My Versalab 11x14 washer can do two 20x16s. I remove the divider rack and put in two 'U's of flexible acrylic sheet. If you only have space for 2-3 trays you could likely skip a stop phase and go straight to fix. At this size the paper is the major cost, not the chemical capacity.
I have used Jobo print tanks on a hand roller base for doing 20x16. Although drying the tank is a pain, for a couple of prints it is less trouble than reorganizing for the large trays. I use 8x10 trays for tests.
16x20 prints of course need to be processed in trays larger than 16x20. That is the first easy and relatively inexpensive step. You will not need tongs, since you will be using your hands for all lifting and turning over of the print in the tray solutions. You will only be developing one print at a time - multiple prints and the additional handling of these large pieces of paper in the same tray are a recipe for disaster.
So how much solution goes into your developer, stop, and fix trays?
Easy - since you can develop 30 16x20 prints with a gallon of working dektol (1:2) developer -standardize your trays with a gallon of working solution - this will leave you at least an inch of developer in the tray bottoms, which are all you need to agitate and turn the individual print during developing, stop, and fix. Then carefully move your print to a wash tray for holding prior to hypo clear and toning. It is important not to process large prints in deep trays that have more than one inch of solution above the paper - the simple act of lifting and turning prints out of deeply filled trays is a major cause of large print problems. Remember to keep the solution to one inch in your large trays and you will reduce these simple hydraulic processing problems.
Will I need to use two hands to flip these big prints?
I'm almost ready to begin 16x20 printing. I just have a few conerns/questions.
- Anyone using the single tray processing method? In theory it sounds ideal, saving the most space, but pouring and pouring and pouring would get old after I while I would imagine.
- How much chemistry in a 16x20 tray? I use 2L now for 11x14, so 3L? or 4?
- How necessary is a print washer for 16x20? I have one for 11x14 and love it but can't afford another one for 16x20. I have tray siphon which would work for low volume work.
- Ok to handle the print with hands? I've never used tongs and don't intend to.
Any other advice or suggestions would be great!
With my small darkroom I had in Japan, the one tray method worked well. You get used to pouring the chemistry back and forth too. Didn't even think about it. 2L of solution in each tray. I have a 20x24 print washer here, but only use it if I have made several prints (which is extremely rare). I like the hypo eliminator, water soak and dump method of washing in a tray. Two hands on the corners of the print when pulling it out, but if you use just one tray, the print stays put until you stick it on the wall to inspect. Make sure you rinse the tray well after the fix stage!
Yes!, you will need two hands. I use one hand for 11x14 and smaller, but 16x20s and up require two.
Also, forgot to ask, can I hang 16x20 prints up on a single clothes line like I do with 11x14 and 8x10?