B&W development

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Nick J, Jun 7, 2004.

  1. Nick J

    Nick J Guest

    OK so I want to take another step in my photography education ;-)

    I've been shooting a bit of tri-x recently and think that mabybe I
    should start developing it myself.

    From what I can gather from the inter-web, chemical wise I need a
    developer, a stopper (water?) and a fixer

    equipment wise I need a developing tank and probably a light proof bag
    (I don't have access to a room I can make totally dark.)

    So I'm looking at a developing tank like this:

    Any newbie tips you'd care to share?

    Nick J, Jun 7, 2004
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  2. Nick J

    Bob Hickey Guest

    Actually, you don't even need anything that elaborate, just something that
    you can take the lid off in the light to pour out the developer and pour in
    the water then the fixer. I have a Jobo which uses just enough to get it
    developed. Little waste. I don't have a dark room either; I just wait till
    nite.Being as you shot Tri-X, I shoot old Tri-X400 @ 200 and the new 400TX @
    100. I use Rodinal @ 1:50. I don't think it's really a compensating formula,
    but it does die like a dog after a few minutes, so if I get involved with TV
    and let it run over a minute, no tragedy. Bob Hickey
    Bob Hickey, Jun 7, 2004
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  3. Nick J

    columbotrek Guest

    I am partial to the stainless tanks and reels over the plastic ones.
    The plastic reels just seemed to me to be a bit funky.


    I used the two reel tank. Get two reels. Then if you only need to do
    one roll, just place in an empty reel on top of the loaded reel as a
    spacer and use chemicals for one. Then if you ever want to get into MF,
    you have a one roll tank as well. Just get a MF reel. Note, the metal
    reels are a bit harder to learn to load in the dark. Worse in a bag.
    Practice with a length of exposed film in the light a while. Until you
    get good at it. Once you are, you find that you can load them faster
    and more consistently than with the plastic reels.

    Never use tap water to mix your chemicals. Only distilled.

    Control your temperatures! So you need a good thermometer.

    Some calibrated containers for mixing chemicals and others for storing
    them in.

    Some wetting solution so the water will not leave spots on your negs.

    Some weighted film clips and A dust free place to hang your film up
    while it dries.

    Some light cotton gloves to keep finger prints off your film while you
    handle it.

    Nice scissors.

    Church Key for removing the end of factory film cassettes. Re loadable
    ones just pop off which is another issue for when you are out in the
    field. Alternatively you can either retrieve the leader with a
    retrieving tool or leave the leader out. Then roll it directly from the
    cassette onto the reel. Then use the scissors to cut off the cassette.
    Requires more practice but handy for doing it in a bag.

    Some film storage sheets to protect the dried and cut film strips

    I never bothered with replenisher. Just pitch the old developer and mix
    up new. Less to keep track of that way.

    This basic kit will work for B&W and with different chemical kits you
    can do color as well. Lots more machinations to that and the chemicals
    are more toxic. I just let the lab do the color work. Mark Develop only
    when you drop them off.
    columbotrek, Jun 8, 2004
  4. Nick J

    Nick J Guest

    Cheers Bob,
    I've shot all my [email protected] 320 so i'll have a play with my developing
    time and see what I like the look of.

    A fellow from work has a got a small handheld tank he can lend me to
    have a play.

    I'll be getting my chemicals from the local store

    On a sample size of one I'll give it a shot with the rodinal. I'm
    guessing as it's my first go I'll be anally retentive about the times
    ;-) Are all fixers pretty much the same or do they change the look of
    the neg?

    Anyway, should be fun to give it a go this weekend

    Nick J, Jun 8, 2004
  5. Nick J

    Nick J Guest

    yup that's what I thought - I have an old MF rangefinder and tlr at home
    that could do with an outing.

    Note, the metal
    I'm not sure what a church key is but I've read that a bottle opener
    will do the job? That's probably more appropriate for my lifestyle
    anyway ;-)

    Thanks for the advice,
    Nick J, Jun 8, 2004
  6. Nick J

    Nick Zentena Guest

    First tip avoid off brand tanks and reels. The last thing you want is to
    be inventing new curse words in the dark when a less then perfect tank or
    reel causes you grief. Paterson and Jobo both make very nice tanks. They
    only cost a few dollars more. When you consider how long a tank can last
    it's worth it to spend the extra few dollars. If you really want to save the
    money then surf ebay. But once you add in shipping and the risk of a dud you
    won't save much money over a small brand new tank. I'd lean towards the Jobo
    1500 type tanks but the Paterson ones are nice to.

    Second tip go to rec.photo.darkroom and lurk. Better yet search the
    google archives of the darkroom group.

    Third unless you live in the artic during the summer then making a
    room dark is easy. Wait until the sun goes down-). Changing bags aren't my
    idea of fun. Worse when you've learned you don't like them the money is

    stop [acetic acid is standard. A water wash is used by some]
    photo-flo isn't a bad idea.
    Some distilled water for mixing up the photo-flo.

    Timer. Watch,wall clock or even a clock radio.
    Something to check your temps with.
    Something to open the film cans. Bottle opener?

    Nick Zentena, Jun 8, 2004
  7. Nick J

    Nick Zentena Guest

    A church key is a beer bottle opener.

    Nick Zentena, Jun 8, 2004
  8. I think stop bath is cheap enough and useful enough to use over
    water, but I don't do a lot of developing either. A wetting agent, like
    Photo-Flo, helps a whole lot, and hypo clearing agent reduces wash time.

    Add a couple of good sponges for the wipedown, something to hang the
    film with (clothespins work okay, film clips are better and have some
    weight to them), a good thermometer, a decent measuring cup, and have a
    couple odds & ends handy like bottle opener and scissors.

    Looks fine, the easy-load reels are so much better, and the price is
    right. Get a roll or two of old film from a lab, way outdated or exposed or
    whatever, still in the cassettes though. And use them to practice loading
    the reels, first in the light, then in the changing bag, until you feel
    pretty confident. Kinked film looks like crap and can't be repaired.

    Temperature is pretty important, but it's easier to adjust times for
    "room temperature" chemicals than maintaining them in a temperature bath.
    Here in Florida, the water comes out of the tap at 78 degrees, so going for
    optimum temps means ice cubes... ;-)

    All of this assumes, naturally, that you have something to do with
    the negs once you're done, such as a film scanner. Otherwise you're
    considering the printing process, which gets more involved. And real hard
    to do without a darkroom...

    I load film in the bathroom at night, with all the lights off, blinds
    closed, and a rug stuffed under the door. Much better than a changing bag.
    I should point out there's no window in the bathroom, I suppose. Old trick
    is to do what you can to "light-proof" the room, then leave out a piece of
    white paper and sit in there for ten minutes letting your eyes get
    adjusted. If you can see the paper after that time, there's too much light.
    Especially since the first few times you load reels, you're liable to have
    problems, and take a lot longer than expected.

    But nothing compares with seeing that film unreeling with those nice
    crisp images on it. Have fun!

    - Al.
    Al Denelsbeck, Jun 8, 2004
  9. Nick J

    ian green Guest

    everything right
    you can use plain clear water for stopping/washing
    at first go as simple as possible with standard chemistry
    know nothing about your local situation
    but just for a try i think you can find cheap old used second hand things
    do the things at night

    the tank from the above link would be useful imho if you get hooked to
    making development by yourself
    find a good big clock to be sure


    ian green

    Xeto : photo & graphic project : http://xeto.front.ru
    photo galleries @ BlurryImage : http://www.blurryimage.com/user/ian green
    selected photography : http://ian_green.photosight.ru/
    ian green, Jun 8, 2004
  10. Nick J

    ian green Guest

    ian green, Jun 8, 2004
  11. I wouldn't use Rodinal on Tri-X, unless you WANT maximum grain.
    Ilfosol-S is just as easy to use and give "nicer" results.

    Fixers: They either work or they don't!
    ; )

    The only variation could be a hardening fixer (hard to find now) which
    makes the negatives slightly more scratch-resistant.

    Darkroom: A bathroom at night is about as classic as you get!

    Chris Loffredo, Jun 8, 2004
  12. Nick J

    Bob Hickey Guest

    Try the times on "The Massive Developement Chart". But the water
    you use has an effect on those times. Kodafix is a hardening fixer, and the
    easiest to find. But sometimes a hardening fixer makes prints difficult to
    tone. Sometimes not. Regardless of the recommendations, I never skimp on
    fixer. It's very annoying to see the prints start to fade after a week/month
    because you ran out and had to stretch it. As far as Rodinal grain; grain
    mainly shows up in the medium grey areas, and much less in the shadows and
    hi-lites. All the shots on my page were done in Rodinal, almost all on
    Tri-X, all on Ilford Pearl #2 Bob Hickey
    Bob Hickey, Jun 8, 2004
  13. To the OP, this is very good advice. Pay also attention to what Nick
    Zentena says. He's given me lots of good advice.

    The important thing is to make sure that wherever you load the film that it
    be _pitch_ black. The white paper trick is a good one. You may think it's
    dark, but it ain't. And the film isn't going to make that same mistake. ;-)

    The one piece of advice I can give you is to be meticulous. Think out
    exactly what you are going to do and make sure everything is in front of you
    before you go ahead and do it. Too many times I've gotten sloppy and ruined

    Also practice loading the film. Waste a roll and just practice. First do it
    while looking then with your eyes closed. It's the hardest part and the first
    few times are pretty tough. The steel reels are harder to load but easier to
    correct. Which is to say, if you get into trouble while loading a steel reel,
    it's much easier to back out then using plastic. I started with plastic and
    then moved to steel.

    If you can, BUY USED! There's no reason to buy new. Nothing I own is new in
    my darkroom. It's either borrowed or bought used somewhere. There is tons of
    used stuff floating around.

    Once you get your negs done, you'll have to decide what to do with them.
    Will you buy a scanner or make prints or both? I chose to make prints because
    I managed to get my hands on an excellent enlarger with a very good lens on

    Extending on what Al said, there is something really magical about seeing
    your print appear in the developer bath. I get a bigger kick out of that then
    playing with digital images. I get more of a personal satisfaction from it
    then with digital.

    Oh and as Nick said, there is also the rec.photo.darkroom list which is
    quite good but the most help I have gotten has been from the Puresilver
    mailing list: http://www.tundraware.com/Photography/Lists/

    Good Luck!

    Justin F. Knotzke, Jun 8, 2004
  14. Nick J

    Alan Browne Guest

    developer (I dilute this with distilled water)
    stop bath (or white vinegar with two parts water)
    photoflo (helps dry the film without spots, streaks)

    I use a tank like the one you index (Patterson) with two reels.
    When I have two films ready, in they go (my crawlspace is dead
    dark) and then into the kitchen for dev. Naturally everything is
    prepared ahead of time.

    It takes 10 minutes to prep all the chems, 5 minutes to load the
    reels, 30 minutes or so to dev/wash the film. If you squeegee
    the film, it dries very quickly afterwards.

    Have fun.
    Alan Browne, Jun 8, 2004
  15. Nick J

    Bob Hickey Guest

    One way to open them is with a church key, of course; but I never open up
    the cans. I leave an inch out when I rewind, then it fold over so I know
    it's exposed. When I spool it, I cut the ends at a 45 deg angle, then make
    sure I don't have any sprocket holes sticking out to snag in the spool. In
    the changing bag, I just pull out a few inches at a time, and spool as I go.
    The other way, you pop the top and have 4 ft of film twisted and tangled up
    inside the bag. Then your hands start to sweat from aggravation, and you get
    a bunch of finger prints all over the film. Bob Hickey
    Bob Hickey, Jun 8, 2004
  16. Nick J

    Matt Clara Guest

    It does dry fast, but if you let it hang overnight with a weight on the
    bottom (those stainless steel magnetic "fridge" clips are great), it lays
    much flatter for you than if you just wait the twenty-five minutes for them
    to dry. Much easier handling in general, not to mention specific situations
    such as scanning and wet printing.
    Matt Clara, Jun 8, 2004
  17. I liked the stainless steel tanks and reels when I was developing my own B&W
    film several years ago. All you need are the reels & tanks, a changing bag,
    and the chemicals. You open the exposed film canisters inside the changing
    bag with a church key, put the film on the stainless reels, and put the
    reels in the tank and close the lid. then everything else can be done in
    your well lighted kitchen. You pour in the developer, agitate the tank for
    the rated amount of time, which is usually a few minutes, then pour it back
    in the bottle, and pour in a "stop bath" chemical for a few seconds, and
    then the fixer, also for a few minutes....then you can open the canister to
    the light, and wash for ten minutes or so in cold running water. the only
    thing you never want to do is to use warm water....If it runs too hot, it
    will totally ruin your film. Otherwise, the process is absurdly simple, and,
    although I've not tried it yet, I understand that you can do it with color
    film too....
    William Graham, Jun 8, 2004
  18. Nick J

    Alan Browne Guest

    On recent rolls of Tmax 100, I hang them using a few clothes pins
    as weights. However they do curl cross-wise making them a pain
    to load into the scanner mount and to sleeve afterwards. My
    sleeves are 5 frames deep, so this adds to the difficulty.

    It has been suggested that drying in the reel would eliminate
    this problem, but I haven't found an old computer fan to build a
    dryer yet.

    Alan Browne, Jun 9, 2004
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