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  1. #1

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    Rotary processing - developers, etc.

    I have never developed my own film and I intend to start right away. I'm shooting 4x5 and I've just ebay'd a unicolor drum (paper drum, but according to an article on largeformatphotography.info it's good for film). I know there are different ways to process film, some of them involving occasional agitation and periods of rest, others continuous (like the rotary drum system I'm buying). I currently have only shot some sheets of ilford delta 100 and I am looking for processing advice using this drum system - what developer, fixer, washing agents, wetting agents, stop bath, etc, should I try? Is there a rule of thumb to convert development times that you might use in a tray system with occasional agitation to times in a roller? Does this have any effect on the properties of your finished negative (e.g. increased or reduced contrast) or does it simply speed up development?

    I hope these questions aren't things that you guys are all sick of reading here. It's hard to find succint answers that get right to the point by searching, so I hope someone has some straightforward advice. I have a lot of chemistry lab experience so I'm not too concerned about maintaining temperatures and managing dilutions and that kind of thing, I'm just not really sure which chemistry I should use.

  2. #2

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    Developer is really the one thing that might change. I'd avoid using wetting agents in the tank but others seem happy with it.

    The normal rule of thumb is to start by cutting your developer times by about 15%. Then see if the negatives come out okay. If too contrasty then cut time more. If not enough increase time.

    The Unblinkingeye website had an article on this. With their testing some developers needed no changes. Others did. So in other words you really need to spend some time testing.

  3. #3

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    Okay, I'll go shoot a bunch of shots of my favorite non-mobile subjects and use them as tests

  4. #4

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    You can use just about any developer within reason. PMK will work but I've never had much success, it's variable. Mottling, bromide drag, uneven development, etc.. Microphen was almost similar. Acufine for some reason worked better than microphen. Rodinal is excellent, even diluted heavily. D76 is what I stick to at the moment.

    Careful removing the film from the tank, it's easy to scratch a sheet of film with the film edge. I like to fill the tank full under the tap and gently 'extract' the film. I've ruined so much film by not taking my time and removing it nicely. Mine leaks a lot now. My gasket is very worn, but it's still usable. It just uses more chemistry. I use like 350ml of solution, if not more sometimes.

  5. #5

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    Good Evening, Walter,

    Except for stand or water-bath development, just about any developer works fine for drum processing. For best results, and for the least effort, use a motor base to handle the rotation. A good starting point for developing times is the film manufacturer's "continuous agitation" recommendation; that should be a good place to start, although a little fine-tuning may be necessary.

    This topic has been addressed at length here on APUG. A Forums search using "drum" or "Unicolor" or "Chromega" should turn up plenty of information and informed opinion.

    Konical

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Konical View Post
    This topic has been addressed at length here on APUG. A Forums search using "drum" or "Unicolor" or "Chromega" should turn up plenty of information and informed opinion.
    I was afraid (and pretty sure) of that. I still have the common selfish desire to have a new conversation about it.

    The truth is that I'm pretty excited about trying some developing - I really can't wait for the drum to arrive. I might almost try developing in a tray in the basement sometime this weekend if I go buy the chemistry - screw waiting for the rotary processor to get mailed! How does this affect your lives? Well, another potential B&W convert can't be bad for keeping the film and chemistry companies in business against the digital onslaught, right?

    I guess I'll buy D76. I looked at the ilford box and it's listed there - that's a very common developer that you can use with a lot of B&W films, no?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by walter23 View Post
    I guess I'll buy D76. I looked at the ilford box and it's listed there - that's a very common developer that you can use with a lot of B&W films, no?

    Yes, it is. Ilford's ID-11 is pretty much the same stuff. I use the same setup for processing my 4x5's, but I've been using Rodinal 1:50 (I shoot FP4+). I am about to start some testing with Rodinal 1:100 and with ID-11 just to see if I can find any improvement in neg quality. Maybe with Pyrocat-HD as well, if I really get bored and need something to do.

    Bruce

  8. #8

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    I would suggest that you pick up one of these http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shops.../speedcon.html You will be able to slow the unicolor down, and that will help with controlling development. Without it, the unicoor will rotate too quickly and you will have issues with excessive contrast, and developer oxidation.
    I would also recommend that you use a developer designed to work with rotary processing. Pyrocat works quite well. A starting development time for HP5 would be 6-8 minutes for box speed 400). This is what I use.
    Don Sigl
    www.drs-fineartphoto.com

  9. #9

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    Dear Walter,

    I have only used T-Max and Xtol with rotary (Jobo) tanks and both work very nicely. My suggestion is to start with a 20% reduction in time and see where that takes you. As for the non-developer chemicals, in the beginning, buy a brand name and you can't go wrong.

    Neal Wydra

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by don sigl View Post
    I would suggest that you pick up one of these http://www.mlcswoodworking.com/shops.../speedcon.html
    Thanks, that's a good suggestion. I wonder if you could wire some kind of suitable POT into an A/C cord, like a light dimmer switch or something? I'd probably just kill myself or burn down my house, I'm pretty ignorant about electrical work.

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