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  1. #1
    Henry Alive's Avatar
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    Should I work with Stainless Steel Tank and Reels for developing 120 film?

    I have always worked with plastic Paterson tank and reels for processing the film in both 35 mm and 120. Recently, when I was developing two 120 films, a straight line parallel to the border film appeared in one of them. As I think it could be a mechanical problem with one of the plastic reels, I have decided to buy new reels and replace the older.
    However, it could also be the opportunity to change to Stainless Steel Tank and Reels. I would like to know your opinion. Additionally, I ask you to recommend me what stainless steel system to buy and, if possible, the internet link to the on line store.
    Thanks for your help,
    Henry.

  2. #2

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    I learned to process film with plastic reels and tanks and it worked just fine. Later on, when I worked in the darkroom at work they used stainless reels. Once I used stainless, I liked it and converted my own film processing to stainless.
    Film loaded faster for me in 35mm and 120 using stainless reels and cleanup seemed better.

    I would recommend Hewes reels. They work the best for me and are highly regarded. Found some here:

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/140120...-Reel-120-size

    and

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/140135...teel-Reel-35mm

  3. #3
    photoncatcher's Avatar
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    I was also started out with Yankee, and paterson tanks, and my late Dad always prefered them. While doing my part in the USAF in the 70's as a photo tech, I was kind of forced to use SS tanks, and reels (that was all there was). I like the durability of them, and the fact that they can be dried much easier, and faster than the plastic kind. Be aware that there is a learning curve, and you will need to practice on some dummy film. I personally feel that the life span of these tanks, and reels make them a great investment. I have some 35mm reels that are over 35 years old. Lots available on the "Bay" for pennies on the dollar.

  4. #4

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    I prefer plastic. Others prefer stainless. Which will you prefer? The only way to find out is to try stainless and find out. Buy a one reel tank and use it enough times to get the hang of it. Then you'll be able to answer the question for yourself. If you find you prefer plastic, you won't be out much money. If you prefer stainless, you'll already have one tank.

  5. #5
    Rick A's Avatar
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    I learned on plastic in the early 60's, but soon switched to stainless. Loading ss reels is second nature for me.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum

  6. #6
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    It depends for me. For C-41 I try to maximize the number of films I run with the 1L of fresh chemistry, and then maximize any second run done within a day of the chems first being used.

    With Pterson reels, I am able to load 2-120 rolls end to end on the same reel, joining them with film splicing tape (blue max brand) after the first one is approaching being fully drawn into the spirals.

    Then I can usallly feed 4-120 rolls though 1L of chems.

    With my stainless tank I have never been able to sucessfully double load rolls end to end.

    I have never been able to convince myself that loading films back to back is a good idea, but have heard of others doing this. If I did, then I would stick to stainless.

    I like Paterson SS4 tanks, since the chems pour in and out faster than with my stainless steel tanks. I usually resort to taking the lids off in the dark when doing c-41 in stainless to get the developer in and out consistently enough at just 3:15 for the processing time. Then the challenge is to find the lid when it comes time to agitiate the stop bath.
    my real name, imagine that.

  7. #7

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    The big advantage to me with plastic is easy pour in right down the funnel. Film wets evenly bottom up and fast immersion.

    The very best way to do stainless is drop the reel to be developed into a prefilled tank in the dark. When you add developer thru the top. I runs around the light baffle and wets the frames on the outside of the reel on one side. You really do not want to do this because it causes uneven development. The bigger the tank, the more it is a problem.

    Clip the leading corners on film going on a plastic reel for smooth feed.

    Plastic tanks have less heat transfer so getting them to operating temp takes longer.

    The worst problem is you can not get wetting agent ( Photo Flow) on the plastic. Close to impossible to remove and it makes the reels sticky thus hard to load even when dry in the future.

    I have stainless for 50 years now and all I do is rinse off in hot water and take care not to drop them.

    I took a few spins with plastic, and returned to SS.

  8. #8
    JerseyDoug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronald Moravec View Post
    Plastic tanks have less heat transfer so getting them to operating temp takes longer.
    Conversely, I begin processing film with my developer at working temperature and the plastic tank maintains that temperature much better when the ambient air temperature is much higher or lower.

    The worst problem is you can not get wetting agent ( Photo Flow) on the plastic. Close to impossible to remove and it makes the reels sticky thus hard to load even when dry in the future.
    Interesting. I use three drops of Photo Flo in 500 ML of water and have never had a problem with my Patterson reels. A difference with the water perhaps?

    I have both SS and plastic tanks. They both have their good points. Myself, I haven't used the SS tanks in years.

  9. #9

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    SS tanks and reels are not a huge investment and if you pick them up used you could sell them for what you paid for them so why not give it a shot, you really haven't got much to louse.

    I'm a "go with what works person" I use SS for 120 and Paterson for 35mm.

    Still I say give it a try.
    "Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
    "Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"

    Me

  10. #10

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    I have used both SS and Patterson, and far prefer Patterson tanks and reels, I find them easier and quicker to load both for 35mm and 120, I can develop 2 120 films per reel and the chemicals pour in and out a lot quicker, and I find I get more even development,Richard

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