Getting started (again) in B&W processing : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am getting ready to get started (again, after 10 years) doing my own B&W processing & printing. This will be the first time I have processed LF film. And my question is: about how long (& number of runs) should I budget to get the basic bugs worked out of the system. Things like normal development times (because of the nature of the project I am planning on using the diluted Tmax RS developer approach to development), film handling, etc., you know: the mechanics. Because of the logistics of my house/studio, my plan is to use the Jobo processor system.

I realize that no one can definitively answer this question for someone else as we are all different people, but some rough ballpark #s would be nice.

In advance, Thanks for your help!

-- Ellis Vener (, April 02, 1999


Depending on how much of a calibration .. er ... _enthusiast_ you are, it really shouldn't take you long to get to a very usable ballpark for most "normal" lighting situations.

I don't know exactly how a Jobo works, but I develop in tubes with constant rotational agitation. I've found Kodak's recomendations for rotational processing for XTOL to work very well for printing on Ilford MGIV with no filtration on my colorhead.

I'm not a zone system purist, I use a rather loose "OK, I'll give that one a bit more exposure and pull developing 10%" non-system. I can usually get a developer time I want with 4-6 sheets of film.

-- mike rosenlof (, April 02, 1999.

You'll need about 50 developments with one film/developer combi.

-- Lot (, April 02, 1999.

I tray process(tempered) but I just wanted to say GO ELLIS! Looks like you're finally gettin' a hobby. No more under or over in 1/3rd stops, you get to blast that sucker. Have fun, It'll be nice for all the zonies and testing freaks to give the master advice for once. fer' gawd's sake don't take any of mine.... constant agit with a Jobo in undiluted RS..never work ...Just once though I'd like you to try this: break out the trays and tray develop a Tri-x plate(320to200) in full-strength RS, at 68f for 6 min to start and gently I mean very gently rock the tray for the first and last 30 and 5 secs (or 5 gentle rocking motions) every minute (the more developer in the tray the less agit action so make that a controllable variable also). The liquid developers really respond to gentle agit. More mush!

-- Trib (, April 02, 1999.

Some one above said "...50 developments"!!!!?????? I could calibrate with precision for every film/developer combination I have with that many tests. I tray develop, but I can offer one suggestion that you might find useful. I have an old film holder and a set of darkslides which are drilled in different spots so that I can do 12 tests on each sheet of film (you could do 16 or 20 or even more on each sheet). You don't need that many darkslides, though. By flipping them over you use some for two test. I'm not going to try to describe this any further (you may have seen this setup before - I didn't invent it). The bottom line is that for a few bucks at a used camera store you can set yourself up to do a 12 to 20 (or even more) tests on a single sheet of film (the savings in film will more than pay for the holder and darkslides). You can determine your E.I. on the first sheet then plot a H/D curve for various development times with each after each additional sheet is exposed identically at the the determined E.I. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, I would be happy to describe it in greater detail. It sure makes testing much faster and more economical.

I know a photographer that has an even easier and faster method of testing. He has a grid of stepped neutral density filters that he simply photographs on a daylight balanced light table. One exposure and he has a whole grid of tests.

50 tests????? I'd like to sell that man some film!

-- Tom Johnston (, April 02, 1999.


While you can do as much zone system testing as you want, you shouldn't feel paralyzed and unable to process anything until you've done it. By using some relatively good source for development times (The Practical Zone System has a series of development times for various film/developer combinations I found useful) you should be able to get decent results from the beginning.

-- Chris Patti (, April 02, 1999.


You might look into the 4x5 step tablets Photographer's Formulary sells. You just slide the things in right along with your film, make the exposure, and you have the whole set of values. I use a smaller one that I have to tape to the film but it works well too. The only problem with these things is the cost - at 25 bucks you don't want to buy very many of them so you are kind of stuck doing one exposure at a time. But that one exposure yields a hell of a lot of information.

-- Erik Ryberg (, April 02, 1999.

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