using a Daylight Developing Tank : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am just getting started in 4x5 and am trying to use Kodak TMAX 400 with the TMX RS developer. I am using a HP Daylight Developing Tank from Calumet. The documentation for using this film/developer combination is rather confusing. Nonetheless...I am taking the developer as sold by Kodak and making a 1 gallon solution. I am then making a 1:4 dilution for use as the working solution. I make up 32 oz and keep in a stoppered bottle. It is this solution that I use in the tank and this solution that I replenish (using the orignal 1 gallon stock as a source for the replenisher. I am processing for 8 min at 68 degrees with agitation very 30 seconds. I am running a film speed test, but don't have the results back yet. I have processed some negatives exposed at ASA400 and film them not be very dense, especially compared to my experience with 120 size TriX. I have talked with Kodak and have looked at their website, but this has not helped much.

1)Does it appear that I am using the developer properly? 2)Any advice on using the daylight tank? It seems much easier than open tray or open tanks. What do you use?

-- Tom Osimitz (, July 16, 1998


I use 1.5 inch ABS plastic pipe to develop 4x5 film. Cut the pipe about 5.5 to 7 inches long and smooth the rough cut ends with fine sandpaper. Curl the film emulsion side inward and stuff one film into one tube. Fill up an 8x10 tray with about 800cc of developer - I use developers fairly dilute, one shot - and spin the tubes in the tray in total darkness. Another 8x10 tray for stop and first fix, then I put the films into individual rubbermaid type sandwich trays for the second fix.

The system works well, but only for small quantities of film. I can really develop max 5 sheets at one time. I have three different lengths of tube, so I can distinguish different tubes for different developing times in the dark. I tune a shortwave radio to WWV for an audio clock in the dark.

I've never scratched a film, but I did have problems with TMax 100 and 400 films. With the film stuck against the tube wall, the antihalation backing was not removed completely. I do not have this problem with Ilford films, and a 2% sodium carbonate bath after the fix for a couple of minutes removed this mark from TMX and TMY also.

-- mike rosenlof (, July 28, 1998.

I gave up on T-Max 400. Unless you are making exposures longer than 1 second, where its superior reciprocity characteristics come into play, why use it? Tri-X is far easier and cheaper to process and the emulsion doesn't scratch as easily. Rodinal is my developer of choice for Tri-x sheet film. If you insist on T-Max 400, I got good results with Kodak Xtol 1:1.2 @ a nominal time of 9 minutes @ 75 degrees F in a tray. BTW, I think tray processing is best.

-- Peter Hughes (, August 16, 1998.

I've been shooting TMax 400 rated at 250 and TMax 100 rated at 80. The following processing technique has provided me with very satisfactory results. I use an 8x10 Beseler Color Processing Drum and motorized base and can develope 4 sheets of 4x5 film at a time Use 10 oz of the following solutions, one shot processing, with constant agitation allow for 15 second fill and 15 second drain time. 1. Presoak of 1 minute with water. 2. Developer is Kodak TMax dilution ratio is 1:9 at 75 degrees for a time of 10 minutes 30 seconds with constant agitation. 3. Stop Bath for 30 seconds and then 2 water rinses for 30 seconds each. 4. Fixer is Kodak Rapid Fixer for 8 minutes with constant agitation. TMax films exhausts fixer at an incredible rate and people at Kodak has recommend Rapid Fixer. 5. Two Water rinses at 30 seconds each. 6. Orbit Bath at manufacturer dilution for 2 minutes. 7. Water rinse for 7 minutes. 8. Photo Flo soak for 30 seconds. Dry. Kodak says that TMax RS developer should be used for sheet film otherwise Dichroic stains may result. I've been using normal TMax developer and have yet to see any Dichroic stains using the above process. Contact Kodak and get the data sheet specs for TMax films. There is more detailed information in regards to adjusting development times if a condenser enlarger is used. Good luck and good shooting.

-- Pat Kearns (, September 30, 1998.

I am going to assume that you are not going to change your basic mechanical method of development as the previous comments have suggested. The first glaring "flaw" in your method is your developer dilution. If you have mixed your Tmax RS correctly to make one gallon of working solution, then further dilution of the working solution to 1:4 is extremely dilute. Even strong developers such as Xtol would run out of gas at these dilutions. Meaning, is there actually enough developer in the solution to do the job? (look at the kodak literature, they will tell you how much working solution is needed for each square inch of film) Even if there is enough developer per square inch of film, at these dilutions your development time should be well into the teens in order to build any useful density into your film (assuming ~70F). I would not go beyond 1:3 dilution, unless there is some pressing reason to do so, and you may find 1:1 dilution to be a good compromise between development time and contrast control.

It is important to note that Tmax (concentrate) developer is not the same Tmax RS developer and that the recommended dilutions are different. Kodak does not recommend Tmax developer for 4*5 Tmax film although I have used it at 1:9 without any problems.

A useful rule is to use increased exposure (lower ASA) to build density and increased development time to increase contrast.

As you build experience with Tmax films you will find that the optimal ASA varies considerably with development times (for a given developer, dilution and temperature) and that development times will need to be more critically controlled than with other films, if you want to achieve your desired density/contrast. In other words, there is less margin for error.

Good luck

-- Pat Raymore (, October 01, 1998.

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