equipment needed for film processing : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am new to large format photography, and have just ordered a camera.I have experience with 35mm darkroom work, but have no knowledge regarding what equipment is needed to process film and any other equipment needed for the remaining darkroom work. Any guidance will be appreciated.

-- bob belangia (, December 15, 1998


There are several popular techniques for developing large format film, many of them require working in total darkness. A little poking around the archives of this forum should find most of them.

Open trays - total darkness, cheap, takes practice to avoid scratches, takes practice to get even development

Tanks and hangers - total darkness, medium cost, 1/2 gallon of each chemical, takes practice to get even development

BTZS tubes - mostly daylight, medium cost, low chemical use, usually very even development

Open tubes in trays - total darkness - low cost, medium chemical use, usually very even development

Daylight tanks HP Combi - medium cost, higher chemical volume, some love them, some hate them. Actually this love/hate is probably true for all of these methods.

Jobo - daylight, expensive, low chemical volume, usually very even development.

If you're working in total darkness, you'll need some kind of timer that's audible or glowing very dimly. I tune a short wave radio to WWV the time broadcast. The other equipment for the remaining darkroom work - a.k.a. printing is pretty much the same as for 35mm, just bigger.

-- mike rosenlof (, December 15, 1998.

you could begin by shooting a box of ilford ortho plus. this film you can process under red light, although be careful not to get too close or you will fog the film. four 5*7 trays will do, and then you can use a larger tray for washing. you can begin by developing, say, five shots. first tray has water only, wash off the backing. takes about 1 min. of sloshing them around. then pull them out one at at time and submerge in developer. take one off the bottom of the pile and rotate it to the top and press down and rotate off the bottom until cooked to your satisfaction. i think begining with ortho lets you get orientated in the process before you switch to total darkness. IMHO

-- david clark (, December 16, 1998.

Oh Bob, welcome, you are in for a treat. Any of the above-mentioned methods work fine. You will probably alter the method of agitation for a specific film and developer and you'll try several films and developers but try the one you like with your 35 film first. Just a couple of things, try to catalog your exposures (on the little white-space on your holders with pencil)so you can alter developement times if need be and buy a good thermometer and use it. Try to be as precise and consistent with times and temps always. I prefer tray processing one at a time but use tanks for bulk. Steve Simmons' intro book on large format is a nice primer for beginners. Take your time and have a blast.

-- Triblett Lunger-Thurd (, December 16, 1998.

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