4x5 tray development
I'm still trying to get used to these "tiny" 4x5 negs.
What size tray do you develop 4x5 in? I'm trying it in 8x10 trays, and they're moving all around, getting rotated, and I'm losing track of which one was last (rotated 180° at the start).
I'm new to tray developing in general, and I know just doing it more will help, but I'm having a much harder time with 4x5 than I am 8x10 (in 11x16 trays).
For 4x5 I use a Summitek Cradle (AKA Slosher tray) and I recommend it.
The Summitek CR45 holds 6 sheets of 4X5 film, fits in an 11X14 tray and costs $45 + shipping. I also use a Summitek for 5x7 sheet film. For 8x10 I use a PF Slosher Tray (because Summitek doesn't make an 8x10 cradle).
Everything is analog - even digital :D
Look at the illustrations in Ansel Adams' _The Negative_ for tray development of 4x5", and that should clear things up.
When I develop 4x5" in trays, I usually use 8x10" trays, and I keep them in a single stack facing the same way and shuffling the same way, and each time 25% of the total development time passes, I rotate the stack 90 degrees.
Start with 2-4 sheets and work your way up to more.
When I first started with 8x10, I tried to develop the negs in 11x14 trays. They danced all over in the trays & scratched the hell out of everything. The next time, I used 8x10 trays and it worked great. I never went back to the 11x14 trays. I'm sure, like everything, with practice it gets easier. I'm developing in tubes now.
I have 3 or 4 5x7 trays that I don't use if you want them.
I just started doing 4x5's in trays, and I've been using these odd 5x7 trays that I picked up at the local shop for $3. I only have three though, so I also use a couple 8x10 trays as needed.
Using the 5x7's though, I only do one sheet at a time. It is nice that I use very little chemistry, but If I was going for say four sheets, I've heard that there are directions on how to divide the 8x10 trays up into four spaces allowing for the chemicals to cross over.
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I start with them all in a stack, but when I pull the bottom one out, they all start moving around. Maybe I don't have enough chemistry in the trays - I've been using about a liter. Do I need more?
I'd use a liter in an 8x10" tray for 4 sheets or fewer. More definitely makes things easier. I generally keep the stack near the edge closest to me and pull the sheet entirely out before lifting it.
With smaller trays, I found there was more of a risk of corners scratching the sheet on the bottom of the stack as I pulled it up.
The film also makes a difference. I found that when I started using Efke and Classic/Forte, which are much less scratch resistant than Kodak or Ilford, I really had to refine my tray development technique. Still, I'm getting very light abrasions on my 5x7" Classic 400 negs--not enough to be visible in a contact print, but if I were enlarging, it could be a problem. Meanwhile, I've picked up a dozen 5x7" hangers and am awaiting the delivery of some 5x7" tanks. I'll probably still use trays for fewer than 6 sheets, but the tankline looks like a good method for larger batches.
Put a small board (3/4" square, and long enough to fit under all your trays) underneath the back of the tray so the trays tilt towards you a little bit. That way, the film will settle at the near edge of the tray, making it much easier to handle. I keep the stack neat with my left hand while pulling out the bottom neg with my right. Drop it flat on the surface of the juice so corners don't gouge.
If all else fails, waste four negatives and practice in the light for 15 minutes. You'll be entirely comfortable. Then practice in darkness for the 5 minutes it will take you to get really bored. After that, you'll never scratch a negative.
8x10 trays and a liter of solution is good for me when I do 15 4x5s at a time.
Use a 8x10 tray with 4x5 negatives. I usually develop between 4-8 negatives at a time with a constant shuffle. If you read in Ansels book The Negative he talks about a good process of holding the negatives in the tray and the proper way to shuffle them.
If your capiable of doing 8x10...your MORE then capable of doing 4x5. I shoot both formats and find them both simple to do regardless of tray size.