First Timer: BW Film Kit?
I've been developing paper negatives in the darkroom for a while now (pinhole stuff) and I think I'm ready to give film a try. Curious if anyone is familair with or can comment on the practicaltiy of a kit. I'm looking at this one from Adorama:
Beseler Developing Outfit
Looks like it includes everything I would need short of the chemicals.
It has everything, but to me it looks quite pricey. The only real thing you need is a reel and a tank. I've used the plastic AP tanks/reels which are clones of the Patterson System 4 ones. You can buy them new for a lot less, or if you have time you can pick them up for cheap on craigslist or other classifieds. Just buy some plastic measuring cups from the dollar-store for cheap. A good thermometer is helpful too but shouldn't be too expensive.
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Originally Posted by Sirius Glass
Get a stainless tank and reel. If you are doing 35mm then Hewes reels are really nice to have, but so are Nikor reels, and most of us have used generic Japanese reels with spring clips for most of our lives.
The stop, fix and hypo-clear you have for prints work for film.
You will need film developer: D-76, Xtol, ID-11 are all good choices. To eliminate water spots you will need some 'Photo Flo' - But a bottle of Isopropyl alcohol mixed into a gallon jug (a gallon minus a pint) of distilled water works fine as a final rinse to remove water spotting.
Look at Craig's list for any locals who are closing down their darkrooms.
Save your money for an enlarger.
In addition to being expensive, that kit includes items for making prints (such as trays) which, from your post, I don't think you need. Here's my suggestion of where to start:
Plastic tank with 2 adjustable reels for developing up to 2 35mm or 1 120 (see below)
Small "graduate" to measure up to 4 oz in 1/2 oz increments (to measure out chemicals)
16 oz measuring cup (to hold enough working solution to fill the tank)
4 "Bulldog" clips (http://www.faqs.org/photo-dict/phras...dog-clips.html) to hold the film while drying; or something similar
Plastic or glass bottles to hold working solutions of chemistry (should be opaque or stored away from light)
For chemistry, start with a fairly mainstream developer (D76 or it's equivalent). You might find a liquid developer easier to work with. Use "one shot" (i.e. mix up enough working solution for the film you're developing and then toss that working solution after 1 use). I think you can avoid the stop bath and just use water unless you are working with slow development times (under 5 min). I think any fixer should be fine to start. And Photo-Flo.
Plastic reels are generally easier to load. Yes, they do need to be dry to load (which is why hair dryers were invented). Or you can buy a couple of extra reels. You may go to stainless eventually, but I'd stick with plastic for now.
All this can be found on Craigslist for pennies on the dollar if you're patient - or try a "wanted" ad. Best online source to get everything is Freestyle. But also consider a local store IF they have the expertise to show you how to load the reels, etc.
I agree with others that the kit you point to is overpriced, although with a caveat: The description mentions an easel and a "printing guide," either of which might be worth $20-$40 by itself -- or not, depending on what they are. The description's vague enough, and the photo is poor enough, that it's hard to judge. You can buy separate items, as others have suggested; but if you prefer to simplify the ordering process, you might try one of these, sold by Freestyle:
For developing film to negatives, the $40 kit has all you need in terms of hardware, except for bottles to hold your chemicals. You'll need chemicals too, of course. Sadly, I don't know of any easy-to-buy chemical kits from the regular outlets. When I first started, I was confused enough by all the options that I found an eBay dealer who sold a "B&W student chemistry kit" with all I needed to get started. Another option is to check with Ilford, Kodak, or some other B&W chemistry supplier; their Web sites list all the chemicals you need, and then you can find those at B&H, Freestyle, or wherever.
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There is a big debate about plastic versus stainless steel reels, but I'm a big fan of the Paterson plastic ones (even though I do use stainless occasionally, if I'm doing many batches of film and I run out of dry tanks and reels). I have a Paterson reel from about 1977 that still works fine, although it's a distinct yellowish colour now. The reels are quite easy to load. There are some secrets to make it easier (cut the corners off the film if you have trouble; try to cut 35mm film between perforations - you can do that in the light if you fish out the leader).
I find 120 not too bad on stainless reels, but 35mm I find to be a real bear. Maybe I just need more practice, but I see little point in practicing when I can load 36 exposures onto a Paterson reel in about 20 seconds.
Anyway, good luck! Soon you'll have your own opinions.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
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Care package from my surplus will be winging its way to bvy in the next day or two. PM sent. Bill Barber
Thanks for the responses. This thread will be a good reference for me going forward -- especially about the chemicals (may come back with more questions). And thank you, Bill (nsurit)! Bill insists I not send him anything, so I believe my only choice is to acknowledge his generosity on behalf of the entire APUG community and become an APUG subscriber. Really a great group of people here…
The parcel is wrapped and waiting for the next stage coach that comes through town. Actually I'm out in the country and my next trip into town (about 25 minutes) will be on Saturday. I think it is a great trade. Some of my surplus for a new subscriber to APUG. Bill Barber
Nice to know that people like Bill exist.