View Full Version : Best development technique for 14x17

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04-20-2010, 10:07 PM
I just bought a 14x17 (it will be arriving by the weekend). I'm wondering what is the best technique for developing the film. My options are trays or Jobo 3063 drum. I prefer Pyrocat HD as my developer of choice because I do almost exclusively alt-process printing. I remember seeing discussions in the past about potential issues with using sheet film in the big print drums if the film was to be used for alt process (uv-based) printing. Can anyone refresh my memory and or enlighten me on best techniques? Many thanks in advance!

04-21-2010, 12:24 AM
I am shooting 12x20 until I bought it, I used drum processing exclusively, mostly with Pyrocat-HD (I prefer drum processing). With 8x10 and smaller I had no problems with uneven development or streaking, but with the big negs I did. Tried it several times with different amounts of developer, never did get it exactly right. Ended up buying some concrete mixing trays and use them exclusively for 12x20. Considering the cost of film that size, I went with something I know would work.

Personally I don't have any confidence in myself when it comes to shuffling big sheets of wet film around, so I develop one sheet at a time, less chance I will destroy something that way. I havent tried d76 or any other developer besides for ULF (I want dual usage negs), but I have heard it doesn't have the same streaking problems, etc, that Pyrocat is prone to.

Hope it helps.


Rick Olson
04-21-2010, 10:57 AM
Hello Scott ... congratulations on your 14x17. I shoot 8 x 20 and had a similar problem when developing in a large drum on a motorized base with Pyrocat-HD. After some experimentation, I ditched the motorized base and got a manual roller base (drum rolled by hand) and slowed the rotation to about 15-20 revolutions per minute. I also use a forward/reverse and side-to-side agitation that is very effective at keeping the developer moving in all directions to avoid getting streaks. This is easier done at slow manual rotation and produces very even processing. So, as an example for the first 60 seconds of processing, I roll the drum 7-10 rotations forward and side-to-side for 30 seconds, then reverse direction and side-to-side for the next 30 seconds. This is repeated for the balance of each minute of processing time. With the expense of TMY film, it is a pleasure to pull an evenly processed negative from the drum.

04-27-2010, 12:22 PM
Hi Theflyingcamera - Yes streaking is a major problem for ULF film - it's called bromide drag and I had that problem many years ago before my back said you can't do cameras that are that heavy. All of the streaks that were easily seen were in the lighter areas of the print but if you looked really hard you could see the streaks in the shadows. One of the developers that worked and was used at the Mammoth Camera Workshop at Sandy Utah (Tillman Crane ran the workshop) was D-76. All the film was processed in Jobo film and paper drums. The students at the school ran the Jobo CPP-2 processors all day long and the negatives were clean and even. The students at the school that had volunteered to process the negatives had worked really hard processed hundreds of negatives. For some reason D-76 seemed to produce streak free (no bromide drag) negatives. You might look for the 16x20 Jobo print drum (#2850). There are ribs inside the drum to hold the paper/film in place. On the inside on one side is one rib and on the other side are 3 ribs. It takes some practice but you place the film in the 2850 drum and curl it on the 14" side emulsion in (just like the BTZS tubes) and you place the film on the outside of the 3 ribs. These drums were designed for all different size papers 5x7, 8x10 and larger up to 16x20. To process a sheet of 14x17 film you would need at least 24 oz of developer per sheet and you can only develop one negative at a time, but for the results it is worth it. It takes a little practice, you might cut a sheet of paper to 14x17 and practice. Like you when I was shooting 12x20 I have a collection of streaked negatives. I was glad to find that D-76 worked until my back had other ideas. Hope this helped.

Fred Newman

Jim Noel
04-27-2010, 01:16 PM
I develop two sheets at a time in a tray.
The film is pre-soaked.
I put the two pieces back to back and agitate by turning over the pair every 30 seconds. This provides plenty of agitation because the size of the film moves the chemistry effectively as it is removed and returned to the developer. I am able to turn the film by either long edges or short edges.
I have no problems with bromide drag or over oxidation of the developer.
My most common developer is Pyrocat HD.

04-27-2010, 01:22 PM
Scott, I took up monobath just to combat some difficulties I had with 11x14. I haven't had time to do a comparative study but when I do, I will report here. The main benefit that I see of monobath is that it is rather insensitive to agitation, because the dev take place so quickly. So alleges Haist!

John Jarosz
04-27-2010, 01:51 PM
I do my 8x20 one sheet at a time in a tray. Uniformity is good with no streaks. Low contrast alt process (like carbon) that require high contrast negs will show more uniformity problems than silver. My opinion, anyway.


04-27-2010, 05:03 PM
The problem I'm trying to avoid is having "invisible" lines showing up in alt-process prints that are caused by the areas where negatives are in contact with the ribs inside the print drums. I've heard that this can be caused by the ribs in most print drums that are meant to help locate the paper. If the best solution to this is doing single sheets in trays, that's fine. I won't do more than one sheet at a time in a tray, as I have proven myself incapable of not scratching sheets during tray development. I'd rather not use D-76 - as I said, I want multi-purpose negatives. I'm going to look into making my own sleeve for the inside of the Jobo 3063 so I can use it to soup the film. I'm not crazy about tray development period - I don't enjoy standing around in the dark with my (gloved) hands in chemistry for 30 minutes at a shot.

04-27-2010, 05:04 PM
I just bought a 14x17 (it will be arriving by the weekend). I'm wondering what is the best technique for developing the film. My options are trays or Jobo 3063 drum. I prefer Pyrocat HD as my developer of choice because I do almost exclusively alt-process printing. I remember seeing discussions in the past about potential issues with using sheet film in the big print drums if the film was to be used for alt process (uv-based) printing. Can anyone refresh my memory and or enlighten me on best techniques? Many thanks in advance!


I believe Jobo used to make inserts for their paper drums for ulf film. These were supposed to eliminate streaking caused by the internal ridges if memory serves me correctly. This link shows how to make one yourself if you end up using the 3063 drum with a pyro developer:



04-30-2010, 12:57 PM
IF I soup in the 3063, how much chemistry do I need to use for a 14x17 sheet?

04-30-2010, 03:01 PM
There are several things one can do to avoid streaking when developing ULF film in drums. I am not sure that these steps will guarantee no streaking 100% of the time with all films and developers, but they work for me 100% of the time.

1. Use a dilute solution of the developer. If D76, try 1:3 or 1:4 instead of D76 straight or 1:1. If a pyro staining developer like Pyrocat-HD, try 1+1+100 insted of 2+2+100.
2. Slow down the rate of rotation as much as possible. Five revolutions per minute is much better than fifty revolutions per second.
3. Use a motor base that reverses orientation.
4. Very soon after beginning development lift the drum from the motor base and agitate by lifting up and down on the sides.
5. Use a drum that allows the film to fit loosely. This will allow for circulation of the solutions around the back (base side) of the film.

These steps should give streak free negatives with all developers, both staining and traditional.

Sandy King

04-30-2010, 03:06 PM
Hi Dave:

FWIW I use rigid PVC pipe 3" diameter with end caps for my 7X17, and roll them in a tray of tempered water. Solution changes have to be in the dark, but it works well. your film would need 5 or 6" pipe depending on which way you insert it.

How many 8X10's does a liter of pyrocat hd develop? One sheet of 14X17 is about 3 8x10s in area.

05-02-2010, 11:09 AM
Congrats on the new camera Scott !
I use trays, do a presoak, a large volume of HC-110 B (sometimes A for + development)(I keep and replenish both), and process up to six sheets at a time...I don't shoot a lot of film, but when I do, one sheet at a time would just be too slow for me.

05-04-2010, 03:32 PM
Would something like Rodinal 1:50 or 1:100 work? I have gotten streaks with pyrocat hd in rotary tanks, but have never seen streaking with Rodinal.

05-04-2010, 04:03 PM
Rodinal is possible, but I'm trying to use a Pyro developer because I'm doing alt-process prints. I've never had problems with streaking in smaller size film using the Jobo Expert drums for 8x10/5x7/4x5, but I've heard there are issues when using the 3063 drum to do ULF sheets. And not so much "streaking" as issues caused by the ribs in the drum causing invisible stripes that don't show up until you print them. I guess the solution is going to be to just try a sheet or two, using the 1:1:100 dilution (my normal dilution, and recommended to me as a risk-reducing technique when doing ULF in the 3063).

05-08-2010, 06:19 PM
Well, it looks like until I can make some Semi-Stand/BTZS tubes, trays it is. I souped my first sheet today in the Expert drum, without a sleeve behind it. I'm almost certain that the ribs of the drum showed up in the image area as thin bands of increased density. I'll look and see if I can find a sheet of something to put behind the film that might solve the problem also.

Michael Kadillak
12-17-2010, 12:17 AM
Trays are the way to go. I have a JOBO CPP2 with the JOBO ULF inserts that I used once and it is in retirement. Mix a dilute developer like Pyrocat HD 1:1:100 and an infrared monocle and you can easily do four + sheets at a time. The key is being able to see what you are doing so you can be slow and rhythmic. Thank you Paula Chamlee! My darkroom time is valuable and I cannot allocate such resources to do one sheet at a time as long as there is a viable alternative. As they say - time is money.

12-17-2010, 06:54 AM
Well, two updates on my progress -

I tried making my own ULF insert for the 3063 - that was not a failure, but less than 100% successful. No rib lines, but frequent lack of clearing of the anti-halation layer in blotchy patches, of course in the location most likely to ruin the image. Someone over on LF Info suggested another option, which works. Take some of the open-cell foam weatherstripping you can get at Home Depot (1" wide, 1/4" thick) and cut it into little squares. Attach the squares to the sides of the drum at the approximate height of the sheet of film, and again at the bottom of the barrel. Developer flows around and through the foam, so you get even development, and your pre-rinse likewise, so all the anti-halation coating comes off. I'd do trays to do more than one sheet at a time, but I always end up scratching film when I try souping in trays. I'd rather take more time in the darkroom souping one sheet at a time than scratching film that I can't easily re-shoot, at $12/sheet.

Andrew O'Neill
12-19-2010, 08:56 PM
Why don't you save yourself all the headache, and develop in a tray? I use tubes most of the time but plan on using trays for my 14x17, especially xray film as it has emulsion on both sides. I also use pyrocat-hd, and it works wonderfully in trays. The only reason I can see one not working in trays is that they do not have a dedicated darkroom, or that they don't like standing in the dark for long periods of time...

12-19-2010, 09:12 PM
A: I don't like to stand in the dark for a half hour or more.
B: I scratch sheet film when I try to tray process - no matter the size, no matter the number of sheets.

with the foam pads, I've found a system that seems to work for me now, so I'll stick to it until some heretofore unknown problem rears its head.