View Full Version : Processing 12x20 negs in trays

Markus Albertz
11-25-2007, 11:27 AM
Good day,

Anybody out there using trays to process 12x20 negatives? What size, standard or custom-made, do you use and get happy results? I reckon 16x20 is too short on the long side, 20x24 too wide, and 16x24 should be ideal, but this is a non-standard size and would have to be custom-made. The objective is to minimize the tray size but maintain sufficient space around the negative to avoid surge marks and such. Can someone point me to someone who makes trays in odd sizes? I would appreciate any suggestions. Best, Markus Albertz

Robert Hall
11-25-2007, 12:37 PM
Try contacting Jorge Gasteazoro on the large format list. He does this as his regular method of development. I believe he uses a 16x20 tray and uses a soft bristle paint brush, brushing in both horizontal and vertical strokes while the neg lies in the soup.

His web site http://www.jorgegasteazoro.com/ and he has a contact page there.

Best of luck.

11-25-2007, 12:54 PM
There is also, scootermm (Matt) here that works in 12x20. IIRC, he uses containers from local store (brand name RubberMaid) to process his 1220's. If he does not see this and respond, send him a PM - he is always great to share what he knows with others.

As Robert mentioned, Jorge is also great to share his thoughts - and he and scootermm both use develop by inspection (DBI) for processing their negatives.

11-28-2007, 11:07 PM
16x20 trays are best with deep grooves in the bottom. Do a 3-5 minute presoak in distilled water. I develop 4-6 sheets at a time emulsion side up constantly moving the bottom to the top. Keep the stack tightly in the corner of the tray to minimize scratching - use both hands. Rotate the stack 180 degrees in the trays about 40% into the development time. Rotate another 180 degrees at about 90% into the development time, and finish the development. Make sure you have enough developer for the amount of film you are developing - not volume but sufficient developing agent for the amount of film. A 12x20 is equal to three 8x10s. I know some people do more at a time, but I get uneven development with more than 6.

I know people who use brush development. I shoot too much film to do one sheet at a time.

Bob Herbst

11-29-2007, 12:21 AM
As Robert mentioned, Jorge is also great to share his thoughts - and he and scootermm both use develop by inspection (DBI) for processing their negatives.

I thought Jorge was a BTZS practitioner, or did you mean that Robert and Matt use DBI?

11-29-2007, 07:19 AM

I could be mistaken, but last I recall Jorge was doing DBI, using brush development. And yes, you correct that he is a BTZS practitioner, so maybe he gave up the DBI for the BTZS....Good point.

11-29-2007, 08:41 AM
Markus, as Photomc (mike) mentioned I have developed ALOT of 12x20 negs and do them all in trays. I bought some cheap rubbermaid storage containers from the local target (dept store) that are about 15inches by 24inches on the inside dimensions. I took some varying grades of sand paper and sanded down the insides to make them smooth and remove anything that could potentially scratch the soft Efke emulsion. It takes about 4L of working solution to have sufficient fluid in there to develop adequately I've found. As mike also mentioned, I do development by inspection with a small green safelight. Usually I develop 4 negs at a time and the 4L of Pyro HD 1:1:100 working solution is plenty. Likely could get by with less, but Pyro HD is cheap and Id rather err on the side of too much.

At first I was contemplating buying some of the custom trays from usplastics.com they make trays is pretty much every size you can imagine. So if you want some thing completely flat and a "custom" size, look through their website.

hope that helps markus.

steve simmons
12-02-2007, 07:04 PM
I am doing 7x17 film in trays using storage bins from Sam's Club. They are rectangular in shape and don't a lot of excess chemicals. There is a side bar with photos in the surrent issue of View Camera. To do 12x20 I would just slightly larger bins. I use a presoak and process them emulsion side down as is my usual practice.

steve simmons

Markus Albertz
12-03-2007, 05:29 PM
Hi everyone,

Thank you for your suggestions. Greatly appreciated! I picked up a set of plastic containers that measure about 13 1/2 by 24 inches (bottom) at the local container store. I am not planning on doing brush-development, so, obviously, I will have to test whether the dimensions are adequate to avoid getting any marks along the sides.

Best, Markus

John Kasaian
12-03-2007, 10:17 PM
FWIW I use a 16x20 Unicolor print drum and motorized roller.

Advantages: Takes less chemicals and room. Not much chance of scratching Efke emulsion either. Plus I can develop film in the kitchen, where the beer is!

Disadvantage: The drum is so large it tends to roll away if it's not set on the rollers juuuust riiiiight.

Michael A. Smith
12-03-2007, 11:37 PM

13.5 would be a little tight. I use 16x20 Cesco-lite trays for 8x20s and have processed up to 12 negatives at a time. But processing 6 at a time is probably optimum. Process the film horizontally and rotate it by pulling out of the top of the tray (the side away from you). 13.5 in that dimension would be awfully tight for 12x20s. Do get at least one 16x20 tray for the developer. For the other trays the 13.5 would be okay.

I process emulsion side up, but emulsion up or down seems to make no difference. There are good arguments for doing it either way. I think one's preference is a matter of habit more than anythng else.

And I use flat bottom trays. I switched to flat bottom after one negative, once, had a big "X" on it from the molded form of the bottom of the tray. To this day I cannot figure out how that happened. Otherwise the negative was fine.

I have found that rotating the film, so it is pulled out by a different side, makes no difference whatsoever in densities on the negatives. For years I rotated the film every few shuffles. I then did some tests, developing film with rotation and then without--always pulling from the same side. No difference in the prints that I could see. So I haven't rotated film in the developer in over ten years. It won't hurt anything to rotate the film, so if that feels better, go right ahead.

But do get a developer tray larger than 13.5 inches.

I use close to 4 liters of developer per batch of negatives. Three liters would be okay, too, but not less.

12-03-2007, 11:58 PM
What does a brush do for you when developing? Does it affect speed or agitation requirements?


12-04-2007, 03:57 AM
Murray, Naturally the brush doesn't actually touch the negative. It is primarily an agitation technique. It is moving the developer that is in contact with the negative surface off of the negative so it is replenished with fresher developer. I hope that makes sense. It gives beautiful even development. The development times may be somewhat faster than the shuffle technique but not by much. I find development times very close to rotary devlopment times. I use a 4-5 inch wide hake brush

12-04-2007, 04:16 AM
OK, thanks. Are the results different than than tray tipping? I imagine less chance of mess than tipping.


12-04-2007, 06:09 AM
I don't know if I already posted my method here, but it won't hurt to give another method of tray developing.

I develop my 7x17" negatives 2 at a time in a 15x20" tray, neatly divided in 2 equal parts with the use of some suction cups. Actually, the negatives are develope side by side and don't touch eacht other in the whole sequence from prewash to final wash. I empty the chemistry in 8x10" trays and never had a problem with a negative tipping out as they tend to stick to the bottom of the tray when there's no liquid in it.
I takes 1,5 liters of chemistry to cover the negatives, but I mostly use 2 liters to be on the safe side.

Since if have only 2 finished filmholder (3rd is still in the making), the time consumption is manageable. But I see this less as a drawback against scratched ULF negatives.


12-04-2007, 07:44 AM
Murray, I'm sure tray tipping would work fine but I have found with brush development I get very even development as opposed to when I tried tipping the tray for agitation I would at times get uneven development along the edges of the negative.

12-04-2007, 11:58 PM