Beginner's Film Development : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello folks,

I just bought a Super Speed Graphic to enter 4x5" after I worked with 35mm and 6x6 for a while. Now I also want to develop the films on my own. This I bought a Doran 4x5" (daylight) tank. The salesperson told me that I also need the following items: developer, fixer, stopper, film brackets, moistener. I now have a basic unterstanding of which functions the single chemicals have. But could you give me a small overview on how to develop a film, assuming that I just used my changing bag to put it from the film holder into the tank. Thanks a lot.


-- David Haardt (, May 22, 2001



I think you may need to get a beginner's book on black and white photography and darkroom processes. You can go to for an excellent list of books as well as other online resources. Black and white darkroom work is simple as it has very few steps but complex due to the number of variable parameters involved (type of film, exposure, dilution, temprature, timing, agitation and more). Getting a good base in the way of theoretical information and a good practical coverage will take you a long way from frustration towards accomplishment. Also, you could look at a local basic b&w photography class in a community college or something similar.

-- Haim Toeg (, May 22, 2001.

In short, you load the daylight tank, give your film a 30 second water "presoak" and with all your chemicals diluted properly and at the same temperature (typically 68 degrees F) add your developer for the recommended time (find this at and agitate accordingly. After this, dump your developer and add your stop bath for about 30 seconds using constant agitation. Next step is the fixer... usually 3-5 minutes depending on the film... the rest of the steps can be done in daylight. Next step is to wash your film. You can do this by repeated fill and dump of water in your tank. It is advisable to get a clearing agent like Heico Permawash also for your next step(it will cut down the amount of washing you have to do to get the residual fixer off your film. After this, rinse with water thoroughly and finish off by dipping your film in Kodak's Photoflo and hang to dry. This is a very BASIC way and will get your film developed. The more careful and consistent you are, the better your results. Keep your area as dust free as possible and you will have alot better results. Cheers, Scott

-- Scott Walton (, May 22, 2001. l

-- John O'Connell (, May 22, 2001.

Hello folks,

I did already read through the Darkroom Primer available on this web site before I posted my question. I now also ordered the book "The Negative" by Ansel Adams.

My "problem" however is that I have a German book from a German photo journalist from the 70s, where he has a more simple procedure for development: developer, water, fixer. Washing. Finish. So he doesn't use a stop bath (he uses pressurised water instead), and he doesn't use a wetting agent (instead he recommends to wash the negative for at least 15 mins, better 30). Is this an outdated way to develop negatives, or is this only possible with older films?

Are there any recommendations on Chemicals which can be used with many films, with larger tolerances as far as the application times are concerned? In Germany, it's easy to get chemicals by Forte, Calbe (former GDR), Tetenal, Agfa, Kodak, and Ilford.

Is it also possible to develop (contact) prints using such a daylight tank I just bought?


-- David Haardt (, May 23, 2001.


Check this site (, it has a lot of developing information and a couple of dedicated forums.

A lot of people regard stop bath as unnecessary, even undesirable as if you get it too strong it supposedly can damage the emulsion. I have always used Photo-flo or something like it, but know a lot of people don't. I think these things are as much personal preference an what works for you as anything.

As regards developers, Rodinal, D-76, and HC-110 seem to be the most popular. I like D-76 the best (easy to use, fine grain), but often use Rodinal for convenience (mix as you go - I develop sporadically and was wasting a lot of D-76). Rodinal is a little grainy for my tastes in 35mm, but is great for larger formats. Either of these can be used very effectively with any number of films, but you'll get the best results if you settle on a film developer combination and stick with it. Also, many people report trouble with developing t-grain films (e.g., T-Max), but I've never had any. I think this is simply the result of being reasonably careful with the temperature of the chemicals.

Here is another site called the "Massive Development Chart" ( that will give you time and temperature combinations for a lot of developers and films.

Good luck

-- Chris Werner (, May 27, 2001.


I 'm a bit in the same "beginners" stadion. but I haven't got to much equipement. is it possible to develop neg's (or dia pos.) in try's? what are the disadvantages??

sorry David for using your post to ask my question, I tought it might fit in this post.

-- Stijn (, May 30, 2001.

Developing film in trays works great, and many people who aren't beginners stay with it. Two 4X5's in an 8X10 try work fine but you have to keep the corner of one from digging into the emulsion on the other. I used to do this with my hand, until I had a pizza delivered from Pizza Hut and noticed a little white plastic tripod thing in the pizza which keeps the lid from getting pushed into the pizza. I glued two of those upside down in the tray, they are thin and don't interfere with the wash of the developer during development and the sheets of film can't ding each other and I don't have to keep the separated with my hand.

-- Kevin Crisp (, May 30, 2001.

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