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Thread: 120 developing

  1. #1

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    120 developing

    Good evening,

    I got my new Mamiya 645 from post today. Nice camera. I have shot 2 rolls of Ilfords PanF plus. I thought of asking any tips on 120 developing, before I go and mess up with my negs. I have done only 35mm developing before, anything I should do differently with 120?

    Btw, any thoughs about developing time, dilution, etc? Or should I go with the massive dev. chart's way, 1+50 11min 20C.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Mongo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimi
    Good evening,

    I got my new Mamiya 645 from post today. Nice camera. I have shot 2 rolls of Ilfords PanF plus. I thought of asking any tips on 120 developing, before I go and mess up with my negs. I have done only 35mm developing before, anything I should do differently with 120?

    Btw, any thoughs about developing time, dilution, etc? Or should I go with the massive dev. chart's way, 1+50 11min 20C.

    Thanks!
    The Massive Dev Chart gives reasonable starting times, but you should test the film for yourself to find the ideal time and temperature for your setup. Les McLean gives a great explanation on how to do this with minimum hassle in his book "Creative Black and White Photography".

    The only thing that you'll have to do differently is loading the film onto the reels. 120's different from 35mm...not easier or harder, just different. I strongly recommend that you waste a roll of unexposed film to practice with, to make sure you can do it right before you risk exposed film. Also, be sure you know how much volume you'll need to cover the film; you'll need more than you did with 35mm. If you're using a plastic tank, it probably tells you somewhere on the tank (check the bottom) how much diluted developer you'll need.

    Best of luck to you. Seeing your first MF negatives come out of the tank is a great feeling.
    Last edited by Mongo; 06-17-2005 at 05:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.

  3. #3

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    Mongo's got it. I can only add that some dev times are longer with 120 than with 35mm; 10-20%. Fire off another roll of Pan-F (shoot the dog, tree in the yard, etc.) just as a test roll in the dev you'll be using. This test roll will give you an idea on dev times for your important rolls.

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    It's definitely a good idea to practise on a roll before doing one for real. It can be a little tricky to insert the leading edge of the film onto the reel at first, but once you know how to do that I've fount it to be less troublesome to load 120 film than 35mm. Not that it should be troublesome at all, of course, but when there's lots of moisture in the air 35mm film sometimes sticks to my reels. That never happens with 120 film.

    Another thing is not to give up prematurely when trying to adjust your Paterson reels (if that's what you use) to accept the larger format. I was convinced there was something wrong with mine, but all it took was a little violence. :)

  5. #5
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    120 film is taped at one end to the paper backing by a little piece of masking tape. I usually fold it back onto the film so that I have a sturdier edge to insert in the reel. When using steel reels it doesn't make a big difference, but it's really helpful on the Paterson ones.

    For dev time, check the Ilford literature first (on their web site), they will give you accurate starting points, but as said before, it's a good idea to test a bit. Manufacturers tend to give more developing time than needed, probably to compensate from improper exposure by beginners (you can always manage a little better with an overdeveloped neg than with an underdeveloped one).

  6. #6
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    You already have some great advice here - so let me just weighin with a little beginers perspective, what I found difficult, etc.

    First off, check that patterson reel before you go into the dark - mine was snapped together wrong ( the parts accepting the film were about 45 degrees of each other...). I bought the tank and reel, and didn't even look at the reel. So... I had to figure out what was wrong in total darkness, while holding a roll of "naked" film in one hand...

    Sounds like I belong in the special olympics... but its just a little example of what happens when you get to eager and too excited and just want to get on with it! And I really had high hopes for the negative, so I didn't have the option to turn on the light and just say "screw it"....

    The other thing is - when you get the end and pull off that tape DO IT SLOWLY! I thought it was just an overcautious physics nut that warned of the electrical discharge that may take place if you pull the tape off too fast... but its not. I saw it with me own two eyes, it happens, GO SLOW.

    Wash your hands and dry them thoroughly - I wipe them down with rubbing alcohol and wait a couple minutes, because you have to cradle that MF film in your hand while unrolling the backing tape, etc. its touching your skin longer than a roll of 35mm - you want no oils or anyting else getting in there.

    Also, the Paterson reels have those tiny grooves that the film sits in. I am sure I don't have to tellyou all about the clenliness of it being important, but those suckers NEVER DRY! They have to be facing open side down, or better yet, give them a wipe with a clean pieceof paper towel or somethig else that won't lint. I had some nasty little marks on the edges of my negs untilI realized there was water in those grooves.

    What else... well, the film is thinner, so its not as sturdy, or rather rigid - so be careful not to crease it - I find grabbing the end and pulling it into the real for a few inches helps, rather than relying entirely on the ratchet action.

    If I was to do it over, I would doit in the light a few times with a practice roll - better advice I have never heard. Of course, I didn't, and while the pics came out, when I did it was 45 minutes later, sweating like a pig, frustrated and with a roll of filme that was a bit worn around the edges

    Best of luck - if you have only shot 35mm so far, that first MF neg will blow your mind! As I am sure that first LF one will do for mine...what's that honey? NO, I am NOT buying another camera, don'tbe silly....shhhhhhh, she's listening

  7. #7
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    All I can do is reinterate what everyone else has said.

    Make sure that the reels are dry. I sometimes put them in a dryer or even the oven (on very, very low) to dry them out first.

    Practice loading a scrap film in daylight first, then with your eyes closed and then in the dark! I had endless hassle loading my first couple of 120 films. Like mhv has said, the best advice I had was to unwind the film completely first and take off the backing paper. Fold over the masking tape at the end onto the film and use this end to feed into the reel first. The masking tape makes it more rigid and easier to feed into the slots.

    Mike

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    One more thing, the roll you will use to practice on is not wasted, it is an investment!

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    A couple of comments..

    There is *NO* difference in the emulsion or base in either 35mm or 120 ... at least not in the Agfa films I am addicted to, and if memory serves, in none of the others either. "Suitable" development times (note that I did not say "perfect") vary from photographer to photographer, along with superstition, the phase of the moon, ambient gamma ray distribution, if a lark is singing at midnight.... The only way I know to sort it all out is to try it and decide on your own. The various "published" times/ temperatures are valid places to START, and will save a lot of fooling around.

    120 SEEMS more flexible when loading it on a reel. It is, not because it is thinner, but because there is a greater unsupported span from the sides of the reel. Practice loading, with you eyes closed, until you wife/ significant other/ neighbors cannot stand it any more. That indicates the minimum practice threshold. More is advantageous.

    I remove the paper backing completely. Easier to handle consistently that way. I remove the tape, most of the time - envisioning possible chemical contamination - which, incidentally has never occurred. You may notice a "line of light" as you peel the tape off - resembling a static discharge - which I have been informed by Ole that it is not. Out of all the 120 I have processed, I have never seen ANY effect from this weak light.

    Periodic scrubbing of the grooves in the reel is a good - wonderful idea! I use a high-tech device, known as a "toothbrush" and various cleaners - something mildly abrasive might be good, to keep the grooves clean. Helps to induce the film to slide freely through the grooves while loading.

    Yeh, yeh ... it IS a dedicated toothbrush.
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  10. #10
    nyx
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    loading two films

    I've got somewhat different question. I have Jobo 1520 tank and it is supposed to take two 120 rolls. How to load the second one? Or to make it more clear - how to get the first one "deeper" into the reel to make space for the second? Do you simply take it at the end and push it there by force until you reach that small red separator. Or is there some different way?

    PS: I'm still waiting for my MF camera to arrive and I've never loaded 120 film into that reel yet, so maybe it will be obvious when I try for the first time (like almost everything I did in darkroom so far).

    And other thing - how hard is loading 120 film in changing bag? I still don't have really dark darkroom, so I'm loading my 35mm film this way (and cursing aloud every time).

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