tray processing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by rince, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. rince

    rince Member

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    Hi,
    after using my jobo 2509n spiral for 4x5 sheet film processing for close to a year now, I had my first shot at tray processing tonight.
    First of all it was not as hard as I thought it would be, but immediately payed the price when my mind was wondering for a second and
    I scratched one of the negs in a stack of 6 pretty badly. Luckily I did not use any important negatives for this test run. I was surprised how much harder they were to handle being all slippery but still managing to stick together ... I was pleased with the results for a first run, but obviously there is a long way to go before they are as nice as I know they could be :wink:

    Since I use D76 1:1 I was pleased how much less developer I had to use compared to my drum processing and that alone is worth it for me to learn more about it and practice more. My first question now is, if you actually shuffle the negs over the long or over the short edge or does it make no difference?
    Also are you using gloves or are you just soaking your fingers in dev/stop/fix ? If you use gloves, does it make handling the sheets much harder?


    I think those are enough questions for one post :wink:
    Thanks in advance
    Dennis
     
  2. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    I do both 4x5 and 8x10 in trays, so I have some familiarity with the process.

    My developing trays of choice are the dimple-bottom trays made by Cesco.
    These dramatically simplify handling of the sheets, and minimize the contact of film with tray bottom.

    Regarding the developer...
    Make sure you use at least the minimum amount of concentrate required for the number of sheets being developed.
    That's true of any developer and any developing method. This is one of the most common errors, yielding inconsistent results.

    I use nitrile gloves for developing the sheets. Be sure to get the non-powdered ones.
    Put sheets in the developer one at a time, flat, emulsion down*, then shuffle through the stack for the required time.

    Remove sheets one at a time and put them in the stop bath without getting the glove in the stop.

    Manipulation of the sheets in the stop and fix should be done using tongs, preferably with rubber tips.
    You can use a stainless steel probe, like the end of a dial thermometer, to lift an edge if need be.

    Use one set of tongs for the stop, and a different set for the fixer, and do not interchange them. Always use the same one for each solution.

    Enjoy. Make pix.

    - Leigh

    *Note:
    There's a huge ongoing debate about emulsion-up or emulsion-down. Ansel Adams recommended down, and I've had no trouble doing that.
     
  3. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    For what it's worth, I use slosher trays when I had to tray process 4x5 negs. It worked beautifully and solved a lot of problems in shuffling the sheets each minute...no scratched negs for me.

    Best of luck
     
  4. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Colin, do you have issues with sheets sticking together? Does the normal motion of the chems keep them separated when tray processing that way? I had always wanted to try that myself and this was a concern of mine when I was mulling it over. Any tricks or are none needed and I am over-thinking as usual? (Shut up, Steve.)
     
  5. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    First, +1 to Leigh's recommendation not to skimp on developer volume. This applies to any method, trays or tanks.

    Chris, the slosher keeps the sheets separated from one another so there is no sticking together. No presoak required. Sloshers can be excellent alternatives to tray shuffling if you don't need to develop many sheets at one time. Essentially a slosher is an attempt to do two things:

    1) Combine the benefits of single sheet tray processing (pretty much the easiest way to get good uniformity and eliminate the risk of scratching) with the ability to do more than one sheet at a time
    2) Allow for the option of truly intermittent or minimal agitation, vs shuffling where there is always some movement of the sheets and developer as long as you are shuffling

    It can sometimes be easier to get uniform development with a slosher than shuffling because by lifting and dropping corners or sides of the tray you can get very good random agitation, which is why single sheet tray processing works so well.

    The limitation with a slosher is the number of sheets that can be done at the same time. With practice some people can shuffle 8-12 sheets effectively. With a slosher you are limited by the surface area of the bottom of the tray. For example a typical slosher for an 11x14 tray holds six sheets, and in fact that is really a bit too tight if you want to maximize the probability of getting uniform development because ideally you don't want the sheets to close to the sides of the tray. A better slosher does 4 4x5 sheets in an 11x14 tray, or if you can do with lower volume processing (like me), 2 sheets in an 8x10 tray.

    The best sloshers allow the solution to move around relatively unrestricted, as would be the case when doing a single sheet in a tray. Therefore the best type of slosher is one that has the least amount of material/surface area separating the sheets. Many slosher designs have "walls" separating the sheets. There is no need for this. An excellent slosher can be as simple as a few small stainless steel wire baskets attached together. Plastic baskets are also excellent. It doesn't have to be pretty, just get the job done.

    You can also construct one yourself. I'm attaching an example of the slosher I made this past weekend (my stainless wire slosher recently met an untimely end). It took a couple of hours and cost about $10 in materials (1 8x10 sheet of 1/8" acrylic from Home Depot, and some 1/8" acrylic dowel from the local hobby shop). A variety of alterations and/or simplifications to this example are possible.
     

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  6. walbergb

    walbergb Subscriber

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    After unsuccessfully trying shuffling negatives in a tray, I modified an 8x10 tray by cutting 2x2"x1/8" ABS pipe cut in half (I'm sure 1 1/2" pipe would work just as well) using a miter saw to produce 4x1/8" half rings and gluing them to the bottom of the tray using a glue gun to create 4 "chambers." I first tried Superglue, but a hot glue gun worked better. The little dots are tiny specs of hot glue to keep the sheets off the bottom.

    Cost me nothing but my time (the ABS pipe was left overs) and works like a charm. Good, even development. The same tray can be used for each step, and I never handle the negatives. I set out all my chemicals in order on my right including water for a water bath; tray sits in a water jacket (room temperature is too high) in front of me pouring spout at top left; I empty the chemicals to my left: water bath & developer down the drain and the others into the containers I poured them from. I use different shaped containers for stop, fix, and hypo clear. 450-500ml of developer ensures that the sheets are covered. I use intermittent agitation: 60 seconds agitation and 10 out of every 60 seconds until the time is up.
     

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  7. rince

    rince Member

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    oh wow ! Thank you for the great replies and the pictures. I actually never thought about a slosher. I guess I will try and build one myself then.
    Actually this morning when I looked at the dry sheets of film I had to realize I scratched more than I thought yesterday. Nothing that would ruin the negs really, but annoying and something than can be prevented it seems. Thank you for the warning of the developer, I did still use 800ml for a stack of 6 sheets which is still plenty in a 5x7 tray I think. But my drums use 1300ml for 4 sheets and since I use one shot developer, this feels like more of a waste than it should be. I will set my eyes on getting some acrylic and will have myself a build project next week :wink:
    Thank you again for all your help and the amazing tips!
     
  8. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I couldn't have said it better than the last two posters.

    My slosher tray was bought second hand but a regular product, for lack of a better term...not hand made. But these 2 guys have shown that way works just fine, too.

    FWIW, I never had problems with sheets sticking together.
     
  9. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    The minimum amount of developer required is different for each developer.
    You need to check the data sheet from the manufacturer for the product you're using.

    The values are typically for 80 square inches of film, which is a single 8"x10" film or any other size
    that can be proofed on an 8x10 sheet of paper (one 35mm roll, one 120 roll, four 4x5 sheets, etc).

    Minimums are always given relative to the concentrate, irrespective of the dilution in use.
    For example, the minimum for Rodinal is 10ml of concentrate per roll, regardless of whether your dilution is 1+25, 1+50, or 1+100.

    - Leigh
     
  10. rince

    rince Member

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    Thank you Leigh, I actually checked the fact sheet from Kodak and along their capacity table and the dilution I use it is around 750ml, I simply could not fit more than 800ml in the tray and still be able to safely shuffle the stack.
     
  11. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    For 4x5's I have used two 5x7 trays of developer in a single 11x14 tray -- sort of a slosher, but one can use different dilutions at the same time if so desired.
     
  12. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    That's fine. If it says 750ml you're not obligated to use more.

    - Leigh
     
  13. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Just realized in the pictures I posted the slosher tray is missing the lifting handles which I hadn't installed yet. But you get the idea - you just move the slosher from tray to tray during processing: put the film in the slosher, the slosher goes into the developer tray, after development, just lift the slosher out and move it to the stop bath etc. Washing is straight forward, I just put the slosher in a tray with the old Kodak siphon going (same as washing prints in a tray).

    I don't want to give the impression tray shuffling is bad. The slosher is just an option, and there is nothing wrong with shuffling. Plenty of great photographers did it that way and people are still doing it with excellent results.