JOBO CPE-2 / CPA-2 / CPP-2 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Ok, this is a tought one. I idenitifed my source of frustration, which is my lack of counter space, and my anal retentive nature in development - I want consistent, reproducible results.

So, I am looking at the sub-$2,000 JOBO units.

The marketing blah blah blah on Jobo's web site tells me very little. What are most people using out there for developing 4x5 negs only? Which drum unit? This gets kind of confusing, since I have yet to see one of these fine units in person.

I noticed that the CPE-2 is going for $575 on B&H, and there is a $200 rebate, which I could apply toward a lift. So, for something like $625, I would have a decent system. What is the major benefit to going to the CPA / CPP systems? I don't have a need to do large amounts of negs at one time, but I would like as much automation as possible, given that my space is limited, and my only water flow would come from a faucet in the kitchen or bathroom.

-- Andy Biggs (, July 17, 2001


Mechanised drum systems are complete overkill for a few B&W negs, IMHO. Have a look at the 'Combiplan' tank. By the time you've loaded a drum, and tempered its water bath, you could be on the washing stage with a simple tank system. I use a 'Dallan' SS tank, but they're no longer available. The Combiplan is the nearest modern equivalent, and in any case, takes much less processing solution than the Dallan. If space is an issue, the footprint is about 1/8th that of a drum unit. If you don't also have running water and drainage to hand, then I can't see how a drum unit will help.

-- Pete Andrews (, July 17, 2001.

I have the CPA unit and I think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. You have excellent control over solution temperature which allows me to dable with chromes. It eliminates fumbling around in the dark. It eliminates staring at the timer every 30 sec. for agitation intervals. It just makes the whole process of developing negatives easier. The CPA/CPP units allow the use of the Expert drums (CPE does not), I believe the 3010 can handle 10 sheets of 4X5 film at one time. The Expert drums are definitely the way to go for sheet film in my opinion. The CPP unit allows cooling of the water bath if the temperature is too high, but that can also be accomplished with the CPA by inserting frozen water containers in the water bath.

-- william nagel (, July 17, 2001.

I have a CPE-2 and do my own 4x5 and 35mm B&W, and 4x5 E6 processing in it. I then scan my negatives and print digitally. I love the CPE, the only problem I had early on was keeping the temperatures even since the CPE does not have a circulating pump in it. I fixed that by buying a $10.00 submersable aquarium pump. I can set up the Jobo, shoot my film, soup it, and have chromes to look at an hour later, beats the heck out of driving downtown and dropping my film off! My other suggestion is to purchase a plastic clothes hanging bag, the square type that hang in the closet. These make great drying booths which will keep the dust off of your negatives as they dry.

Hope this helps,

-- Harry Pluta (, July 17, 2001.

I decided on the CPP2 for one fundamental reason - consistency. When you are trying to use the zone system to its optimal, I feel that eliminating as many variables as possible (temp and agitation) improve the results as much as practical. It all spells confidence with a big C. However, saying that the JOBO is not the system for highly dilute developers and extended development times. Sexton is a JOBO user and has a good write up in this website.

Many feel that trays and other tank systems work great for them and that is fine. You have to determine what works for you. It saves space and I like the automation. I also wash the negs in the drums. Best darkroom decision I ever made.

-- Michael Kadillak (, July 17, 2001.

Thanks for the responses so far. You have all brought up good a good point. Yes, I do spend a considerable amount on E-6 processing, and I would love to do them at home, if possible. Even if I splurged on the CPP-2, is this just crazy?

With B&W development, I am trying to solve a space issue, a consistency issue, and a pain-in-the-butt issue. Looks like I could add an entire process (E-6) as well. Wow, that would save me a load of cash in the long run.

So, a CPA-2 or CPP-2 would allow me the use of their professional drums. I assume the 3000 series. Other than number of negatives you can process at one time, what is the benefit? Less chemistry? Less likelihood of streaks? Just curious.

-- Andy Biggs (, July 17, 2001.

I have never had a problem with streaks on any negatives processed with the JOBO drums. However, I use a small amount more chemistry than suggested just to be safe. I feel that the drums are probably the most innovative design we have seen in some time. Actually allows a water jacket internally and uses a reasonable amount of chemistry.

Do these use less chemistry than other systems? Probably not. Many I know to me at least, seem to run more film than they should through their tanks and trays whereas I use them one shot. The relationship between sq inches of film and development chemistry should be consistent and JOBO has done a considerable amount of testing to ascertain safe recommendations. I have never had a problem with 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 over the last three years and I use different drums for each. You can easily justify the cost of a processing unit by doing the math based upon farming out all of your processing (B&W and color). The lift is useless with the larger format drums and you will quickly develop the technique to raise the lift system with your fingers and let the gears engage at the pause for rotation.

Another very important variable I look for no matter what I am considering to purchase - customer support. Call JOBO and chat with a representative and ask them some of your questions. Should you ever have a problem, it is nice to know that they will be there for you.

-- Michael Kadillak (, July 17, 2001.

While I use a Jobo CPP, if you're just getting started in LF and not sure you want to continue, tray development doesn't take that much space for 4x5. The Jobo takes about 40" of counter space. Using 8x10 trays, you're talking about the same geography.

If you do decide to buy a Jobo, try to find a good used one. I've seen a number for sale that are in like-new condition. The primary thing to wear out on these is the motor, especially if there overdriven with too heavy a load of chemicals. These are frequently on eBay, as well as in used photo stores and camera shows.

Good luck.

-- J. Wolfe (, July 17, 2001.

I use the JOBO CPP-2 for B&W 4x5 negs and all my printing. I am very happy with it. I highly suggest the extra expense for the CPP-2 because of the cold water solenoid. My darkroom often goes well above 68 degrees and the machine automatically lets in cold tap water to adjust. Much nicer than ice bricks in the water which will then keep the heater constantly running. By the way these machines average 500 watts power consumption which is a lot! You do not have to have special plumbing. I have just run a garden hose to the back of the machine for this purpose. I have a PVC small pipe that runs through the wall of my space to bring the water in. When I am done, I just put the hose away...

Comments on service support are true; it is great. If you use Tri-X and HC110 you need to talk to the service guys about the 3010 drum because there is a slight manufacturing defect in the grooves that makes this particular film only have some slight marks of non removed anti-halation coating at one end of the negative. They are very small. They have told me that this is being corrected, but current stock has to be sold off. All other films seem to be OK.

Comments about dilute developers are correct. My HC110 has to be very diluted to get all my zone system numbers correct on testing and therefore because of the one liter limit on fluid in the 3010 drum and because of capacity limitations, I can only develop 4 4x5 negs at a time despite there being slots for 10 negs in the tank. All in all I am happy especially with being able to work in the light and no smelling fumes at all. My wife who has the good nose in the family says that it is odorless...

Email me if any other questions.


-- Scott Jones (, July 17, 2001.

I've been tempted to pick up a used CPE-2 at my local shop every time they have them, but I haven't done it yet. I can't justify the more expensive processors. However, I do use a Jobo 4x5 tank and reel and use it to develop manually. It's great. I find it to be reproducible and easy. The fact that it produces such good results manually makes me want to try one of the processors.


-- Dave Willis (, July 17, 2001.

There is no simpler and consistent way to process film and paper than the Jobo systems.I got mine on Ebay and I love it.IF you are only doing a few negatives at a time then the CPE2 Plus with lift is the way to go.Just make sure you get a "Plus" model as it has a beefier motor.

I have processed 35mm, 120 and 4x5 film, color and B/W and have made B/W and color prints up to 16x20, with my unit and it's fast, easy and repeatble. No Fumes and working with the lights on are also a major plus.

-- Wil Hinds (, July 17, 2001.

"There is no simpler and consistent way to process film and paper than the Jobo systems"

you've got to be kidding

-- mark lindsey (, July 17, 2001.

We JOBO users are VERY serious; Can't ya tell? :)

-- Scott Jones (, July 17, 2001.

Hi Mark , I'm very serious. I can process my film, do some laundry, play a few licks on one of my basses,or play with my one year old baby while processing 4x5 E6. What else can you do while processing? Ever drop sheet film in the dark? Really the Jobo is " about" as easy as it gets.

-- Wil Hinds (, July 18, 2001.

Well there's always a Model 5 Wing Lynch, a 4, or a ATL Jobo unit....or how about sending the film out to the lab or having your assistant run it through a deep tank?

-- DK Thompson (, July 18, 2001.

Almost forgot, for prints: Ilford 2150 processor, or maybe an Omnipro for both cibas & b&w. An automatic processor is nice because you just load the film, push the button & walk away...the chem is always up to temperature, and with gallons of E6 chem. in the tanks, it's not like you're mixing small amounts for every session... Or with the 2150, you get 2 weeks, or 1500 8x10s whichever comes first. 59 sec. dry to dry, with an infrared dryer....of course, this is all alot more $$$$$ than a talk about how fast it is to run E6 on a Jobo, but how much time do you spend mixing chemistry, waiting for it to warm up, and cleaning out the tubes after each run?

-- DK Thompson (, July 18, 2001.

I have a question for Michael. Yoou stated that the lift was not an item that was needed. I am looking to purchase a CPA-2 for both 4x5 and 5x7 B/W negs. I get the idea that Jobo seems to think that the lift is a must. Is this a marketing thing?

-- Bruce E. Rathbun (, July 19, 2001.

For the 3000 Series Drums you need (as statet by a Jobo tech) a lift, because of the design of the drums. You also need a pump to open them when once closed. With the 2500 series some people get uneven negs or higher density at the edges.

-- Markus Glueck (, July 20, 2001.

Hi Bruce,

As far as I am concerned, I can't imagine using my CPP-2 without the lift. It makes it easy to get the chemicals in and out of the tubes without getting wet/messy. Very smooth operation without having to concentrate on getting the tube off the machine, dump and fill, and then getting it back on with the magnet just right. And as has already been mentioned, you have to have it with the 3000 series tanks. Do look at JOBO's web site. They are usually running specials which get you something free if you buy a new processor. I got my lift for free. This is definitely not a marketing ploy; the device is well engineered and very handy and makes the processing smoother and quicker.


-- Scott Jones (, July 20, 2001.

Has anyone ever had a problem with handle on the Lift? It seems pretty flimsy.

-- Steve Wiley (, July 22, 2001.

Steve, mine broke. But I was using a big drum for 40x50 prints. The handle was easy to replace by a section of PVC tube for electrical wiring and it was strong enough to keep for years then.

-- Paul Schilliger (, July 22, 2001.

Yes the handle is somewhat delicate. It fits on the lift a little loosely, but if you don't "crank" on it, it shouldn't be any problem. I give mine a slight twist after slipping it on and this seems to make it feel a little tighter... The handle has not affected the performance or ease of using the machine at all.


-- Scott Jones (, July 24, 2001.

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