print and film washers : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello to all, I think I have myself in more of a jam then I would like to admit. Fortunately this job will take about 6 months to a year to print. Unfortunately I am ill informed on a particular product and hope you all can help. I will be processing at least 1000 sheets of 4x5 film and printing at least 2000 8x10's for a very good client. This client wants everything archival. No problem, I can do that, how ever I am thinking that my film washing and print washing techniques are dated at best. My print washer is an old arkay 16x20 water well. Works fine but uses too much water for such a large print job. So I am looking at stand up archival washers. However I have not been able to see one in the flesh. So I guess what I am asking for is advice. Which archival print and or film washer do you recommend? Which uses the least amount of water, has good turbulence, is reliable and simple to hook up. And most of all easy to load and unload? I was thinking of a 16x20 print washer because it will hold 24 prints? But I have no idea about the film washer. Thanks in advance for your help.

-- jacque staskon (, June 25, 2000


Calumet Potographic sells a sheet film washer-I believe it is under their name. When I bought mine it was labeled Gravity Works. It holds 12 4x5 sheets and uses a fill, siphon, fill routine. Water usage is efficient; films are washed well in 5 minutes. I use a Gravity Works archival washer for images up to 16 x 20 inches. After some research and good luck in being able to see other units in action I decided the Gravity Works was pretty good. I can do 20-24 11x14 in about 45 miutes at 1/2-1 gallon per minute. Granted speed is not the goal here; efficient use of water to create a fully washed print is. I have tested the prints and they are clean. I use the Arkay units in the beginning photo art classes I teach and find them just barely ok. If any volume of prints is in the arkay and if the unit speed isn't adjusted just so, the results may be dirty and/or dinged from collision with other prints. Sidebar: I think that most of the archival washers using single slots for 1 or 2 prints would do the job for you. The differences touted in ads seem to me to be somewhat silly. Bob

-- Bob Moulton (, June 25, 2000.

Jacque, Look at a few of these sites, maybe it will help in making your decision. (Sorry, you'll have to cut and past, I don't do links.)

Not all of these sell washers, some have to do with environmental concerns and water usage. I'm sure there are many others (I also have a Calumet Gravity Works film washer, which I recommend and Zone VI print washers). These are some alternatives to the usual. Regards,


-- Doremus Scudder (, June 25, 2000.

I have and recommend Summitek's Cascade washer. It meets all your requirements, and has been very effective for me. I've not had any problems with loading or unloading, and it probably uses the least water of any similarly sized washer. Do contact Summitek and get a copy of Camera & Darkroom's washer test; it's worth reading.

PS I am not connected with Summitek in any way except as a customer.

-- Sal Santamaura (, June 25, 2000.

For prints I highly recommend the Versalab washers; they don't look spiffy but the work great.

As for the film I have no idea. How are you developing it?

-- John Hicks (, June 25, 2000.

You might want to contact Abbey Camera. They sell Berk & James, and recomend it highly.

-- Raven (, June 25, 2000.

Thanks to all who contributed to the archival print washer, film washer query. Especially Dorimus. The sites you recommended were quite valuable. I ended up ordering the Nova. Reasons? The 16x20 has 13 slots, the basket is removable for film and I could get it quickly. Plus the price was within my budget. I will be processing 1000 4x5 negs and making at least 2000 prints for this job and I wanted something reliable and cost effective. You all won't be hearing much from me while I am working in the dark, just keep me cool and feed me organic materials, I should be a fabulous mushroom. Thanks again for your input.

-- jacque staskon (, July 01, 2000.

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