Developing 4x5 B&W Film: Tray or Tank

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Ron, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. Ron

    Ron Guest

    Hi. I've been developing my 4x5 film in a HP Combi Plus tank. It's hit
    or miss in that (1) I can develop only 2 sheets at a time (they say 6),
    but the problem is that from time to time there are scratches where the
    film passes through the plastic guiderail. My questions are these:

    1) Is there a tank that is better than the HP Combi?
    2) If not, do I have to use trays for the best development? (The tank
    is sooooo convenient; I can keep the lights on, etc. I do this in my
    bathroom, so the whole thing is rather jimmyrigged.)

    Any other recommendations are gratefully accepted!

    Thanks.

    RON
     
    Ron, Feb 9, 2005
    #1
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  2. Tubes! And the old Unicolor for one 8x10 or four 4x5 prints can be used
    without modifications for developing 4x5 negatives. Only 150mm developing
    solution needed for 4 film sheets simultaneously. Tough to beat.
     
    Lawrence Akutagawa, Feb 9, 2005
    #2
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  3. Ron

    Frank Pittel Guest

    While more complete and expensive then the Combi Plan tank I like my
    Jobo!!


    : Hi. I've been developing my 4x5 film in a HP Combi Plus tank. It's hit
    : or miss in that (1) I can develop only 2 sheets at a time (they say 6),
    : but the problem is that from time to time there are scratches where the
    : film passes through the plastic guiderail. My questions are these:

    : 1) Is there a tank that is better than the HP Combi?
    : 2) If not, do I have to use trays for the best development? (The tank
    : is sooooo convenient; I can keep the lights on, etc. I do this in my
    : bathroom, so the whole thing is rather jimmyrigged.)

    : Any other recommendations are gratefully accepted!

    : Thanks.

    : RON


    --




    Keep working millions on welfare depend on you
     
    Frank Pittel, Feb 9, 2005
    #3
  4. I second that emotion. Easy to load, difficult to scratch, uses little
    chemistry, easy to agitate.


    --
    Today's bullshit job description:

    • Collaborate to produce operational procedures for the systems management
    of the production Information Technology infrastructure.

    - from an actual job listing on Craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org)
     
    David Nebenzahl, Feb 9, 2005
    #4
  5. Ron

    Bob Salomon Guest

    There should be no scratches- PERIOD. Please call us so we can eliminate
    yhis problem. 800 735 4373,
     
    Bob Salomon, Feb 9, 2005
    #5
  6. Ron

    Louie Powell Guest

    Ron -

    I tried to use a Unicolor print drum - and I agree with the general
    consensus that a drum SHOULD be an ideal solution. But in my case I had
    problems keeping the sheets separated, and ended up ruining all four
    sheets.

    Trays work, but the risk of scratching is pretty high, especially as the
    number of sheets done at a time increases. Last summer I was in a
    workshop where the instructor let us use his "slosher". This is
    basically a plexiglass insert that fits into 11x14 trays and that holds
    six sheets of film. Each sheet is in its own compartment, and is
    developed emulsion up. As a result, there is no scratching at all.
    After the workshop, I decided to make my own slosher. There are also
    commercial versions available.

    With trays, you do have to do the processing in total darkness. I have
    the advantage of a dedicated darkroom, but I think it could be done in a
    temporary setup just as well. The only issue might be that when using
    trays you pretty much have to have four trays set up - presoak,
    developer, stop and fix. If you are using a six sheet slosher, four
    11x14 trays take up quite a bit of space, more than might be found in the
    typical bathroom (unless you work over the tub).

    It should be possible to build a four-sheet slosher for use in smaller
    trays. I've worked out the slosher dimensions, and the size is larger
    than the 8x10 trays that I already have so I have'nt tried to make one
    yet. I am thinking about a two-tray version, though.
     
    Louie Powell, Feb 9, 2005
    #6
  7. Ron
    I never dared tray development or normal negatives. I do develop Kodak
    2556 Type 3 OrthoLith film in trays, one at a time, using a red safelight
    where I can see what I am doing. One at a time, face up, when I can see
    what I am doing, results in scratches only when I am careless.

    For normal negatives, I started out with three Calumet stainless steel 1/2
    gallon tanks and two Kodak hard rubber tanks. Dev, stop, and Fix in the ss
    tanks, wash and PhotoFlo in the hard rubber tanks. I used Kodak sheet film
    hangers and later added a rack that held the hangers to keep them
    separated better. I had no problem with uniformity doing that, and almost
    never any scratches. But I did not much care for the amount of time I
    spent in the dark. No lights until the film had been in the fix a while.

    I got the Jobo 2500 tanks and 2501N (I think the number is) reels when I
    wanted to do some E-6 processing. I now use them for almost everything
    except when I want to do a single roll of 35mm, where I use Nikor ss tank
    and reel.

    The Jobo is uniform in development, too.
     
    Jean-David Beyer, Feb 9, 2005
    #7
  8. Ron

    Nick Zentena Guest


    Jobo 2500 type tanks. The full setup new is more money then the Combi tank
    but used is often less. If you do multiple formats then the Jobo will handle
    everything from 35mm to 4x5. With the right tank and a Unicolor or Beseler
    motorbase you can even automate the process. The bigger tank can even handle
    18 sheets with three reels.

    Nick
     
    Nick Zentena, Feb 9, 2005
    #8
  9. Ron

    jjs Guest

    Something is wrong, Ron. You certainly can develop 6 at a time. If you are
    getting scratches, then I strongly doubt it is from the Combi guiderail.
    Let's talk this out and find out what's going on.
    Unfortunately, no. For daylight work it's the best. Just work over a sink,
    don't be alarmed by leaking, and never, ever 'rap' the tank (to dislodge
    bubbles) near the bottom spigot lest you snap it off.
     
    jjs, Feb 9, 2005
    #9
  10. Ron

    jjs Guest

    The OP apparently has no real darkroom, so that would be a problem.

    I'd be interested in seeing a picture of your slosher. It is a very clean
    method of developing. I have one for four negatives.
     
    jjs, Feb 9, 2005
    #10
  11. Ron

    jjs Guest

    It also produces higher contrast in short order, does it not? How do you
    get long enough development times without unmanageable contrast?
     
    jjs, Feb 9, 2005
    #11
  12. I have no idea. I have calibrated my development process for the methods I
    use. The development times for inversion tanks and Jobo drums in a Jobo
    processor are different. So what?
    I do not know where ideas like that get started.

    If you get more contrast in tanks with continuous, or continuous but with
    direction reversed every two rotations as with the Jobo, this is surely
    due to the increased agitation. You will automatically compensate for this
    when you do your calibrations. If you do not do calibrations, you do not
    care about contrast anyway.

    If, when calibrating, you find the contrast is too high, you either reduce
    the time slightly, increase the dilution of your developer, or use a
    different developer. You could also lower the temperature.
     
    Jean-David Beyer, Feb 9, 2005
    #12
  13. Tanks with hangers. The only way to go.
     
    uraniumcommittee, Feb 9, 2005
    #13
  14. Ron

    Ron Guest

    First (and to all) THANKS!!! This is very helpful. In fact, I spoke to
    a rep from HP Marketing who said my problems might be due to my
    incorrectly assembling the unit. I should have mentioned that I have
    produced some great negs in the unit, but am certainly willing to
    consider the problem is mine (and I believe it is). Having said that, I
    was interested in the various alternatives mentioned here, tubes (about
    which I know nothing) and the slosher. What is it? Are there
    commerically produced versions? What exactly does it do? I love the
    convenience of the tank. Lights on! No shuffling of film.
    Unfortuantely, I will have to abandon the tank if I do 5x7 or 8x10 (I
    don't believe HP makes a tank for those...but I could be wrong).

    RON
     
    Ron, Feb 9, 2005
    #14
  15. Ron

    Ron Guest

    "· Collaborate to produce operational procedures for the systems
    management
    of the production Information Technology infrastructure" Hey! That's
    my job, exactly!!

    As for tubes, is there a preferred brand? I assume they are easy to
    use, right? Are there directions and caveats?

    RON
     
    Ron, Feb 9, 2005
    #15
  16. Ron

    Ron Guest

    I spoke to the HP rep just now and will call him back when I'm home and
    in front of the tank. If I can get it to work right, I would be quite
    satisfied with it.
     
    Ron, Feb 9, 2005
    #16
  17. Ron

    bob Guest

    [snip]

    I use pvc pipe cut to length. I put the negative into the tube. I drop
    the tubes into a vertical water bath. I use a pyrex tray for
    development. After the water bath, I put the tubes into the tray, which
    has enough developer to cover the bottom of the tube 2 cm, perhaps. I
    roll the tubes from end to end, moving the one at the bottom to the top.
    Every 4 or so rotations I filp the tube end to end.

    Then I dump the tray, pour in the stop, dump and rinse, pour in fixer, etc.

    Bob
     
    bob, Feb 9, 2005
    #17
  18. Ron

    Ken Hart Guest

    I use an old 8x10 Unidrum, which will hold 4 sheets of 4x5 film (actually,
    designed for paper, but the drum doesn't seem to mind!). The film is bowed
    to the curvature of the drum and held in slots with the emulsion side toward
    the center of the drum, so theres nothing that can scratch the emulsion side
    of the film. It would be possible to scratch the base side when putting the
    film in the drum. The specs say 2 ounces of chemistry, but I don't trust
    that; I usually use 8 ounces, plus the drum's lid seal leaks ( I did say
    that it is old!).
    OTOH, sometimes I just use the trays. Some days you just want to spend 20
    minutes in the dark-- having a good music systme in the darkroom is very
    important!

    Ken Hart
     
    Ken Hart, Feb 9, 2005
    #18
  19. Ron

    Ron Guest

    Is the neg bowed to fit into the tube or does the neg go in flat? Also,
    isn't there a problem or possibility of the neg sticking to the side of
    the tube preventing developer from getting there?

    I assume your water bath is to remove anti-halation dye, which I do. I
    wish I had a picture of this, it would make it much easier. What about
    capping the ends of the tubes? Or do you do this in total darkness?
     
    Ron, Feb 9, 2005
    #19
  20. Ron

    Bob Guest

    I've developed 4x5 sheet film 3 ways:

    trays- I've done up to 6 sheets at a time and never had a problem with
    scratching the negatives. You do need to keep your fingernails trimmed
    though,

    dip tanks- I've used steel film hangers and dip tanks. The most I can
    do comfortably is about 6 at a time in a 4x5 tank, although I've tried
    as many as 12 at once in a 5x7 tank. No problems, streaks or scratches.
    I have never tried the 12-up (?) hangers in an 8x10 tank, although I
    have the stuff to do it. As far as I know, dip tanks are what the old
    pro's used to use, with fine results. You do need a darkroom though.

    A Yankee daylight tank. This will take 12 sheets at once. You load it
    in the dark and then can do the processing in the light. I keep hearing
    what a terrible job they do, streaks and all. I've used one since about
    1982 and never had a streaking problem. Just agitate in the direction
    parallel to the sheets. This is by far the most convenient. My tank
    will do 2 1/4 x 3 1/4, 3 1/4 x 4 1/4, 9x12 cm, and 4x5. I've done all
    of those in it with fine results on all.

    What do I use the most?

    For 11x14 I use trays just because I don't have anything else. I also
    tend to do 8x10 in trays since I don't set up 8x10 tanks very often,
    just when I have a lot to do.

    For everything else (2 /4 x 3 1/4 up to 5x7) I tend to use dip tanks.
    (The Yankee tank is too easy. Reminds me of developing 35mm in a tank
    when I way a high school kid.) I develop enough large format film that
    I tend to have tanks set up in my darkroom sink most of the time.
    Usually the tanks are 5x7. The big tanks will work for anything smaller
    in format and I don't have to keep changing tanks.
     
    Bob, Feb 9, 2005
    #20
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