Developing 4x5 sheet film in tubes : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Thanks for all the help you guys provided me with regard to film agitation. With regard to developing 4x5 sheet film in a tube processor like JOBO or Unicolor, how do you load the film inside the tube? Do you need special sheet holders before placing it inside the tube? Or is it just like developing prints where you just place the paper inside the tube without any special attachments? Thanks in advance


-- Irwin Cua (, January 23, 2001


Irwin I use the El-Cheapo tubes, the make-them-yourself ones in Phil Davis' book. They work great and cost about half the going price of dirt. You can get some scratching of the backing side of the film from these, or any other kind, of tubes. To eliminate even the possibility of scratching, I took a stack of scrap negatives and bleached the emulsion off and washed them. I use these blank sheets as backers for the film. The back of the film rests on the backer, and its the backer that is actually sliding along the surface of the tube as the film is inserted. You could do better by just taking some transparency sheets ( for copiers ) and cutting them to 4x5 sheets. That way you don't have to do the bleaching.

Just a suggestion.

-- Jason Kefover (, January 23, 2001.

Irwin, The Unicolor drum is easy to load. It has angled pieces for each size of paper or film to fit in. The 8x10 unicolor drum can be had for under $20.00 on ebay (be patient) and does a great job on up to 4 4x5 negatives at a time. I developed my first 4x5 neg's in mine this weekend *Yea* and they turned out great. They can be hand rolled also so you don't need a motor base but it is nice to let it do the work. Good luck and have fun. And yes it loads just like the paper. Doug

-- Doug Theall (, January 23, 2001.

Is there any difference between the Unicolor and Beseler drums?

-- Tom Raymondson (, January 24, 2001.

If you have the Jobo system already, invest in an expert drum. You will slide the sheets into there own little tubes and use less chemisrty. Very consistent results and all that. If you don't have a Jobo, your safest and cheapest route would be the Davis tubes whether or not you make your own or buy his is up to you. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (, January 24, 2001.

The Unicolor drums load just like paper. They have ridges in them to allow chemicals to reach the back. I never had a problem with chemicals not reaching the back with the Unicolor (unless the films slid together).

For Jobo, you either need to get the sheet film reel or the expert drum. The sheet film reel is a spiral reel that lets you load up to 6 4x5 sheets and fits in one of the 2500 series drums.

The expert drum has cylinders in, and you place one sheet curled up in each cylinder.

The expert drum is supposed to REALLY ensure even development, but it costs WAY more than the sheet film reel, and can only be used on the bigger, more expensive CPA and CPP machines (as opposed to the CPE). I think it may require you have the lift installed, too. I have the sheet film reel (still not cheap, but a fraction of the price of the expert drums) and have never seen any sign of uneven development. warning. Apparently this wasn't always so. If you find a used 4x5 sheet film reel, make sure it is the 2509n and not the 2509. The "n" model is redesigned to address complaints of uneven development and has plastic "clamps" that snap onto the reel after the film is loaded to hold the film in position.

-- John H. Henderson (, January 24, 2001.

I use the Unicolor drums because that's what I have. If you use the 8X10 paper drum and use the small V spacer that slides into the grove (that I guess orginally was designed so that you could do 4X5 paper prints, you can easily slide the film in, emulsion side to the centre.) . If you just do two 4X5 sheets they work fine. There is a potential for the films to touch if you are doing 4 sheets, two on each side. Sometimes they touch and sometimes they don't. I've seen somebody mention a trick using erasers to keep the film ( on the same side apart) but I don't know about this method.The spacer that was ( I think designed for doing 8X10 paper is a little bit too wide to work well with 4X5 sheet film. The big advantages with this method are consitent agitation, small quantities of solution and no scratching of the film.

-- Dave Perry (, January 25, 2001.

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