Processing Drums Help
I am going to finally try to develop my own B&W 4x5 negatives. I don't shoot alot each month, maybe 4 -8 sheets. I was wondering what would be the route to take to develop. I am very confuse which way to go. I don't have a "darkroom" per say, I was thinking about loading a drum in a dark bag (the same I would use to load my sheet film). Then develop the negatives with the lights on. I was reading about Jobo, Unicolor..etc.. As someone who is 100 a novice in processing, I am asking for some advice from the pros. One other thing, I'm not worried about printing just yet, one thing at a time
Start with a Unicolor, or silmilar, drum. You don't even need to buy a motor base to get started. Yes, Jobo's are very nice to use, but they are pricey and you may want to devote your cash to some other aspects of photography until you get a litle more experience.
If you do decide to buy a motor base, be sure to get one which reverses.
By the way, Chromega drums are much less likely to leak than Unicolor, but they do not make a drum for roll film.
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Used the Jobo print drums aren't much if any more then the Unicolor print drums. Plus they are still made so it's easier to find parts. Later you can even convert it to a film drum by changing a few parts.
OTOH for 4x5 I'd suggest considering spending the extra and just getting a film drum and one 2509N reel.
Good Evening, Gerry,
Unless you expect to engage in high-volume 4 x 5 processing, the drum approach is, hands down, the easiest, cheapest, and most foolproof method to use for sheet-film processing. I favor the Chromega drum originally made for color print processing, since it does not have the leakage problems sometimes cited by users of the Unicolor drum. There have been lots of Forum posts on this topic; do a Search and you'll find lots of information and opinions.
Can I use a Jobo 3010 tank with an old unicolor 352 motor base?
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I have a unicolor drum and roller (left over from the old days when I did cibacrhome printing). So I was naturally interested in how well it would work for me in processing sheet film.
The 8x10 printing drum was thoughtfully designed to also accommodate 4x5 paper - there are y-shaped extrusions on the inside of the drum that creaates two 4" wide "grooves". You can process film in the drum by loading the sheets between these extrusions - emulsion-side in of course. To get the maximum four-sheet capacity from a drum, you need to put two sheets into each "groove", and something must be done to prevent them from sliding over each other. Unicolor supplied a small rubber wedge that would slip over the middle y-xhaped extrusion between sheets - if you are looking at used drums, the wedge will probably long since have been misplaced. But it shouldn't be hard to find a creative alternative - there's one web site that suggests using a small plastic clothes pin.
There were at least three printing drums on the market - Unicolor, Beseler, and Cibachrome. I think there may have also been a few aftermarket brands (Spiratone, for example). Unicolor and Beseler were the main brands for roller bases. Unicolor claimed that their roller base was better because it would periodically reverse the direction of rotation, while the Beseler base was unidirectional. I really don't know if there were any significant differences ibetween Unicolor and Beseler drums. I believe that both were single ended - you poured chemicals in and out the same end of the drum. Cibachrome drums were feed through - you poured in one end while draining out the other. I dont' think that difference would matter at all in processing film - it really would be a matter of what you become accustomed to using. Cibachrome did supply a 4x5 drum that would be useful to develop single sheets of film.
Drum processing involves a smaller quantity of chemical and continuous processing. Theh unicolor drum was designed to use 2 oz of chemical, and that should be fine for film. All things equal, continuous agitation will result in higher contrast than intermittent agitation, so to compensate you need to shorten the development time. I'm calibrated on HC-110 dilution H in trays with intermittent agitation, so my numbers won't work for you. You can probably find a starting point through some web research, but eventually you will need to arrive at your own calibration.
A lot of people use drums and are happy with the results they get. And it is definitely a practical option if you don't have a real darkroom. The one experience I had was not happy - the sheets slipped in the groove and ended up on top of each other causing the bottom sheet to not get full development. I used the rubber wedge, but it popped off the plastic extrusion part way through processing.
One final comment - changing bags are fine, but there's not a lot of room to work. That's a problem in loading holders, and I would think it's a bigger problem in loading a unicolor drum. I suggest that you look around the house to find a room that can be darkened completely while you change film. My wife and I spend time at a condo that is not equipped with a darkroom, and I have found that a windowless bathroom works perfectly - wait until after dark, make sure that there are no lights in the area outside the bathroom door, and stuff the bath mat under the door. Working on a sink gives you a lot more room to maneuver than working within the confines of a changing bag.
I have a Unicolor setup which I like a lot, but the one Unicolor 8x10 print drum I have does leak. Also, the one Cibachrome drum I have doesn't have the ribs/ridges/separators that the Unidrum has. I really don't want to go through the whole auction experience to try out drums that don't work so, for those of you who've tried these out, here are my questions:
- Do drums other than Unicolor (ie, Jobo, Beseler, etc.) work on the Uniroller motor base?
- Which drums work for sheet film development?
Last edited by Nathan Smith; 04-14-2006 at 09:27 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Good Morning, Nathan,
Most of the standard 8 x 10 and 11 x 14 drums originally made for color print processing will work on most other motor bases. Just about any drum which has built-in provision for separating and securing smaller-than-8 x 10 prints will handle 4 x 5 sheet film; as I indicated above, I have found, over a period of about 25-30 years, that the Chromega drum is exceptionally satisfactory for sheet film processing.
Thanks, I'll keep looking for them!
Originally Posted by Konical