"Best" developing method

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I am looking for a day light tank to develop 5x4 sheet, but I don't know what is best for black and white. Can anyony provide me with details of what is the best tank or tube to go for? Thanks for your help, David Kirk.

-- David Kirk (David_J_Kirk@hotmail.com), May 03, 2000


I use the Jobo rotary processors with hand inversion. Jobo doesn't recommend this because of the large volume of chemistry required, but it works fine.

I have used dilute developers (e.g., Xtol 1:3; HC-110 1:31 from stock; PMK) or reuseable, replenished developer (TMax-RS). I use the 2 reel tank, but only load the bottom reel; 1.4 litre covers the lower reel. I don't load the upper reel because I believe the developer needs space to intermix when agitating. I put the upper reel in the tank to hold the lower one down and haven't gotten around to making a spacer to do this.

See: http://www.jobo-usa.com/jobofoto/products/2500.htm#Other 2500 Series Pictures

I don't like the other tanks I've seen because there isn't enough room for the chemicals to move around. I haven't tried rotary processing, but books and articles indicate this isn't a good approach for B&W. There's BTZS tubes which I have not used but it seems like a lot of fussing around, and uses continuous agitation.

Best regards, Charlie

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), May 03, 2000.

I think the best way to develop sheet film is in a Jobo rotary processor with an expert drum. The Jobo controls temperature and agitation. The expert drums require a minimum of chemistry and give even development without the risk of scratching.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), May 03, 2000.

I have use the Jobo and a few other processors but still prefer the 4x5 racks and my trust dip and dunk tanks. I get all the control I need and they work great... not to mention a whole lot cheaper than the lowest price Jobo. Scott

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), May 03, 2000.

Unicolor print drums on the Uniroller work great for me.

They're cheap and plentiful on the used-equipment market. Note that not just any print drum will work; it must have ribs on the inner wall so that solutions can get around to the base side of the film and clear antihalation coating etc.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), May 03, 2000.

I'd go along with the Jobo/full tank/hand inversion method. I had problems trying to use a Jobo with rotary agitation for sheet film, nearly always ending up with uneven development, "tide marks" and foaming marks. The problem is that you have to pour the developer in and seal the tank in the upright position before turning it on its side to rotate it. All the time that the tank is upright the sheets of film are only partially covered with solution. If the development time is only 5 or 6 minutes then the 30 seconds or more that it takes to pour in the developer, attach the cap and transfer the tank to the roller is quite significant. Fully filling the tank and using inversion agitation avoids the problem. The Jobo tanks are very expensive, though, for what they are. Expect to pay at least #40 for the smallest tank and the 2509 cut film reel. Ignore the instructions about "needing" the special loader, it's a waste of time and money. If you can load a stainless steel reel in the dark the Jobo sheet film reel is no problem.

I've also got a "Dallan" stainless steel deep tank that can take a dozen sheets of 5x4 at a time. It has a sealable light-trapped pouring spout, and can be used for inversion agitation in the light. Again the pouring time can be a problem, and really it's more practical to use it in the dark, using the dip'n'dunk method, with a separate little tub of stop bath standing by while the developer's changed for fixer.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), May 04, 2000.

You are not supposed to fill a Jobo expert tank in the upright position. You have to fill the tank while it is turning. This is what the Jobo lift is for. You won't get uneven development if you use the drum according to Jobo's instructions.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), May 04, 2000.

I use and highly recommend the BTZS film tubes sold by Darkroom Innovations (name recently changed to "The Veiw Camera Store" or something like that). Compared to Jobo, they are inexpensive and take up very little space. Also, you can do multiple development times in a single run. If you'd like more detail, send me an e mail.

-- Brian Ellis (bellis@tampabay.rr.com), May 08, 2000.

The daylight inversion HP CombiPlan T has long been a preferred method of daylight processing and is used in many teaching courses.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), May 08, 2000.

I've been running a very low-tech stainless can similar to Nikor tanks for 35mm and roll films. It sits in a water bath at the correct temperature as a hedge against the developer temperature changing.

This is pretty low-tech compared to all the goodies mentioned above, but I do get consistent results with it. I'm thinking about trying my Beseler 8x10 drum and motor base this weekend...

-- Bruce Gavin (doc@compudox.com), June 02, 2000.

I started out using the dip and dunk method of developing sheet film. I liked the results very much and still use it when I have a lot of film of the same processing times to develope. But I really like the rotory processing method for it's consistent results. My system is the Unicolor drum and reversing motor base. It was inexpensive and I recently purchased another base just in case one goes bad. I have the 8x10, 11x14, and 16x20 drums. I can use them for color print processing too. I get 4 sheets in the 8x10 drum using a wooden stick to keep the top 2 separated from the bottom 2 sheets. I like the density separation with the rotory system better than the dip and dunk method. And I don't get near any chemicals with the rotory method. Once the film is loaded the lights come back on and everything is done with ease. The chems are poured in fast and emptied quickly also. Very nice system. Too bad Unicolor doesn't make the system anymore although there seem to be plenty of them out there. Give it a try. james

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), June 04, 2000.

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