Tank and Reel
I have few questions:
1. Which one is recommended, the plastic tank or the steel tank?
2. Which is better, plastic reel or stainless steel reel?
3. Is it better to go with a tank that hold one 120 reel or 2-x reels? so can i develop one reel in a two-120-reels tank or it is better to develop one reel in a tank which hold 1 reel?
4. If getting a 2-3 reels  tank, can i develop 2-3 film rolls at once without issues [same process for the 3 rolls]?
I'm a beginner as well so my answers may be less than perfect:
1. I don't think there is much of a difference. The plastic ones are cheaper but you could theoretically break them if you dropped them.
2. The plastic reels tend to be easier to load. Remember the reels should be very dry before attempting to load
3. Not terribly much downside to a two reel tank. You can develop one reel in a two reel tank system. I have a two reel tank and have not developed more than one roll at a time so far.
4. The only difference I'm aware of is that if you may need slightly longer (10%) developing times when putting two reels in. Kodak recommends this for D-76 developer. Not sure if its the same with other developers.
Last edited by chris00nj; 02-19-2010 at 02:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: source Kodak, not my experience with d-76
Having used both stainless steel and plastic, I don't think there is a significant difference. The steel seem easier to clean but I have found that they are more susceptiable to ambiant air temperature than the plastic (If it is +30 degrees in the house, by the end of 10 minutes of developing, the temperature of the developer is no longer 20 degrees). I currently use the plastic Paterson system and have never had one break.
I also echo Chris is that one of the biggest issues is not perfectly dry reels: it is not good enough to have pretty dry reels! The slightest water droplet will cause the film to grab and then it is very difficult to walk the film on as the film continues to stick at the one spot. I develop 2 rolls of 120 on a reel by using the tape (which holds the film to the paper) to attach one to another. The biggest issue in such a method is aligning the film so they are straight.
I have never had to increase my development time when developing (I can do up to 6 rolls or 3 reels at a time) when using D-76, Rodinal or ID-11 (the latter being my preferred). The key for me is quickly getting the chemical in and intelligent agitation. When pouring in chemical, you cannot delay since the bottom of the stack has started developing prior to the top of the stack receiving chemical; this can be overcome by pouring out at the same rate as pouring in (still very quickly) since the top has more chemical than the bottom but the bottom still has developer on the film! Agitation needs to be intelligent since you are dealing with more liquid, thus it takes more action to move it but it moves for a longer period (an object in motion...); thus a more vigorous but shorter agitation is what I like to use.
Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.
I have stainless steel ones. Easy to clean, durable, and I can load one, process it, clean it, shake it dry, then do another. Plastic ones will stick until they are completely dry. Loading took few hours of practice.
I would recommend one reel tank. Being new, you'll likely to mess up some, and you'd want your damage to be minimal. Also, two reel tanks will take longer to fill and drain, contributing to potential uneven processing. Some people fill the tank then drop the reels in in complete darkness.
You CAN develop one film in two reel tanks, but you'll need to fill the chemical to the top and put an empty reel. This is to prevent excessive bubbling.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
I see, thank you very much!
Then i think i will develop one by one, even if i get used to the development, later if i feel i can develop 2 film at once then i may get another larger tank to take more reels.
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I also use stainless steel mainly for reasons stated above. Tried plastic once and ran into the "sticky-while-just-a-little-damp" problem. Also ran into trouble loading when I used film that had anti-halation backing (e.g. Maco 820c) or was otherwise thicker than normal (e.g. Kodak HIE). The trick to loading stainless is once you get the film started, just guide the film evenly as you wind the reel -- do not squeeze it.
Originally Posted by tkamiya
That's sound advice about the two reel tanks. You end up using twice the developer that way, assuming you use a one shot developer and discard it after use. And one shot is definitely the best way to go.
Some steel reels are designed better than others, and are easier to load well than the poorer designs. Getting Nikkor or Kindermann reels is worth the expense over the bargain reels. It takes some learning to load them, but not overly difficult. I was taught how to use stainless reels when I was about 13, by a pro industrial photographer...handed me a reel and a ruined roll of film, so I could learn initially in the light, then practice with my eyes closed. Hate the plastic reels. Kodak made plastic 'aprons' for roll film a very long time ago, and they were great to use, even when still wet/damp, too bad they discontinued them.
Get this tank and don't look back:
Keep your reels clean and dry and you will never have a problem. The only reason I no longer regularly use this tank is that I upgraded to Jobo rotary tanks and as I am a lazy man they are perfect for me. ;>)
Good luck with whatever you choose,
Thank you very much again.
Ian recommended me to go with Jobo tank, in fact i saw that tank and i see it the most perfect-like design tank i can see, and i added it to my wish list before, and after the recommendation i moved it to my order list and it includes a reel if true, but should i go with a steel reel of a good quality one?
Just i want a tank with no leaking as possible, and loading film to reel i will practice to death.
By the way... since we are talking about 120 film, let me add this.
After much frustration in loading stainless steel tank, I found the following will make the process MUCH easier and consistent.
1) Before attempting to load, separate film from backing. You can start unrolling and once the film appears, roll the film in the direction it curls naturally and let the paper backing drop. At the end, carefully peel the tape and fold it back on itself on the film.
2) Load from this taped end first.
For whatever reason, film loads much easier from the taped end than the end that you see first when you unroll the exposed film.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?