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  1. #1
    ZoneIII's Avatar
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    Need suggestions for home E6 processing

    Since my local E6 labs have closed, I have been sending my film by mail to labs and I just don't like doing that. It's especially bad when I only have a few sheets to develop. In fact, I find that I am reluctant to shoot unless I know that I will be shooting enough film to send to a lab so I often pass up shots that I would otherwise have made. So I decided to try doing my own E6 processing in my home darkroom which is very well equipped but primarily for b&w work. (I did do E6 processing at home many years ago but only for roll films and I did it in tanks.)

    I received my Kodak single use E6 kit yesterday but now I have to figure out the best way to process it with the equipment I have and I could use some advice from those with some experience with this. I was actually thinking of processing it in trays as I do my b&w sheet film but I have never heard of anyone doing that and I am concerned that I should not have my hands in some of the E6 chemicals. (Surgical gloves are not an option. I have used them with PMK and I simply can't feel the film with them on.)

    I have precise temperature control in my darkroom. I have some old Beseler print drums and a roller base stored away but they were not designed to hold 4x5" film and they wouldn't be in a temperature controlled bath so the temperature would drop during processing. However, I suppose I could just roll them manually in a water bath. I could warm them up before processing, of course, but the temperature will probably drift drastically during processing if I use the roller base for agitation.

    I have a commercial sink-line setup that I use when I have large amounts of 4x5" and 8x10" film to process but it would use too much chemistry for processing small amounts of E6 sheet film.

    Of course, I should get a Jobo processor but that's an investment I am just not prepared to make at this time. Other options are, I suppose, one of those sheet film tanks but I have heard bad reports about them. I could also find small sheet film tanks for use with single sheet film holders, I suppose.

    I would appreciate any suggestions from those who have processed E6 film at home.

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    One option would be a Jobo 2500 series tank and 4x5 reel. You can use it as you would a roll film tank with inversion agitation in a water bath, but it takes more than a liter of chemistry. The 4x5 reel takes 6 sheets.
    Jobo also has a small, manual roller set which you could use in a tray, and roll by hand, it would be tedious, but doable if you wanted to use minimal chemistry. I think the tank and reel are about 65 USD without the loader, which you don't need.

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    Is this just 4x5? Or 8x10 to?

    Does your roller base change direction?

    So much for the questioning -)

    The Jobo 2500 tanks hold temperture fairly well. Combine that with the fact most of the important steps aren't that long. I forget how long the E6 developer is [6:30?] but it isn't a long time. Adding heated chemicals to a preheated tank isn't going to lead to a temp drop during the time frame. When the step is over you add more preheated chemicals.

    I use 2551 tank and 2509N reels for C-41. The tank sits on a Unicolour rollerbase which is plugged into a Gralab 300 timer. The chemicals sit in a large picnic cooler [50quarts? I could use bigger really] with a fish heater in the bottom from Won brothers. The heater brings everything up to temp. I sit the loaded tank into the cooler so it can warm up to.

    The whole setup works a treat for C-41. E6 isn't that different.

  4. #4

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    Trying to do E6 without spending ANY money is a bit rash. I've used both CPE-2 and Nova small hand line (1200ml per tank). The latter is more economical if you use the chemicals fully. Otherwise -- well, maybe you're more willing to gamble with your trannies than I am.
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  5. #5

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    I do 35mm E-6 processing using regular stainless steel or plastic tanks and a water bath to hold the temperature. I imagine that would be pretty similar to using a roller drum in a water bath for your sheet film, but I have no experience with sheet film processing. In any event, the results I get seem good to me, but I've never done any scientific tests of the results, so it's possible my colors or density are slightly off of optimal. Still, as this is the lowest-cost option available to you (no extra hardware required, except maybe something to hold the water bath), it's worth a try -- shoot a couple of test sheets, try it, and evaluate the results for yourself. If you're not satisfied, consider the options that will cost you money for extra equipment.

  6. #6
    ZoneIII's Avatar
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    "Trying to do E6 without spending ANY money is a bit rash. I've used both CPE-2 and Nova small hand line (1200ml per tank). The latter is more economical if you use the chemicals fully. Otherwise -- well, maybe you're more willing to gamble with your trannies than I am."

    Roger... there you go again! LOL You have to lean to read more carefully. I did not say I was unwilling to spend ANY money to process my E6 film (I have no idea where you got that idea) and I am most definitely NOT more willing than you to risk poor results. I merely explained what I already have and asked for advice on methods for processing E6 at home short of buying a Jobo processor, that's all. In fact, I may just buy a Jobo but I wanted to get some opinions about other options first and, as you can see, I got some good advice.
    Last edited by ZoneIII; 08-17-2007 at 03:22 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  7. #7
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    Nick... Probably 95% of my E6 processing would be with 4x5" film. I do, however, shoot color in 8x10 on occasion.

    My Beseler or Unicolor drum roller (I can't remember which right now without going down and digging it out) does have a reverse.

    Thanks for the info. I will check the drums out that you mentioned.

    I am still concerned about temperature drop, though, but I appreciate your advice on that. Many years ago, I tested for temperature drop in a Beseler print drum and it dropped enough five to seven minutes to be a concern. However, that could be overcome by using the drift by method to compensate. Of course, the greater the difference in the ambient temperature of the room and the chemical temperatures the more the temperature would drop. For b&w processing, this wouldn't be a real concern but when the processing temperatures are 104 degrees and the ambient temperature of my darkroom is 68-72 degrees, I am concerned.

    I will check out those drums. Could they be manually rolled in a water bath?

  8. #8
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    SRS... developing E6 roll film is not a problem as you point out. I don't process much roll film but, when I do, I wouldn't hesitate to use regular tanks. As I mentioned, I have very precise temperature control in my well-equipped darkroom. The problem is finding a good tank that uses small amounts of chemistry that can be placed in a water bath. As I said, my sink-line simply uses too much chemistry for my E6 needs with the exception of the times when I have a LOT of film to process.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZoneIII View Post
    I will check out those drums. Could they be manually rolled in a water bath?
    I assume so. I used the print drums [which I use for B&W 8x10] in a water bath for RA-4. It worked but got old in a hurry. The 2500 film drums and the 2800 print drums are the same externally. I can't see why you couldn't roll the mid size or bigger 2500 tanks in a water bath. Just wear an apron The smallest 2500 tank [2521/2523] I think wouldn't be a good choice in a water bath. Maybe it might work but it's so short I wouldn't be suprised if the tank ended up tilted.

  10. #10
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    The JOBO 2523/2521 tank holds one 4x5 reel for up to 6 sheets and can be run with as little as 270ml of chemistry. What about an aquarium heater to keep the water bath up to temp? I have seen it mentioned before, though I have never tried it. I use my CPP-2 to run my E-6. The temps for all steps through color dev (including the wash after the 1st dev) are critical. I have seen some E-6 go too far off color to be usable from the first rinse coming in off temp.

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