the tank. I can't wait to get my hands on a Mod54.
     
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  15. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Here's a nice (and reusable) variation of the "taco" option I came up with that guarantees removal of anti-halation dyes because the back sides of the sheets never touch. I used this method until I was able to get my hands on a Nikor 12-sheet stainless cut film tank, then later a 4-tank water-jacketed set of 1-gallon Arkay deep tanks.

    From post #42 (2nd post on page 5) in the September 2010 thread Your favorite "Improvised" darkroom equipment.

    (Photos attached, but for some reason they only show if you visit the original thread. Also, the links are now dead and I can't fix them...)

    Ken
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2012
  16. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Holy crap you guys are right, this camera could get very addictive. I took some test shots and managed to produce a few decent looking negatives. I also managed to load film backwards the first time, double expose one frame the second time AND ruined two frames because my light meter (which I never use) is apparently off by about a dozen stops. :smile:

    Focusing with a loupe on the ground glass is pretty much the greatest thing ever.

    Tray processing seemed to work OK but I'm definitely keen for something more efficient and doesn't involve me sloshing around in the chemicals with my fingers. .

    Thanks everyone for all the really good suggestions and links.

    That drum technique is a definitely possibility, I will check what different color drums I have downstairs. I know some are Cibachrome and some are Unicolor and I have the agitating machine so that could be one possibility.

    That MOD 54 gadget looks like a pretty simple solution, and I like doing stuff in tanks. I'm not sure if I have the correct Patterson tank I have a bunch of plastic ones that I don't use at all so I will have to check.
     
  17. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    I use a MOD54 insert in a Paterson tank and it makes processing 4x5 very easy, particularly if you want to use techniques like stand development. The whole thing is no more complicated than processing a 35mm film, although I tend to limit myself to four sheets at a time, not six. A slightly more gentle agitation is required but I haven't had a film jump out of its slot yet.

    If I want to process more than six sheets then I have a Yankee developing tank and filling it with 1600ml of developer becomes more economical. Despite the bad press some people give it I can't find fault with this tank, except for the volumes required. It is very easy to load and following the instructions of swishing from side to side in the correct direction I get evenly developed negatives. But, because of the slow filling and draining of the tank I do make sure to use it with slow developers.

    Steve
     
  18. kintatsu

    kintatsu Member

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    I found using my Patterson tank less reliable than doing it in trays. I use my wife's old Glad trays, which handle a 5x7 perfectly, so they're just right for 4x5. For difficult negatives, you can inspect them during development that way. I also like being in the pitch dark with only the timer sound.

    With some more practice, being able to do multiple shots is possible.
     
  19. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    I liked the Mod54 a lot, very well thought out and simple design. However I sold it due to the fact that the super thin base of Rollei IR 400 makes the film jump out of the slots no matter what I did.

    So I now use a Jobo 3010 drum and plan on getting a second...it is that good, even on a simple roller base which it sounds like you have. Just cut out the BS, buy a clean Jobo 3010 drum, use it on your roller base and prepare to see the finest negs you have ever set eyes on. The results from the 3010 drum blows away everything, even what you get from a Mod54.

    With film being $1-2 per exposure, cut to the chase and get it right the first time...
     
  20. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    I'm going to add my two-cents worth and advocate tray processing.

    Tray processing requires little expenditure and equipment and is easy to get started with. The downside is that it takes a bit of skill. I recommend sacrificing a couple of sheets and using them to practice agitation with. I also recommend using 5x7 trays for 4x5 film if you have them, and agitating by shuffling the film along the short axis. This is a lot easier to deal with than sheets in an 8x10 tray.

    The danger, of course, is scratching the negatives. Try to keep the stack aligned and to pull the bottom sheet straight out (not up) and return it to the solution flat so that a corner can't dig into the negative below. You'll figure it out in no time.

    Practice with the lights on till you are comfortable, then close your eyes and practice some more. When you feel confident, go take a few shots and try things for real. I agitate once through the stack every 30 seconds. Start with two or three sheets (one flip every 10 or 15 seconds respectively) till you get comfortable, then up the numbers in the batch. I can agitate up to 8 sheets at a time, but prefer to keep batches to 6 or less.

    Do pre-soak when using tray processing. If you trip up, take your time; it's less damaging to slowly figure out what's going on instead of trying to keep the agitation scheme going. It's no big deal if you miss a couple of cycles.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  21. Len Middleton

    Len Middleton Member

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    Large format is just abound with opportunities to screw up images, including:

    - Double exposure (as you found);
    - No exposure;
    - Over-exposure as forgot to stop down to shooting aperture;
    - "Dark slide" timed exposure as forgot to close the shutter after composition and focus;
    - Underexposure due to incorrect filter or bellows factor;
    - And that is without getting into a discussion of roll film backs...

    Being systematic in your routine will reduce some of the errors, but unless you put your 4x5 kit in the closet and leave it there, you may not otherwise eliminate them.

    Congratulations on your plunge into the start of the deep-end of photography and enjoy the water. We are more likely to regret what we did not do, rather than what we do.

    Looks like you are off to a great start...
     
  22. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Pulling the wrong darkslide resulting in an exposure through the ground glass.

    For tray processing of two or more sheets, have a look at the "slosher" method. Plenty of posts here and elsewhere on the internet, so a simple search will turn up enough of them to keep you busy for a while.. Alternatives are the BTZS tubes, Arkay/Doran paper safes (modified with a slosher), and the Paterson Orbital.
     
  23. cepwin

    cepwin Member

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    That's good to know as I just ordered a tank like that (it does 2x120 and 4x35) so if I ever decide to take the plunge I'm covered :smile:
     
  24. sublimeone101

    sublimeone101 Member

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    Tray developing is such a pain if not doing one sheet at a time. If you can find a used Combi tank your developing will get much easier! Good luck!

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
     
  25. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I had one camera, a Nikon N-75 and a 28mm to 300mm Tamron zoom lens that I used to take color prints. I was happy.
    Then I joined APUG ...
    So I bought a 20mm to 35mm Nikon zoom lens
    then a Nikon F-100 and a Nikon 28mm to 200mm zoom to take black & white photographs
    picked up a Chromega Chromatic II 5D-XL enlarger
    had to go back and get the Omega 150 drum print dryer
    then a Mamiya C330 with 65mm, 80mm, and 180mm lenses
    sold the Mamiya and bought a Hasselblad 503 CX and a 250mm lens
    then 80mm Hasselblad lens,
    next 50mm Hasselblad lens,
    ran out and bought a Jobo CPA2
    found and bought a Jobo CPP2
    sold the Jobo CPA2
    needed and bought a 150mm Hasselblad lens,
    had to have and bought a Hasselblad 903 SWC
    bought a 1928 4"x5" Graflex Model D
    called the seller up and rushed back to get a 4"x5" Pacemaker Speed Graphic
    ended up with a Tessina Auto 35 with a daylight loader, prism, canisters and cartridges
    bought the Jobo 3010 Expert Drum
    added a Voitlander Vito II
    several lenses for the Speed Graphic
    could not resist collecting barrel lenses for the Graflex including an Imagon
    picked up a Brownie Hawkeye Flashmodel Camera
    just could not pass up a WideLux F7
    I have two freezers with no longer available 35mm, 120mm and 4"x5" film ...


    I have over 10,000 APUG posts and I wonder why the Hell did I ever get started @#$^W#*& APUG!!!

    You, poor sole, have not the slight inkling of how fatally doomed you are!
    :devil:
    You are now committed to spend eternity buying just one more lens or one last camera. May your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, and God have mercy on your damned sole!
     
  26. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Steve, you forgot to mention that 3x4 Graflex and that 3-1/4 x4-1/4 film that I bought from you.:munch: