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  1. #1

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    Developing Large Format Negs

    Ok,

    I have decided to find a 4x5 camera and enter this new world of photography. Here lies the problem. I do not have any place that I can use as a darkroom for tray developing. Right now I have to use a changing back and steel tank for MF. I read on here that the Yankee tank is no good and the Nikkor tanks are not made anymore and the Cambi isnít so hot either. And I hate to fork out the dough for a jobo processor, as I really donít have extra money for one. I use steel tanks now for 35 and MF and have excellent results.

    What can I do to be able to process 4x5 film?

    Thanks again,

    Kev

  2. #2
    Chaska's Avatar
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    Check out using a Uniroller and Unicolor paper drum, directions are at largeformatphotography.info. I got mine in pieces off of eBay for under $50 and it works well.

  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I like my Nikor tank, but it doesn't work for everyone, and they are hard to find.

    I know more people who seem to like the HP Combi-Plan tank than don't, so I'd figure out what they are doing to make it work for them. If it's a slow fill issue, then the thing to do is pour the developer in the tank and then insert the rack with the sheets and carry on in daylight. I do that when I do PMK in my Nikor tank, because there are issues of uneven staining with PMK if you don't immerse the film evenly.

    I think Jobo makes an inversion tank with a plastic reel that works like the Nikor tank, so you wouldn't need the whole processor to use it.

  4. #4
    Mongo's Avatar
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    I'll second Chaska's recommendation. Unicolor Print Drums (not the film drums) work great for 4x5 and 8x10 film development. My set was around $30 used. I use around 250ml of chemicals for my processing and haven't had any problems that I can attribute to this setup. (The one problem I did have was my own fault...I loaded both sheets of 4x5 into the same side of the chamber and they overlapped. Don't do this.)

  5. #5
    bmac's Avatar
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    I'll Thirs Chaska's rec for the Unicolor setup. I use it for 4x5 and 8x10. I actually use 500 ml of solution for either 2 4x5 (I dont try to use two per side of the tank anymore) or 1 sheet of 8x10. I've got my dev times squared away for the difference. There are always tons of them on eBay.
    hi!

  6. #6
    Mongo's Avatar
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    Brian does bring up a point here that might be handy to know if you decide to go this route. I don't know how much liquid you can put in the tank and still have it work without spilling (I've never done a test to find out), but I have put in 500ml before (water in place of stop bath) with no trouble at all. My recollection is that the tank could have taken significantly more liquid if I'd needed to put in more. Keep this in mind if you run into a situation where you might go below the recommendation for the minimum amount of developer needed to process the film area you have in the tank.

  7. #7

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    For 4X5 and 8X10 I develop in BTZS type tubes (minimal agitation/semi stand). I have a Unicolor motor base--just haven't used it for film development.

  8. #8
    Ole
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    I use trays. I'll JOBO tank develop my 4x5" or 9x12cm films occasionally - especially if I have lots of them - but mostly I develop in trays. By inspection. All sizes: 9x12, 4x5", 5x7", 13x18, 18x24.
    Unlike may others I prefer trays that are not a lot larger than the film, this gives me better control over the slippery little b*stards. So 9x12 to 13x18 goes in 13x18 trays, the 18x24 in 8x10" trays.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  9. #9

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    Good Morning,

    I'll agree with the comments above about using a motor base and a color processing drum. I've used a Chromega 8 x 10 drum for at least twenty years and never had a problem except that a very thin film, such as Technical Pan can escape the guides and separator and end up on top of one of the other sheets in the drum. This may have happened because I tend to be generous with solution amounts (usually 10 to 12 ounces), and the force of the liquid apparently lifted the film loose during rotation. That doesn't happen with films of "normal" thickness. The Chromega info sheet suggests that only 3 ounces of solution are adequate for an 8 x 10 drum, but I see no point in being that chintzy with B & W chemicals.

    In my view, the number one reason to use the drum method is the absolute evenness of development it produces (I do use pre-soak). The number two reason is that, with careful loading, scratches or other damage are virtually impossible. The number three reason is that working in full light makes things simpler.

    I seem to recall from various postings here or on other sites that Unicolor drums can sometimes have leakage problems, but can't be sure because I've never used them. I do know that my Chromega drums have never had even the slightest leak during usage. I don't think they're available new any longer, but they do pop up occasionally on E-Bay.

  10. #10

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    I used to use trays, but I recently obtained a couple of Jobo 2500 series drums with the 2509n 4x5 sheet film holders for a good deal used ($30 for two tanks and two holders). I'm having more success with this system than I did with the Unidrum/Uniroller. The Jobos are well designed. You don't need the optional film loader unit BTW. I can load the 2509 holders even in a changing bag. To turn the drum for agitation I simply attached 4 small furniture casters from the hardware store to a board, and I rotate slowly by hand. No need for a motorized base in my opinion. The development has been very even. With the smaller drum which holds one film holder you can either use the typical inversion method, although you have to fill up the 1500cc tank, or the roller method, which uses about 500cc to 700cc developer. I use more than the minimum amount of developer to ensure enough developer solution per film square inches. The 2509n film holders each hold 6 4x5 sheets. I would highly recommend the Jobo tank, however you decide to agitate. I like tray development too, but you need a darkroom, and my basement is too cold to use in the winter.
    Steve J Murray

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