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  1. #1

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    Developing Tips for 4x5 from one Novice to Others

    After asking some questions on this site and experimenting, I hit on what seems a fool proof developing process. I shoot 4x5 Adox (Efke) 25 sheets. (The low ISO is because I use a pinhole camera and cannot control the time accurately enough for faster film and shorter exposure.) I bought BTZS Tubes and Tray (a set of tubes, the caps for which sit in the tray that holds a bath of water where the tubes are spun to agitate whle processing). I also cut out of thick fiberglass mesh (window screen) mats just larger than the film. I roll the film into the mesh then slide the mesh and film into the tubes. Then, using nothing but the caps for solution(and at 20 degree C): 5 minute water bath; 10 minutes D76 (mixed at 1 +3, though I know there are better developers); 5 minutes stop bath; 5 minutes high-speed fixer with hardener (Adox 25 is soft). I shut the lights off at each stage when transferring caps not because it's necessary after developer but because I apply solution only in the caps so the lights don't have to stay off for long and all I need to find in the dark is the next set of caps, which sit securely in the tray that came with the tubes. When the fixer is done, I remove the mesh and negative from the tray and rinse them both in running water (the only tray needed other than the main BTZS tray). I then hang the negatives to dry.

    Witout any talent or much experience this process yields every time properly developed, scratchless, streakless, blotchless, clean negatives. The only drawback to this process, as experienced photographers likely noted a paragraph ago, is that it is difficult to develop more than two negatives at a time. But for a casual hobbyist this is not a big deal, at least not to me, given the consistently good results, low chemical usage (2 oz per cap, though discarded after one use), and low space requirements.

    Hope this helps someone as other posts have helped me.

  2. #2

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    Good choice, using the BTZS tubes. I've been developing 4x5 since the late '60's and the smoothest negatives I've ever get is with BTZS tubes.

    For the low cost of a couple of 8x10 trays you could drop the tubes in the stop and then clear the negs out of the tubes in fixer. That's the BTZS way and then theres no screens involved. The screens would make me nervous with Efke. But hey, if it works, keep on. My standard developer is D-76 1+1. At 1+3 I would think you would need more than 2oz. per 4x5. If using the BTZS tray you can do six negatives at a time, am I missing something?

  3. #3

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    I like the idea of placing the film in the screen carriers. I tried 1.5 inch diameter PVC tube (BTZS home brew design)) and had a problem with scratches. I think from the edges of the tubes.

    Has anyone tried a larger diameter tube, say 3 inch or even 4 inch tubes?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by photobum View Post
    Good choice, using the BTZS tubes. I've been developing 4x5 since the late '60's and the smoothest negatives I've ever get is with BTZS tubes.

    For the low cost of a couple of 8x10 trays you could drop the tubes in the stop and then clear the negs out of the tubes in fixer. That's the BTZS way and then theres no screens involved. The screens would make me nervous with Efke. But hey, if it works, keep on. My standard developer is D-76 1+1. At 1+3 I would think you would need more than 2oz. per 4x5. If using the BTZS tray you can do six negatives at a time, am I missing something?
    You are not missing anything, but there is a chance I am. (Hey, I said I was a novice at this, haven't used a darkroom since I was a teenager, many years ago.)

    So first, the two-negatives-at-a-time comment. I'm working on a small counter in a small bathroom and in a community that accepts photo-chemicals at the town dump only twice every six month. Thus I have two issues: one is space for the 8 x 10 trays, which I own; the other is the extra chemical used in trays when developing only, say, four or six negatives in a session, which is the most I do. Regarding the latter, to fill an 8 x 10 tray with stop bath deep enough to cover the negatives in the tubes I would need more than the cap-full per solution per negative that I use now. So my process is to put a capful of developer, stop bath, and fixer for each negative I'm developing and there is only space for six caps in the BTZS tray, so two negatives at a time. This said, I'm sure I'll tire soon of the time this takes and so will likely follow your advice, finding both the room and a place to store or dispose of the extra chemicals (advice on disposal welcome too). And although I think my negatives look good at 2 oz. of D76 at 1 + 3, I may not konw what I'm missing so I'll switch to 1 + 1.

    Second, after reading your conern about the screens (and recalling a prior one on this site) I went back to take a closer look at my negatives. Turned at an angle to the light I can say a pattern of the mesh as an indentation to the back of the negative. These can't be seen when the negatives are viewed straight on and don't seem to appear in the prints, but I may be missing it; these are pinhole pictures, few of which are crystal clear to begin with. So if can see the pattern on the negatives, however faintly, should I worry that they are degrading the prints? If so, I'll give up on the mesh (despite my praise for it above) and figure out a way to pull the negatives out of the tubes without the mesh and without scratching the backs against the edge of the tubes (which would be at least as bad as the mesh pattern).

    Thanks for the advice, and I will in any case stick with the tubes. Oh, yeah, and one last question regarding going to the standard BTZS tube development process: Is an orange safelight used for developing prints sufficiently dim to keep on while the tubes are in the tray of stop bath and while I take the negatives out of the stop bath before putting them in the fixer?

    Thanks,

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobalobo View Post
    I'm working on a small counter in a small bathroom and in a community that accepts photo-chemicals at the town dump only twice every six month.

    Thanks for the advice, and I will in any case stick with the tubes. Oh, yeah, and one last question regarding going to the standard BTZS tube development process: Is an orange safelight used for developing prints sufficiently dim to keep on while the tubes are in the tray of stop bath and while I take the negatives out of the stop bath before putting them in the fixer?

    Thanks,
    Check your local regulations carefully. Spent developer and stop bath is usually ok for the drain in many areas for home darkrooms, as they don't generate the quantities of chemicals a commercial operation does. If your local regs permit it, and it is more an enviroment concern on your part, that is something you must decide for yourself. Most darkroom chemicals don't really pose much hazard in the megadilution they arrive in at the treatment plant, and most begin to break down before you're even done with them. Again check your local regs, and make sure you aren't laboring under the regs for a commercial lab. Fixer, selenium, etc. must be properly disposed of, but you shouldn't be generating those in any great quantity.

    Regarding the lights, best to keep them off till your in the fix.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lobalobo View Post
    If so, I'll give up on the mesh (despite my praise for it above) and figure out a way to pull the negatives out of the tubes without the mesh and without scratching the backs against the edge of the tubes (which would be at least as bad as the mesh pattern). Thanks,

    I use Efke 25 and Efke 100 in 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 sheet sizes. I don't use fiberglass screens in my tubes and have no problems with scratches, dings, etc. However, I spent some time with fine grit sandpaper and acetone removing all the burrs, nicks and sharp edges from my tubes. My tube surfaces are now very smooth. To remove the processed film, I partially fill the tube with water and "float" the film out.
    Tom Hoskinson
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  7. #7

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    You have cleared some things up. But I think JB is right. After all stop bath is really vinegar. It's the fixer that has the silver. And how much are you really producing? I have never had the edge of a real BTZS tube scratch a negative. I find for ease of use to leave just a bit of one corner above the top edge to make it easy to pick or peel out. Down side is you would need a screen to clear the neg if it's kept in the tube. I'm not to sure that even a screen will allow a negative to clear properly still in a tube. T-max would be really tough.

    And yes once the developing is done an orange safe light is fine. Once your tubes are screwed onto the developer caps, you can work under dim light for all the following steps. You might want to load the tubes with the developer and do the rest on a kitchen table or counter. Just working at night would be plenty dark enough.

  8. #8

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    Where I live there are drinking wells and so anything down the drain might not get very diluted before ending up in a drinking glass. Don't recall what the stop-bath says (even the no-odor kind I use) but I do recall that there are environmental warnings on the developer (and of course the fixer) and so down the drain is not an option. I will just store jugs of the stuff in my garage and not miss a disposal day at the dump.

    Thanks to all.



 

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