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  1. #1
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Tray or Tank for 4x5?

    Hello,

    I have recently acquired a 4x5 outfit, a Crown Graphic with an Ektar lens, a few film holders for both sheet and roll (6x9) and a tripod (waiting for a better one).

    As you can imagine, I am itching to get out there to make some images, but don't have a darkroom set up yet. My question is:
    Should I finish my darkroom and develop the film in trays, or should I buy a sheet film tank and use that? I guess I'm asking which gives the best results.

    Info: I am planning on using Ilford FP4+ film with either Rodinal or FA1027 developer - if that makes a difference.
    It is also my desire to use the negatives for contact printing in some cases, and enlarging in other cases.

    Grateful for some insight in this matter,

    - Thomas
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    "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

  2. #2
    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    This is quick because I'm running late and no time to elaborate. I don't think anyone can conclusivley say one method gives consistently better results than the other. It depends on the individual and what works best for you.

    I'll put in the plug for tray development. Tanks for LF can get expensive. Trays are cheap and once you get the technique down, pretty easy. Many of the Greats, both past and present, use tray development, even for ULF sizes. I was scared of it at first but quickly became comfortable with it. Flubs can happen, like dropping a sheet, but flubs happen no matter what technique is used.

    I can elaborate a little more tomorrow.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  3. #3

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    Regardless of the workaround you come up with because you have no darkroom, in the end, you'll just have negatives. It will require a darkroom to convert them to prints. I don't see any way around finishing the darkroom, and then it will be a no-brainer: trays are cheapest, easiest and best intro into 4x5. Eventually you will get into tubes and then all your problems with negatives will be solved and you can devote the rest of your life to the problems of GOOD negatives and better prints.
    Meantime, ditch the Ektar ;-)

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deckled Edge
    Regardless of the workaround you come up with because you have no darkroom, in the end, you'll just have negatives. It will require a darkroom to convert them to prints. I don't see any way around finishing the darkroom, and then it will be a no-brainer: trays are cheapest, easiest and best intro into 4x5. Eventually you will get into tubes and then all your problems with negatives will be solved and you can devote the rest of your life to the problems of GOOD negatives and better prints.
    Meantime, ditch the Ektar ;-)
    Really, tubes are the best do you think DE? No more scratches, even development, economical use of chems etc,etc.?

    John
    (current'y commited tray user - but very willing to be converted).

  5. #5

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    i have been processing film in trays for about 10 years, and even though i have a unicolor drum &C i can't get myself to acutally use it for sheet film. trays are easy to deal with 'cept when you can't remember which one is the dev and which one is the fix ... the only problem with tanks ( daylight ) and trays is that it is hard to use a replenishing developer like dk50 or harvey's 777 --- you always have to pour it back into the big-jug which is messy and a pain ... i guess everything has its trade offs

  6. #6
    Flotsam's Avatar
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    In commercial labs, the only manual sheet processing that I did was in sinklines, racks and tanks. HC110 w. replenishment for B&W. I never even see this method mentioned anymore.

    In my recent attempts at 4x5, I'm using an old JOBO 4x5 tank and reels because... well... I already had one and I can't afford enough of that precious dark to tray process. (Except late at night). Seems to work fine.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

  7. #7
    papagene's Avatar
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    I have been using the HP Combi Tank successfully for several years now. Am quite paranoid about scratching the negs with tray development.
    gene
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  8. #8
    DrPhil's Avatar
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    Trays certainly are the cheapest; however, you run the risk of scratching you negatives. Furthermore, my skin gets irritated by keeping my hands in the chemicals for a long time. Tanks also work quite well. The best I have seen is the HP Combi tank. A Jobo is also an option; however, they are expensive. Furthermore, with more moving parts they are more likely to break. My ATL is again non-functional. Thus, I would suggest that you try tubes. You can purchase the BTZS setup for not much more than a combi tank; or, you could build your own for a few bucks at the local hardware store. Tubes are not truly a daylight process. They require darkness for loading; however, you could use a changing bag easily enough. After that you just need dim room light.
    Facts are facts; however, perception is reality.

  9. #9
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I use both trays and a Nikor SS tank for 4x5". The Nikor tank can handle up to 12 sheets and uses 1200ml of solution, so if I have six or more sheets with the same development time, I tend to use the tank. If I have a small mixed batch of sheets with different development times in the same developer, then I use trays.

    If you have a darkroom, you'll have trays anyway, so you might as well start with what you have, and then add a tank when you want.

    Tanklines and hangars are a good method if you have a lot of film to develop on a regular basis, prefer a replenishable developer, and have room for the tankline.

  10. #10
    L Gebhardt's Avatar
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    I always seem to get scratches on film in trays, so I would go for a tank such as the Combi-Plan. I used to use a Combi-Plan, but switched to a Jobo so I could run sheet and roll film with the same times.

    As far as dumping the Ektar - I would first try it out. I have one and it has a very nice look to it, though it also has it's problems with coverage and flare. I don't use it much anymore because I need to remount for my new camera - but I still like it.

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