What Doremus said - and
use one shot developer- too much exposure to oxygen during constant agitation to keep the developer for later, even if you do consecutive runs. Yeah, constant agitation, like he said, establish a pattern.
A good start would be to expose 2 sheets identically, back to back. Do one with your tank, one with tray method, one shot developer for both, you'll know how much to allow for tray. Rule of thumb for me is 20% less for tray constant agitation vs tank with agitation every minute or 30 seconds. You'll be close.
After reading Ian C.'s post about the proper method of agitation by tray-rocking, I'm going to retract my rather hasty condemnation of that method. It was occasioned by the practice of so many of just wiggling the tray around a bit and then complaining of uneven development. Certainly, any agitation that uniformly replaces the exhausted developer at the surface of the film will work well. Developing time will be unique to the agitation method.
Tray rocking, however, seems to work with just one sheet (plate) at a time. For those of us who develop larger batches, the shuffling method has become fairly standard.
Tray Development is easy. why do people make it out to be an arduous task?
Get 4 trays, fill 1 with water for pre-wash
and the other 3 with developer,stop,fix.
Take 1 negative and place it in the pre-wash for 30 sec
than place in developer, while in the developer rock the tray from all
4 sides continuously in a rotating method ie. right, back left, left ,back right.
this way the negative gets developer washing over it from all sides.
Only do 1 neg at a time.
Make sure it is dark, NO SAFE
Than stop and fix kind of the same way.
Anyone who suggest tank over trays for 4x5 is just creating more work for themselves.
Very easy. easier than loading a tank and trying to deal with even development.
Msdg6, I am sure you are finding trays easier than a tank, but I find opposite to be the case for me—we are all different, and you may have more experience of tray processing than I have. I find that I am faster, more precise, and end up with no scratched negatives by using a tank, CombiPlan in my case, with vigorous inversion agitation. I tested for uniformity of development, and using my densitometer I could not find a deviation larger than 0.03 logD, across the surface, on 6 sheets, exposed to different uniform tones. Had I had a Jobo with an Expert tank, I would be doing it even faster, and perhaps with even less concern for issues that smaller tanks can present. On the other hand, I enjoy trays when I only have a few sheets, especially from tests or other experiments.
Originally Posted by msdg6
Right now, I am looking at two batches of negatives to develop, totalling almost 110 sheets, grouped into N-1, N, and N+1. By rotating two tanks, I will be able to do them all, I am sure, much faster than with trays, so I do not feel that I am creating more work for myself, although I appreciate that the opposite would be the case for you.
While I also espouse tray development, I would submit that one sheet at a time is rather arduous. Try coming home from a shoot with 100+ sheets of film and see how long it takes you to get them all developed doing them one at a time.
Originally Posted by msdg6
Heck, it's long enough for me doing them six or eight at a time.
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You have much more experience, Doremus, than I do. May I ask you, if you don't mind, on average, how often do you end up with a scratched sheet doing 6–8 at a time, in trays? Is your experience specific to a particular film? I am just trying to get a feeling for what is possible with more tray practice than I have, being a tank user.
Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder
I hope no one gets offended by my opinion or method, but I just wanted to share what I'm doing in the hopes it will help.
I "tray" develop my 4x5 in Glad storage trays that will easily handle a 5x7. I give 1-3 minutes initial agitation by lifting 1 side of the tray per second for that time. Then during the rest of the time, I lift 1 side of the tray 1 times every 10 seconds, which for me it works as a general rule.
Here's a low quality scan showing what can be done this way.
Ultimately, though, it comes down to what YOU are most comfortable doing.
If you wish to inspect during development, use an incredibly dim green light for very short durations. Any even mildly bright light or any long times will fog the film.
Re scratching film. I routinely do 6 - 8 sheets of 4x5 at a time, and have done as many as 10, but not unless for a good reason.
I use an 8x10 tray, with 1500cc of HC110.
Unload from holders into a film box, sitting long side across the short side of the box, so the ends are sticking up at the edge of the box, e-up, clipping the corner of the last one, so I can find it in the dark.
Turn the stack over, now the clipped one is on the bottom, e-down. Hold films in the left hand.
Pull films out with the right hand, one at a time, drop into a tray of water the same temp as the developer, pushing down into the water with the little finger, let it "drift" to the bottom, keeping the rest of the hand dry. Go through the stack, the clipped one on the bottom, and herd them all together into a neat stack.
Shuffle constantly for 2 minutes.
When the clipped one is on the bottom, pull out the stack and drain for only a second or two.
Place them, e-down, into the developer and begin shuffling, bottom to top. Rotate 90 degrees clockwise every other shuffle (feel for the corner).
Agitate constantly the whole time.
Pull the stack out together and go to the stop, fix, etc, always using the clipped corner to signify one round.
I use an 8x10 tray for 4x5 with 1000cc developer (you can use 1500 for deeper chem). This was Fred Picker's recommended method for tray development and I have very few problems with uneven development, and maybe only one or two scratches over many years with this. I also do a lot of pan strips, and a sequence of shots is always very closely developed between shots. It's important that the stack is never settled out completely, so they are shifting a bit between each other all the time.
Practice in the light with some of that bad film to develop the feel for it. As others have said, unload all the films into my left hand, holding them at the edges, clipped one on top.
I've had my fair share of scratches. Most tend to be practically invisible or easily camoflaged. In this print the scratch down her forehead and along the bridge of her nose drove me to distraction.
The processes described sound like what I do. To minimize scratches, I try to slow down and relax. I also wear gloves and do not leave the film unattended from beginning to end. But all it takes is one false move; bring one sheet up and touch the corner of the stack on the way up, and that sheet will be scratched in the important part of the image.
So long as you don't do that, you'll be fine.
Many have said that developing emulsion down minimizes this risk. I think mechanically they are correct.
Well, in the last few years, I don't think I've scratched a neg at all. That said, as Bill pointed out, all it takes is one slip-up to destroy a negative. And, the negative you destroy will be the best in the batch; Murphy's Law of Developing. I take a lot of care developing and am always a bit elated when I do a batch of 50 negs and have no scratches. In the last 10 years I'd say my loss rate was 1% or maybe less from handling damage. That includes stupid things like scratching a neg while loading the film washer, negs dropping from the clips while drying, etc.
Originally Posted by Rafal Lukawiecki
While learning, I scratched a neg or two regularly. For me, it was simply lack of care; dropping a neg, not being careful submerging the neg in the developer or pulling it out from the bottom of the stack, etc. Also, it took time to learn not to freak out when something went wrong, e.g., when I pulled two negs from the bottom (they sometimes stick together) or somehow got out of my agitation scheme. I've learned that taking time, missing a shuffle or two, and just taking a deep breath help immensely. Practice and being careful will get you a very good success rate.
FWIW, since others have posted their methods, I'll summarize mine in a bit more detail.
I use deep 5x7 trays for 4x5 with minimum 500ml of solution. I develop emulsion-side up; I tried emulsion-side down for a while, which promised to be safer, but ended up with unevenness caused by the tray ribs. I have some different trays now with a different configuration and will maybe try again soon. However, I'm doing fine with the film emulsion-side up and don't want to risk good shots on a test.
I turn the first sheet 180° from the rest when unloading so the code notches are on the opposite end. This is my "no. 1" sheet. I fan the stack in my hand like playing cards and take sheets from the bottom and submerge them into the pre-soak. I wait 15 sec. between sheets to prevent them from sticking (if they do stick, then patiently work them apart). Pre-soak is minimum two minutes with agitation (see below). I then gather the stack together an lift it out, making sure sheet 1 is on the bottom. I start the clock and submerge one sheet at a time in the developer at the same interval I'm using for agitation. Same when done developing and transferring to the stop. This ensures immediate exposure to developer and that each sheet is developed exactly the same time.
I shuffle across the short axis, turning each sheet 180° each shuffle. I like batches of six, but do up to eight at a time if I need to. For me it is important not to push the film to vigorously down into the developer solution, but just guide it down onto the top of the stack with the balls of the fingers. This prevents developer surging at the edges. I shuffle once through the stack every 30 seconds; for six sheets that's once every five seconds, for three sheets, one shuffle every 10 sec, etc. For one sheet, it's out and back into the developer every 15 sec. With PMK, I've been doubling the time between shuffles for the second half of development. This promotes edge effects.
I like tray developing for its economy, flexibility and immediacy; no loading hangers or wrapping tacos or getting the sheets into tubes, etc., just unload and go. I can leave the stop and fixer trays as they are and just replace developer when doing lots of developing (after a road trip, I usually spend a couple of days doing 48 negs each day. (not high-volume really, but I'm limited by drying space). That's six batches for me with no pouring solutions in and out of bottles, tubes, etc.
Plus, I can develop different films at different times in the same batch (simply start with the ones needing more development and add others as you go). I use SLIMT techniques for contractions and often end up having a few negatives in different pre-soak/SLIMT-bath trays that I can just grab when needed and add to an already developing batch. Can't do that with a Jobo...
Hope this helps,
Last edited by Doremus Scudder; 12-05-2012 at 05:57 AM. Click to view previous post history.