T-Max -- Scratches

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I have been shooting 4x5 B&W landscapes for about a year now, and I'm slowing but surely gaining decent results. I've been using T-Max 100 exclusively, processing them two or four sheets at a time in a tray. I consistently have scratches and other abrasions, even though I try to be careful. I have seen some discussion on this forum about T-Max's emulsion, and I have not yet constructed the type of "holder" that Phil Bard notes on his website. My question is this: should I just switch to a film with a more "durable" emulsion? Any suggestions? Or should I be more cautious? Any opinion is greatly appreciated.

-- Mark Christopherson (mchristopherson@lhdl.com), January 24, 2001


If you like t-max don't change films. Change methods. Get yourself a rotary drum of some sort. I have a Jobo with a hand roller and can do six negatives at a time. No scratches, no uneven development and you do it all in daylight.

-- Paul Mongillo (pmongillo@thurston.com), January 24, 2001.

If your're determined to tray develop,the Phil Bard slosh tray is the way to go. I use one for HP5+ & PMK Pyro...very consistant and no scratches. They're cheap too!

-- Don Sparks (Harleyman7@aol.com), January 24, 2001.

Mark, if you can't afford a Jobo then try a Unicolor drum on a motor base. You can find them on ebay for a few dollars. An 8x10 drum will hold 4 sheets. After loading in darkness the processing is done in daylight. Good luck and happy shooting. Pat.

-- Pat Kearns (pat.kearns@coopertsmith.com), January 24, 2001.

I have been tray developing the T Max films for years and have not had a problem with scratches. I will sometime develop as many as 10 sheets as a time. If you have not been processing them emulsion side down, try it, and that may resolve your problem. I know that Kodak recommends doing emulsion side up. But I always scratched the film that way. In my opinion, there is no problem with the durability of Kodak sheet film. However, I have had some problem with the Ilford films.

-- John Boeckeler (boeck@midcoast.com), January 24, 2001.


I agree with Mr. Boeckler 100% and I use trays for all of my sheet film (aprox. 50-75 sheets/week of 4x5 alone). I also shuffle up to 10 and sometimes 14 sheets. If you look at the process of shuffling from the side, this methoud will place all the sharp edges, to the film base side. I also prefer to use a demple bottom or a deep groove tray this will let the rocks and gravel have a place to settle. When I have been in dusty conditions, I also aggressivly dip and dunk (held vertical and 1 sheet at a time) in an old tank filled with clean water and then go into prerinse or developer as needed. I do not have problems with scratches. Trays are not for everyone but for my money, time and the ability to adjust for each sheet or group of sheets,it works for me. And I would add that I have a JOBO unit. I can have my trays ready in less than 1 min. reguardless of film size and clean up is a snap. Now if I could just learn to shuffle 10 sheets of 8x10 in an 8x10 tray I would be happy.

I would also like to add one important thing about shuffling your film. It is important to not slide the film into the fluid but it must be dropped flat on the fluid surface this puts fluid (LUBE) between the sheets. Then just push the sheet down with you finger tip.

Good luck,


-- R.L. (Mac) McDonald (rmacsteam@aol.com), January 24, 2001.

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