Tubes, Tanks & Trays - Sheet Film Developing

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by zenrhino, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

    Messages:
    696
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Location:
    Minneapolis,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I need some advice about deveoping sheet film.

    When I develop in trays, the development is very uneven, making me think that even my best agitation efforts come up short.

    A Yankee Agitank is a little easier to use, but still gives me uneven negs.

    Have any of you used the tubes that J&C sells? I also have access to a Besler Color (made for prints, but I'd try it for film if its not a horrid idea) roller tank thingy.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Clint
     
  2. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Before you switch you need to think about some of the variables in how you develop in trays:

    How many sheets are you doing at once?
    How fast are you "shuffling" the sheets?
    Do you have enough developer in the trays?
     
  3. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

    Messages:
    696
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Location:
    Minneapolis,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I generally do 4 sheets (2 holders) at once. I'm not sure what you mean by shuffling.

    I generally put about 300ml of fluid in a 5x7 tray to deveop 4x5 film.
     
  4. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Shuffling is the most common form of agitation when using trays. Think of the film stacked up like a deck of cards one on top of the next. You grab the film in one hand and use the other to slide the bottom neg out and then gently lay it on the top. I shoot until I have 6-8 negs to do at once.

    How are you agitating? This may be the reason for the uneven development.

    For comparison--I use 1000mL of developer in an 8x10 tray for my 5x7 negatives.
     
  5. noseoil

    noseoil Member

    Messages:
    2,898
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2003
    Location:
    Tucson
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Try tubes, they work very well. Don't use PMK. tim

    P.S. Look in "Articles" for a how to on 4x5 film tubes.
     
  6. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,569
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Tonopah Neva
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Tried them all. Finally and happily found the Jobo 3010 Expert tank. All problems solved. Expensive yes, but if it broke I'd go find another one immediately. I passed the threshold a long time ago for metol poisoning so I absolutely can't have my hands in developer to shuffle a pile. I can't believe folks have the dexterity to do that with gloves on.
     
  7. Jan Pietrzak

    Jan Pietrzak Member

    Messages:
    239
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2003
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Trays about 9x12inches in size 4" deep trays have small radius corners so I can keep the film coraled(sp?)

    Developer min 2 qts, most times 1 gal HC 110 mixed from SS 1:31

    Start with 4 sheets and work up to 8 to 10

    Started doing this some 25 years ago, taught to me by Al Weber at Victor School/CO. I can't afford one of those fancy Jobos

    Jan Pietrzak
     
  8. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,562
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, Wes
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Dear Clint,

    If you are trying to develop 4x5 sheets, the Jobo system is affordable (I built my own roller). Lots of folks rave about the "expert" drums, but then you need to spend money on the system.

    Personally, I have never been really successful with multiple sheets in trays (I'm not exceptionally coordinated), but I've never had trouble with hangers. Of course you have to stand in the dark until you're well into the fixer.<g>
     
  9. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,257
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2002
    Location:
    British Colu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I divided an 8 X 10 tray into 4 compartments using plastic chain links cut in half and epoxied to the tray. I don't have to "shuffle" that way. I tried that, and as someone said, I don't see how anyone could have the coordination to do that with rubber gloves on. I use 500 ml, diluted 1+1. I'm new at it, but haven't had uneven development (yet). My problem is I'm bored out of my gourd with nothing to do in the dark but agitate the film - so it gets more than it should. Not so bad results so far though.
    I was going to use tubes until I found out you can only do one negative at a time. So that would take 4 X longer than now, though I wouldn't have to be in the dark so long.
    I think I'll stay with the tray for now, until I can get one of the tank systems.
     
  10. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Johnny, just get/make more than one tube :wink:

    I've never had any problem shuffling my negs with gloves on and the iPod keeps me company :wink: It's really very relaxing.
     
  11. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,257
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2002
    Location:
    British Colu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Jeremy for me using more than one tube would be like trying to pat my head and rub my belly at the same time. Or is it rub my head and pat my belly? However, it may be worth trying two. After all, the tubes are certainly cheap enough.

    IPod? You listen to whale music while developing?
     
  12. Nige

    Nige Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,089
    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2002
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I was doing trays, either one or two sheets at a time in a divided 8x10 tray. I wasn't game enough to try stacks with gloves on. Like Johnny, standing in the dark gets rather boring so I decided to try the 'taco' method described here and other places (by JDef mostly I think). You use a normal daylight deleveloping tank that's tall enough to hold the sheets curled up (emulsion inwards) with a rubber band. I use Paterson System 4 tanks. They require 800-850ml of developer (I use 900ml) but I'll reuse it if I'm doing more sheets straight away, or you can dilute a bit more (I've been using XTOL 1:2 instead of 1:1) . Haven't done any yet but 20mins of Rodinal 1:100 is do-able where I wouldn't attempt that in a tray. I only do 2 sheets in the tank at a time as the rubber bands I've got at the moment are a bit big, but I think others do 4 sheets. I do have 2 tanks so can start the next sheets while the 1st are washing if I want, however speed is rarely an issue for me. I put the lid on the tank and invert it for agitation, just like roll film. So far, the negs have been perfect. I have found, and I haven't read this anywhere, that if the film has a colored anti-halation backing, I need to move the rubber band half way through the wash cycle to make sure it gets cleared completely. Not quite as convienient as a roller base setup, but better than trays as long as you don't need to do a heap of sheets at once.
     
  13. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

    Messages:
    559
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2004
    Location:
    Rochester, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Johnny: Even when I lived in Illinois, I listened to CBC! I could get the Toronto AM (Radio 1) service in the evenings, especially. My main problem was scratches. When I resume 4x5 work, I will now use Kodak hangers and tanks.

    Earl
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,694
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Evening, Clint,

    This topic has been previously addressed on APUG; a search should turn up various posts--some of which I've contributed to.

    Basically, I don't know of a simpler way to do four 4 x 5 sheets at a time than to use a color processing drum. My preference is a Chromega, but others favor Unicolor; either should be dirt cheap on E-Bay, and a motorized roller won't cost much either.
    Advantages: minimal chemical amounts, almost no chance of scratching the film; extremely uniform development; daylight operation after loading the drum. Disadvantages: None of real significance, but impractical for stand development (huge chemical quantities).

    Keep in mind that I'm very prejudiced on the matter; I've done sheet film in drums for over twenty-five years. That's after trying tray shuffling and the horrible old Yankee sheet film tank.

    Konical
     
  16. James Bleifus

    James Bleifus Member

    Messages:
    255
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2004
    Location:
    Sonoma Count
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Like Jeremy I use the tray/shuffle method, 6-10 sheets at a time. It takes practice but now I rarely get a scratch. I shoot so much that I'd die of old age before I finished developing a year's worth of film if I were using tubes.

    Two things I'd add to Jeremy's comments is a) use surgical gloves and b) use a 3 minute water bath before putting the film in the developer. The water bath will help with uneven development. And take a look at the article on developing by inspection on michaelandpaula.com if you're interested in in learning more about the shuffle method.

    Cheers, James
     
  17. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

    Messages:
    2,767
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Location:
    Denton, TX
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ditto to that, I use nitrile surgical gloves (you can wash and re-use them, too) and a water bath (probably 1.5 minutes, though).
     
  18. Chaska

    Chaska Subscriber

    Messages:
    93
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2003
    Location:
    Charlotte, N
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm with Konical, the unicolor drums are the way to go. There is an article at largeformatphotography.info that describes in detail on how to set it up. I have used it for 4, 4x5's at a time and one 8x10 at a time with excellent results.
     
  19. Saganich

    Saganich Subscriber

    Messages:
    505
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Brooklyn
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've used the unicolor drum and reversable roller thing. Works great. mine didn't come with spacers so i can only process two at a time.

    chris
     
  20. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,257
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2002
    Location:
    British Colu
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  21. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

    Messages:
    696
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Location:
    Minneapolis,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I actually have some of those. A whole bunch, actually. I thought somehow I'd be able to jam 120 reels into them but havent made it work yet. Ive got some tubes that are pretty small and thin and some that are bigger than a linebacker's thigh.

    The answer might have been under my nose (or in my closet, actually) and I never knew it. Any details on how to make this work would be very much appreciated!
     
  22. Seele

    Seele Member

    Messages:
    194
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2004
    Location:
    Sydney Austr
    I have also tried a lot of different methods, and regarding the print drum method, I use the "Color by Beseler" drum with a removable divider inside which locks four sheets of 4X5 in position; the anti-halo backing might not come off but a soak in hypo clearing agent takes care of that.

    But the greatest flexiblity is still the Jobo 2500 system, which is modular and can be made to be as long as you like it. The 1509 sheet film reels present no problem with loading, and while primarily for rotary processing, I can also hand-process it with inversion agitation if the need arises. Also, replace the funnel top in the lid with a cup, it becomes a print drum too.
     
  23. RAP

    RAP Member

    Messages:
    476
    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2002
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I have not used trays in years. When I was, development was very uneven and the film would scratch. Now I use HP Combi tanks for my 4x5. You can get them from Calumet.

    http://www.calumetphoto.com/ctl?PAG...=HC1000&ac.cat.CatTree.detail=y&type=PRDINDEX

    They are daylight tanks that hold 6 sheets per load. I have one tank for each step, from presoak to photoflo, filled with solution, and just transfer the holder for each step, in the dark of course, and snap on the lid, then turn on the lights. It is not advised to try to pour the solutions through the top spouts because it is too slow to fill the tank and will streak the film.They are great for proceedures like compensating development.

    Agitation is very simple, just invert the tanks so that the narrow sides turn end over end, as if the axil were through the wide part of the tank. This keeps the film from jumping the channels from the pressure of the water weighing on the film.

    I have a perferated rubber stopper in the bottom drain of one tank and that serves as my film washer.

    An option to consider.
     
  24. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

    Messages:
    4,679
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Location:
    Italia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use the a 2500 type tank with 2509N reels on a motorbase. IMHO it's better then a real Jobo setup unless you need to run only one or two sheets. My smallest setup needs 600ml of chemicals. Anything smaller won't work with the roller. The tanks are easy to find and often cheap. The reals are harder to find used and I'd want to make sure it was the 2509N not the older 2509. Plus you'd want to make sure it was complete. Likely best to buy a used tank and new reel(s).

    Add an external water bath to heat your chemicals and the system will handle colour processes to.

    Buy some 35mm/120 reels and the same tank will handle everything from 35mm,120,9x12 and 4x5. Plus 127 and 6x9.

    New the tanks can be expensive but a few years back I got an eight reel tank [2583], a five reel tank [2553],12 35mm/120 reels, three large graduates and a bunch of odds and ends for about $60.

    The 2553 tank will do up to 12 sheets of 4x5 with two 2509N reels. Only needs about 600ml of chemicals in that setup so it's not a chemical hog. Plus by plugging it into a timer it's more or less 100% repeatable.
     
  25. doug rhinehart

    doug rhinehart Member

    Messages:
    4
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2005
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    tubes

    I've been using the BTZS tubes and tray for several years and have very even developing and once you get the routine, it's real simple. Some of it can be done with the lights on. Also, you only use 2 oz. of developer (working sol.) per sheet. You can develop 6 sheets at a time.
     
  26. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

    Messages:
    1,063
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Location:
    Westport, MA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I use the Unicolor roller system. It's cheap and works well, although I would love to step up to a Jobo 2509/2553 setup. Could never really tray develop without scratching.. :sad: