Briefly, I am returning to film photography as a hobby after an absence of almost 40 years. Although I enjoy shooting film, my primary enjoyment was the darkroom side of things. Of course I use digital for all the quickie no-brain stuff, but the lure of the darkroom is what has sucked me back into film photography. My first real darkroom since college is currently under construction in my basement.
Because fim photography halted its forward progress 20 years ago, I find that now I am only catching up on 20 years of change, not 40 years. Still, much has changed, and most of the big names have either gone away, or changed.
I thought one of the technical offerings I would explore is that of drum processing for film and paper. Back in the late 60's, drum processing had not yet arrived on scene, except for the stainless steel "rocker" trays for paper processing.
During the past month or so of trying to re-educate myself on darkroom work, I find that drum processing systems at one time were offered by Beseler, Ciba, and Jobo. Looks like Jobo went out of business in the US, but has returned recently with redesigned models. I believe Beseler and Ciba no longer market drum systems, but they are on eBay routinely.
So here's my question for those of you who have lived through and perhaps utilized various drum processing systems. If I were to want to include this technology in my "new" darkroom, what would be your comments and or recommendations of how to do it; what to purchase; or other comments. Again, my application would be roll fim and paper processing up to 11x14.
Thanks for your comments, and for your time.
Speed Gray, K8SG
Grand Rapids, MI
I use drum processing for both film and paper - but differently. I shoot mostly 4x5 and MF, B/W as well as E6 transparancy. I wouldn't want to develop the film in anything but the rotary processor - the results are good, and very consistent. FWIW, I use a Jobo CPP2 with the lift. I have also done hand processing in daylight tanks, tray processing of film, BTZS tubes, and tanks/hangers - all work, but nothing is as easy or consistent as the Jobo.
For paper it is a different story. I only print B&W, and my darkroom allows me to process easily in trays for prints up to 11x14 in size. I can print 16x20 with a bit of juggling, and 20x24 is just not possible. I have a drum which allows me to print up to 20x24 on the Jobo Processor but I don't get to watch it develop, and it is enough work that I need to really want the large print to make things worthwhile.
So - to answer your question - for roll film processing, you can get by with the little Jobo processor (CPE?), which I assume works like the bigger one. For prints up to 11x14, I would stick with trays. If you are just doing B&W, you can get away without the processor and save some coin, but for colour, I think that the rotary processor is the best way to get consistent results.
Thanks for your reply. I have the same opinion as you; drum processing for film for the consistency and repeatability aspect, and tray processing for prints. I too will be doing only B&W, at least in the near future.
Jobo certainly provides the most options for semi-automatic film processing. New ones (CPP3) are pretty expensive but not prohibitive. There are some really good cost-saving options buying used on eBay.
in my Jobo research I have come to the opinion that:
1. They have recently introduced a new machine, as mentioned above.
2. They have cut back their model offerings, and perhaps do not support earlier models with continued replacement parts availability.
3. Some of the models had a drive motor problem which was symptomatic; replacement motors are not readily available.
So I will continue to "mull it over" for awhile; but long term I will probably buy one of Jobo's models (probably the CPE2 with lift) and enjoy its capability.
Speed Gray, K8SG
Grand Rapids, MI
I agree with your assessment on the Jobos. My CPP2 is very old, and has lots of things wrong with it, but it limps along. Others have reported issues with the motor on these older units, but that is one of the few things on mine that has not required attention. One of these days I will replace the CPP2 with a new CPP3 + Lift. The Lift is not really an option when using the larger drums.
If you want to do rotary processing "on the cheap" find a Unicolor Uniroller. Use a Unicolor Film Drum for roll film, reels are similar to Paterson but a different diameter, drum has a movable cofferdam so that you only use enough chemicals to process the number of rolls you have loaded, roller is bi-directional, drum walls are thick enough that you can process color (and the Unicolor color processing kits have instructions for their drum system). The only problems are that the drum lids leak and no new gaskets are available but you could use Paterson tanks and reels. For 4x5 get an Omega Print Drum (the one made by Simmard) or a Simmard branded drum is outside the US. The Omega Drum has ribs for chemical access to the back of the film sheets and separators for multiple films in one tank.
Better Work of new machine