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  1. #1
    aaronmichael's Avatar
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    4x5 B&W Tray Processing

    Learned how to use the view camera about a week ago from my professor and am going out tomorrow to Freestyle to pick up some Arista ISO 100 film and hoping to shoot next weekend. I've never developed 4x5 though. We got a demo from our professor on doing it with the trays so I think that's how I'm going to do it. However, there were a lot of steps and things he might not have mentioned. Any advice to a newbie on things to be careful of and how to handle the film? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Just don't want to go through all the "trouble" of using the view camera and then having my negatives turn out horrible.

  2. #2
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I would use a tray one size bigger than your film, and don't skimp on developer. You can squeeze by with 4 oz. of developer for one sheet of 4x5 in a 5x7 tray, but the level is very low; I prefer to use 8 oz., even though it is a bit wasteful.

    I personally avoid the "shuffle" method because I am no good at preventing scratches, no matter how careful I am. But many people swear by it.

    I would also agitate by lifting the film out of the solution and draining it a different way each time, as opposed to rocking the tray. Rocking works fine, but lifting works better IMO. Try to find a tray with a ridged bottom, if possible. And wear gloves, even though it is a PITA. Even if you don't have any reactions to the chems, they can develop with exposure over time (kind of like poison oak; the more you come into contact with it, the more allergic you get); and no photo chemical is actually good for you to touch, even if it won't necessarily hurt you.

    IMHO, Nikkor tanks and hangars with replenishment is the way to go if you will be shooting lots of sheet film. D-76 is a good choice for this. Does CSULB have 1/2 gallon tanks and hangers, or are they only set up for tray development? I've heard their photo department is very good; I would be surprised to hear that they do not have Nikkor or Kodak tanks and hangers. Bring your own two quarts of D-76 to fill the tank, and another quart of D-76 replenisher, and you are set.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  3. #3
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Agree with 2/F 2/F - don't skimp on developer. I use a quart (a pint of D-76 stock plus a pint of water) in an 5x7 porcelain tray.

    Gloves help reduce scratches from your fingernails or rough callouses.

    I develop emulsion up. I try so hard not to agitate too much. For example my goal is to slide one sheet from the bottom and place it on top once every 15 seconds. The fewer moves, the fewer scratches. In the end, I always have fine scratches in the base but only occasional scratches in the emulsion. Smooth skies is the reward of tray development.

  4. #4
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Wow! That is a ton of developer for a tiny 5x7 tray, Bill. But you are doing the shuffle method. I was talking about 8 oz. for one sheet.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  5. #5
    ronlamarsh's Avatar
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    another method

    I agree with you if you've gone to the trouble of using a 4x5 not to mention the expense its a sorry day to ruin it in the darkroom. That said: i've tried the shuffl technique and failed miserably with otherwise beautiful images ruined by scratches. I develope my 5x7's singly in an 8x10 tray with 1L of developer and use the rocking technique for agitation works beautifully. For 4x5 I took an 8x10 tray and made dividers to create four sections and glued them in place with aquarium cement. The dividers were made from sheet plastic. I used a hole saw to make 2in holes then cut the plastic in strips cutting the holes in half then glued them "hole down" this seems to allow adequate flow for agitation as I never have any trouble with uneven development even with highly diluted developers such as XR1. But it took some time to do the construction. Photographers formulary sells a tray that fits into an 11x14 paper tray and is divided to do 6 4x5's or 4 5x7's. If you are in a hurry develope them singly in a 5x7 or 8x10 tray that's the best way to keep them safe.
    No escaping it!
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  6. #6
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    If you're going to go with the tray method, make the effort to find a 'slosher tray' -- a rack that drops into your tray and holds each sheet in its own little compartment.

    Works great, I have one and when I tried tray development it worked very well.
    "Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes."

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  7. #7
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    I develop 7 sheets at a time, one Grafmatic load and one test strip.

    I float the 5x7 tray in an 11x14 tray with some water to keep the temperature in the smaller tray steady.

    Not too much water in the water bath though. Once I noticed something funny so I measured the tray when I dumped it. I wrote in my notes that the tray had 10 oz more water in than when I started, so what started out 1:1 ended up 1:2.

    That brings me to a clarification/correction. I checked my tray. It barely holds 32 oz, so I must really mix only 10 oz D-76 + 10 oz water for 20 oz total.

  8. #8
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    I tray developed 4x5 one at a time in 5x7 -- two 5x7 trays sitting in an 11x14 tray so I could do two at a time. Film face up on the bottom of the trays and rocking the 11x14 tray.

    I slipped the fixed film into hangers to wash.

    One learns from one's mistakes, so don't stress about making a bunch!
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  9. #9
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Slosher trays sound like a good idea.

    The bad news, skies are magnets for scratches that are very difficult to hide.

    The good news. With practice, you will get fewer scratches. And scratches in a forest take about 15 minutes to spot out to invisibility.

  10. #10
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burk View Post
    That brings me to a clarification/correction. I checked my tray. It barely holds 32 oz, so I must really mix only 10 oz D-76 + 10 oz water for 20 oz total.
    I was surprised that you had a 5x7 tray that holds a quart, but when you said it, I thought that your porcelain tray might have tall sides. I love porcelain trays, but every time I find them, they have chips.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

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