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  1. #1
    bl1nd's Avatar
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    Developing tank setup newbie.

    Hello there. I'm fairly new to film photography, and am interested in setting up a daylight developing tank etc., rather than having an entire darkroom setup. Can anyone explain the details, hints tips, or just in general any recommendations as to brands, how to develop my film (35 and 120, some colour), supplies that come in handy and good places so set up. Anything at all would be helpful to me, and I'm welcome to anyone's 2 cents worth of information. Or more.

  2. #2
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Welcome. There is an excellent tutorial on the Ilford website. Everyone here shall be extremely helpful, but if you ask three people for recommendations, you'll probably get four answers while the first respondent is beginning to rethink what was said, so you'll have a fifth (vbg). Check out the Ilford site. And, once again, welcome; and have FUN!
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  3. #3
    yeknom02's Avatar
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    I started with a Paterson Super System 4 tank, with included plastic reel. I still use it if I'm developing either C-41 (for the thermal insulation) or 120 (because I like the way the reels load.)

    For 35mm I now use a steel tank with Hewes reels (teeth that grab the sprockets, rather than a spring-loaded clip). I like it because it takes less chemistry to use, and I can agitate it with holding it in one hand. Also, I like the fit of the lid a bit better than the Paterson, which is a bit tight. But still an excellent tank!

    Youtube has some excellent videos on how to load both types of film into reels, as well as both B&W and C-41 tutorials for using developing chemicals. A simple search should get you some good ones - just be sure to watch more than one!

    If you're using black and white film/chemistry, make sure to check out the Massive Dev Chart (http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php) for a guide on how long to develop. Most times assume constant agitation for the first minute and ten seconds per minute after, but double check under "notes" for each listing.

    In case no one else has recommended it, try to pick a single B&W film and developer combination to start off with, and do a TON of that combination so you can get a true feel for B&W developing. I made the mistake of getting a bunch of different films and I'm still in the dark in terms of learning how to work the chemical processes the way I want.

    Hope this helps.

    -Dan
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST
    My Flickr Gallery

  4. #4
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yeknom02 View Post
    ...try to pick a single B&W film and developer combination to start off with [and stick with it for a while]...
    And it is best to pick one that is trouble free and performs well. For every strange combination there is someone who will swear by it - and many more who will swear at it.

    Kodak TMax (or Ilford Delta) film - 100 ASA for 35mm, 400 for 120 - and Kodak D-76 (or Ilford ID-11) developer will always yield high-quality results. For this reason (and for reasons I don't understand) many people will recommend you use anything but.

    There are hundreds of posts declaiming East Block and private label films and odd developers. And even more pleading for help with pinholes, dust, scratches, curling, static, strange tonal renderings, streaks, drags, mysterious blobs and complete failure. Your time and effort in taking the picture are more valuable than any few dollars you may save with off-brand materials.

    On the subject of tanks - I'm firmly in the stainless steel camp. A good tank and reel will last you a lifetime - I still use ones I bought close on 50 years ago. Hewes make the best reels by a very wide margin. Nikor USA made the best tanks.

    You can set up anywhere. Most people start at the kitchen sink. A closet is all that you need for loading the tank. A pyrex graduate is adequate for mixing chemistry, and a set of liter pop bottles are as good as anything for storing it. Digital kitchen thermometers are cheap and reliable - you don't need accuracy for B&W as much as repeatability. You can often pick up a complete 'kit' on ebay or craigslist. A 'wanted' advertisement in the local paper should bring lots of offers to 'come over and take it away' from digerati, ex-wives and estate executors.

    Aside from developer you will need fixer (any brand will work), stop bath (1/2 white vinegar, 1/2 water works fine) and Photo-Flo.

    As John mentioned, there is a good tutorial on the Ilford web site.
    Last edited by Nicholas Lindan; 05-07-2010 at 07:39 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    DARKROOM AUTOMATION
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  5. #5

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    Here's a good demonstration; http://www.jasonbrunner.com/videos.html

    Also Ilford's site has good beginner information. http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/page.asp?n=9

  6. #6
    bl1nd's Avatar
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    This is just for future reference, but what about colour film? ( I'm wincing, I've heard some horror stories) I've heard some of the chemicals can be rather dangerous. Or should I just leave that to some professional developer?

  7. #7

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    I agree with Nicholas on film recs. Tri-X is a good film too. D-76 is THE standard developer. I personally use XTOL because it performs similarly for the most part plus it mixes up easily at room temperature, so I find it more user friendly. I prefer stainless too. If you do go stainless, get the Hewes reels - they are worth it.

    I'd also recommend a liquid rapid fix. Works faster, is easier to mix, and washes out faster. I wish someone had told me to use rapid fix instead of a non-rapid one when I started a couple years ago.

    Color is a bit more difficult because there are more baths and temperature control is important. More importantly, getting color chemicals can be difficult if you want liquid ones.

  8. #8

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    Welcome to APUG!

    My suggestion is for you to go to a local library and look up photography. While you can get most of what's needed on web, if you are entirely new to it, more coherent approach may be easier and better for you. If you find a book from 80s or earlier and there are plenty of them, many of them will do great job explaining (with pictures) how to proceed. Basically, you are asking, tell me everything! It can get quite confusing when lots of people chime in and try to tell you how they do their stuff in bits and pieces.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  9. #9

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    By the way, doing B&W film processing is pretty easy if you see it done once. It looks harder when you read about it and try to memorize the process. It looks impossibly complex when 10 people tell you how to do it....

    I don't know where you are, but if you are in central Florida, com'on over and I'll show you how I do mine.
    Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?

  10. #10
    yeknom02's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bl1nd View Post
    This is just for future reference, but what about colour film? ( I'm wincing, I've heard some horror stories) I've heard some of the chemicals can be rather dangerous. Or should I just leave that to some professional developer?
    Color (C-41) film is not difficult, though you want to be sure to have plenty of ventilation when developing, particularly when working with blix. Generally, It's a lot like b&w but at an elevated temperature.

    An E-6 process is a lot more strict w.r.t. temperature, so my advice is to send it to a lab.

    Here is a video on C-41: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB8qXU7dkNk

    -dan
    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST
    My Flickr Gallery

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