Need suggestions for home E6 processing

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by ZoneIII, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. ZoneIII

    ZoneIII Member

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    Since my local E6 labs have closed, I have been sending my film by mail to labs and I just don't like doing that. It's especially bad when I only have a few sheets to develop. In fact, I find that I am reluctant to shoot unless I know that I will be shooting enough film to send to a lab so I often pass up shots that I would otherwise have made. So I decided to try doing my own E6 processing in my home darkroom which is very well equipped but primarily for b&w work. (I did do E6 processing at home many years ago but only for roll films and I did it in tanks.)

    I received my Kodak single use E6 kit yesterday but now I have to figure out the best way to process it with the equipment I have and I could use some advice from those with some experience with this. I was actually thinking of processing it in trays as I do my b&w sheet film but I have never heard of anyone doing that and I am concerned that I should not have my hands in some of the E6 chemicals. (Surgical gloves are not an option. I have used them with PMK and I simply can't feel the film with them on.)

    I have precise temperature control in my darkroom. I have some old Beseler print drums and a roller base stored away but they were not designed to hold 4x5" film and they wouldn't be in a temperature controlled bath so the temperature would drop during processing. However, I suppose I could just roll them manually in a water bath. I could warm them up before processing, of course, but the temperature will probably drift drastically during processing if I use the roller base for agitation.

    I have a commercial sink-line setup that I use when I have large amounts of 4x5" and 8x10" film to process but it would use too much chemistry for processing small amounts of E6 sheet film.

    Of course, I should get a Jobo processor but that's an investment I am just not prepared to make at this time. Other options are, I suppose, one of those sheet film tanks but I have heard bad reports about them. I could also find small sheet film tanks for use with single sheet film holders, I suppose.

    I would appreciate any suggestions from those who have processed E6 film at home.

    Thanks
     
  2. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    One option would be a Jobo 2500 series tank and 4x5 reel. You can use it as you would a roll film tank with inversion agitation in a water bath, but it takes more than a liter of chemistry. The 4x5 reel takes 6 sheets.
    Jobo also has a small, manual roller set which you could use in a tray, and roll by hand, it would be tedious, but doable if you wanted to use minimal chemistry. I think the tank and reel are about 65 USD without the loader, which you don't need.
     
  3. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Is this just 4x5? Or 8x10 to?

    Does your roller base change direction?

    So much for the questioning -)

    The Jobo 2500 tanks hold temperture fairly well. Combine that with the fact most of the important steps aren't that long. I forget how long the E6 developer is [6:30?] but it isn't a long time. Adding heated chemicals to a preheated tank isn't going to lead to a temp drop during the time frame. When the step is over you add more preheated chemicals.

    I use 2551 tank and 2509N reels for C-41. The tank sits on a Unicolour rollerbase which is plugged into a Gralab 300 timer. The chemicals sit in a large picnic cooler [50quarts? I could use bigger really] with a fish heater in the bottom from Won brothers. The heater brings everything up to temp. I sit the loaded tank into the cooler so it can warm up to.

    The whole setup works a treat for C-41. E6 isn't that different.
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Trying to do E6 without spending ANY money is a bit rash. I've used both CPE-2 and Nova small hand line (1200ml per tank). The latter is more economical if you use the chemicals fully. Otherwise -- well, maybe you're more willing to gamble with your trannies than I am.
     
  5. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I do 35mm E-6 processing using regular stainless steel or plastic tanks and a water bath to hold the temperature. I imagine that would be pretty similar to using a roller drum in a water bath for your sheet film, but I have no experience with sheet film processing. In any event, the results I get seem good to me, but I've never done any scientific tests of the results, so it's possible my colors or density are slightly off of optimal. Still, as this is the lowest-cost option available to you (no extra hardware required, except maybe something to hold the water bath), it's worth a try -- shoot a couple of test sheets, try it, and evaluate the results for yourself. If you're not satisfied, consider the options that will cost you money for extra equipment.
     
  6. ZoneIII

    ZoneIII Member

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    "Trying to do E6 without spending ANY money is a bit rash. I've used both CPE-2 and Nova small hand line (1200ml per tank). The latter is more economical if you use the chemicals fully. Otherwise -- well, maybe you're more willing to gamble with your trannies than I am."

    Roger... there you go again! LOL You have to lean to read more carefully. I did not say I was unwilling to spend ANY money to process my E6 film (I have no idea where you got that idea) and I am most definitely NOT more willing than you to risk poor results. I merely explained what I already have and asked for advice on methods for processing E6 at home short of buying a Jobo processor, that's all. In fact, I may just buy a Jobo but I wanted to get some opinions about other options first and, as you can see, I got some good advice.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2007
  7. ZoneIII

    ZoneIII Member

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    Nick... Probably 95% of my E6 processing would be with 4x5" film. I do, however, shoot color in 8x10 on occasion.

    My Beseler or Unicolor drum roller (I can't remember which right now without going down and digging it out) does have a reverse.

    Thanks for the info. I will check the drums out that you mentioned.

    I am still concerned about temperature drop, though, but I appreciate your advice on that. Many years ago, I tested for temperature drop in a Beseler print drum and it dropped enough five to seven minutes to be a concern. However, that could be overcome by using the drift by method to compensate. Of course, the greater the difference in the ambient temperature of the room and the chemical temperatures the more the temperature would drop. For b&w processing, this wouldn't be a real concern but when the processing temperatures are 104 degrees and the ambient temperature of my darkroom is 68-72 degrees, I am concerned.

    I will check out those drums. Could they be manually rolled in a water bath?
     
  8. ZoneIII

    ZoneIII Member

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    SRS... developing E6 roll film is not a problem as you point out. I don't process much roll film but, when I do, I wouldn't hesitate to use regular tanks. As I mentioned, I have very precise temperature control in my well-equipped darkroom. The problem is finding a good tank that uses small amounts of chemistry that can be placed in a water bath. As I said, my sink-line simply uses too much chemistry for my E6 needs with the exception of the times when I have a LOT of film to process.
     
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I assume so. I used the print drums [which I use for B&W 8x10] in a water bath for RA-4. It worked but got old in a hurry. The 2500 film drums and the 2800 print drums are the same externally. I can't see why you couldn't roll the mid size or bigger 2500 tanks in a water bath. Just wear an apron :D The smallest 2500 tank [2521/2523] I think wouldn't be a good choice in a water bath. Maybe it might work but it's so short I wouldn't be suprised if the tank ended up tilted.
     
  10. Lopaka

    Lopaka Member

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    The JOBO 2523/2521 tank holds one 4x5 reel for up to 6 sheets and can be run with as little as 270ml of chemistry. What about an aquarium heater to keep the water bath up to temp? I have seen it mentioned before, though I have never tried it. I use my CPP-2 to run my E-6. The temps for all steps through color dev (including the wash after the 1st dev) are critical. I have seen some E-6 go too far off color to be usable from the first rinse coming in off temp.

    Bob
     
  11. garri

    garri Member

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    Hi ZoneIII, I use a Jobo and the 2500 series drums and 2509 reels.
    The Jobo is a no more than a tempered water tank and motor. I see no reason that you couldn't roll 'em in a tempered bath if you have such a thing, which I assume you do as you stated that you have temp control.
    As has been said, it would just be a little tedious rolling by hand.

    Worth noting is that it seems that only the first bath is critically temp dependant, with Tetanal chems at least..

    prewash +/-.5deg
    First Dev +/- .5deg
    Wash +/-.5deg
    Color Dev +/- 1deg
    Bleach and wash is +/-5deg

    Gari
     
  12. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Yes
    Here's a link to the Jobo roller base for manual rotation. You can immerse it in a water bath. It's the same as the support rollers that come with the processors, except there are two sets of rollers here.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/25524-REG/Jobo_1509_Roller_Base_for_Combo.html

    Prices for the processors on ebay seem to be falling some, but ebay prices on tanks and such are often equal or greater than new.
     
  13. dslater

    dslater Subscriber

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    While you can use a tank on manual rollers in a water bath, I think it will get old fast. I use a Jobo CPP with a lift for E-6, C-41 and Pyro processing. I picked mine up used on ebay for about $300. In addition to the temperature control, I find the lift mechanism allows me to have consistent processing times for all my solutions. You also might want to invest in some measuring syringes from Photographers Formulary. These make it easy to mix up small amounts of E-6 chemistry from the single use kit.
     
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  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Upon re-reading your original post, I see no evidence that I had read it carelessly, but as you apparently were unable to understand my reply, I shall expand it somewhat, with apologies for the length of the post.

    The two methods described, are, I firmly believe, the only rational ways to process E6 in small quantities; Jobo or similar machines, or a Nova hand line. In other words, if you do it any other way, you are risking poor results with sheet film. If you want to take that risk, then the very best of luck to you.

    It's true that 35mm and roll film are easier: I've done them in small tanks with a bucket of hot water, but you need very large amounts of E6 chemicals for inversion agitation of 4x5 inch in a watertight tank, and non-watertight tanks (the case with most 5x4 tanks) are more trouble than they are worth unless they are lined up in a water bath and you work in the dark, i.e. a Nova hand line by any other name.

    Tray processing won't work -- keeping trays at 100 degrees with repeatable agitation? -- and while you might get away with floating tanks in bowls of water, using aquarium heaters, etc., it is my firm belief that to do so is rash in the extreme. Some people may make these bodge-ups work, and produce results indistinguishable from a CPE-2 or hand line. Others may produce results that are good enough for them (see below). I would not like to bet on my producing results that I consider acceptable. I repeat: you're welcome to take the risk.

    What is more, if you look closely at the other posts, you will see that few if any claim to have processed sheet film successfully using anything other than a CPE-2 or equivalent. Yes, there are lots of untried ideas; and the key word is 'untried'.

    All right, 'without spending ANY money' is a slight exaggeration, but 'without spending the money necessary to do the job' is close enough.

    I am constantly astonished at people's priorities. Some will spend a fortune on cameras and lenses, then use outdated film, not because they like the results but because they're cheapskates. Others will buy expensive film -- such as 4x5 inch tranny -- and then try to process it in a lash-up. Once more: it's your choice. But I've been processing colour films at home for over a third of a century, and I stand by both my original reading of your post and the advice given in this post and my last.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2007
  16. dslater

    dslater Subscriber

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    Whoops - actually it's a Jobo CPE - the CPP is considerably more expensive.
     
  17. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Except the Jobos tend to have

    1) Wimpy motors

    2) Little room for tempering chemicals and wash water

    3) The lower priced models have what +/- 1degree C claimed temperture control?

    Today you have to add the service part issues.

    The advantage of the Jobo "system" was it's a complete system. Tick off the right boxes in the Jobo catalog and the dealer could ship you a complete setup. All designed to work together. Ranging from the Jobo Tempering box [TPE?] all the way up to the big ATL machines.

    Not everybody wants to settle for the limits that Jobos cost accountants settled on. It's also 2007. Some things have improved. It's possible to pick and choose what you like. The common legend is the Jobo motor is just an auto wiper motor. What are the odds the heating element was an in house design? How much is left in models below the ATL ?

    Start with some thing like this.

    http://www.wonbrothers.com/product/heater/d58.htm

    Add a large insulated picnic cooler. You'll gain more capacity. Better control. All that thermal mass and insulation will mean less wild swings then the Jobo. You won't have to worry about parts.

    The end cost won't be much if any cheaper then an used Jobo. But you'll be able to keep it working long after Jobo runs out of parts.
     
  18. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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    I looked at trying to do E6 on a restricted budget, but decided it wasn't feasible. Spending the best part of £1000 a year at the lab encouraged me to look more rationally at providing a solution.

    Jobo CPE/CPP produce good results, but require you to be ever present to effect the chemical changes. Something I could do, but rather wouldn't. The Jobo ATL processors are fire and forget, beeping to let you know that they have finished their task. I prefer this level of effort!

    I bought a second hand ATL-1000 for £350 in which I was able to do E6, B+W and also C41. The ATL-1500 offers more flexibility in programs, but the 1000 covers all but the worst exposure errors.... These machines take up very little space and enable processing of up to 12 sheets at a time. Their temp control is ±0.1 degree C.

    Currently I have a bigger and more capable model, the ATL2300 which I was given. The bigger machines are often cheaper, since not many people want to afford the space which they occupy.

    Also for best results, you need to buy pH meter to adjust colour balance via colour developer, I have to add Na OH. There is plenty of info in the APUG archives.

    Processing your own film is not only satisfying, the reduced cost means that you are more likely to shoot more film and learn by pushing yourself into new areas. Cost per sheet is between £0.40 and £0.50 as opposed to £2.30+ here in UK. Push/pull costs you no extra either.
     
  19. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Fair enough. That's why I said 'or similar machines', and you seem to have built a better machine: I take my hat off to you. But as far as I could see, the OP's objection to the Jobo was money -- and as you say yourself, your solution won't save you money.

    But just bobbing it in a water-bath is another matter. And I repeat: how many there had actually tried the advice they were handing out, and got good results? Most of it was along the lines of 'There's no reason why you shouldn't...'
     
  20. Palantiri7

    Palantiri7 Member

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    Um, I use Jobo's 2830 drum to process my 8x10 transparencies. I have been using a Rubbermaid cooler to keep the chemicals at the right temperature. I preheat the drum before developing, and I roll the drum on a slightly raised platform covered by a heating blanket. I've only done 40 slides so far with this setup, but things have been going much better than I expected. I've uploaded an example shot. It's Kodak E100VS film. Cheers everybody.
     

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  21. radiantdarkroom

    radiantdarkroom Member

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    I have to agree a Jobo is the way to go for ease of use. After doing 4x5 in half gallon tanks and switching to Jobo. my quality of life greatly improved.
     
  22. ZoneIII

    ZoneIII Member

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    Roger,

    As you know by now, I have sent a response to your 2nd comment directly to you. I hope we have this cleared up and can enjoy a friendly dialog in the future. But I want to post here a Reader's Digest version of my message to you:

    Your original reply to my question clearly does indicate that you misinterpreted my question and, in fact, I see you have included stuff in your 2nd response that was not in your message to me so that's another reason I want to respond here.

    Not only did you misinterpret my original question, but your response included absolutely no useful information at all. In fact, it was insulting. And I have no idea where you got the idea that I didn't want to spend ANY money.

    Ironically, you say you re-read my original question again and say that you would answer it exactly the same way if you had it to do over again and yet in your second response, you provided useful information. Why didn't you simply do that in the first response instead of replying in an insulting manner and without any useful information to add? In short, if you don't have anything positive to add to a thread, why respond at all. As I mentioned in my message to you, you have done this in other photographers' forums and not it was not just directed to me. And, as I said, you are curmudgeon. But that's not a bad thing! I'm an old curmudgeon myself. LOL Us old curmudgeons should stick together and we certainly shouldn't insult each other.

    I also pointed that I am not careless as you implied. I have been a photographer for 40 years now and I make at least 2/3rds of my income through my photography. (The rest comes from a pension as a retired engineer.) I am a large format photographer and I am not in the habit of being careless by any stretch of the imagination. As I explained in my original question, like most working photographers, I always sent my E6 work to a nearby pro lab because it made sense. But I don't have a nearby E6 lab and I have found myself passing up shots lately because I can't send out a couple sheets of film. So I have decided to do my own E6 processing. (I do all my own b/w processing and printing and my darkroom. In the past I did all my own color printing as well but I rarely print color anymore. I send it out.)

    Anyway, I have found APUG to be a friendly and supportive forum. The people here are great. In fact, you gave me a warm welcome when I joined APUG. When you did, I thought, "Wow! Roger must be getting mellow in his old age." But your response to my original question here was un-called for and of no practical value.

    I see that you have now gotten onto a tangent about photographer's priorities. The only logical conclusion I can make about that is that you are now implying that I have my priorities wrong and an a cheapskate. Roger, once again, I have to remind you that I never said that I wouldn't spend money on E6 processing equipment. In fact, after my experiments today, I have come to the conclusion that I am definitely going to get a processor. In my original question, I merely explained what I already had and asked for advice on various ways to process E6 in a home lab from people who do it. That's all.

    Anyway, Roger, you have so much to offer photographers here and we are lucky to have you. We can use your help. But we don't need to be insulted. From what you said in your message to me it's clear that you have jumped to all kinds of incorrect conclusions. Also, I have no idea why you felt it necessary to be so negative. I don't know what triggered that. You're a better man than that and I hope we have a friendly and productive dialog in the future.

    BTW, I am going to post a question about E6 processors in a new thread. I would appreciate any advice you can provide.
     
  23. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Tom,

    I have already replied by PM. The simple truth seems to be that in this sort of written communication, we inadvertently get one anothers' backs up. That we both do it seems to argue a fundamental mismatch of world-pictures, or at least of styles of writing, which is unfortunate, but not worth pursuing, especially at length and in public.

    Thanks for the kind words about my modest expertise.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  24. Discpad

    Discpad Member

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    See the Wikipedia entry

    I've been massaging the <a href = "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-6_process" target = "_blank">E-6 Process article on Wikipedia</a>: Check it out as it will answer many of your questions, especially about allowable process time and temp tolerances. </p>

    <p>Cheers!<br>
    Dan Schwartz</p>
     
  25. Discpad

    Discpad Member

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    I've been massaging the E-6 Process article on Wikipedia: Check it out as it will answer many of your questions, especially about allowable process time and temp tolerances.

    Cheers!
    Dan Schwartz
     
  26. dslater

    dslater Subscriber

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    Hi Dan,
    The Wiki article looks good - only a couple of comments.
    1) I believe the first developer temperature is 100.4 F == exactly 38C
    2) Jobo's directions for E-6 processing with a Jobo specifies 6:30 first developer time for Kodak films and 7:30 for Fuji films. I think this is due to the continuous agitation.

    Dan