How to develop 120 B&W film?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by tony_castro, Mar 26, 2003.

  1. I have purchase a Mamiya m645, and have shot my first roll. Would
    someone tell me what are the steps to develop this film? I have the
    manual and parts file if anyone needs it. I am a beginner in the MF
    arena, and the film is different(how it's package).

    Thank you for your help.

    Tony Castro
  2. Is this your first time developing film, period, or just dealing with MF film?
  3. The process is very similiar to developing 35mm film. For 120 film, you just need to break the seal and detach the film from the backing paper. The film is usually taped onto the backing paper and the tape can be easily located. If you are not sure about how to do it, waste one roll of 120 and try that under normal daylight. If you use the generic steel reel with a "tongue" clip, the process is exactly the same as 35mm. However, if you use a Hewes 120 reel, be sure to load the film at the other side of the "tongue clip instead of jamming the film at the side of the tongue. In anycase, be gentle during the loading. The film is wider and consequently feels softer. It is easier to leave marks on the film if you try to force the film in. For plastic reel, simply set the reel to the right size and you are ready to load.
  4. Tony

    120 film is harder to load than 35mm onto the reel. It may take practice and I would recommend a tank with some sort of guide onto the reel if you are buying one (the best might be a good subject for a forum!!).

    Little half moons from kinks in the film are annoying and come from the difficulty of keeping the wide film flat on loading.

    I would start with a standard developer and follow the manufacturer's recommendations (make sure you use times for 120 film). You don't say what film, but it will have details with it on processing.

    Don't worry about fancy formulae and adjustments yet. I would recommend starting with 'average' subjects in terms of contrast in particular until you are familiar.

    Then there is the issue of making prints!
  5. >>Little half moons from kinks in the film are annoying <<

    I always use Patterson reels, mine are more than twenty years old! The way to avoid marks is to make sure the reel is absolutely dry. I always put my reels in the airing cupboard after use and this does the trick marvelously. With Patterson reels, pull the film gently into the spiral to begin with then rotate/counter rotate the spirals as normal. If the film starts to jam, stop and jiggle the reels back and forwards a little bit to clear the obstruction, then continue as before. All this is easier to do than to say.

    I'd strongly advise wasting a roll of cheap film practicing loading in the light until you can get the film fully onto the reel without problems

    If you've used 35mm before you might be thrown by some developer instructions to give a little more time in development, typically 10%, for 120 film. The theory seems to be that, with a bigger negative, you want a little more punch and you don't need to worry quite so much about grain size, hence the difference (at least, I've always thought of it this way). Being a lazy git I develop both 35mm and 120 film for the same time and find I get negatives which suit me nicely, thankyou.
  6. YO Tony!
    The main thing is to be sure you don't try to load the paper film backing onto the reel. In the darkroom, unwind the spool of film until you feel a piece of tape. I usually just slowly pull the tape and the paper backing off the film. Some of these guys say you can get a friction flash that clouds up a frame or two, and I guess you CAN do that if you're a melon-head and get scared of the dark and get in too big a hurry. After you've removed the paper from the film, load the film onto the spool just as you would any other film. It's no more difficult than 35mm as far as I'm concerned. Good Luck!
  7. Tony,

    First sacrifice a roll of film to practice loading the film. It may sound stupid but actually loading the film is a little tricky at first. After a while its fairly easy though, but practice.

    Second you may find that keeping the tape you'll find at the end of the film (to attach to the backing paper) on the film will help you loading it. I just fold it over and it makes the film leader more stable in the loading.
  8. Here's a tip. Unroll the entire film (in absolute darkness of course) and tear the adhesive tape off the backing paper. Fold the tape over the end of the film. This will effectively 'thicken' the end of the film and make it more rigid, thus easier to guide into the developing reel. I use Paterson self-loading reels and find no problem. But as advised above, sacrifice a roll of film to practice loading.

Share This Page