Tray developing 4x5 - questions

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by Stephan Goldstein, Oct 13, 2004.

  1. The other night I tried this for the first time. I ran four negatives,
    using a 5x7 tray for the developer and 8x10 for fix, stop, and
    washing. The negatives came out beautifully with no emulsion
    damage whatsoever BUT

    1) I had a devil of a time manipulating the sheets in the developer
    tray. I have medium-sized hands, but it just seemed very awkward.
    I had the tray oriented vertically in front of me - maybe horizontal
    might be better?

    2) All four negatives had varying degrees of scratching on the base
    side! I actually think this might have occurred during the wash as
    this was the time the negs were free to move around. How can I
    stop this from happening?


    Stephan Goldstein, Oct 13, 2004
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  2. RE: #1 Use an 8X10 tray for the developer too. Much easier to
    manipulate the sheets.

    RE: # 2 Maybe it did happen in the wash tray, though it doesn't happen
    that way for me. Perhaps your water volume was too high, making the
    negs move too much. Try that first. If you still have scratches, look
    to your shuffling method in the other trays. My method is to lift the
    top sheet completely off the one underneath it with my right hand (I'm
    right-handed)and then while lifting the front end (the end away from me)
    of the whole pack with my left fingertips, slide the top one under the
    rest, while lowering the pack down on top of it. Do an up and down
    dunking motion two or three times without lifting out of the solution,
    then repeat with the next top sheet.

    Good luck.
    LR Kalajainen, Oct 13, 2004
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  3. Stephan Goldstein

    dr bob Guest

    Steve: use a larger tray. I suggest an 8x10. To minimize scratches, use a
    lot of developer and move the sheet out from beneath the others before
    lifting. Don't us tongs - use gloves or if not sensitive, fingers being
    especially careful getting hold of the sheet.

    Truly, dr bob.
    dr bob, Oct 13, 2004

    Uranium Committee, Oct 13, 2004
  5. I always use a 5x7 tray for 4x5 film, and have no problems regarding
    scratching. Use gloves and be sure to carefully lift the bottom sheet and
    CAREFULLY place it back down on the top of the pile. More than likely, the
    scratches were incurred while placing the film back on top. Be sure to place
    the emulsion side down.

    Do you do a pre-soak?

    It took me a couple tries to get the hang of it, but it's rather easy after
    you get it down. I personally wouldn't recommend a bigger tray. That--to
    me--seems like you'd be inviting more danger, because of movement. the 4x5s
    fit nice and snug in a 5x7 tray, and it gives you just enough room to fit
    your hand in and grab the film. And my hands are large too.

    As a side note: I now use an old Unicolor tube and roller combo for my 4x5
    development. It can hold four sheets at a time, and is very economical as
    far as chemistry. You can find these for dirt cheap at used camera stores,
    or via ebay.

    Good luck and keep at it. Tray development is very easy when the stigma is
    Dickless Cheney, Oct 13, 2004
  6. I agree with the others. An 8x10 tray is the minimum for
    any size film. Also, it should be well filled with solution.
    It helps to use a tray with bumps of grooves on the bottom
    to help you get a grip on the film.
    Richard Knoppow, Oct 13, 2004
  7. Also, it matters _how_ you use an 8x10 tray. When working with two hands,
    I find it easiest to put the 4x5 sheets horizontally in the 8x10 tray,
    which is to say that the 5" dimension is parallel to the 8" dimension
    of the tray. I then shuffle out-around-up-back-down, which is to say
    that I carefully slide the bottom sheet out from the stack, using my
    other hand to pull the stack up, then bring it out into the space at the
    "top" of the 8x10 tray (further away from me), back onto the top of
    the stack, then the "down" step is to gently tap the stack down into
    the developer.

    I *always* keep the emulsion side down. If you do not have perfectly
    flat-bottomed trays you will want to work emulsion-side-up whether
    you shuffle top-first or bottom-first but I find that I get scratches
    that way no matter what I do. Flat bottomed trays and pull from
    the bottom work well for me.

    If I am doing two stacks at once, one with each hand, I find it easier
    to pull the sheet I'm moving out _diagonally_ , so the 4x5 sheets are
    stacked in, say, the bottom left corner of the 8x10 tray with the 5"
    dimension parallel to the 10" tray dimension; I then shuffle out
    diagonally into the space at the far corner of the tray and back in.

    When I am really in practice I can shuffle bottom-first but if I were
    to try it now after 6 years of using a Jobo almost all the time I
    would go top-first if using both hands at once. The advantage of
    top-first is that it's easier to grab the sheet; the disadvantage
    is that it's easier to snag its corner on the sheet on the bottom as
    you shuffle it back into the stack and scratch it.

    Most scratches on sheet film seem to come either from the corners
    of other pieces of sheet film or from texture on the tray itself.
    Flat-bottom trays are a *must* if you're doing more than one sheet
    at a time.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Oct 14, 2004
  8. Thanks all for the suggestions. I did presoak, but the levels in the
    developer and fixer trays could easily have been higher. I'll give
    another try with the 5x7 tray and will pay careful attention to keeping
    *both* sides of the film scratchfree this time!

    Stephan Goldstein, Oct 14, 2004
  9. A 5x7 tray really isn't big enough. You need room to shuffle the
    entire 4x5 sheet out and to the side -- with only 7" to work with, you
    will have a half-inch of overlap, and it is very very hard to avoid
    sliding multiple sheets against each others and getting scratches in
    that case.

    Besides, to do any significant number of sheets you need a volume of
    developer that really calls for an 8x10 tray anyway, unless you're
    using very concentrated developer working solutions. Use flat-bottomed
    8x10 trays; you will be glad you did. Save tricky shuffle-partway-out
    techniques for 8x10 film, where 16x20 trays are so cumbersome to work
    with that they're called for.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Oct 14, 2004
  10. Well, Steve, you should be thoroughly confused by now. Flat versus
    bumpy-bottomed, top-down or bottom-up shuffling, horizontal or vertical
    orientation, etc. My guess is that it's a matter of developing (pun
    intended) the technique that works for you and sticking with it. But do
    use an 8X10 tray. All your counselors agree on that.
    LR Kalajainen, Oct 14, 2004
  11. But do
    Negative...One dissenting opinion. Use a 5x7, groove-bottomed tray. Less
    movement equals less chance for error, in my book.
    Dickless Cheney, Oct 14, 2004
  12. How can you possibly shuffle one sheet around another with "less
    movement"? The dimensions of the sheet will always remain the
    same. It seems to me all we can possibly disagree about is how much
    of that movement should take place beneath the surface of the liquid,
    and how much is along some third axis.
    Thor Lancelot Simon, Oct 14, 2004

    Uranium Committee, Oct 15, 2004
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