First Jobo C-41 run... Sucess?
As the title states, I made my first Jobo run with a Tetenal C-41 Presss Kit tonight. My wife has over 40 rolls of color neg she saved up over the past year and was waiting for a sale on processing at a local grocery store, so I snagged 10 rolls and gave it a shot.
Whoever wrote the user manuals for the Jobo ATL series processors must be a frustrated webmaster because you have to jump around all over the manual like a hyperlinked document to understand how to operate the darned thing and SOME things, you just have to discover with dumb luck...
Anyway, I loaded up 2 x 35mm reels of Fuji HD 200 ASA in a 1520 drum and, since I was using a Jobo kit, just scrolled down the menu to the C41 press kit preset and hit "start".
Little did I know, even though I mixed the chemicals at 100 degrees to try to cut short the tempering time, it still took the machine almost 35 minutes to get to temperature. Although it was frustrating sitting there watching it slowly creep up to 38c/100f, I understood later when I processed the other 8 rolls that the tempering only had to occur on the first processed roll, not every roll provided you don't turn off the machine or change processes and temps.
Now, the press kit says it will process the equivalent of 12/16 x 36 exp rolls of 35mm of 120 color negative or 200 ASA or less, so I assumed that meant 536 standard 8 perf images; that comes to 22 x 24 exp. rolls or 19 x 27 exp rolls of 200 ASA or LESS.
OK, I can string together a 1520, 1530 and 1540 tank to take 8 rolls of 35mm at once, but like I stated before, I wanted to start with only 2 (the minimum you can process in 500 ml and below to retain chem life) and put a 200 ASA and a 400 ASA x 24 exp. roll and ran it at 3:15 @ 100f, the suggested first processing time for fresh chemistry.
What is really weird about Jobo is that they preprogram stabilizer as the last processing step and then tell you in the manual NOT TO use stabilizer in the machine, as it builds up and eventually ruins the plastic reels and tanks. So, instead of putting the stabilizer in the bottle, I put plain water in and got an extra rinse. I can just eliminate this step by reprogramming the sequence, but thought the extra bath wouldn't hurt.
As far as I can tell the negs are fine, but I am not used to judging color negs by eye and my scanner does not have a trannie adapter, so I guess I will have to try a contact print to see where I stand, but that is fraught with uncertainty too.
Well, I got stoked by the success of the first negatives, so I loaded up 8 more reels and processed those... but forgot to go back and extend the processing time, so they don't appear to be quite as snappy as the first two sets.
The table in the kit assumes a 1 shot processing strategy; 1 st run @ 3:15, 2nd @ 3:35, 3rd @ 3:55 and the 4th final pass (they recommend no more than 4 uses) @ 4:15. Also the BILX increases a minute each permutation starting from 6 min on the first pass.
One snag; When the color dev dumped into the reclamation bottle on the 8 roll pass, I noticed it only put back 800 ML. Hmmm...
The tanks together listed 990 ml capacity on rotation, but this was a loss of a lot more than 10 ml (you can only enter certain amounts to pump into the processing tank(s) you are using and it jumps from 950 ml to 1 liter, so I thought it wouldn't hurt to loose 10 ml but only using 950 ml would certainly be bad news.
Suddenly, I caught a spurt of red emerging from a tank join each time the tank reversed directions during the blix run. The tempering bath was decidedly darker than before; I had a tank leak. I was tempted to shut it down but resisted the temptation.
The leak was between the first and second tanks (from the lift head) and the rollers were placed about 3/4 the way down the 2nd tank away from the lift head, so maybe I should have had the rollers in the center of the 2nd tank.
I looked at the tank later, but didn't see any cracks or problems, so I have to assume it was the weight of the chemistry and the placement of the rollers.
When the BLIX dumped into the reclamation bottle, it also came out to 800 ml, so the leak was consistent.
We will see what they look like after they dry.
Next, RA4 and contact sheets.
Any pointers for where I am starting from?
Frank, after many years of using the Jobo system I can safely say that if the extender connection or lid connection is leaking, you have pretty much two possibilities.
One, the small plastic pieces on either the bottom of the lid or the bottom of the extender, have been damaged by being bent or twisted at some stage. This results in an incomplete seal.
Two, you didn't completely align the red snap ring when you pushed it down. This means the seal isn't super tight, resulting in leakages and you will notice that as the drum rotates, the red sealing ring goes around like a buckled wheel.
I have one of my extenders which has done a couple of thousand cycles and the extended pieces of plastic at the bottom, are now pretty much stuffed. It looks perfect, but the unit either doesn't sit correctly (crooked red seal) or just doesn't seal too well anymore. It's been retired.
A bit of practice in putting together various pieces should let you know how it's done and whether or not you have one or two pieces that are a bit tired.
I don't think from my experience, where exactly you place the set or rollers, would make the drum system flex. The drums, once put together, are extremely rigid. Using the 1520 and the 1530 I usually place the rollers about ½ way down the 1530. Using a 1520 and 2 x 1530 extenders to bring the film count to 8 rolls I probably put the rollers very close to the last red seal from the fill end, either before or just after.
I myself once accidently put stabiliser through the unit, you want foam, try that! Not a good idea.
I know my system is manual and yours is automatic, I think you did the correct thing. I stabilise my C41 films by removing the drum(s) from the machine, remove the top and then pour stabiliser into the tank with the films still on their reels. You can cover all films and still leave a small bit of the centre core clear of solution. I gently pull on this and let the films sink back into the stabiliser bath a few times. I then remove the reels all at once with the reels still on the centre core, then sit them in my sink. They will tilt, which allows for perfect draining. After about 30 seconds I then remove one reel at a time and undo the reel, clip them, then hang them up to dry.
By the way, for rotary processing with a lift, the 1510 tank with a 1530 extender, will develop 4 rolls of 135 or 120 film using 500mls (470 actually) of solution. For C41 this equates well with the 8 rolls per 1 litre of developer usually required and allows you to develop smaller lots of film on a one shot basis, more or less.
I forgot to add, running the reels through my stabiliser bath for about the last 18 years hasn't affected them. Yes they are stained, but they function as well as the day I bought each and every one of them.
I have about 20 reels and rotate them regularly.
Originally Posted by Mick Fagan
Ah, thanks a TON. I will go back down and examine the extender carefully as you suggest. I wouldn't doubt I sealed it wrong, as I was eager to get going; that always bites you in the end (ahem!).
Great news about the reels and stabilizer; that was a huge mess taking it off the reels and trying to keep the wet film apart to soak in the stabilizer bath. I think I'll just stock up on some more reels and rotate them as you do.
Thanks also for the tank combo tip; the number of variables in the Jobo system when you start can be pretty darned confusing.
Frank, thought of another thing overnight. When you do do the stabiliser bath, especially if you do it off the machine, remember you will need almost double the solution required for rotary processing, effectively your are inversion processing the last step.
This would mean that the maximum rolls you can immerses at a time is 4 as the 1510 tank + the 1530 module use virtually 1 litre for a vertical fill.
This is not a problem as all you do is immerse the correct amount of films at a time after processing and your final wash. If the films hang around for a few minutes prior to the stabiliser bath it won't hurt them.
Good luck with the contact sheets, once you get colour correct, or reasonably correct, it's a breeze, especially with Kodak colour paper as it's remarkably consistent.
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Originally Posted by Mick Fagan
I assumed it would be OK for the film to sit as I soaked a roll apiece in a cup of the stabilizer, so that is how I handled it; off the reels.
The only problem I ran into was a spotting of the base side of the film after drying. The spots rubbed off with a lint-free, dampened cloth, but they did seem a bit "greasy", for lack of a better term. I simply ran the stabilized film through my wetted, nitrile gloved hands, (much as I would with b&w film) before hanging to dry.
Do you do anything other than just hang the wet negs to avoid spotting?
Thanks for all the tips; I hope to contact these first 10 rolls sometime next week.
Interesting that your negs seemed to have a greasy like spotting on the back.
My experience with C41 film drying, is that it drys better than B&W. In other words virtually spot and funny stuff free.
I can only assume that your last bath, which is stabiliser may have too much sudsy type stuff.
My stabiliser is 3ml of formaldehyde and 12ml of wetting agent (Ilford's) mixed in 1 litre of water at room temperature.
I have been using this bath for about 18 years and have never had a problem.
I believe that formalin has fallen out of favour with the pre-packaged industry and that they may use something else.
Whatever they use, the stabiliser bath is essentially something like mine, I assume.
I could be wrong, I'm just a photographer not a chemist by a very long shot.
My film hangs in the darkroom alongside the light box bench next to the door. Nothing special and my darkroom isn't scrupulously clean either.
I find that if you force dry C41 film with heat, the film will curl inwards slightly, lots of heat and the film really curls. I use no heat and have wonderfully flat negatives which make enlarging easier.
Once the film is touch dry, which at 20ºC is about 1½ hours you can handle the negs, but I prefer to let the negs dry overnight and somehow they seem to be more impervious to marking, as if the emulsion gets harder over a period of time.
Frank, gotta do some work but just a quickie. I don't run my film, squeegee like through my fingers, gloved or not.
I just unravel the film by undoing the spiral, removing one half by lifting it up, then carefully picking the outer end of the film and lifting it off the bottom spiral. I then grab the bottom with my newly freed hand, then clip, then hang.
I don't touch the film at all apart from the extreme ends and the rebates.
I just grab both ends of the film and rock it in a tub of stablizer. For sheet film I just rock it. I don't remember exactly how much photo flow I use in the mix but it's very little. VERY little per litre.
BTW I use distilled water for the final step.