Thank you for the responses. Ordered the FP4+ film, Pyrocat-HD developer, and TF-4 fixer today...
just to muddy the water a little more. I use FP4 and pyrocat hd 2:2:100 68F at 9 min I presoak for 5 min and I am using a Unicolor drum and motor base. Sort of a poor boy's jobo. I use water to stop and I use regular Kodak Rapid Fix without the hardner. I wash for 20 min and photo flo hang to dry. It is a lovely combination.
I found that my development with FP4+ needs to be treated a bit differently than most. But I overexpose the film by a full stop and shoot at about EI 50.
Then I develop in Pyrocat-MC (almost identical to -HD) at 1+1+150 for 16 minutes at 70*F. I agitate for the first entire minute, then once every three minutes. This has worked really well for me, but may produce thinner negatives for others. I like bright light, though, and if I was to shoot in low light, I would probably use the same time at the 1+1+100 dilution.
Like Ian, I use Ilford Hypam fixer. I used to use TF-4 and I probably retained a tad more image stain, but I don't really care. The best thing about TF-4 is its capacity. It lasts forever. The problem is I have to order it from Photographer's Formulary. I can get Hypam around the corner, and it works great.
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What are the advantages to using drum processing machines? If I really get into this, why would I want to consider drum processing?
Originally Posted by lee
Just trying to learn...
Jay, Lee doesn't say what he's processing in his Unicolor drum, but it may well be sheet film. Drum/rotary processing can be very economic and consistent for 5x4 and larger sheet film, and allows you to work in daylight rather than tray processing in the dark.
Any cylindrical inversion type developing tank can be used on a motor base, the previous owner of my 2nd Jobo 20000 tank always used it this way, I've always preferred inversion agitation as the edge effects are better, but then my tank is usually full with 12 sheets of 5x4 film, or a few rolls of 120.
If I use the Jobo's or the Unicolor & Paterson tanks I have for 10x8 sheet film then inversion is not economic due to the high volume of developer needed, so like Lee I would either put them on a motor base or roll the tanks by hand, this way I need 1/20th of the volume of developer in the tank, for good even development.
You might notice Lee is using Pyrocat at 2+2+100 instead of the more common 1+1+100 dilution, this helps to cut the development time, which helps the work-flow if your processing a number of sheets of LF film individually. So typically a dev time approx 9 mins @ 2+2+100 gives similar results to 15 mins @ 1+1+100.
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Muddying the waters even further, I've stopped using staining developers...
I have found that since I print on both fixed grade paper and VC paper, the stain only serves to make the contrast on the two too different for me. If I should decide to print a (LF) negative on some process which requires higher contrast, I get better results by bleaching and redeveloping in a staining developer.
I've settled on Ilfotec HC as a good all-round developer with good capacity, long life and pleasing results.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Drum processors vary in sophistication and design, but the best of them automate the process to a high degree, controlling time, temperature and agitation with the precision required for processing chrome film, and they do so using the minimum required chemical quantity. I processed a lot of film in a lot of different ways before getting a drum processor, but I wouldn't want to go back now. Perfectly processed film has become standard for me and I can turn my attention to more creative matters.