Basics of developing B+W film?
Hi all, I'm sure that this has probably been asked before, but I can't find the 'specific' answers that i need in old threads, so I'm making a new one.
Firstly, about me. Back in High School, we had a few photography lessons as part of Tech classes, but the teacher only took our rolls, developed them for us, gave us the negatives, and we put them into the enlarger and printed our own paper in the baths and all (only ever B+W). So i've never processed my own film into negatives before, although I do understand the basics of the process.
Flash forward 15 years (wow, has it really been that long?), and I'm getting back into film (not that i ever really left, but my first 'slr' was a 'dslr', now i've got 3*6x6, 1*645, 3x135 cameras and still only one dslr). I'm really liking taking B+W film and i've shot a few dozen rolls over the past year already, anything from KB25 in 135 to Delta P3200 @iso4000 in 120. (I also shoot c41/e6 and process in one or the other depending on how I'm feeling, but I doubt i'll ever process them myself).
Also, I should mention that I scan everything on my Epson v750, and will print on my soon-to-arrive Epson R3000. As much as i'd like to do the full enlarger-darkroom setup, I don't have the space and probably never will.
So far I've only ever taken films to my local lab, the last one within 900km that will do B+W (afaik). They also do C41 and E6, and I'm very happy with their service in general. However, lately I've been getting back a few duds.
Firstly, a roll of ATP (or was it APX) 32, shot at 25, it looked like it was pushed to 400 or something, a true 'black and white' film, there was no grey left whatsoever. OK, i'm sure that may have been a dud film or a noob mistake, and I'm not saying I'm won't do the same one day.
And Efke they seem to have a real problem with, especially the line that i've read everywhere on the net "be careful with the wet negatives". The first roll of KB100 135 turned out fine. The second when I got it back, he said "i think it's disintegrating because it's too old, the non-emulsion side just peels off" (never mind that it was brand new). I thought at the time, maybe it was because I took them straight Freezer-Camera, and it had stuck together in the canister and ripped while winding. Either way, needless to say, it's useless. The last two rolls I gave him were 120 KB25, and this time he came back with the correct answer, "it sticks to everything when it's wet, like the rollers of the machine". I haven't scanned it yet but at least it doesn't look as bad as the last time. But if they're only going to machine process, I'm always going to have the same problem.
And lastly, I'm not getting enough shadow detail, and this is true of almost every film, i'm not sure yet whether to blame my scanner (or at least the driver, i'm running it via the epkowa driver in GIMP under Linux, I'll try with my Win7 laptop one day). Basically, no matter how I scan, the botton 50% black (at least, what I think should be the bottom 50%), is compressed into the bottom 10%. 90% of what I get on screen is what I think should be highlights. So I'd like to experiment with different developers, processing times, agitation routines, etc, to try to overcome this. (I always have to adjust the tone-curves in GIMP to boost the shadows and re-contrast the bottom 5%, but sometimes it's just too black at the bottom to be useful, even if I overexpose in-camera by 1/3-2/3 of a stop, any more and I'm clipping highlights)
So, what do i need? I'll only ever be doing this in 'full light', so I need 'closed-equipment' as it were.
I know I need a tank that can take 135 and 120 reels (as much as I'd like to shoot 4x5 or 8x10, if I ever do it'll only be Velvia). How does this one look? (just the first one I noticed at B+H, no preference really).
I'm presuming some sort of changing bag obviously, suggestions welcome (I've re-rolled films before, anything that involves taking a cartridge apart has ben done under my very thick black quilt (doona/duvee for all you foreigners), at night with lights off and curtains shut).
After processing and fixing and washing, I'm thinking I'll just hang them off the shower-rail to dry, anyone want to tell me this is not a good idea?
And developer, this is mostly where I need the suggestions. Films to be used at home are definitely going to be Efke KB25 and KB100, in 135 and 120. Other films can vary, I tend to buy one-off rolls on ebay sometimes (which I try not to do these days, I try get at least 10 at a time so I can figure out their 'style'). I've got a 100' reel of Rollei Retro 100 to cut into canisters one day (once I finish that roll of Provia 400 that expired last century).
In the freezer are various rolls of FP4 125, HP5 400, Acros 100, Delta P3200, Shanghai GP100, Tmax100 and 400, APX25 and ATP32 (or is it ATP25 and APX32?).
I used to get BW400CN pushed to 800 because I heard somewhere it was better, but I just got my first roll of TMax 400 pushed and i reckon it was better (maybe because I used an orange filter for once, or my FL55/1.2 just works better with film).
I also love Delta Pro 50 and 100 (but I have no problems with the way the lab does these, they always look amazing, if Efke's being discontinued then it's going to be Delta Pro 50 for me from now on).
Another requirement on the developer is that it should be long lasting. I tend to work in spurts, shoot a few rolls at once and then nothing for a while. If it's a liquid, it has to last maybe 2 years at room temperature or come in smaller bottles (I've read about decanting into smaller bottles once opened, I'm fine with doing that). Powder is very much appreciated, as long as an open-bag of powder also lasts. Powder would also be good for shipping, keep the weight down and less restrictions.
So, anything that particularly springs to mind?
Fixer I'll also need, anything in particular good or bad? (as long as it's fixed properly before I take it out of the dark-tank, it'll be drying in the light).
Also, where I live has fairly hard tap water, but i'm also going to plumb-in the rain water tank in a few months (I can get it manually from the tank for now). Or should i just be using distilled all the way?
Anyway, so that's my very longwinded way of asking for help, any suggestions much appreciated.