How do you agitate w/Patterson

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by sfcole, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. I've gotten back into film developing, and right now I'm using mostly Tri-x with Edwal FG-7.
    I have a Patterson Super System tank, and I'm wondering how other people agitate? I remember with a
    steel tank that I tipped the tank slowly upside down, but the Patterson has a plastic twirling thing which
    can rotate the reels.

    Do you get better results by simply twirling a few times, or by inverting the whole tank, or both?
  2. The Paterson instruction say to fill, use the stick for the first agitation cycle, add cover and use inversion from then on. Works for me every time.

    Stainless are different.
  3. I use the same method for Patterson tanks as stainless. I've never bothered with the stick, I don't personally believe it can agitate as well as the inversion method.
  4. Some years ago I had a few spare films (like I now have some TMY that I am not going to
    use for serious shooting as I have TMY-2) and tested the effect of agitation with the stick
    only. I shot the whole film full of grey cards, using the same artificial light for all shots.
    And of course the same f/stop and time. The camera was a Leica M6, so there may have
    been some shutter speed variations between shots. I measured the negatives with a
    densiometer, and while I do not have the exact values at hand now, the negative densities
    decreased when moving towards that end of the film that had been at the centre of the
    tank. Not surprising as those negatives moved much less compared to the negatives on
    the outer part of the reel. The difference in densities was enough for me to go back to
    turning the tank, although I would have preferred using the stick twisting method.

    I do use the the stick for stop bath and fixing as these are processes that have to be
    complete. That is of course not the case with developing where you want to have enough
    action to get shadow details, but not so much action that the highlights block.
  5. only time I use the stick is for rinsing and prewashing. Inversion works just fine.

    What kind of results are you getting with Tri-X and FG7? I read somewhere that Tri-X and FG7 don't play nice, but I like Tri-X...might have to give it a test roll or two anyway.
  6. Inversion agitation should be done quickly, not slowly, regardless of the type of tank you use. What actually does the agitation is air bubbling through the solution, not the turning motion.

    Turn the tank smartly upside down, wait a couple of seconds, revert the tank and give it a quick slap with your hand or a knock on the bench to dislodge any air bells. I put a towel over the worktop to prevent any damage when knocking the tank.

    Twiddling is considered quaintly old-fashioned, but it works.
  7. I've never used the twirler, I always invert, but give a swift half-turn of the tank as it stands on the bench just before each inversion. When you push the lid on, lift the edge slightly and 'snift' some air out by pressing down on the middle of the lid. This creates a slight vacuum and seals the lid more effectively.
  8. I do exactly as Chris does. Whatever method you use, stick with it. Consistency is the key.
  9. To tell you the truth, I've never agitated Paterson or similar tanks by inversion. I've always used the "twirling stick," have never had a problem with streaking or uneven development, and I've been working this way for years. Now, the trick is to agitate rather vigorously with the stick. Think of a top loading washing machine on the heavy duty cycle and you get the idea. There is no air bubbling through the developer and no risk of air bells whatsoever. It works, so what's not to like? As a plus the tank never leaves the tempering bath during the entire development cycle, and there is never any developer leaking from an ill fitting cap.
  10. I just started processing my own film and I use the Paterson. Everything I do is probably wrong, but it must be consistantly wrong because I'm getting beautiful results.

    I agitate by SLOWLY (goes against everything, no?) inverting the tank two times. Then I set it down with two good whacks on the countertop. Then I turn it a half rotation. This takes exactly ten seconds.

    The next time I invert, after the whacks I turn it a half turn, then another quarter. In my mind, every four inversion cylcles, all four quadrants of the reel have been the down side during inversion so no side is left out. Stupid, I know. But I tried it the first time and the results made me so happy I've continued to do it.

    I'm quite sure anyone else on this board could get a lot more out of my film than I am getting, but I'm happy as a clam. I get even development, have never gotten spots, and what else would I be looking for besides that?

    I use an Epson 3170 flatbed, so my scanner is weakest link in the process.
  11. Hi Scott,
    I'm new to the Patterson tank too and was floundering around trying to find a good, repeatable method of agitation with the tank and finally got the best results by doing what the directions called for which was to twist the twirler 4 times after pouring in the developer and then slowly inverting the tank 4 times every minute afterwords and taping on the bottom to release any possible bubbles. For the remaining solutions (stop,fix,hypo) I simply invert the tank the recommended times per minute. Works great for me....Ron
  12. I use stainless steel but I assume agitation in a Paterson would be the same as long as the lid is water-tight so you can turn it upside down. I hold the tank in my right hand and turn it upside down and then back up again at a rate of about three times each five seconds. I do this constantly for the first 30 seconds after the developer goes in, then for five seconds every 30 seconds after that. I also give the tank a good rap on the dark room sink as I sit it down at the end of each of these agitations in order to dislodge any air bubbles. This is basically the Kodak recommendation. this is during the developer. During the fix, I do the same agitation for the first minute rather than 30 seconds, then for 10 seconds every one minute instead of 5 seconds every 30. If you're just starting out you've made a good choice with Tri-X but I would go with D-76 rather than FG7. D-76 and Tri-X is a very forgiving combination that is virtually guaranteed to give you good results even if you're a little off here and there with time, temp or agitation. I haven't tried FG-7 so I can't say there's anything wrong with it. But I'm a big believe in keeping things simple, sticking to the basics and going with the proven things that work rather than experimenting. You see a lot of people on line who've just starting and they're running off experimenting with oddball films and developers and can't figure out what they're having problems.
  13. Since I had the streaking problem, I reverted to using the stick.

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