Having absorbed comments here and by email, clearly there’s enough interest to make drawings so I can get pricing info. I suspect there are more photographers out there who would be interested in using the 3063 if they could get better results—simply. To elaborate on a few things, while it’s true that some of us don’t have a lot of time to spend in the darkroom, it’s also true that some of us don’t have darkrooms, explaining one attractive feature of a daylight processor like the Jobo. Since the traditional darkroom isn’t essential for working with many alternative processes, I’m loading film at night and developing it the next day when I’m better rested and not as prone to making mistakes.
I have the demands of daily life and family as well; however, for me, maybe the predicament is reversed: it’s easier to find time to develop negatives than to get out and shoot them, so any technique or innovation that will help insure my success seems worth thorough investigation—and I’ve considered many of them.
I’ve heard mention of the elusive “screen” material, but I’m trying to avoid use of tabs, clips, buttons—anything that can alter the flow of developer within the drum resulting in a predictable pattern. That’s one of the problems with the 3063 as it is—the developer flows through the gaps in the ridges used to hold the film in place and causes unevenness. If the film is wrapped within another sheet of material,developer can rush in through spaces and at the far end of the drum, causing similar problems. I can’t see that these approaches would improve upon the basic drum, though I’d be interested in hearing results.
If it were just a matter of speed and quantity maybe I could live with a tray, but there are other factors to recommend the Jobo. For me, it all comes down to repeatability and less worry: precise temperature control, use of smaller volumes of solution allowing “one-shot” development, freedom from concern about damage from corners and other unforeseen possibilities. And, as mentioned, there’s also the matter of toxicity.
The idea of having six sheets of 12X20 film—that is, ten square feet—exposed and vulnerable in a tray makes me uncomfortable—especially with the long development times (in some cases up to twenty minutes) required to provide the proper densities for the printing processes I’m using. My hat is off to those who can complete such an operation to their satisfaction, but my results with 4X5 and 8X10 were never so impressive that I want to take the risk to a higher level. At $13.00 a sheet I don’t feel like I have the luxury of practicing. How consistent is tray development batch to batch? Warmth of fingertips, variations in ambient room temperature—surely, these must affect the evenness and consistency. The only way to test this would be to make identical negatives, develop them in different runs, and read them for consistency. What I want is a constant that I can rely on and adjust as needed. I prefer developing one or two negatives under controlled conditions, with the opportunity to adjust density as required. Though it may take more time, I’d rather fine-tune a negative in hopes of saving time and frustration in printing later.
Some have asked about variations that will accommodate other film sizes. If it’s practical to produce this one and sell it successfully, maybe I could move on to other dimensions: 14X17 would require tubes with larger inner diameters making them even more oblong. (I didn’t mention before that the tubes for 12X20 are only .25 inch out-of-round.) The question that would have to be answered is at what point the elliptical shape of the tube would start to affect evenness of development as the drum turns—or would it?
So far I’ve tested FP4 and TMY, both in D-76, and the results are encouraging to me. I wish I could place the prototype with others to test, but it’s made of mylar and various glues and is nearly at the end of its life. I need to come up with the manufactured version if possible, so I’ll keep you posted….