Film processing machines for 4x5 E6
The recent thread on the JOBO CPE-2 ignited my blue touch paper and so have been researching the idea of getting a JOBO-something or from another manufacturer to do my 4x5 and 120 trannies. My post at the end of that thread went unanswered and so I am hoping that I am able to glean information from this one.
I normally shoot 2 sheets at same exposure and then compensate the second sheet having processed the first normally. Typically I aim for pushes between 1/3 and 1 stop. I therefore need to have a processor where I could guarantee consistency to ensure that the second sheet comes out as intended. I am prepared to increase my spend, within reason, if this means getting a more capable machine, especially if it is programmable and I can walk away!
Whilst I am sure that a CPE-2 would do the job, I am also looking at other models in their range which I think would make the processing task more consistent and easier. I shoot about 200 sheets of E6 a year.
I am happy and adept at processing B+W but have virtually zero knowledge of E6. I have been reading some pdfs such as the JOBO E6 handbook to get up to speed. However this doesn't gain me the practical advice of those who have used the machines regularly to reveals quirks and foibles. So if anyone can help me on my way, I would gratefully accept advice.
It seems that here in the UK currently there are two ATL2000 at around £450, but these are massive so would have to go in the garage (which would then incur expense of installing mains water and drainage) and the single ATL1500 I found is just under £2000 used, but this would fit in the utility room and use the plumbing there. I have also seen an ATL1000 and am not sure how this differs from the ATL1500, the manual not being available from the JOBO site.
Currently I pay £2.35 normal and £2.75 for push/pull per sheet at my local lab (excluding petrol for 18 mile each way journey or postage) and so I would soon expect to have covered the cost of the equipment. They also say that the E6 line has been quiet of late, so am worried that they may well decide to cease this service if it gets any quieter.
Lymington! Your a local... I'm in Bournemouth!
I haven't too much constructive to say, but was wondering where you get your E6 done localy? Do Pheonix still do it? I know they used to do it pretty seriously but have been cutting back on a lot of stuff since they moved.
If you were anywhere but local I'd suggest asking the lab what they use, and making them an offer for their machine, but as I might need to use the same lab sometime soon I won't sugguest that you do that ;-) (unless you're setting up as a sideline).
The JOBO perform very stable process control for temperature and rotation (agitation). The ATL1000, 1500, etc series does time management as well. The differences in the equipment:
CPE2 limited to 600mL per run, no expert tanks. YOu do the tuiming and dumping of chemicals manually.
CPP2, CPA2... bigger maximum fluid capacity, use Expert tanks. Ditto the timing and cumping above.
ATL1000, 1500, 2000. Basically load the chemicals in bottles, set a bunch of "dials" for time and temp and process, then walk away for finished processing. USes any tank JOBO makes.
The 1000 and 1500 are sisters. The older 1000 has some limitations on user programs, The 1500 has less of these limitation rules. The 2000 series is the professional lab series. All the bells and whistles.
Buy the special SS Hewes made reels for 120 or 35mm. They load much more easily then the plastic reels. They use the 1500 series tanks.
Parts are terribly overpriced. If you buy used, get something that is loghtly used. The motors wear out.
Try this for more comparative info:
Personally I find the plastic reels for the 2500 tanks very easy to load.
You need to ask yourself some questions.
1) Do you want to use the 2500 or the expert tanks. Those are the only choices for 4x5 and bigger. If you need expert tanks make sure the machine you're looking at will handle them.
2) Do you want to run the 120 and the 4x5 in the same run? Then your only choice is the 2500 tanks. You'll need a tank big enough to handle at least one 2509N reel and one of the roll film reels. I guess that means the 2551 or 2553 tank or bigger. The more film you need to run the bigger the tank. That will rule out the smallest machines. The above setup [one rollfilm reel and one sheet film reel] will handle 2x120 and 6 sheets of 4x5 all in the 2551 type tank. Going to the 2581/2583 will add I think two more rolls of 120 or maybe 6 more sheets of 4x5. The last number in the tank is the type of lid. 2551 is a normal lid for use without the lift. 2553 is a cog lid for use with a lift. That's what the 1 or 3 at the end mean. The lids can be swapped. The normal lid can be upgraded to the cog lid but you can't go back the other way.
Check what comes with the machines. Often used machines are sold with a complete set of tanks. Odds are you'll want a range of tanks from the very smallest to the largest. Used tanks are pretty reasonable. Using a smallest tank with colour will save you chemicals usually.
You might want to surf over to the Kodak website and read all the info they have on E-6 processing. You'll find pages and pages of stuff.
Thankyou for your responses. They are most informative and give me some firm guidance.
Initial thoughts are that I shall only process each film type on its own. Am happy with idea of 6 sheets per batch. Will become less economical if I have different pushes to perform. One sheet per tank is quite wasteful.
Presume that I will have to see what tanks the machine itself comes with. Jobo make big claims about the Expert tanks, but they don't seem to appear second hand. Is this because they are so good? The idea of high levels of randomness does appeal!!! Having never seen either type of tank in the plastic, it is even harder to make a decision.
Are there any tell-tale signs to indicate how hard a machine has been used?
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I've used a Jobo CPP-2 to process E-6 for many years. I use 2500 tanks for 35mm & 120 and a 3006 expert drum for 4x5. I agree with Nick, plastic reels are no problem, IF they are dry. However, one drop of water turns them into film eating monsters. The expert drums are excellent. From a purely mechanical point of view, the Jobo works extremely well and provides all the consistency that you could ever want.
One thing to consider is what chemistry to use. For many years, I used the Kodak E-6 Hobby Pak, which was a simple three step chemistry that let you process a batch in well less than 30 minutes. Hobby Paks are long gone and I've transitioned to the Kodak Single Use E-6 Kit. This a five liter kit. The real issue is that there are nine processing steps, not including presoaks and final washes. It takes 35-40 minutes to run a batch by the time all is said and done. Several of the steps are only 2 minutes long, so you are pretty much stuck at the processor for the entire run. No time for reading a book, mixing chemistry, or chatting on APUG. I believe that there is other E-6 chemistry out there, but I have no experience with any of it. An ATL2000 would solve the problem of being tied to the processor, but they don't give those things away.
I hope this helps.
I've used the Tetenal chemicals in the past. Unfortunately, most of the E6 kits I can't get over here; they are considered hazardous chemicals and can't be shipped by mail. The Tetenal is ok in this respect, and I believe there is only 3 chemicals. I haven't done my own E6 in a number of years, but I am planning on starting again.
Originally Posted by AllenR
If you find an ATL 1000 at a reasonable price buy it. The differences betweeb it and the 1500 are not likely to bother you. As for the ATL 2000 for 450 GBP if I found one for that price on this side of the pond I would buy it in a second and sell my ATL 1000.
I have used quite a few developing tanks over the years and have settled for the Jobo
CPP2 with lift and their expert drums. The largest of them will take ten 5X4 sheets.
The large print drum will take up to 24"X20" of support - or even film!
Go for it, and get that serendipitous fix! Stan. L-B (PicTecUK London & Wessex)
Definitely go with at least the CPA2 or CPP2 if you want to do E6. If you will also do B&W, you might want the CPP2 because it can rapidly cool the tempering bath by introducing cold water. The CPP2 also has more accurate temperature control (digital display, +-.1C).
If you don't want to be tied to the machine for the processing cycle, move up to the ATL series. They are more expensive, so it is a time-value question. The ATL series also needs tempered water input, so you have to buy a delta or similar to provide tempered water to the machines. This adds to the expense and installation issue. The ATL 1000 series has, I believe, a solution for portable development, so you could toss it in the back of your Winnebego and process while on the road. It requires a bucket of water, into which you submerge a pump and a tempering unit.
The ATL 1000 series only does film, so if you want to do paper too, you'd have to move up to the 2000 (or older ATL-2, if memory serves).
The CPA2 and CPP2 both do paper, so unless you really want fully automatic processing, I think you'll be fine with them, especially for the volumes you expect to run through the machines.
I do very low volumes, and keep the jobo stored until I want to use it. Then I just put it on the counter next to my sink, connect the cooling water input to the faucet (water hose connector), put the output hose in the sink, fill it, plug it in and go. (Note that it takes a while to come to temperature unless you fill it with hot water to begin with, but once at temp, it stays right on it. It is very accurate in that regard).
Be sure to get it with the lift. It is an optional accessory. If you are doing E6, the lift helps you with timing accuracy, and you can't use the expert drums at all without the lift.
Regarding the motor - ask the seller for the serial number of the unit. There were several changes over the years. The Jobo site as info on these changes. If you can, get a unit with serial number >22000, they have stronger motors.
However, I have not had a problem with my older one (serial number around 14500), even with the 3004 expert drum (6 sheets of 4x5).
The jobos do a great job with all the processes. However, heed what others are saying about water in the reels. Also, make sure the drums are absolutely dry before starting your process, or water droplets hiding in places like the lid can cause streaks.