processing 4x5 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi, Q1) Someone on this site commented that TMax 4x5 film should not be developed in TMax developer, but TMax RS. I'm not familar with this developer. Is this a true statement, and is the RS liquid or powder? I don't want to work with powder, only because I here its harder to work with. Q2) I will be developing just like I did in school, the film will go on a film hanger, and put in, probably a tuperware type container, three lined up. Developer, stop bath, fixer, and then I think, water bath, hypo, water bath, photo flo. Developing as follows = film on flm hangers, put in chemistry, lifted up and to the left, back down, and lifted up and to the right, back down, etc.. What I can't remember is the sequence, ( like, for 5 sec., every 30 sec.). Can anyone advise me? School lab is closed till fall so I can't go get the directions. P.S. How long for the waterbath, and hypo, and waterbath? Q3) I have a new Gralab darkroom timer. The numbers are illuminated with day glo, so it absorbs light and illuminates in the dark. The problem is it doesn't stay illuminated for to long. Frustrating. Its the same with my Beseler enlarging timer. Even more frustrating. What I don't understand is in school we had the Gralab timers, just like mine, but metal instead of plastic. I assumed only because they're older, and everything is made with plastic today. They stayed illuminated for the entire lab, (4 hrs.,), and lights were never turned on. I was at Le Camera and they were selling used Gralab timers. The all metal one was more expensive than the plastic one, both in fine condition. I don't get it. Maybe price difference only because of metal vs plastic, but is there any other difference between the two? I didn't have time to ask them. Thanks for any info, Raven

-- Raven (, June 20, 1999



Yes, I've been searching the forum and the net re: your question on the amount of time in each bath as this is someting I'm interested, too. So, I'll be watching responses. Your Question #3, though...I use a WestBend digital kitchen timer (Cat. No. 40000) to time my baths. There are basically 3 separate timers you setup through pushbuttons.Each timer sounds a different alarm when it has reached your preset limit for each bath. I don't know where you are, but comb the local Kitchen-speciality stores in your area. I doubt mine is made anymore, but there are probably better solutions out there and less than the $20 or so that I paid!


-- Gary Newell (, June 21, 1999.


1/ I remember being told that tmax developer was for rollfilm whereas tmax rs was meant for sheet film, esp using the replenishment system. The kodak darkroom dataguide provides development time only for the tmax rs developer for tmax sheet film. And it is available as a liquid. Maybe might have more specific information.

2/ re agitation, what you find generally recommended is constant agitation for the first 30 secs and then 5 secs every 30 secs.

Hope this helps. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, June 21, 1999.

Sorry, forgot to add. Development time recommended is 8 minutes for normal processing. I typically use a 1 minute water presoak. Then developer for the required time. Then 30secs - 1 minute through the stop bath, fixing time depends on whether you're using a rapid fixer or not. The package will usually have instructions. Two 30 sec sequences with constant agitation in water. Hypo clear for 1-2 minutes (again refer to mfr's instructions). Final water wash for 20 minutes. Treat with wetting agent. Hang to dry.

-- N Dhananjay (, June 21, 1999.

Hi Raven, sorry to hear your lab is closed during the summer. T-Max rs is a liquid developer. the rs stands for replenisment. Here is a staring time I have used to process t-max 100 using rs developer. First and foremost mix the developer for 1 shot usage. Meaning mix the syrup concentrate and the add packet of "RS" to it. Process at 75 degrees. Use a water bath before you develop your film, place your t- max in the water for at least 1 minute to remove the anti halation coating on your film. Drain, For normal development use 100 ml of t-max rs add 900 ml of distilled water. time for Normal development is 12min 30 seconds.(You'll have to do your own testing for n- or n+.) stop bath with constant agitation for 30 seconds. Fix in a rapid fix (i like Ilford or formulary) Follow the directions usually about six minutes. wash for 2-5 minutes. Use a hypo clearing agent, there are many out there. 1-2 minutes depending on brand. Wash again for 2-5 minutes photo flo 1 minute and hang to dry. Your agitation cycle sounds right. I am sorry I can't help you with the timer problem. How about charging up the flourescent dial with sunlight, or another bright light source. Otherwise just count to 30 using 1-1000, should be close enough. jacque

-- jacque staskon (, June 21, 1999.

I use both the Tmax and the Tmax RS developers, and have found that results are about the same for each. Tmax developer is a one solution developer when mixed with water is used for roll films (it can be used for sheet film in a pinch). Tmax RS as has been stated above is for replenishment, but it is also a two part liquid developer, available in larger bulk sizes up to 10 gal. A very good reference for these and other chemicals from Kodak is at They have very extensive PDF files availablre for most of the popular chemicals. As well as all of the various times for dev., stop, fix, ....

-- Britt Leckman (, June 21, 1999.

Kodak will tell you what they told me via email and that is that there is risk of "dichroic fog" with the plain TMAX developer used with TMAX sheet films. There is no problem with this with the RS developer. It might be worth a personal experiment though I've not gotten around to actually doing it. Good luck.

-- Eric Brody (, June 21, 1999.

I used regular T-Max developer instead of the RS on TMY. It worked. No prewet, standard 35mm times. The negatives were no different in color from those developed in D-76.

That said, I'll probably use the RS in the future (I didn't get into this to get lesser quality in my negs).

-- John O'Connell (, June 21, 1999.

You-all are not going to like this, but I have to write it anyway........... I HATE TMax developer. In fact, except for copy stand work [T-Max 100], I no longer use TMax film at all. I've returned to good old TRI-X in HC110-B, for everything that I do in b&w, from 35mm and 6x6 to 4x5 and 8x10. Why? I knew you'd ask! There's more control - much more. I couldn't get minus N worth a darn with TMax; at least not with a negative that had detail in the shadows. Yes, I know, in the small formats TRI-X is grainy, but it's not at all objectionable in sheet film. O.k., I've had my "say."

-- Dick Fish (, June 21, 1999.

There is a group or us old farts in Yucca Valley,Ca. and we all tried the T-max developers and the HC-110, the only one that we have all tried and all agree on is Pyro developers, the majority of the guys use PMK, I use pyro-stain. It works great on all b/w films that I have used,(kodak,ilford,arista,agfa) if works good on XP1 also. Forget all that other stuff and simplify your life and photography and go with the pyro developers. Pat

-- pat j. krentz (, June 22, 1999.

Sorry, I forgot to say the timer is the Gralab 300. Thanks, Raven.

-- Raven (, June 22, 1999.

I4ve gone the same way as Dick and is now using HC110-D and FP4, developing in trays. I still feel there could be a little more compensating effect and have to say, Pats response was impressive. What is the difference between PMK and pyro-stain? Is pyro generally commercial available?

-- Jan Eerala (, June 23, 1999.

Go ahead and use T-max sheets if you want. It is a good film just be sure you give it plenty of exposure. I use the 400 and it is a good film. But if you are going to process T-max I would stay away from the T-max developers and go with HC110 or Ilford or Agfa or something benign. If you haven't calibrated you personal film speed or normal processing times with T-max materials then go with the easy forgiving materials. You can't go wrong. T-max sheets have a tendency to become contrasty with too much agitation. You can blow out the highlights really fast if you're not careful. If you have hangers which is the way I go then make sure when you agitate that you don't try to kill it. Just do it gently. 1 min. presoak with lots of agitation which is where you get rid of any air bells. Start developing 15 secs initial agitation followed by pulling it out slowly one time tipping one way then another once every 60 secs. If I remember right it is 5 mins 30 secs HC110 dil B in a large tank. The 5 secs every 30 secs is for roll film. Use a very dilute stop bath for 30 secs to keep pinholes from developing in the emulsion as you are only changing the pH of the developer on the surface of the film . The developer in the emulsion will become exhausted and the acid fixer will complete the task anyway. Then 3 mins in any kind of fix. The longer you leave it in the fix the longer it takes to wash the fixer out. Remember that the emulsion isn't very thick and and in fact acts just like RC paper only quicker. The emulsion is washed free of fix rather quickly. Rinse quickly to remove excess fix then right into hypo clearing solution for 2 mins and final rinse for 5 mins with just a dash of photoflow. I've used an even breifer regimen than this and my negs are still clear and fresh after 5 years with no fogging or aging. As far as pyro, I would hold off on using it until you go up to the high desert and get some instruction from the pros. It's nasty stuff and expensive to boot. Nice stuff when you know how to use it. James

-- james (, June 24, 1999.

Oh yeah. As for getting your timer to glow in the dark brighter and longer, just stick it under an incandescent light for 5 mins. The closer the better. I put mine about 10" away and it stays lit for hours. James

-- james (, June 24, 1999.

I love tmax-rs with older films like tri-x and plus-x, I can't stand t-max rs with tmax films though. You are correct about tmax being a liquid dev. and it's true they are much easier to mix. Raven if you have a green led digital alarm clock you can use it as a timer also, you have to start developing and fixing on the changing of the minute and count seconds for times under a minute which is a hassle but it works, or you can get a indiglo wristwatch with a sweep second hand (my favorite). You may want to try tray developement too. It's very easy! go to barnes and noble and get a copy of Using the View Camera by Steve Simmons, it is the easiest dry to dry book for large format beginnners.

-- trib (, June 24, 1999.

This is basically the same answer I gave to the same problem on MF digest. I followed the plan from "Beyond The Zone System" for doing film/developer sensitometric graphs. Using regular TMax dev, TMax 100, roll, shows a short toe, an almost straight line to density 2+. The gradient varied with dilution, Temp and time in a very predictable way as would be expected. I don't understand how other developers could alter this films characteristics for the better. I got a CI (Contrast Index) of between .4 and .8. which is great for +/- N changes. There is a difference between sheet film and roll emulsions which surprised me so I have to run more tests using TMax RS. I used to have a problem with the backing color but as per Kodak inst I switched to Rapid fix 4 min. for a clear film. "any fixer" doesn't cut it.

-- George Nedleman (gnln@the, June 24, 1999.

Now tell me George. What is the difference between Kodak Fix and Ilford. And rapid fix is no different. Look up the formulation. The ugly purple stain is gone after 3 mins fix and all the washing. I process too much of it to be told different. But have at it. Use whatever works for you. James

-- james (, June 25, 1999.

If you are the type of person who strives for predictable results then developing 4x5 film by hand using TMax RS is NOT for you. In fact, I can be a catastrophic mix. I have had times when I made a Zone III exposure placement and ended up with a Zone V density value resulting in a negative that is thick as a brick. Other times I have done a Zone III exposure placement and ended up with a Zone I density value losing all detail in the shadows. If you expose your film to even gray card light and develop it by hand using TMax RS then you can end with a negative that will vary in density values from one end to the other by as much a 1.5 stops when it should be pretty much even across the entire negative.

The reasons for these unpredictable variations is because TMax developer is very temperature sensitive, and EXTREMELY agitative sensitive. Temperature should not very by more than 1/2 degree C. I know of no professional B&W lab that uses TMax developer because there is no commercial equipment that can produce repeatable agitation from batch to batch. I ended up buying a JOBO CPP-2 Drum processor and using the 3010 drum to get the repeatable agitation and temperature control I needed. Even then I had to spend a great deal of time experimenting with adjusting the agitation before I could get predictable results. Once I got there it is marvelous stuff. It tends to elevate the deeper shadows buy a third of a stop and produces extremely sharp fine grain negatives.

My recommendation to you is don`t use TMax RS or be prepared to buy some expensive equipment. Of course, if you like unpredicatable results than you are doing the right thing. As far a times for hand developing I have no idea. It has been four years since I developed buy hand.

-- Stephen Willard (, June 25, 1999.

that's funny...I never had any probs with tmax rs and tri-x..or plus-x, of course I temper my trays and my agit methods are pat. I have had loads of trouble with tmax films in tmax rs but I don't shoot that t-crap film anymore. Delta once in a while but never t-crap. + or - 1/2 a degree? there aren't any color processes that tight.... are you sure you didn't have some fogging?

-- Trib (, June 25, 1999.

In spite of the elapsed time, I'd like to offer a response. I looked into this because I love TMax 100 developed with the regular TMax developer, and because Kodak's sensitometric curves show that TMax regular developer is the superior developer for this film.

TMax 100 sheet film is the same emulsion and mylar thickness as TMax roll film. (The anti-reflective backing may differ a little.) The source of the problem is that TMax regular developer produces a by-product that can cause the dichroic fogging. Given sheet films' larger size, the fogging is more likely to occur with that film and much less likely to occur with roll film.

To solve the problem, Kodak designed a replenishable "RS" developer for sheet film that reduces formation of the by-product. As an alternative, Kodak also said that one can "finger-squeegee" the film after washing, before it has a chance to dry. Given how much I like the regular developer, I'm going to opt for the alternative.

-- neil poulsen (, December 29, 1999.

Try using ilfospeed print dev, diluted 1-60 or 1-100, as I have heard that it is actually quite good, with times for the 1-60 around the 5 minute mark, and for the 1-100, around, or under 10 minutes.

-- David Kirk (, December 31, 1999.

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