Tank for developing 5x7 negs

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Hi all, Just what is a good tank for developing 5x7 negs with SS hangers? Plastic or stainless?

-- Emile de Leon (knightpeople@msn.com), May 15, 2002


To my knowledge there is no good tank / hanger combination that gives evenly processed nergs. Unless you get into a nitrogen burst system.

One of the best ways and for the least amount of money, is to process your sheet film in trays. From my experience THE very best way is to use a Jobo Expert drum for either 4X5, 5X7 or 8X10 film. But then again I was always somewhat of a clutz = never being able to process more than 2 sheets at a time in trays without getting scratches...(There are many photographers out there who never get scratched film even when processing many sheets at the same time...so it must be me...)

With dip and dunk tanks and hangers you are bound to get uneven density (development), especially at the edges of your film...

-- Per Volquartz (volquartz@volquartz.com), May 15, 2002.

Per has it spot on. Trays are the least cost way to go. You might have to sacrifice some old sheet film to perfect your tray developing technique. First practice with the lights on, eyes open. Then, lights on eyes closed and finally lights off. (And yes, I still even close my eyes in the dark. Why? Because I practiced that way.) One other point on tray developing, go for extended development times so you don't feel the need to "rush" through the shuffling during a short development time.

I can't comment on the JOBO type developing. I have enough stuff in my darkroom already. I literally can't add anything else.

-- Joe Lipka (joelipka@earthlink.net), May 16, 2002.


I don't procees much 5x7, but when I do it's in a Jobo 8x10 drum. The 3005 is designed to hold 5 sheets of 8x10 and I use it to hold 5 sheets of 5x7. The sheets can slip to the bottom of the tubes, but I have long fingers so it's no problem extracting them. I've never had a problem with uneven development.


-- Pete Caluori (pcaluori@hotmail.com), May 16, 2002.

I use the JOBO tank--actually the big one that will do 12 4x5 negatives. Not sure how it configures for 5x7, but I bet you can do it. As I think it was designed for a rotary processor, it can be quite heavy and thirsty for chemistry when used by hand (because it needs to be filled to cover the film area completely when used vertically). But otherwise, it works very well. Using a presoak, I get very even development this way, and no scratches. I'm all a bit of a klutz when it comes to trays.

-- Chris Jordan (Boston) (postmaster@jordanphoto.com), May 16, 2002.

hi emile you might be able find plastic/hard rubber tanks for processing your film. they work pretty well if you are into deep tanks. i used to print/process everything that an olde time portrait photographer in providence used to shoot. we used deep tanks and never had a problem. (i think i used to process about 40-50 sheets of film a day) just make sure you keep track of how many sheets you put through the developer and replenish accordingly.

one thing to think about is that if you have one bad hanger you will find it leaving strange lines & circles &c. on your film from where the hanger overlaps your film. good luck!

-- jnanian (jak@gis.net), May 16, 2002.

Emile, we use a small deeptank line where I work to process 4x5 film on 4-up hangers...we do anywhere from 1-4 runs a day and do about 28 sheets at a time. It takes me about an hour, from loading the film, doing the run by hand, and then hanging the film up to dry in the heat dryer...I could do back to back runs all day if I had to (not that I'd enjoy it), but once you get your technique down, you won't have a problem with agitation marks or uneven development...we shoot onto gray seamless backgrounds alot, and you'd see it..believe me. For 5x7--which I do at home--I use one-gallon Cesco-Lite plastic tanks & floating lids. I do about 6-8 hangers at time by hand. One thing though....I replenish my chemistry & keep good logs....I run TMAX RS both at work & at home as the replenished developer. This is a very clean, easy to replenish developer....some developers work better than others in a tank...bad replenishment & dirty tanks etc. can sometimes lead to agitation problems as well...fwiw, we don't use a prewet at all either, and shoot mainly TMX 4x5. Our stock time is 7 min. 75 degrees F. A lab next door to us runs a larger tank line using 3.5 gallon tanks...they can do something like 90 sheets or so in one run. You can get 5x7 hangers that are 2-up on an 8x10 too, but the singles are pretty easy to find...hope this helps....p.s. if you do it one-shot on the chemistry, it will be pretty wasteful....most chemistry will last a month in a tank with a floating lid. If you pour it out into t atight jug & save it, you can keep a working solution of TMAX RS for about 6 mos or so, or until you run around 80 rolls worth of film--which would be about 150 or so 5x7s....I'd probably dump it after about 3 months or so though. We change it every month.

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), May 16, 2002.

The Combi-Plan L system, which has not been made in about 20 years, did an excellent job of processing up to 12 5x7 sheets in room light (after filling and emptying). It used inversion agitation.

You could probably never find a new one but used ones are around.

Another option are 3.5 gallon tanks with 5x7 hangers (2 57 on a hanger). These are readily available from most dealers specializing in darkroom but are for complete darkness only as their tops are not light tight and the volume of chemistry used is very high for casual work.

tray processing is the least favorable option as you will scratch something at some time during handling and shuffling the film.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), May 16, 2002.

If you go with the 2-up hangers, you can get slimline tanks that use less than 3.5 gallons..ours is from California Stainless, and was designed for a handline C41 d&d process... but I think Regal, Leedal and others carry similar tanks designs. Ours holds 2 gallons of chemistry and runs the 8x10 sized racks. For 5x7, you could do about 14 sheets or so at a time. We have a basket that holds all the hangers. They have floating lids & tank covers as well as a waterjacket tank & washer for the whole thing--it all sits in it's own sink too--they call this a "processor" actually....with a setup like this you do develop in the dark, but you leave the chemistry in the tanks & replenish. In all, it uses about 10 gallons of chemistry counting all steps. So, yeah, you need volume to make it work, but you can also get 5x7 sized tanks in one gallon sizes...I've seen them for the 2-up hangers as well..they're really skinny tanks, and hold about 4 hangers. You could probably find some used if you dug around enough, but be forewarned that they aren't cheap new....you could buy a pretty nice view camera for what a deeptank setup costs new....

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), May 16, 2002.

Your not going to have a problem developing in tanks. I get perfect results with 4x5. I use tanks as I don't have the tabletop space for trays, but chemical quantities can get larger, and this might be a put off for you. If you can't find the smaller stainless tanks take a 8x10 tank and divide it with glass and silicone. Two tanks gets it done. My agitation method in a tank is to swing the holder, never taking it out of the solution.

-- Wayne Crider (waynecrider@hotmail.com), May 16, 2002.

Go to a auto & truck battery recycling center & get some battery boxes that have had the tops removed. They are big enough to hold chemicals & very resistant to film processing chemistry of almost any kind. Most are hard rubber & I have had some with three separate sections inside that worked just right for 4x5 film and others much larger (big truck or industrial batteries) that worked fine for 5x7.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), May 16, 2002.

I would be interested in hearing from those who have good results using tanks as to their method of agitation. I assume slow lifting and lowering, tipping gently first to one side and then the other while the film is out of the solution. Have I got this right? And with what frequency. TIA, njb

-- Nacio Jan Brown (Nacio@MyBerkeleyHome.com), May 16, 2002.

Thanks all for the much needed info regarding 5x7 tank processing! Lots of food for thought here....Again, thanks for all the great posts, a big help, as I always scratch film with tray processing.

-- Emile de Leon (knightpeople@msn.com), May 16, 2002.


You have it right. Think of it as sliding the hangers in and out of the tank rather than just pulling them out and dropping them back in. That will cause surge marks.

I agitate at one minute intervals, but use whatever pattern you want as long as you are consistent.

-- Jerry Flynn (flynn68@attglobal.net), May 17, 2002.


I know that you are considering hangers and tanks, but here is an alternative: Use a plexiglass device to hold your sheets in place, and develop them in trays. John Sexton uses this sort of device to develop sheet film when he wants to use an extremely dilute developer for compensating development. Phil Bard uses it all of the time. I have been using Phil Bard's design and it works well. Check out his website (http://www.philbard.com/panel.html) for plans that you can modify for 5x7 film.

-- Dave Karp (davekarp@ix.netcom.com), May 17, 2002.

what works for me is to vigorously--or briskly, for lack of a better word--pull the racks up & slightly out of the tank, lean to one side (forward in our setup), and then back into the tank....I repeat this cycle and tilt the racks to the back, the bottom of the racks--they're in a basket actually, this is a big help--never really leaves the lip of the tank either, although it's out of the developer. Anyways, an agitation cycle for me this way is to go in & out about 3-4 times, and at the end of this I give the basket a little rap on the tank to dislodge any airbells. With TMAX RS, I go for 30 seconds straight the first minute, and then agitate like this for about once every minute. So that's about 5-10 seconds out of the minute. I do something similar for roll film as well, but use liftrods with the reels, and do a spin during the agitation. My disclaimer here though, would be that agitation is kind of a personal thing.....

-- dk thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), May 17, 2002.

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