Developing sheet films in trays is a time-proven method that works well for some people. In fact, some of the best photographers I know develop film this way and my hat is off to them for their ability.
Originally Posted by steve simmons
But for many others this method is a certain recipe for disaster. I tried it for years and the end result was a fairly high percentage of scratched negatives. And of course having to wear gloves, as any prudent person should do when developing film, made it even worse. And I really dislike having to stand around in the dark shuffling film for long periods of time.
Eventually I switched to rotary processing in tubes of the BTZS type with 5X7 film and in print drums for ULF film. The change for me resulted in a vast improvement in the quality of my negatives because I now never see the scratches that plagued my efforts at sheet processing. And I can do most of the developing with the lights on.
One option for those who like to develop in trays but are concerned about scratches is to put the film in open ended PVC tubes and roll them around in a tray filled with developer. I recall that someone did an article on this type of tray developing some years ago in one of the national magazines but I can not place the reference at this time. You need 1.5" tubes for 4X5 film, 2" for 5X7 and 3" for 8X10. It would be very inexpensive to give this method a try because all you have to do is cut a piece of PVC tubes, which is dirt cheap, into tubes of the right length. Assuming you already have the trays to roll them around in of course. And of course you have to stand around in the dark!!