I am finally ready to make some 16x20 prints. My first ones will be contact prints of some glass plates that someone is hiring me to print. No, he doesn't have the camera, but I'd love to see that thing, and, yes, I've printed smaller contacts for him and warned him this will take more time and be way more expensive.
Anyway, my question is this - how much liquid (developer, stop, etc..) do you usually use at this size? I usually use 1 liter for 8x10 and 2 liters for 11x14. Is 3 liters enough? I'm not really going to be able to slosh the trays much because they're on a rack (thank you, Jim), so they need enough to cover well.
I'd just put in water in the trays and see. You'll need to figure out about how many prints per liter the chemistry can take. I use three litres and change after 20 prints. Considering the price for the prints, the chemistry is dirt cheap. make sure you have fresh fixer and use two fixer baths.
I use a gallon for 16x20 printing. It covers the paper very nicely.
My developer of choice is replenished Ethol LPD. Its capacity is amazing, and I only need to replenish 300ml fresh developer every 7-8 prints (30 8x10 equivalent). And then top up the gallon as needed when it's poured back into its container.
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Thanks, guys! I doubt I'll manage more than a few prints so I'm not that worried about developer capacity. I'm also doing RC. I guess I'll make 3 liters to start and see how it goes. The plates are actually 14" x 17" I remembered. My customer is paying for materials as well an hourly fee, so the minor cost of chemistry isn't too bad. I still need to find a stool so I can stand and be able to see into the top tray. This sink is bigger than my last darkroom's and it still isn't big enough.
I use Ilford Multigrade developer on Kentmere fiber at a 1:9 ratio. 10 oz of developer lasts me all day with no degradation of quality that I can see. My set up is developer, Ilford stop, fix, fix and running water wash for a hour or more in a vertical washer.
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Second what Thomas said, except I don't save and re-use diluted print developer.
I would use LPD 1:2, and make a gallon. My advice would be to make the gallon, you'll like having the additional volume. If you save kinking one print, you've paid for the additional chems.
I use 3L for doing 16x20 in the patterson trays. I level them up good too.
With the larger area to oxidize, I find the dektol darkens notably quicker than an 8x10 or 11x14 tray.
With 16x20 RC paper you really have to be careful handling it.
Have you considered a 21" length of 6" PVC pipe and wallpaper trays? You don't need end caps if you are working under safelight.
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When I do 16x20, I use a single tray and pour the chemicals in and out of half gallon/2 liter pitchers. This is very easy and takes up very little space in the sink.
I use 2 liters of Dektol in a 16x20 tray.