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  1. #1

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    Tray development of 5 x 4"

    I've just ordered some sheet film to run through my sorely under-used MPP and realise I'm very rusty on the development side of large format. Last time I used it, about fifteen years ago I had access to a lab - now I have only the bathroom and some trays.

    Can anyone advise on tray development? Is film scratching a problem? How many sheets can I put it at one time? How much developer is needed, what sort of agitation and how do I know when it's exhausted? Any tips on drying sheet film? All advice gratefully received.

  2. #2
    paul_c5x4's Avatar
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    In reverse order:
    Drying - I hang 5x4 sheets by the corner using freezer bag clips (Found some at Morrisons for 99p).
    Development - Single shot in D76/ID11 or 510-pyro is the norm for me.
    Trays - I use a Paterson Orbital (these sometimes appear on ebay at inflated prices). I did try tray processing once, but found it to be a pain the rear.

    Which model of MPP do you have ?

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by paul_c5x4 View Post
    In reverse order:
    Drying - I hang 5x4 sheets by the corner using freezer bag clips (Found some at Morrisons for 99p).
    Development - Single shot in D76/ID11 or 510-pyro is the norm for me.
    Trays - I use a Paterson Orbital (these sometimes appear on ebay at inflated prices). I did try tray processing once, but found it to be a pain the rear.

    Which model of MPP do you have ?
    Thanks Paul, I think we have some of those clips lying around. ID-11 is my poison of choice for 35mm so there's plenty of stock solution at home. I have dev'd sheet film in trays long ago and far away but have downloaded the pain and trauma and frankly, everything else associated with the practice so for the moment I'll persevere with slopping about in darkness.

    The MPP is in my son's bedroom and he's asleep so I'll check the model tomorrow. I gave it a clean and strip down a few months ago and all appeared to be in order. Thanks again.

  4. #4

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    hi blockend

    the way i process my films in trays is as follows ..
    1 tray is water
    1 tray is developer ( i use about 1L / 5x7 tray when processing 4x5 film )
    1 tray is water ( no stop )
    1 tray is fixer

    some folks do as few as 2 sheets at a time, some do 8 ...
    i often times do between 8 and 12 and have done as many as 36 at the same time ..
    the most important thing is to be consistent the way you shuffle your film

    i take the film out of the holders and orient them all the same way ...
    then 1 sheet at a time into the water bath
    i shuffle them in the water bath and make sure they aren't stuck together
    sheet film gets stuck together and is a real PITA that way.
    once the film is separated i count them to make sure ...
    and then the whole stack goes into the developer.
    i count them again to make sure they aren't stuck together ...
    and keep the stack together with my left hand while i pull the bottom sheet up and flop it on the top.
    my hand pushes the top sheet down and i grab the next sheet .. again and again ..
    from time to time i stop and look at my graylab timer,
    it is too dim and i have trouble reading it where i process sink-side ...then i go back to the shuffle ...
    i take the stack of film and drain the developer off of it, and put them all in the 2nd water bath.
    the film is slippery and i shuffle through them a few times until they go into the fixer.
    i shuffle them in the fixer just like i did with the developer and water bath,
    and after a few min i put the light on ...

    some people have trouble with scratches when they pull the bottom sheet out
    because a corner may catch the film, or because they push the film to the bottom of the tray,
    or they are too rough with it ...

    before you process some film, if you have blank sheets or negatives you can just practice
    (in a water bath) with it might be helpful ... first with the lights on, then eyes shut then light out ...
    nothing is worse than the first time you process film in a tray
    being nervous because you think you are going to scratch the film ..

    good luck

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    hi blockend...

    ...good luck
    Thanks for the advice, I shall follow it to the letter, especially remembering not to process too many sheets at one time. Is the first water bath to ensure all sheets develop at the same rate? I shall probably use ID-11 1:3 with quite long dev times initially.

  6. #6

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    hi again

    i think the water bath is just to hydrate the emulsion, some people and some developers don't like it
    but i find it to be helpful, because it also removes the anti halation layer on the film ...

    - john

  7. #7
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    The best developer tray..
    http://www.pyrexware.com/index.asp?p...pc=71160046825
    the size that is used for baking a loaf of bread. It tapers to the bottom to be just less than the 4" width of a sheet of 4x5 film. So the film never rests on the bottom. It stays in a nice straight stack that is easy to get your finger under. Is also the perfect size for one of those syphon washers. Nicely holds a liter of developer and makes shuffling sheets easy to do.
    Dennis

  8. #8

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    Tom Johnston, who is on this site, did a nice set of tray development videos on youtube. I have them in one of my blog posts. http://365cameras.com/blog/?p=1014

    Brian

  9. #9
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    Lots of good advice here, so there isn't really much I can add. Patience. Be sure and methodical. I have disappointed myself more than once by scratching a difficult to replace negative. I don't doubt John can process a stack of 36 sheets. He is experienced and knows what he is doing. I have gone as high as 8 or 10, and have occasionally paid for my rashness. Consequently, I approach processing with the attitude of paying my time. With 8x10, I work with one sheet at at time. The sheets are expensive and I don't shoot that much, so mistakes are costly. With 4x5, I consider how badly I want to get through the stack, and generally divide my run into smaller batches.

    By the way, I generally work primarily by temperature and time, though occasionally I will develop by inspection. There are excellent articles on the process, so I won't try to duplicate them here. I will say this, though... even when I develop by inspection, 90% of the time the values are right when the timer runs out, so maybe it is just a little bit of impatience on my part to have visual feedback during my processing.

    It is really important to have fun when you are doing the work. I love the discipline and calm, step by step flow of working in the complete dark. Unless I royally screw something up, I leave the darkroom a lot more relaxed than when I went in.

    Cheers,
    Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada

    Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

    http://tom-overton-images.weebly.com


  10. #10

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    Thank you gentlemen, much appreciated.

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