Is a Jobo processor right for me?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Photo Fitz, Apr 2, 2006.

  1. Photo Fitz

    Photo Fitz Member

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    This question may have been answered already. My appologies if this is repetitive in this forum.

    I currently develop 5-7 rolls of B&W 35mm and 120/220 film a month. My results are not consistent and so I have started using a local lab. I am interested in developing and printing in my darkroom if I can create better results.

    I have a day job and I have not been able to take the time to perfect this process.

    Will a Jobo processor help me?

    Any information (opinions) that explains why some one like me would buy this tool would be helpful before I make the mistake of buying or not buying.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    The rotary processor will give you an even agitation, and temperature control, depending on the model, I think, but that's about it. If you are not careful about your solutions, your exposure, your whole chain in a nutshell, then having a rotary processor will not help. You should try to identify what problem you wish to solve, and then see whether the rotary processor is the right answer.

    Can you detail your working procedure a little more? What camera, lens, film, tank, developer, stop bath, fixer, washing agent, washing time, water, time, temperature, drying procedure do you use? Also, have you tested for your Exposure Index (the "effective film speed") and for a correct development time adjusted to your enlarger type?

    5-7 rolls a month seems a scarce amount of film for investing in a Jobo. Plus, you do only B&W, which is less sensitive to small variations than colour is. My instinct would be to work on your development procedure before buying new gear.
     
  3. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Yes. If you can afford it, get the CPP-2 with a lift. You won't regret it. I can't imagine processing film without one now. I just processed 20 sheets of 4x5 TMAX film this afternoon with no problems.
     
  4. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I have to agree with MHV. If you are getting inconsistent results by hand processing, you will just get more automated inconsistent results with a Jobo. In fact, by changing your processing method you are just adding one more variable to your problems.

    If you want consistent, not to mention good, results, you are going to have to TAKE the time to do it right. I suggest you research and adopt a good processing method. Write down the steps in outline form, and put the outline in a clear plastic envelope and post it over your darkroom sink. Then follow your procedures scrupulously every time. Then if your results are still inconsistent, you can describe the problem and your procedures here, and I'll bet you'll have all kinds of solutions fired at you.

    I don't mean to preach at you, but if you want good negatives there is no alternative to investing the necessary time into them. Someone here has a quote to the effect of making the craft the best it can be, and letting others decide if it is art. I think that sums things up well.
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Yes, a JOBO processor most likely *will* produce more uniform results. Many variables will be *lessened*; temperature control will most certainly be more uniform, agitation, etc. as well. It will be possible to pay greater attention to fewer areas of critical interest.
    Additionally, the chemistry involved will be, again most likely, superior to that used in a commercial lab. You have the *opportunity* to do "one-shot" with pristinely mixed chemistry ... something *very few* commercial labs would even consider.

    Cost effectiveness is another matter. Would it be acceptable to buy a Leica for 5-7 rolls of -whatever- film a month? All I can say here is that it depends on your direction - what you want to do, your heart and "innards".
    Your dissatisfaction with your present uniformity would tend to say "yes".

    It *did* make sense to me.
     
  6. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I don't think that a low volume of film per month would dissuade me from the Jobo. I agree with the others that you have to know what you are doing first and have your routines down. If not, the Jobo will make life more complicated.

    I don't have time to process film very often either, but I can process up to 60 sheets of 4x5 without too much problem. I don't have to worry about temperature control. All of the chemical bottles are in the same slot each time. Agitation is always the same. I fill the Jobo with water the night before, mix up the chemistry, sometimes load the film drums also. In the morning I turn on the processor to pre-heat, eat breakfast and then get to work. Clean up is simple but the unit does take up some space.
     
  7. Ted Harris

    Ted Harris Subscriber

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    Further, remember that there are twobasic types of Jobo units. The 'manual' units such as the CPE/CPA and CPP and the 'automatic' units represented by all those that have ATL in their name (current models include the ATL500/800/1500/2xxx series). Even the smallest of the auto units reduces the variables to one simple factor, you mixing the chemicals, everything else is programmed and automated. While the smaller 500 and 800 units are seldom seen on the used market the others are often available at excellent prices, especially the large 2xxx units. If you have room for one of these larger units, you will need a lot of space, they are wonderful.
     
  8. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    What everybody else said, plus, you can do color printing where controlled temp is a major part of the process.
     
  9. digiconvert

    digiconvert Member

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    I am a complete novice at this game but Ioffer the following as guidance.
    For B&W I use trays for prints and a paterson universal for film (35 plus 120 , about a film a week -sometimes more) . After about 6 months my BW work is reasonably consistent and I can make changes to a print through burning/dodging etc. and get results that I would expect 90% of the time. I enjoy the craft of the darkroom and am satisfied with my printing, very satisfied with some - to me it's a hobby and is to be enjoyed.
    I have recently begun to attempt colour printing. This I do in trays using room temp chemicals. I have even produced one half decent print ! I considered a Jobo and a deep tank processor but in both cases I would not recoup costs for several years with my output (even with a good bargain on ebay) and the only reason I can think of using a tempering bath is for colour film development. My next purchase is likely to be a s/h jobo drum and possibly a hand roller base, simply to allow me to turn the light on more often- cost around £40-£50. I will try to process film with a simple water bath and if that doesn't work I will get negs processed and print from them myself, it's more cost effective. If I really decide I wanty total control I will consider a Jobo BUT I will know what is going on better by then, when things go wrong it helps to know why.
    My advice to you can only be subjective not objective - for BW a Jobo seems totally over the top unless you are processing 20 prints a day so I would suggest spending more time in the darkroom, if you can .

    Cheers CJB
     
  10. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    because of the requirements for printing B/W, I wouldn't do B/W printing in a JOBO anyway. Fiber paper absorbs too much chemistry to work well in any rotary or roller-transport system. I'd stick to trays and/or vertical slot processor for b/w printing. For film, if you're only doing 35mm and/or 120, you could be quite happy with one of the JOBO Duolab units. They may only be available 2nd hand. It has a motor base and can take drums for up to 8x10 color prints or multi-reel 35mm or 120 tanks. It also has a series of vertical slots for printing up to 8x10 B/W prints, in a fairly condensed footprint. They show up on E-pay fairly often and go for not much money.
     
  11. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    I process several rolls of films of BW film each month using SS tanks and a water bath. I have been during this for more years than I would care to admit. My results are always consistant. All that is needed is a good thermometer. I don't like the rotary systems as they are constantly mixing oxygen into the developing solution and this can cause problems with dilute developers. Doing things by hand is not difficult. I would rather spend the money for a good lens than spend it on a processor.
     
  12. Photo Fitz

    Photo Fitz Member

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    Thank you for the replies. I have been offline for awhile.

    I tend to be very detail oriented with lists and timing. I agree that experience and maybe patience is required.

    I think I will do the processing by hand for now and get this thing right before looking for a "crutch".

    This is a great forum and I enjoy reading the enthusiastic comments.
     
  13. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    If you want to go to rotary processing there is a much less expensive method which I used for many years.

    A Uniroller base, or similar which reverses, and film tubes will get you into rotary processing muchmore economically, probaly $50-75 plus film reels. These reeels cost lewss than half that of Jobo reels.

    You do not have the convenience of a lift or temperature control, which by the way is not really very efficient, but you will have consistent agitation and no handling of the film from loading until ready to use wetting agent and hang up to dry. I used this method until my film use got to the point of needing to develop many more rolls and/or sheets at one time, up to 100 sheets and 25 rolls fro a singel excursion. In addition, the roller base and tubes take up much less storage space if that is of a concern.

    Jim
     
  14. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    I agree that mastering the tank technique is critical to understanding film process (chemistry & agitation) effects and outcomes.

    When working with a new film, I always do single roll, small tank development to get an idea of its characteristics with "standard" development times & recommendations. (see www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.html for a lot of good starting point recommendations)

    Old friends can be process in bulk in Paterson tanks. I routinely run 2 or 3 rolls of 120 at once, or mix 120 and 135 together, especially with films such as FP4. I too have thought about the rotary processing routine, ranging from a simple Beseler tube and base, to a Jobo CPP-2 (talk about impressing the rubes visiting the darkroom...). Until the day I start shooting a boatload of transparency (if ever) and doing my own cibachromes, I really dont have a need for another mechanized magic bullet. For some apps, I might see the sense, say dozens of rolls of film a month in bulk process. But for just a few scattered; fill chemistry tanks, water bath, load, dump and clean tanks, flush lines, clean unit, etcetera. Small tank, 1,2,3,4, take out the film and let the tank and roller dry. IMHO...