Tank and Reel

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by TareqPhoto, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Subscriber

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    Hey all,

    I have few questions:

    1. Which one is recommended, the plastic tank or the steel tank?

    2. Which is better, plastic reel or stainless steel reel?

    3. Is it better to go with a tank that hold one 120 reel or 2-x reels? so can i develop one reel in a two-120-reels tank or it is better to develop one reel in a tank which hold 1 reel?

    4. If getting a 2-3 reels [120] tank, can i develop 2-3 film rolls at once without issues [same process for the 3 rolls]?
     
  2. chris00nj

    chris00nj Member

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    I'm a beginner as well so my answers may be less than perfect:

    1. I don't think there is much of a difference. The plastic ones are cheaper but you could theoretically break them if you dropped them.
    2. The plastic reels tend to be easier to load. Remember the reels should be very dry before attempting to load
    3. Not terribly much downside to a two reel tank. You can develop one reel in a two reel tank system. I have a two reel tank and have not developed more than one roll at a time so far.
    4. The only difference I'm aware of is that if you may need slightly longer (10%) developing times when putting two reels in. Kodak recommends this for D-76 developer. Not sure if its the same with other developers.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2010
  3. Kevin Kehler

    Kevin Kehler Member

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    Having used both stainless steel and plastic, I don't think there is a significant difference. The steel seem easier to clean but I have found that they are more susceptiable to ambiant air temperature than the plastic (If it is +30 degrees in the house, by the end of 10 minutes of developing, the temperature of the developer is no longer 20 degrees). I currently use the plastic Paterson system and have never had one break.

    I also echo Chris is that one of the biggest issues is not perfectly dry reels: it is not good enough to have pretty dry reels! The slightest water droplet will cause the film to grab and then it is very difficult to walk the film on as the film continues to stick at the one spot. I develop 2 rolls of 120 on a reel by using the tape (which holds the film to the paper) to attach one to another. The biggest issue in such a method is aligning the film so they are straight.

    I have never had to increase my development time when developing (I can do up to 6 rolls or 3 reels at a time) when using D-76, Rodinal or ID-11 (the latter being my preferred). The key for me is quickly getting the chemical in and intelligent agitation. When pouring in chemical, you cannot delay since the bottom of the stack has started developing prior to the top of the stack receiving chemical; this can be overcome by pouring out at the same rate as pouring in (still very quickly) since the top has more chemical than the bottom but the bottom still has developer on the film! Agitation needs to be intelligent since you are dealing with more liquid, thus it takes more action to move it but it moves for a longer period (an object in motion...); thus a more vigorous but shorter agitation is what I like to use.
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I have stainless steel ones. Easy to clean, durable, and I can load one, process it, clean it, shake it dry, then do another. Plastic ones will stick until they are completely dry. Loading took few hours of practice.

    I would recommend one reel tank. Being new, you'll likely to mess up some, and you'd want your damage to be minimal. Also, two reel tanks will take longer to fill and drain, contributing to potential uneven processing. Some people fill the tank then drop the reels in in complete darkness.

    You CAN develop one film in two reel tanks, but you'll need to fill the chemical to the top and put an empty reel. This is to prevent excessive bubbling.
     
  5. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Subscriber

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    I see, thank you very much!

    Then i think i will develop one by one, even if i get used to the development, later if i feel i can develop 2 film at once then i may get another larger tank to take more reels.
     
  6. Mike Richards

    Mike Richards Member

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    I also use stainless steel mainly for reasons stated above. Tried plastic once and ran into the "sticky-while-just-a-little-damp" problem. Also ran into trouble loading when I used film that had anti-halation backing (e.g. Maco 820c) or was otherwise thicker than normal (e.g. Kodak HIE). The trick to loading stainless is once you get the film started, just guide the film evenly as you wind the reel -- do not squeeze it.

    That's sound advice about the two reel tanks. You end up using twice the developer that way, assuming you use a one shot developer and discard it after use. And one shot is definitely the best way to go.
     
  7. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Some steel reels are designed better than others, and are easier to load well than the poorer designs. Getting Nikkor or Kindermann reels is worth the expense over the bargain reels. It takes some learning to load them, but not overly difficult. I was taught how to use stainless reels when I was about 13, by a pro industrial photographer...handed me a reel and a ruined roll of film, so I could learn initially in the light, then practice with my eyes closed. Hate the plastic reels. Kodak made plastic 'aprons' for roll film a very long time ago, and they were great to use, even when still wet/damp, too bad they discontinued them.
     
  8. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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  9. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Subscriber

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    Thank you very much again.

    Ian recommended me to go with Jobo tank, in fact i saw that tank and i see it the most perfect-like design tank i can see, and i added it to my wish list before, and after the recommendation i moved it to my order list and it includes a reel if true, but should i go with a steel reel of a good quality one?
    Just i want a tank with no leaking as possible, and loading film to reel i will practice to death.
     
  10. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    By the way... since we are talking about 120 film, let me add this.

    After much frustration in loading stainless steel tank, I found the following will make the process MUCH easier and consistent.

    1) Before attempting to load, separate film from backing. You can start unrolling and once the film appears, roll the film in the direction it curls naturally and let the paper backing drop. At the end, carefully peel the tape and fold it back on itself on the film.
    2) Load from this taped end first.

    For whatever reason, film loads much easier from the taped end than the end that you see first when you unroll the exposed film.
     
  11. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    If leak is a concern, get a stainless steel tank with plastic top. They fit snuggly and no leaks. Most of my stainless steel ones leak JUST A LITTLE. Not enough to be a problem though.

    This is one of the area if you ask enough people, you'll see a good split of opinions. The bottom line is, use what works for you. (which you wouldn't know without trying both....) There are strong opinions on both sides and there are pros and cons. You won't find "the best" unless you try yourself.
     
  12. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    A good thing about plastic reels is that they're adjustable, which means that you use the same reels for 135 and 120 film. No need to buy extra reels for different formats.
     
  13. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I've used plastic and steel. I went with steel & haven't used a plastic reel in over thirty years.
     
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  15. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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    I use them both. I'm goofy!

    The stainless loads from the center out while the plastic loads from the outside into the center. I've got the Paterson system where I can develop multiple reels at the same time while the stainless can I have accommodates 1 reel at a time. Just what I've got.

    They both work very well. The stainless can I can put into a tub of water to maintain temperature and I find the stainless transfers heat/cold quicker than plastic. I find the liquid pours in faster & drains faster with the Paterson tanks. They use an upside down funnel for the lid!

    So it's the same horse just a different color!

    Your choice.
     
  16. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Yes.
     
  17. Bijesh

    Bijesh Member

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    Since the question is about 120 reels, I'll recommend steel reels. I'm a recent convert from plastic (Patterson) to steel reels. I moved to steel reels after I ruined two rolls of film trying to load it on plastic reels. It took about 30 minutes to load it on the reel and finally the film was all kinked. The plastic reels have to be really dry. If you're using a darkroom bag to load the film, your hands are going to sweat after a couple of minutes. This will make the film stick to the reel and it'll refuse to load. 35mm is easy with the plastic reels because it is more rigid and not as wide as the 120.

    Anyway I tried the steel 120 reels and everytime I was able to load the film in less than a minute. I sold all my plastic tanks (had 6 patterson) and bought some kindermann tanks and reels. For 35mm I bought the Hewes stainless steel reels and it's a pleasure to use.
     
  18. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Subscriber

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    Yesterday i was trying to load a 35mm roll on a plastic reel in light, it was not easy [i am sure it a Patterson reel], and when i tried to do it in a changing bag, i think i will never load it on the reel, either the changing bag was not pumped and all the time coming around my hand and i have to move for space, not easy for 35mm then what i will do with a 120? i was practicing on my friend film kit before i buy mine, he has a plastic tank, but i never saw him developing as he tried once and failed and then he decided to develop in the lab always, so i will practice on his developed ruined film with reel until i can do it properly in dark, but in all cases, i want to order and do myself at home everyday, i don't go there to the photography club to use his kit.
     
  19. fotch

    fotch Member

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    When using a changing bag, I use to use a cardboard box that would fit inside so I could keep the bag from laying on top of my hands and film.

    Started with plastic, loading was mostly difficult although sometimes it worked ok. Then switched to stainless steel after finding that the quality brands like Nikor or Kindermann loaded easily every time. Now a days, if buying new, Hewes is the brand to get.

    Returned to plastic only because that is what Jobo uses, however, their plastic reels are pretty good. Now they have stainless steel reels (made by Hewes) but to expensive and not really needed.

    So, when not using the Jobo, I uses stainless steel for 35 or 120.

    YMMV
     
  20. TareqPhoto

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    The question is, should i use a stainless steel reel in a steel tank and plastic reel with plastic tank? or doesn't matter?

    Maybe i will order one plastic and one steel of each, so i can see which is preferable and i will develop 2 film at once separately then rather than both in one tank.
     
  21. Anon Ymous

    Anon Ymous Member

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    It matters. Plastic tanks have a central column, which is a tube, through which you pour the chemicals. You can't omit it, because it also makes the tank light tight. The inner circle of the plastic reels fits nicely on the tube, but a metal reel probably won't. Tanks and reels are not always interchangeable.
     
  22. AgX

    AgX Member

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    There are two type of plastic reels:

    -) with bearing balls yielding a kind of ratchet mechanism,

    -) "blank" ones (like Jobo) where one has to alternatingly use ones thumbs to arrest film whilst twisting reels.
     
  23. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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    I misspoke, the funnel isn't inverted with a Paterson developing system.
     
  24. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    When I first started out in the 60's I used a Yankee Clipper tank, it was easy. I now use SS tanks and reels, because thats what I'm used to. I think its just a matter of what you practice on and become used to using. I dont think there's a hill of beans difference when you are doing one or two rolls at a time. Pick one, practice, and stop fretting, just DO IT. If you need tanks, I have both plastic and SS for sale. As for plastic, I have both Patterson System 4 and a universal two reel that is just as good. Look them up in the classified, I'll ship anywhere.


    Rick
     
  25. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Subscriber

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    Hi Rick, thanks for your reply.

    No thanks, i will buy it new by myself, i don't need to buy from others, i can afford them and they are not expensive at all, i was even going to buy both the plastic and the SS, but i tried to be more wisely in buying and ask here before i decide on one, but seems it is a matter of preference, each can be used perfectly if someone knows how to use any, so i will go with any of them and use it to what it should be for the job, just there is always time before i pull a trigger on something to ask and see the reviews, maybe next time i should ask much about what to choose on anything, because different people will give me different answers and all are right of what they answered.
     
  26. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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    The Arista Premium reels are great for 120. I haven't had a problem loading them yet.