Uneven development driving me crazy...

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Vania, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. Vania

    Vania Member

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    Hello,

    I have been struggling with uneven development issues for some time now and wasted so many films and money in test rolls, but I still have no clue about what is going on. Hope some of you can help.
    The sides of my negs are over-developed and the effect is much more visible in bright highlights, more specifically the sky area when it’s a clear blue day. When I use stainless steal tank and reels this phenomena seems amplified. With the Jobo plastic tank and reels, it is limited in size to the border of the negative but come with some big black blotches.
    The camera is not the cause of this because different cameras give the same problem.
    I've tried different developers also (D-76, HC-110, Perceptol, PMK, Prescysol) and only the tanning developers seem to lessen the problem.
    I thought about agitation but I’ve developed films for years and never had this issue before… Nevertheless it seems like the most probable cause but leaves me totally clueless. I’ve tried more and less agitation but to no effect. When I invert my tank I always twist it to allow lateral flow of the developer. And I always switch directions. 10 seconds is 4 complete inversions (down and up). And agitation every 30s or 1min or semi-stand (every 3min) doesn’t change much. Although less agitation seems to worsen the problem I can’t say for sure and the difference is small.
    Here are some examples of my test rolls :
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    and the film that made me aware of the problem:
    [​IMG]

    Hope someone can help.
    Thanks.
    Vania
     
  2. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Are you agitating constantly during the first 30 seconds? Doing that consistently solved my uneven development issues.
     
  3. Vania

    Vania Member

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    Yes, I always agitate for the 1st minute. I think the Jobo shows less effect because the developer is poured much faster than in the ss tank. Although it shows those weird blotches, and I wonder if it's the same problem...
     
  4. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Bethe is right, the beginning agitation is the most important, you need at least 30 seconds of vigorous agitation to begin with. Your examples have air-bubble marks on the edges too, that's a result of too little agitation. After each inversion, bang the bottom of the tank on the palm of your hand, or on a sturdy tabletop to knock off air bubbles on the film.
     
  5. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Using a presoak for two to three minutes prior to development will help, along with vigorous agitation for first 30 seconds of developer. This will also help avoid air bell marks on film.
     
  6. Vania

    Vania Member

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    Thanks all. I should have mentioned that I use a 5min pre-soak. I do agitate the 1st minute be maybe not vigorously enough. I do one complete inversion every 2-3 seconds. Do you think I should agitate more. I do bang the tank and use distilled water. If the black blotches are air bubble it's sort of a good news at least I know how to avoid them (just bang more :wink:).
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Is this roll film or is it sheet film? It looks like sheet film.

    If this is roll film, can you show a scan including the full rebate/edge printing?
     
  8. Vania

    Vania Member

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    Roll, 6x6. My scan doesn't allow to see more, but the transparent surrounding of the film is clear if this is what you mean. No light leaks or anything of the sort.
     
  9. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I've been there with the bubbles in a Paterson; best solution I found was to use 2-5 drops of photoflo per 500mL of developer, it allows the bubbles to slip through the spiral. Without it, I can't bang hard enough to dislodge the bubbles without damaging the tank.

    I find that one inversion every second (i.e. takes two seconds for tank to go from upright to upside down to upright again) works well, which means you get 10-12 inversions at the top of each minute, plus all of the first minute.

    Do not overfill your tank. Put only the required quantity of developer in the tank (500mL for 120 in Paterson) because the air-space is required to achieve proper mixing. In fact, I suspect this is your problem - if your tank is very nearly full, you'll get mixing of chemicals only at the ends of the tanks while all the stuff in the middle will just sit there and be stale.
     
  10. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Member

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    I sometimes have the exact same problem with 35mm film, for example:

    [​IMG]

    It doesn't seem to happen anymore, yet I have not changed chemicals, tanks, or film. I have also not changed my agitation routine. So, although I cannot conclude as to the reason I had this problem, i thought I'd at least add some non-datapoints to the solution.

    In all likelihood, the theory of overfilling the tank (leaving no air at the top) might be plausible, or, as others have mentioned, some important aspect of initial agitation.

    To be honest, I used to think the problem occurred during the printing stage (the above is a scanned analogue print) - I have not directly scanned the negatives to confirm.
     
  11. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Not necessarily a development problem -- Might be insufficient agitation with the fixer -- I have seen this with 120 film on SS reels. So the added density on the edges could be from insufficent fixing there -- not all the silver removed. I cured it by agitating almost continously during fixing.
     
  12. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    You are overfilling your tank. The reels cause a vortex at each side of the frame as they move, but the developer never moves enough in the center. Don't fill them so full.
     
  13. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    How much developer per roll are you using? Looks like exhaustion. One gallon of D76 starts to get exhausted after only 4 rolls of 120. That is about 900cc per roll is that what you are using?
     
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  15. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Kodak say 8 rolls of 120 per gallon of D-76 at 1:1

    from Kodak B&W Darkroom Dataguide, 1988, page 62

    That's 16oz per 120 roll
     
  16. Vania

    Vania Member

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    Ic-racer, I always use fresh chemistry, for D76 it's diluted 1:1, Perceptol 1:2, HC100 1+79 etc. never reuse the dev and I alway check that the fixer is in good shape.
    As for the air inside the tank I use 900ml in the 2 reels 1L ss tank and 450 in the 1 reel 500ml ss tank. How much are you all using in your ss tanks ? So there is air inside... maybe I could try less.
    Thanks!
     
  17. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    The problem I have had with similar looking negatives was with good fix -- just not good enough agitation.

    In SS tank for one roll 120 -- 16 US ounces = 473ml
     
  18. Vania

    Vania Member

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    Humm that seem very surprising, I agitated the fix the whole 1st minute and then 15s every 30s. I guess I should give continuous agitation a try.
     
  19. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    TMax films seem to be especially difficult to fix. Lately I have been taking care of a backlog of 120 film (I do mostly 8x10). So I was doing two tanks at a time -- both double tanks holding two 120 reels. Agitating both continously with fixer definitely was an upper arm workout! LOL!

    You might try re-fixing a few of the negs in a tray, just to see if they even out. I do not know if there is a time factor involved when re-fixing would no longer be effective.
     
  20. snapshot2000

    snapshot2000 Member

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    Uneven development problem

    A long time ago, I developed my 35mm film on sticks lifted in an out of a 4x5 tank in the dark and never saw this problem. Last year, I did a huge batch of film in various size stainless steel tanks and some of the rolls with clear sky showed a similar pattern as yours.

    At first I thought it was my agitation, and then solution volume for the number of rolls in the tank, but after reading everyone's posts, I'm pretty sure it was because I filled the tanks to the top. I remember thinking at the time that I should be hearing more movement of the solution inside the tanks and wondering if I had filled them too high. I believe that, and solution volume per roll were the culprits for me.

    It will be several weeks before I process again, so I look forward to hearing how your next batch turns out.
     
  21. Saganich

    Saganich Subscriber

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    Hello,
    The fix agitation should be at least 30 seconds continuous every minute. Curiously I never considered fix to be a culprit for this outcome, but I routinely fix leader film in the bottom of a beaker to measure clearance time and notice that it clears from the center first then to the edges. I can't imagine why but it lends some evidence to the problem.
     
  22. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Interesting observation, Chris. There also might more movement of chemicals in the middle, with the reel causing less movement along the edges of the film-- just a guess because it does not seem to affect the development in the same way (another guess -- perhaps fixer "exhausts" locally faster than developer).

    All I know is that I fill the tank the same way with the same amounts, my development agitation remained the same -- as far as I can tell the only thing I changed is the amount of agitation of the tank when fixing -- and that cured my problem. If it cures somebody else's problem that is great.

    I had not heard of your recommended fixer agitation until now -- I have always heard of using the same pattern as with developer.
     
  23. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    Wow, that's awful! I've never seen that before. I use a lot of 120, film. I NEVER, in 50 years, pre-soak. I understand that with X-Tol, presoaking is not recommended. After the first 30 seconds, I agitate very gently 2-3 seconds every 30 seconds. I use stainless reels and I've never used plastic. My students use plastic, but usually for 35 mm film. They always get even results. There is such a thing as agitating too vigorously. Also, make sure you have sufficient quantity of developer and other chemistry. In the tanks that hold 10 oz, or 300 ml, I tell them to mix 12 oz, or 350 ml. And very important, I have found that if they are developing 1 roll in a two roll tank, they should fill the tank as if it's two rolls in there, to prevent developer sloshing around. In stainless tanks, if using a two roll tank, I always put in a second empty reel to keep the reel with the film from sliding around and enough developer for two rolls.
     
  24. John R.

    John R. Member

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    It appears to me your agitation is a problem. Your agitation is too vigorous based on what I've read in your posts. I recommend you try a new roll and agitate as follows:

    Consistent steady agitation for the first 30 seconds, steady inversions while rotating gently. Tap twice at end of 30 seconds and let rest.

    Wait 15 seconds and then invert tank while rotating it smoothly and gently. Do the inversion twice. Then set tank back down, tap tank twice on counter.

    Wait 30 seconds and repeat.

    Continue this procedure throughout the process until development completes.

    This is the process I have used for all of my roll films for over 35 years. The only time I vary this is if the manufacturer specifies a different time sequence. I never change the motion or technique. This agitation has always worked perfectly for me with stainless or plastic tanks. In my past labs we used the same agitation procedure when we were not running the automatic dip/dunk or rotary processors.

    As Hikari stated, do not over fill your tank. You only need enough solution to cover the reel completely. Do a test with water to measure how much solution you need. Many plastic tanks will state the minimum solution required for specific reel sizes on the bottom of the tank.
     
  25. padraigm

    padraigm Member

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    WOW I have been having the same problem lately and now that I have read this thread I can say I am almost certainly filling my tanks too full. Maybe there are some other factors. But this has been most helpful. Thanks everyone.
     
  26. Vania

    Vania Member

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    My tank is filled just a little bit above the reel and there is air. Less agitation doesn't solve the problem, it actually makes it even worst... Now on top of it I have uneven development streaks in the middle of almost every frames. Some sort of over-developed line that could look like on of those tracks airplanes leaves in the sky.

    This is really crazy. I've been developing my own films for more than ten years, I even took care of a b&w photo lab for a year and never, ever had any problems before! Now for the last couple of months I can't get anything developed properly. It's just one problem after another.

    So I'll try extreme vigorous agitation, something like 1 complete inversion per second, and see what happens.