Rotary processing - developers, etc.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by walter23, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    I have never developed my own film and I intend to start right away. I'm shooting 4x5 and I've just ebay'd a unicolor drum (paper drum, but according to an article on largeformatphotography.info it's good for film). I know there are different ways to process film, some of them involving occasional agitation and periods of rest, others continuous (like the rotary drum system I'm buying). I currently have only shot some sheets of ilford delta 100 and I am looking for processing advice using this drum system - what developer, fixer, washing agents, wetting agents, stop bath, etc, should I try? Is there a rule of thumb to convert development times that you might use in a tray system with occasional agitation to times in a roller? Does this have any effect on the properties of your finished negative (e.g. increased or reduced contrast) or does it simply speed up development?

    I hope these questions aren't things that you guys are all sick of reading here. It's hard to find succint answers that get right to the point by searching, so I hope someone has some straightforward advice. I have a lot of chemistry lab experience so I'm not too concerned about maintaining temperatures and managing dilutions and that kind of thing, I'm just not really sure which chemistry I should use.
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Developer is really the one thing that might change. I'd avoid using wetting agents in the tank but others seem happy with it.

    The normal rule of thumb is to start by cutting your developer times by about 15%. Then see if the negatives come out okay. If too contrasty then cut time more. If not enough increase time.

    The Unblinkingeye website had an article on this. With their testing some developers needed no changes. Others did. So in other words you really need to spend some time testing.
     
  3. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    Okay, I'll go shoot a bunch of shots of my favorite non-mobile subjects and use them as tests :wink:
     
  4. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    You can use just about any developer within reason. PMK will work but I've never had much success, it's variable. Mottling, bromide drag, uneven development, etc.. Microphen was almost similar. Acufine for some reason worked better than microphen. Rodinal is excellent, even diluted heavily. D76 is what I stick to at the moment.

    Careful removing the film from the tank, it's easy to scratch a sheet of film with the film edge. I like to fill the tank full under the tap and gently 'extract' the film. I've ruined so much film by not taking my time and removing it nicely. Mine leaks a lot now. My gasket is very worn, but it's still usable. It just uses more chemistry. I use like 350ml of solution, if not more sometimes.
     
  5. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Walter,

    Except for stand or water-bath development, just about any developer works fine for drum processing. For best results, and for the least effort, use a motor base to handle the rotation. A good starting point for developing times is the film manufacturer's "continuous agitation" recommendation; that should be a good place to start, although a little fine-tuning may be necessary.

    This topic has been addressed at length here on APUG. A Forums search using "drum" or "Unicolor" or "Chromega" should turn up plenty of information and informed opinion.

    Konical
     
  6. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    I was afraid (and pretty sure) of that. I still have the common selfish desire to have a new conversation about it.

    The truth is that I'm pretty excited about trying some developing - I really can't wait for the drum to arrive. I might almost try developing in a tray in the basement sometime this weekend if I go buy the chemistry - screw waiting for the rotary processor to get mailed! How does this affect your lives? Well, another potential B&W convert can't be bad for keeping the film and chemistry companies in business against the digital onslaught, right?

    I guess I'll buy D76. I looked at the ilford box and it's listed there - that's a very common developer that you can use with a lot of B&W films, no?
     
  7. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    Yes, it is. Ilford's ID-11 is pretty much the same stuff. I use the same setup for processing my 4x5's, but I've been using Rodinal 1:50 (I shoot FP4+). I am about to start some testing with Rodinal 1:100 and with ID-11 just to see if I can find any improvement in neg quality. Maybe with Pyrocat-HD as well, if I really get bored and need something to do. :wink:

    Bruce
     
  8. don sigl

    don sigl Member

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    I would suggest that you pick up one of these http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/smarthtml/pages/speedcon.html You will be able to slow the unicolor down, and that will help with controlling development. Without it, the unicoor will rotate too quickly and you will have issues with excessive contrast, and developer oxidation.
    I would also recommend that you use a developer designed to work with rotary processing. Pyrocat works quite well. A starting development time for HP5 would be 6-8 minutes for box speed 400). This is what I use.
     
  9. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Walter,

    I have only used T-Max and Xtol with rotary (Jobo) tanks and both work very nicely. My suggestion is to start with a 20% reduction in time and see where that takes you. As for the non-developer chemicals, in the beginning, buy a brand name and you can't go wrong.

    Neal Wydra
     
  10. walter23

    walter23 Member

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  11. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    I use a unicolor motor base with a Jobo drum and have had no trouble with Xtol 1:1 or Pyrocat. I don't think the unicolor motor base is too fast. I've seen posts claiming that using a dimmer switch (or any other SCR based speed controller) could damage the motor of the rotary base. I have never tried it, so I don't know. You might want to do a forum seach for that.
     
  12. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    I don't think you'd want to fool around with a POT in the AC line. Dimmers (and presumably motor speed controllers) use SCRs that change the effective duty cycle of the AC sine wave by opening the circuit at a particular angle in the waveshape as determined by the dimmer setting. The benefit is that they don't need to dissipate much heat themselves. A POT would simply divide the energy between the motor and the POT so the POT would get hot.

    Dimmers work great for incandescent lights, but I'm not sure they're very good for some types of motors. Having said that, I use a light dimmer on my Dremmel drill and it works just spiffy. If the motor doesn't get real hot, then it's probably ok.
     
  13. don sigl

    don sigl Member

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    I've been using the MLCS router speed controller with absolutely no problem. The unit was designed to be used with single speed routers. The idea was to make them variable speed. It worked, but there was a considerable loss in torque as you reduced the speed. This made the router pretty much useless for working any kind of hardwood. However, the thing works great on my motor base. Nothing gets hot, and the base can be slowed to a crawl and still has enough torque to turn a 3005 drum.
    I strongly recommend getting the speed controller
     
  14. JeffD

    JeffD Member

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    Interesting about slowing down a drum roller. I have a Beseler roller- the kind that has a button for auto reverse rolling (I don't use that).

    I wonder if slowing down a constantly rolling drum makes much difference- It seems like whether you are doing 20 rpms or 40 rpms, the film is, either way, getting more fresh developer on the surface than it can exhaust, so, it seems it wouldn't make a lot of difference. Maybe I am missing something.

    I've occasionally wondered if my Beseler roller was maybe turning too fast, but have to much other testing I need to do before I test whether a reduction in rpms would make much difference.

    I usually use a pretty dilute developer when rolling, anyway, which I guess offsets any contrast increase in the faster rpms...
     
  15. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening,

    I agree Jeff. I use a Beseler motor base (non-reversing, so I lift and reverse the drum regularly, and probably unnecessarily). I doubt if it makes much difference exactly what the rotation speed is. Just regard it as continuous agitation and don't worry about it.

    Konical
     
  16. don sigl

    don sigl Member

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    Actually, if you read a lot of the literature, the recommendation for many developers is to use the slowest setting when using a Jobo processor. I believe the slowest setting is considerably slower than the standard rotation on a beseler or a Unicolor base. There is a difference. I especially saw it when using the 3005 drum. I tried PMK and Rollo developers prior to switching to Pyrocat. The PMK, in my opinion is unusable for drum processing. At higher rotation speeds its even worse. Oxidation is a big problem, and contrast really starts to jump up. Rollo, although designed for drum processing performs much better at slower rotations.

    I suppose you could modify the developer dilution to control the activity, but then you increase the oxidation effect. Some people are using two developer pours to overcome this. But its much simpler to use slower rotations.

    The statement that you should regard it as continuous agitation and don't worry about it is bad advice. Rotation speed has considerable effect on contrast and developer life during the process.
     
  17. hka

    hka Member

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    Jobo itselfs recommend slower speed (@30rpm max or the slowest speed on CPA's) by using the 3000series Expert drums and higher speed (@75rpm) when using 2500series drums. The last one to avoid streaking and bromidedrag.
     
  18. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    Just for the heck of it, I took the light dimmer that I use with my dremmel drill and tried it on my Unicolor motot base and it really didn't work well. There was a very narrow range of adjustment where it would slow down. A little higher and it was almost full speed. A little lower and it would stop. And that was with the empty drum sitting on it.

    The router speed controller is probably a much better idea if you want to slow the speed down. I have a little metal lathe that uses a speed controller that pulses the current to the motor. While it makes for an odd pulsating sound, it manages to keep the torque high at even very low speeds.

    In any case, for the most part I've been pretty satisfied with the speed of the Uniroller base as is. I will run into uniformity problems if I load up the drum with too many sheets, though. It's possible that's a speed related problem, so I may do some speed experimentation in the future.
     
  19. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Through trial and error, I've found that I get best results using the slowest speed for B&W (Rodinal, Pyrocat-HD, FX-2, D-76), and the highest speed for E6. This seems to be the same for all film sizes (35mm to 12x16") in 2500 and 2800 series tanks.
     
  20. Buster6X6

    Buster6X6 Member

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    Hi all
    For past three years I have been using Color drum for my 8X10 developing with unicolor base. It uses small amount of chemicals( 275cc) pro sheet. What I did I replaced motor with a DC one hooked up Model Train controller to it I have reverse and down to 1 RPM. I develop with Pyro-HD. Negatives are excellent. Just another way to skin a cat.I forgot to say I glued small dimples to space sheet of film from the drum wall. 5 rows of 4 dimples.

    Hope this helps

    Greg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2006
  21. Dave Krueger

    Dave Krueger Member

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    While my results with the unicolor motor base have been good, I have not the vaguest clue what speed it rotates at. It doesn't seem very fast. I'm using an old Jobo 2336 drum which has a fairly large diameter, but it does go around way more than just one turn before witching direction. Maybe as much as two full turns.
     
  22. don sigl

    don sigl Member

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    The router speed controller is pretty heavy duty. Much more than a dimmer switch. It doesn't pulse though as far as I can tell, and (at least on router motors) lowering the pot will cause a decrease in torque. It will turn the 3005 as slow as 5-6rpm with 1000 ml of chemistry. I do notice that with that load, you cannot adjust any slower and faster adjustments quickly jump to full speed. With 500-600 ml of chemistry, you have a little more adjustment range. What would be ideal is the kind of controller built into my Dewalt variable speed router: The speed is maintained elecronically. As it senses a change in load, it adjusts to maintain constant speed and torque. Probably overkill for a roller base though
     
  23. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I just looked at a Unicolor Unidrum II manual, and for 8x10 drum it only calls for 2 oz. (60 ml) 11x14 calls for 4 oz and 16x20 calls for 8 oz.

    It sounds like some of you are using more chemistry, or are they just bigger drums?

    Is there an advantage to more than the amount I have listed above?

    Also, regarding leaking , do you put the base and drum on a tray or similar to contain possible leaks? (Like a Boot Buddy tray for wet boots/shoes).

    Thanks

    Murray
     
  24. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Murray,

    The amounts listed for the typical color drum were given with expensive color chemicals in mind. Assuming that you're using the drum for film processing, B & W stuff is so much cheaper that there's no point in using such small amounts. I figure that 8 oz. is the minimum I'd use in an 8 x 10 drum; more often, I use 10-12 oz.

    Unicolor drums have a reputation for sometimes leaking. My 30 year-old-plus Chromega has never had the slightest leakage problem, so I just put it on a motor base on the handiest horizontal surface.

    Konical
     
  25. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Thank you!