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

Hi, When developing sheet film by putting the film in hangers, then dipping into developer, lifting it up and to the left, back down, then up and to the right, back down, the bottom part of the film is always in developer longer. I used this method in school. Have not proccessed film on my own yet. There was never a problem. But I'm just curious about it. Also, there are tanks for 4x5 that act just like a Patterson tank for 35mm. Any feedback on this. I use T-Max 400 exclusively. Thanks.

-- Raven (, March 26, 2000


Yes, Nikor made a stainless tank for developing 12 sheets of 4x5 film [or smaller film - it is adjustable]. It's the best tank to use inversion agitation. Not cheap!

-- Alec (, March 26, 2000.

Raven, Don't worry about the time difference between top and bottom. It doesn't really exist since the top part of the film stays wet (with developer) the entire time. Only the initial dunking of the film in the developer would make any difference in that regard. There are tons of tanks, tubes, chambers, etc. that you can use to develop 4x5, but you might also consider simple tray developing by hand. Sure, you need to spend a couple of hours teaching yourself how to do it, and the simplest tools do require the most skill, but once you've got it down it is the quickest (not to mention, cheapest) method of all. Four trays, chemicals and dark is all you need. Setting up and washing up are a snap. See AA's description of tray developing in "The Negative". Regards, ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (, March 27, 2000.

I thought it funny that Ansel Adams seemed to indicated a preference for tray developing in "The Negative." After stating that he thought this the simplest method, he then goes on to tell you that some people might not react well to the chemicals on their hands, your hands immersed in the trays will change the temperature, and you must be extra careful not to scratch the films.

Although I am still very new at this, I first tried the trays - mostly for low cost since I already had trays for print developing. I didn't like it, though, the the reasons mentioned above. I tried the Gepe Combi-plan tank, which is an inversion tank like you mentioned. It leaked and made a mess, and it took so long to pour chemicals in and out of it, it was hard to time the process. I finally got some Kodak 4x5 hard rubber tanks and hangers. The tanks average around $12 each on eBay, and I picked up hangers for less than $2 each. This, by far, to date is my favorite method - except it is still in the dark and I haven't invested in a glowing timer yet. (Why IS the Gralab 300 as expensive as it is? Seems simple by today's standards and they've been building them for decades. Supply and demand, I guess.)

I would REALLY like to try the Jobo tanks sometime. Seems that they most of the advantages with few of the disadvantages of any method. When you don't need precise temperature control as for color, supposedly, you can use the 4x5 tank without the processing machine.

-- John H. Henderson (, March 27, 2000.

The Nikkor stainless tank referenced above is excellent. The only drawback-takes 1200 ml of solution to do a run

-- David Stein (, March 28, 2000.

Raven, I developped films the way you explain, in Kodak tanks and trays and they where fine. I did not leave them out of the bath for more than 4-5 secs, so the developper was not running out of active stuff in such a short time. Then I purchased a Jobo drum system for 120 and 4x5, but kept working with the tanks, which I found, where more convenient for the 4x5". The chemicals stay in the tanks and I covered them with a air proof lid (celled polyethylen on a thick wooden board) in addition to the floating lid. T-Max RS has an amazing length of life, kept this way. The only minus was that I had to stay in the dark, and know very well where everithing was! Some bits of fluorescent tape put in the right places are of a great help.

-- Paul Schilliger (, March 28, 2000.


I first tried to develop my negs in the tray, in the dark. I can't stand that dark! I was always sure my timer was not set as I waited of the audible beep. this method also seemed to add scratching etc.

I now use a besseler print drum on a motor base! I am pretty happy witht he setup as I now load the film in the drum in the dark, then continue in full light.

process time is a little faster due to constant agitation. but I have only one drum so I do one neg at a time. one added benefit of that is that I can look at the neg and decide if I need to slightly adjust for the nest exposure, add or reduce density.

I am sure many would find find my method comical, but it works for me. something about that darkness makes me anxious!

good luck, paul

-- paul schuster (, March 28, 2000.

I use an HP Combi tank, and have yet to spill a drop. There are some rubber washers that have to be in place, and the lid needs to be pressed down all the way around.

I get nice even skies, repeatable development, easy (for me) to use. Fill/empty time is about 45 seconds, which isnt bed for half a gallon of liquid. Just include it in the overall processing time. Since when I shoot film I use Grafmatic magazines, the six-shot capacity of the tank is a perfect match for the Grafmatic.

-- Tony Brent (, March 28, 2000.

I use a 8x10 Unicolor Print Drum on a reversing motor base. It was cheap and works like a champ. I had always used the hard rubber tanks with hangers which I also still use with minus development schemes. I like the constant agitation and the smooth tonalities he constant agitation delivers. I think the Jobo is a little expensive considering all of the Besseler and Unicolor drums out there on the used market that will work just as well. For 4 sheets of 4x5 in one run I use 200mm of developer and a little more stop and fix. James

-- james (, March 31, 2000.

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