How to develop film in tubes? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am interested in the development of LF film in tubes. I have developed for many years and hangers and trays, but the tubes seem to be a good idea. I would like to know if the tubes need anything inside to keep the film back from touching the tube. If not, what happens to developer which seeps between the film and tube? How do you get fix there to kill the developer? Does the wash take care fo it? How do you wash the negs once they are developed? Silly questions perhaps, but I would like to try tube development and would like some ideas and procedures. Thanks, Doug.

-- Doug Paramore (, April 11, 2000


Look here: http://darkroom- uctions.html

-- William Marderness (, April 11, 2000.

Or here and follow the links:

-- William Marderness (, April 11, 2000.

Here's the procedure I use. Others may do things differently, but this works for me.

First, I line up the caps and put in the appropriate amount of developer. Then I line up the tubes so I'll be able to find them easily in the dark. After turning out the lights, I load the sheets of film into the tubes, emulsion side facing inwards, being sure to leave a bit of the film sticking out past the end of the tube (if you don't, you'll have a hell of a time pulling the film out). Then I place the tubes into the caps, being careful not to splash the developer onto the film yet. After all the tubes are loaded and placed in their caps, I turn the lights back on.

I have a large plastic tub filled with water (at the same temp as I want the developer) that I use to spin the tubes in (it doubles as a wash tub when I'm printing). I'll set my timer to the appropriate time, pick up on of the tubes, put it in the water bath, and start it to spinning. Occasionally, I'll reverse the direction of the spin. About halfway through, I flip the tubes over.

For the next step, I turn off the main light and just use a red safelight (any dim light will work fine). After the film has spent the appropriate time in the developer, I take the tube out of the water bath, turn it up so the developer drains back into the cap, remove the tube from the cap, put it in a mild stop bath and give it a spin making sure the stop bath reaches all of the emulsion.

[The dim light does NOT hurt the negatives. I've inadvertantly blasted negatives with strong light at the end of development but before a stop bath, and even that had no negative effect.

After a good coating with stop bath, I take the film out of the tube and put it in a small rack/tank full of fix (I don't remember the name of the tank, but it's a common one used for developing sheet film--I never could get decent results with it, but it works great for fixing the film). Some people put the tubes (with film) in a fix bath and continue the spinning. The might not clear the back of the film thoroughly, though.

After all the sheets of film have been in the fix for a couple of minutes, I turn the main light back on.

After the film finishes fixing, I rinse them in the same tank. Rinse, hypo clear, a few more rinses, a little Photo-flo, and the negs are ready for drying.

To address your specific questions: "I would like to know if the tubes need anything inside to keep the film back from touching the tube. If not, what happens to developer which seeps between the film and tube? " No. If developer seeps back there, it just hangs out doing nothing--the emulsion's on the other side of the film.

"How do you get fix there to kill the developer?" The stop bath will probably neutralize most of it. What's left shouldn't contaminate the fix too seriously.

You can do more than one tube/sheet at a time, up to the number of tubes your bath will hold. I usually space the start time for each tube a minute apart. That gives me just enough time to pull out a tube, put it through the stop, and get it in the fix before the next one's ready.

Others may have some improvements over this method (I'd be happy to hear them--I find LF developing a pain in the backside).

-- Mike Dixon (, April 11, 2000.

Mike's method does sound like a pain in the backside. I use a unicolor drum with motor base. The 8x10 drum will hold 4 4x5 negatives. You just load the film in the dark...everything else is done with the lights on. The drums are ribbed inside so the chemicals get to both sides of the film and it is easy to get the negatives out. I wash my negatives in one of the Yankee 4x5 developing tanks...just stick your hose in and the water circulates up through the film holder. I find this method to be neat and clean, certainly not a pain in the backside.

-- Don Sparks (, April 12, 2000.

Jobo is the way to go if you have the money.

-- William Marderness (, April 12, 2000.

I should note that, though my developing method is a bit of a pain, the materials required are dirt cheap. I made the tubes myself with <$20 worth of materials from Home Depot. Since I don't do a lot of LF, the savings are worth the trouble. If I were going to do a lot of LF developing, I think a Jobo or other semi-automated system would be a reasonable investment.

-- Mike Dixon (, April 12, 2000.

I have used the BTZS tubes and like them when I have a few negatives to process. Mainly, I use either a Jobo 2500 drum and the 4x5 reel inserts or a Jobo 3010 drum. The former accepts up to 12 negatives, the latter up to 10. I do not own a Jobo processor; instead I use a unicolor roller base. I have tested my approach against the same tanks on a jobo unit and found no difference in image quality. So you can save money there. One disclaimer: I process B/W only. I can keep temperature fine for B/W without the temp controlled bath. Were I doing chromes, that would not be the case. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (, April 13, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ