Daylight processing for 4X5 B&W

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by michael_bradtke, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Well the title pretty much says it all. I am looking for recommendations to develop 4X5 in daylight. I do not have
    access to a dark room and don't really have a place to build one. So I am looking at things like the Combi tank or the
    Yankee cut film tank.
    Are there others out there? Any information will be greatly appreciated.

  2. I use the Jobo Expert Drum, model 3006. It's not cheap, but is probably the easiest to use, with the most consistent results, and uses a small amount of chemicals. The Paterson Orbit, if you can find one, is also a good solution. Search for Yankee and Combi and you'll see plenty of comments about the problems those solutions have.
  3. I just started processing 4X5 B&W last month and didn't want to invest in additional equipment at this time. I found that by
    using my Patterson System 4 tank (the one that holds 4/35mm reels or 2/120 reels) I can develop two sheets at a
    time. Using D-76, I agitate (inversion method) for the first minute and then for five seconds every thirty seconds. I am
    getting excellent results. I use 1100ml of chemistry for this process. I am able to re-use the D-76 for a total of six sheets as
    long as I use it within a week. After one week or six sheets (whichever comes first) I discard it.
  4. I second the Jobo 2500 series suggestion. I use one, and I wouldn't trade it for anything else. <br>
    The Expert Drums are perhaps easier to load, but they are still far from perfect and are much more expensive.
  5. I haven't mentioned this, but now I realize it's not necessarily common knowledge, so you may not know it: you
    don't need a processor for the 2500 series Jobo. Just roll the tank by hand, back and forth, on the counter or in
    a try filled with tempered water. That's what I do, and I never got uneven development so far (well, I did once,
    but that was entirely my fault, so it doesn't count). Or you could get a cheap roller base.
  6. I'm very happy with my Combi-Plan tank. I can develop up to 6 sheets at a time, and the results are excellent. Just be sure to invert gently and parallel to the film. I popped a film loose the first time I used it.
  7. The Combi-Plan and Jobo tanks work well, BTZS tubes are another option as are old Cibachrome or Beseler print tanks, although some of these can be quite large. Using a stainless steel tank with one or two sheets at a time, depending on how many you can fit in at once without getting the sheets overlapping, works well for small numbers of sheets too. Just stay away from the Yankee tanks though, as they tend to have an inordinate number of issues.

    - Randy
  8. One more thing. I've read (but not personally experienced) that sometimes the anti-halation backing does not come off easily when developing in some types of tubes for development, so a wash of the film outside of the tubes is a good idea, *after fixing the film*. This backing needs to come off so that you can print the negatives properly, but it's a really simple thing to do and should not deter you from trying tube development.

    - Randy
  9. I use the Yankee tank. Follow their agitation instructions closely or you'll get surge marks around the edges.
  10. Thanks folks for all the information
    On the Jobo tank where do you find the real? I don't see it at B&H and when I click on the where to buy link on the Jobo web site it crashes my browser.
    How do you load the film in the Paterson tank?
  11. This is the reel. It can hold up to six sheets of 4x5", 9x12cm or 6x9cm. If you buy used, make sure you get the 2509n, with an n, not the 2509. The 2509 had some problems which were solved by the 2509n.
  12. I now use a HP-Combi tank set up for when I need to do about 4-6 sheets at a time but if only doing one or two I use the BTZs tubes for that: and yes from time to time the anti-halation backing , leaves some behind but is goes away in the wash cycle : Otherwise no Problem , Oh Yes its much easyer to bring four oz's of solution down to temp than 32 oz ! [LOL]
  13. Thank you Vlad
  14. Hi Michael, Combi Plan tanks wrok well, I use three: Dev, Stop, Fix. The Fixer one has the capped fange bottom spout as well as a spouted lid so to hook up a hose for washing. It's super convenient - don't waste time with the funnels they provide, the liquids fill too slowly I think.. On another important note: you know that you'll still COMPLETE darkness to load the film, right? "Daylight" tank only describes the processing. You can also dev 12 sheets at one time, I use cut nylon window screen between each film sheet (back to back) to insert 2 sheets of film in each of the six slots. The nylon screen is just about 2mm. shorter on each side than the 4x5 film. Just don't push the holding clip down to tight. Good luck.
  15. Vic
    Thanks for the heads up but this is not my first time developing film. Just the first time I have needed to do 4X5 with out a darkroom

  16. Mike,

    I had the same question and looked for advice over on (fine folks, by the way). Each tank has its firm fans and detractors. It's kind of like asking about somebody's favorite beer. I wound up buying an old "FR" tank because the local camera shop had one on the used-equipment shelf. Honestly, I would suggest trying to find the first convenient one and just trying it out.
  17. Michael, This is how I use the Patterson tank. I place the film into the tank emulsion side out. Hope this helps. Stu
  18. I tried the yankee tank for 4x5 but didn't like the huge volume of chemistry needed.
    So, I picked up a used Unicolor Drum and Unicolor roller base from that big auction site for about $15.

    It does 4 sheets at a time and only uses 200ml of chemistry.
    So far I have been happy with the results.
  19. I have been considering this same question since getting a 4x5 some months ago. From what I can see, for stuff available new, there are three main options:

    (1) Jobo system (roller base, $25; 2523 or 2521 drum, $49 or $43, respectively; 2508 film loader base, $60; 2509N reel, $29; and 2512 film guide, $34), total about $200 at B&H. Questions: (1a) do you reall need all those parts, or are there some that you will be nearly as happy without, (1b) can you use the roller base semi-submerged in a water bath for temperature control, (1c) does this system use continuous 'inversion' (rolling) to keep all the film wetted with chemistry, and (1d) can you really develop 6 sheets of 4x5 film with 270 ml of chemistry, and if not, how much do you need?!

    (2) Combi-Plan tank, $85 at B&H. Questions: (2a) how much chemistry does it need and (2b) given the fill and drain issues, can you really use it effectively (i.e., with even, controllable results, assuming 6 to 10 min dev times) as a daylight tank?

    (3) Yankee tank, $15 at B&H. Questions: (3a) is it suitable for daylight processing and (3b) do you have to get sheet film hangers elsewhere (and at added expense)?

    Thanks all for the comments!
  20. P.S.

    I currently use Paterson Super System IV tanks that take 2 rolls of 120 / 220 or 3 rolls of 35mm, and 1 roll 120 / 2 rolls 35mm. Is there a decent 4x5 reel that fits one or both tanks? Because I'm pretty happy with the Paterson system, and the rolls I have work great for 35mm, 127, and 120, but obviously would not take 4x5.
  21. Another alternative is the Nikor Products 4x5 sheet film tank. About $125 to $180 used on eBay. Fill and drain times are rather slow, although better if you manage to get the later "Quick Pour" version of the tank. Still, either version probably fills and drains faster than the Combi-Plan. If you were doing color, you would want to fill the tank, and put the reel in in the dark. (You can do this in a junk changing bag in a pinch.)

    Forget the Yankee and FR tanks, they are just evil. Almost nobody can get uniformly developed film with them.

    For the Jobo 2521/2509n, you can only use the low volume of chemicals with a roller base, or in a Jobo processing machine, with continual rotary agitation. For manual inversion processing, you have to fill it up to the top, circa one liter of chemicals.

    The Jobo 3000-series expert drums are processing machine only.

    Dirt-cheapest way is "taco" processing. Roll up a sheet into a cylinder, put a few rubber bands around it, toss it in a stainless steel tank with several more. You would need a 30-ounce size tank.
  22. I'm using an old Unicolor print drum (Unidrum) and the matching Uniroller base. I had both items on hand from an
    old family darkroom, but I'm sure you can find them on eBay. You can develop four sheets at once if you find or
    fashion a separator to keep the film from overlapping, or two sheets without a separator. It works well.

    This page is very informative:

    4x5 Unicolor Drum Development
  23. "(2) Combi-Plan tank, $85 at B&H. Questions: (2a) how much chemistry does it need and (2b) given the fill and drain issues, can you really use it effectively (i.e., with even, controllable results, assuming 6 to 10 min dev times) as a daylight tank? "

    (a) 1 liter.

    (b) I get even, controllable results, bu I usually develop for about 12 minutes. I've gone to 10 min without problem, but haven't tried lower as I move to higher dilutions for compensating effects.
  24. The Jobo Expert drum is the only way to go. You can use an old motorized base to agitate. Originally I
    purchased the Jobo 2500 series tank but had too many problems with inconsistent development along the edges using
  25. Stuart: Very clever.
  26. Bruce,

    Thank you. It's really nothing more than putting a square peg into a round hole! ;-)
  27. Steven, did you have the 2509 reel, or the 2509n? If you had the "n" version, did you use the two black caps?
    Their role is not only to keep the sheets from falling (they won't fall anyway), but also to help the chemicals
    flow more easily and uniformly. Did you roll the tank back and forth, or one way only? You have to roll it both
    ways, and make sure it makes at least one complete rotation each time. The only time I got uneven development was
    when I didn't use the caps or didn't roll the tank correctly. Now I get perfect results each and every time.<br><br>
    Michael, no 4x5" daylight development system is perfect. All of them have ups and downs. It's just a matter of
    finding one
    that has the most ups and the least downs, and this is only up to you and to how much weight you give to each
    criterion. What seems like a minor annoyance to me could be an unacceptable flaw to you, and the other way
    around. For instance, I've learned to load a Jobo reel quickly and correctly, and I don't mind having to do it. I
    also find the quirky (and sometimes dangerous if you're not careful) lid of the Expert Drums unacceptable. On the
    other hand, some people find the convenience of the easy loading drums more important that their quirks. None is
    better than the other, it's just that every one of us has a different idea of "better".
  28. John's statement that "The Jobo 3000-series expert drums are processing machine only." is not correct. Jobo makes a $20 roller base that the 3000 Expert drums roll on, and you can easily hand-roll the tanks for perfect processing. I put the roller base in a tray of proper temperature water, and this works fine. Colour developing and its higher temperature processes might prefer a processor, but for B&W the roller base is a good solution.
  29. I used to do "taco" development with 9x12cm and 4x5" film. The results were fine.

    But then I got hold of a Paterson Orbital, which is a sort of tray with a lid. It is very easy to load, takes four 4x5, two 5x7 or one 8x10 sheet. Best of all, it only needs 150ml of chemistry to develop the sheets, so works out very economical. Never had a single problem.

    They can be difficult to find in the US, the easiest place is ebay UK (which is where I got mine from).
  30. Just out of curiosity, what's the maximum amount of chemicals an Orbital can take? <br>
    One problem I see with the Orbital (which actually might not be a problem, depending on the answer to the
    question above) is that with very diluted developers you could end up with not enough active ingredients. Rodinal
    needs at least 5ml of concentrate for a roll of 135 or 120 film (which means four 4x5 sheets). At 1+50 you end up
    with only 2.94. The same goes for HC-110. It needs 3ml (Kodak later updated this to 6), and with dilution H
    (1+63) you end up with only 2.34.<br>
    Unless the Orbital lets you use quantities larger than 150ml when needed, developing four sheets at once in a
    very diluted developer could be risky.
  31. sadly, i have ventured into digital photography and no longer do traditional dark room. when i did, however, i used to develope my 4x5 film in plastic tubes. this was the system used by phil davis, and is explained in his book "Beyond the Zone". it is very inexpensive, and gives absolutely even development, and other than loading the film, is done completely in daylight. there is no chance of scratching the film, and you can develope easily six pieces of 4x5 film at one time. let me know if you need further information.
  32. As I noted in an earlier thread, I use the Combi-Plan tank for daylight development only. I turn out the room lights at
    the end of development, remove the frame with its six negatives from the Combi, and transfer it to a water bath in a
    open-top utility tank of appropriate depth. After a minute or so there, I move it to another utility tank with rapid fixer.
    These last two steps require less precise timing than the development step and are easily accomplished in the dark --
    so long, as course, as you have access to a ventilated dark room. I've been very pleased with the results.

    I will have to try Vic's suggestion of double-mounting film in the Combi's slots.

    Based on earlier experience, I agree that the LF Yankee tanks are to be avoided. I had constant problems with
    uneven development. I used their 35mm and MF tanks for many years with no problems, though I've switched to SS
    versions now to accommodate more rolls at a time.
  33. Hi

    I've recently got some BTZS tubes which I now use. These aren't a full daylight system but are at least easier to load in the dark than the Jobo tank reels are (which I also have).

    For single sheets (I have 6 tubes {thanks Ken}) I use 55ml of neat D-76 chemistry per sheet. Its the best results I've ever had.

    They need to be loaded (and the caps screwed on) in darkness, but after that subdued light is ok when opening (and of course full light fine during developing with the caps on).

    Back before I had a changing bag I made do with a large cardboard box which had two holes (one for each arm) for loading my reels. I think this would be sufficient here too.

    I have made up a "holder" for the tubes which makes loading them easier and holds them 'mouth down' in greater darkness after I dump the developer while waiting for the fixer.

    clearly this is by 8x10 but my 4x5's are simply much smaller.
  34. Vlad

    You can use more than 150ml if you wish, you just have to make sure it does not slosh out, and that you don't end up with the film floating. Some people do use up to 300ml of developer solution. BTW, I use PC-TEA 1+50 in 150ml, and that works fine.

    I have developed 120 and 35mm rolls with 3ml of Rodinal, and not had any problems.
  35. I've developed 4x5 film in a Jobo 2xxx and in the Jobo 3010. The small tanks can be used for only 4 sheets though they nominally hold 6, with 6 development is more uneven. The 3010 is superb, John Sexton, master technician, thinks they are the best. I got one, used it on a Beseler motor base until I got a Jobo CPA-2. B&H even sells a set of rollers that can be used manually as another poster noted. The 3010 gives very even results and while it is clearly designed for the Jobo processors, it works with other less expensive and smaller methods.

    Good luck.

  36. "The small tanks can be used for only 4 sheets though they nominally hold 6, with 6 development is more uneven."

    I've heard this claim before, but I haven't found it to be true. Admittedly my experience with the Jobo is limited to just a few months, but in these few months I had no problem developing six sheets at a time. I don't know if it's a matter of technique, or of developer, or film/developer combo, or of anything else, but I do know that it's possible to get perfect results with six sheets.
    I'm not saying the Jobo is perfect, though. It's just a compromise, like all others. ;-)
  37. I have and use the Yankee tank. Also, have, but do not use an old FR cut film tank. I am thinking about getting into 5x7, so will look into what's available in that. B&hphotovideo has a tank in that size, But, I'm not crazy about having to use a gallon of chemicals!
  38. Paterson Orbital. I don't use the base, just use it as a tray with a light proof lid, and pick up and rock to agitate.<BR>
    Someone queried the small amount of developer used - it will take about 450ml if you want.<BR>
    I've started there and am working down carefully.<BR>
    It will take four 4x5, or two 5x7 or half plate, or one 8x10.<BR>
    You can do plates in it as well as sheets.
  39. AJG


    I have been using a Jobo 4x5 system for 25 years with great results. It holds up to 12 sheets, and by using more
    chemistry than recommended (48 ounces instead of 1 liter), diluting out HC110 more than dilution B that I use for roll film
    and lengthening the developing time to 10 minutes at 68 F, using a Unicolor roller and removing the tank from the roller
    once every minute and agitating up and down 2 or 3 times, I banished the streaking problem that occurred with the Jobo
    unit out of the box and following their directions. I started with an HP Combi, but had trouble with the slow chemical
    exchange times and the flimsiness of the hold down for the film. I didn't break mine, but I felt that it was only a matter of
  40. Vlad

    re "y 4 sheets though they nominally hold 6, with 6 development is more uneven"

    I agree with you. I've also got the 2509n spirals in my 2553 tanks and the only time I get uneven development on the inner spirals is when I've not put enough chemistry in. I used some "glad wrap" to cover the end with water in the tank to confirm visually how much chemistry level the various volumes resulted in.

    If you too are having no problems (I only did when I skimped on the chemistry) then I'd say don't worry about the experiences that other may have (as you don't know their methods well).

    While they work fine for me I normally only need to develop 1 or 2 sheets at a time, so I use the BTZS, if I've been busy then I pull out the Jobo 2553 and put in two 2905n spirals giving me 6 sheets .
  41. for daylight i started with a 2xxx, now use the jobo expert 3010, wouldn't go back. Note, you can make your own roller base, get a set of four small wheels at hardware store, attach to a piece of plywood cut for your tank. Custom roller base, and cheap
  42. Well, 2 more cents here: my current busy life requires daylight development. For 10 years now, I have used the Combi tank. 2 minutes' presoak in water takes care of the uneven development and air-bubble problems. I agitate by inverting the tank toward me and away from in about 5 seconds, not by tipping one end or the other. I only put 1100 cc's in for 4x5: I like the extra air, I think it helps even out the agitation. I use the funnel and spout to introduce the developer--I got uneven development that way until I added the presoak. To keep life simple, I use D76 1:1, which I mix one gallon at a time and store in 275 ml pharmacy bottles, no air. That way I can load film (from Grafmatics), process, Photo-Flo and hang to dry in about 35 minutes' total. The short total time, of course, is the aim; my normally busy life does not easily yield darkroom time.
    For what it's worth, I rate HP5 at 250, presoak for two minutes, give it 12 minutes 1:1 at 68 degrees. -1 is 8 minutes, +1 is 15 minutes.
    I load in a dark bathroom, sitting backwards on the toilet (not very elegant, but it saves a sore back, and most toilet backs are about the right width). From a full Grafmatic (6 sheets, just like the Combi Tank) to lights on is about 3 minutes.
    Good Luck, Michael. I like the simplicity of this approach; it works in motels, other people's houses, etc.
    Oh, I forgot something. You will want ice cubes to get warm water down to 68, or a coffee coil to get cold water up to 68. I generally use a plastic motel ice bucket for a water bath. My whole processing kit for 4x5 travels in a milk crate...
  43. I built one of these, but could never find the sodium carbonate for that final wash..

    so it remains in storage, unused, but a fine light-trap indeed.
  44. I started this thread without bothering to check if there might be one ongoing. (Sorry!)

    Anyway, Dave Redman asked about spools for a Paterson tank, and this is exactly what I have discovered, a spool for a Paterson tank.

    It isn't cheap, but if enough people hammered them, perhaps they'd back down on the price. If anyone is even slightly a good mold maker this thing can't be hard to imitate.

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