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  1. #1

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    Jul 2009
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    Tray Washing 4x5 Negatives

    Hello Everyone.

    There have been a number of threads relevant to my question but none that quite settles it to my satisfaction.

    I process my B/W 4x5 negatives in trays and would strongly prefer not to invest in any new equipment (e.g. a fill/dump washer). Thorough washing after fixing is obviously a major concern, though, and to be on the safe side I've been putting each batch of negatives through 8 to 10 baths of water, rocking the tray to agitate, and letting each bath stand for 5 or 10 minutes to let the fixer settle to the bottom. Because I don't want any scratching, I place each negative in a separate tray, so the washing process basically occurs in 5 or 6 trays simultaneously.

    This procedure is tedious, but is it necessary? Maybe I'm overdoing it (or under-doing it after all?). That's why I would be interested in hearing from others who tray-process their large-format negatives about how they wash them, about the effectiveness of their routines, and about how they avoid scratching and related damage.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    For 4x5 you can go to the grocery store and buy a glass pyrex bread pan that is the perfect size to hold a stack of 4x5 film without letting it move sideways enough to scratch. Then get a regular old kodak syphon washer and hook it to your faucet and into the corner of the pyrex pan. Run it at a slowish enough rate to not blast the film out and then on occasion shuffle through the negs as you would with tray agitation. You will need to elevate the pryex pan enough to allow for the bottom of the syphon washer. An overturned tray as a table is enough.
    Dennis

  3. #3
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    I used to use a 16x20 tray and a siphon to wash my 4x5 film. I bought these vinyl coated metal clothes pins and use them as weight to anchor them down to the bottom of the tray. I washed them emulsion side up. I positioned the film so the flow of water wouldn't push the sheet up catching the water. Worked well for me. You don't want the film to float around like prints because the corners will scratch the other sheets.

  4. #4
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    Furthermore, I've heard that the myth about fixer "falling to the bottom" is just that.. a myth! The truth is, it's diffused throughout the water just as any soluble chemical would be. With that in mind, I'm not sure that the syphon is necessary.

    But I wholeheartedly agree with Dennis about using simple materials that you can pick up at the grocery store or hardware store.

    Here's one man's idea: Make floating clips out of old wine-corks (cut them in half, wrap them with rubber bands), clip the negs with these and put them in a bucket with a small drain hole in the bottom (determine size by the time it takes to empty) and put this under your faucet. The negs will float around, ideally without touching one another, and the water will cycle out at the appropriate rate depending on the drain size and faucet flow. Minimize turbulence to assure no scratches.
    If you are the big tree, we are the small axe



 

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