"A very kind soul has offered to help me out with a processing drum and motor base. We will see how that endeavor goes. I'm excited. I'll probably start developing them at the normal times I have for roll film and go from there."
Good Morning, Thomas,
Good luck to you.
Hint #1--Since uneven development is your biggest concern, give the film a couple of minutes of water pre-wash. Some find this unnecessary, but I can't think of any harm.
Hint #2--Even though color print drums were designed for use with minimal amounts of expensive color chemicals, it's a good idea to be generous with the cheaper B & W solutions. I normally use at least 8 oz. in an 8 x 10 drum, more often 10 oz. or 12 oz.
Hint #3--One of your previous posts mentions using intermittent agitation with a slosher. I think that continuous agitation would have been far preferable and may have solved your problems.
Hint #4--Do not start with roll film development times. The rotary approach (drum and motor base) gives continuous agitation. For me, the continuous agitation times Kodak indicates for its sheet films have always been a good starting point.
Thomas no one has mentioned vacuuming out the camera back. I find in dry conditions I can draw dust to the film plane by pulling out the dark slide. I don't know how you avoid the issue of dry humidity.
On developing I use the Kodak s/s hangers in a Kodak rubber tank, will take 6 sheets at a time. I use HP5, D76 1+1 anddev for the Ilford time. I agitate by lifting the hangers out every minute and draining them 3x every minute so very little agitation. Gives negs with no visible uneveness in skies. Never scratched film this way either.
Dust I don't really have an answer for, I quite often do get a few specks however much I clean.
I do have white spotting compound though as well as the usual black...
I imagine it can get very cold and dry where you live. There is an old "joke" within the photo community that photographers in the northern part of the USA have dust problems on their film, etc. and photographers in the southern part of the USA have fungus on their lenses, etc. The most effective way to control dust indoors in a dry climate is to introduce humidity. Small portable humidifiers are inexpensive and work, particularly in a small enclosed room like a dark room, to dramatically reduce airborne dust particles and reduce static electricity. You need to run the humidifier for at least an hour before opening a film box. If you are going to do any cleaning in the room you are loading film in, don't do it just before you load film, almost any so called dust removal method actually stirs up quite a bit of dust or creates even more static electricity. Clean up first, then run the humidifier for at least an hour or maybe 2, then get out your film to load it. I live in Atlanta and I only have dust problems in the winter.
In so far as the developing problems with uneven development, if you were able to develop roll film with even development, you can develop 4x5 sheet film in exactly the same way, well almost. I often use a stainless steel daylight manual film developing tank for developing 4x5 film, the size that will hold 2 reels of 120 film. In darkness hold the film with emulsion side toward you and bow the film slightly so that it is close to the shape of the inside of the film tank then just insert it into the tank all the way down so that the edge of the film hits the bottom of the tank. I insert the film so that the 4inch sides are toward the top and bottom. It is important that the emulsion side is toward the inside of the tank, otherwise it will be pressed against the sides of the tank during development and fixing. If you use a 5 minute water presoak before pouring in the developing you will reduce the chance that time consumed in pouring the chemicals into the tank over dry film will cause uneven development. You can use the same agitation method that gives you even development with roll film. It takes approximately 1000ml of chemistry to cover the film in this setup, which is a downside, but if you could only achieve even development with this method it could be worth it, particularly since you may not have to buy any equipment at all to use this method. I use a lot of XTOL 1:3 or PMK with this method and haven't really felt the financial pinch that much. I use this method because I have often had probelms with uneven development myself. I have BTZS tubes but for some reason I can't get them to work as well and I really never use them anymore.
I am new to LF love it to. Dust spots are KILLLLLLLLLING me to.
I have gotten very good even development though!!! This is how I do it. Tray development---So far I have only mastered 2 sheet at a time---so a presoak for 3-4 minutes shuffling every 30 sec, into the developer next shuffling every 60 sec ( Delta 100 in DDX for 12min@68) then to the stop n fix. The big open sky areas look very nice and smooth except for the few dust spots
I first tried to shuffle every 30 sec but the negs were over developed--so I slowed down the shuffling and kept the time the same--I feel that if you use a short development time that's when you run the risk of uneven development.
But if only I could get rid of the dust spots------------arrrrrg
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One more opinion - I can't help it.
I do 4x5 tri-x in trays, have been for years, with HC110. 8 - 10 sheets at a time.
Unload from holders into a film 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, 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.
I use an 8x10 tray for 4x5 with 1000cc developer. 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 the years with this. I also do a lot of pan strips, and a sequence of shots is always very closely developed between shots.
Practice in the light with some of that bad film to develop the feel for it.
About the dust - I second Lee's suggestion about the camera - the dust could be getting you at the time of shooting.
I've been using a Jobo 3010 tank on a CPP-2 for years now, well over 1000 sheets, with perfectly even development. It's one excellent system.
Dust can't be conquered, but it can be tightly controlled. It takes some effort. Twice a year or more I clean my darkroom from ceiling to floor. That's the ceiling, the walls, the shelves (even the underside of the shelves), anything that's exposed. When I'm not in the darkroom I leave an electrostatic air cleaner running. With careful cleaning of the film holders before loading, and keeping the film holders in ziplock bags whenever they are not in the camera (never let a film holder leave your hand unprotected -- ziplock or in camera only), this has fairly well eliminated my pre-exposure dust problems.
I was still getting junk on my film due to processing and drying however. So I moved to steam distilled water for everything (for making stock, diluting stock before use, washing, final rinse with Photoflow) including final rinse of the drum during cleanup. And, all one-shot chemistry, including fixer. Now I'm pretty well dirt free.
I'm just sayin'... the junk on your film is under your control. It's not easy, it's not fun, but you can control it. And it's well worth doing IMHO.
Thomas, I'm not sure where you live, but I live in Finland. I have to say that compared to Australia I see more dust here than there. These days I hang the sheets to dry on a cheap plastic laundry hanger (by a corner) and give them a final squirt with a 'misting' water bottle containing a tiny amount of photoflo and water. This seems to break the 'adherence' of any dust which seems to find its way onto the tops of the trays.
I don't do more than sheet in a 5x7 tray (emulsion up) and gently agitate (rocking) front back, left right, front back ... for the development time. I've been using D-76 as my preferred black and white developer since 2001 (with an odd dabble in pyro [thank you Ken if you happen to be reading this])
With multiple sheets I now use a jobo 2553 tank and the 2509n spirals, I don't have the water bath, but then room temperature is constant here in my flat. What I do for agitation is to roll the drum on a small gadget I made up. This is essentially 4 cheap roller wheels mounted on a bit of wood to support my drum and allow me to rotate by hand.
The tank requires an amount of fluid for developing which is well beyond what I need for the film. I've used a bit of plastic wrap attached instead of the lid to determine just where the 'soup' levels are with different volumes and if I'm using more than just the outer most parts of the spiral I need more than 400ml in the drum.
I rotate carefully and consistently by hand and haven't actually seen uneven development more than once (on the inner spiral grove, which led me to check the amounts as I mentioned above)Depending how you feel about spending money the drum was inexpensive on ebay.
I'll have some BTZS tubes (again, thanks Ken :-) sooner or later (when the dog sled gets here from Canada ;-)
Personally I've come from a chemistry background, and so I don't like the 'inspection' routine. I prefer to measure things (light to effect Dmax) and time things (development to effect Dmax) working with the manufacture stated concentrations (Kodak are well praised here).
I don't know if I've helped much, but perhaps its just a technique thing?
Thanks again everybody for your excellent suggestions.
This thread leads me to believe I'm doing the correct things, with some variation in technique between different people. I am excited to try the drum that's being sent to me, since that eliminates much of the human interaction.
If that gets done to perfection then I'll stop worrying about this and move on to finally be able to use this nice 4x5 system.
I am a handy person with excellent motor skills, balance, and a good dose of common sense. That's why this is bothering me so much. It doesn't make sense.
One more thing I'm going to do is go over my darkroom again with a caulking gun. I saw a couple of light leaks from when the light is on in the laundry room next door, and I need to light proof the door better, especially around the bottom of the door. These things may well be reasons why my film is suffering too, and I did this darkroom inspection yesterday in the dark.
Still the sheets developed in tanks should be better, but oh well. Time will tell. I will load the drum in a bag that I know is light tight and if I have any more problems I'll report back.
Thanks again everybody for your very generous comments.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
try using an antistatic brush on the film holders after you blow out the dust...helps a lot. Also, drum development with a Jobo tank (2500 series) on a Beseler motor drive roller thingy is great!!! Don't forget WHERE you hang your film can be just as important as how you load and develop it...try a shower stall after you've run hot water through the shower to drop all the dust out of the air.
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