steel developing tanks: none with possibility for central rod?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by antoniobravo, Apr 5, 2020.

  1. Just to be sure, as I have never seen one in real life but many on pictures online: no steel developing tanks have options for central rod rotation? They are all cocktail shakers, or?
  2. I have center rods for several of my tanks, but they are meant for lifting the reels out of the tank and not in any way for agitation(although I have used them to spin the reels while rinsing with the lid off).

    I'm not aware of any with a rod that lets you turn the reel(s) with the lights on.
  3. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Nikkor reels will interlock and can be agitated with the lifter in total darkness, though not particularly effectively, could probably be done best with a 4 reel lifter in a 2 reel tank. Not sure why that would be desirable since the tanks work very well used as intended.
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  4. Untitled 46.jpg

    EBay $14.00 delivered to the front porch last week. Gotta love the New Old Stock stuff from the film days. After looking at where these are now I was tickled to get this one.
  5. Why would anyone choose to use 'twizzle-stick' agitation anyway? It's rubbish, and can even unwind the film from the spiral.

    Also, you don't use an SS tank like a cocktail shaker. You invert the tank and right it again, twice per minute.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  6. 227ml D76, 1 shot Gin, two of vermouth, orange juice, the merest hint of angostura bitters, twist of lemon, crushed ice, little umbrella (shoot through variety).

    Shake. Neck it in ‘one shot’ and see what develops.
  7. sorry it took so long time to get back here. Thanks guys for your enlightenments.

    so yes I was suspecting no steel tanks had possibility for central spinning rod like plastic one, but well, had to check. Vertical agitation isn't good anyway, it must be horizontal, but it's still convenient for washing or for some BW.

    I recently acquired a Kindermann with 3x 120 spirals, it's quite compact:


    am considering possibilities of rotary agitation. It would be easy to set repeatable and consistent developing cycles instead of the hand shaking/inversion.

    i am thinking of this: a cheap plastic box, some small plastic wheels or cylinders for rolling of the tank on the bottom, a cheap agitation top of a small ice cream/sorbet maker, the sous-vide circulator I already use in the kitchens sink for development. Bore a lateral hole in the smaller side of the box, some pin/rod instead of the sorbet blade, the necessary plates, gaskets, screws and silicone for waterproof sealing and holding the small rotating engine outside, some kind of holder inside for the tank. Just need some free time to play with this rough sketch:


    cameragary likes this.
  8. AJG


    This is a long way to go to get consistent agitation for black and white processing. I have developed thousands of rolls of b&w film in stainless steel tanks with hand inversion agitation without problems, once I got it down with the first couple of rolls. As for temperature control, a large tray with water at the right temperature will keep the chemicals at the right temperature for long enough to develop your film consistently. Instead of temperature control, I use a Zone VI Compensating Timer which uses a probe in the water bath to change the speed at which minutes and seconds go by. If the water bath warms up, the time reads faster. If it cools down, the time readout slows down. Kinderman tanks are great, by the way. I've used them exclusively for 25 years.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  9. I'm a Hewes fanboy for 35mm and Nikor in 120, but the Kinderman stuff is nice too.

    Add me to the people who have zero issues with standard inversion agitation. As Joe alludes to, there's no need either for the elaborate gyrations and other gymnastics you see in Youtube videos-just flip it over(hold the top!), give everything a chance to settle, and then flip it back over.

    My first tank was a Yankee Clipper II, which has to be twisted and can't be inverted. More than once, I lost frames from the film "walking" off the reel and sticking to itself on the tank walls. I eventually learned to spin it only counter-clockwise(looking down) but consider inversion to be far more reliable.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  10. AJG


    I should have added that I use Hewes 35 mm reels in those Kinderman tanks. Kinderman 35 mm reels have a sharp point to attach the film that too often resulted in a puncture wound for me. They are well made, and equivalent to the Hewes reels for construction quality but the pins on the Hewes reels hold the film in place just as well without potential injury.
  11. Two of those reels look ancient, with a weird clip to attach the film. Good luck loading them!

    As others have said, what you're proposing is gross overkill for B&W processing. And rotary processing brings its own issues. For a start, the direction of rotation needs to be reversed at regular intervals. Otherwise you're likely to get streaking along the length of the film. There's also a risk of filling and foaming marks unless you use a water pre-bath.

    Just use inversion agitation. I'm not sure why you're so prejudiced against it. Is there some stupid idiot's video on YouTube that says it's a bad idea? That wouldn't surprise me.

    Like AJG above, I've lost count of the number of films I've developed over the space of nearly 60 years, probably more than 50% of them developed in small stainless tanks using hand inversion agitation. With a nearly perfect success rate. And the few failures were all down to something other than the agitation technique. Like bad chemicals or my own carelessness.

    BTW, dozy YouTube videos on film processing abound. There's one (or more) that shows a guy doing weird slow wrist gyrations to agitate the tank. No need. In fact it's downright bad practise to tip the tank that slowly. All that's needed is to quickly turn the tank upside down for a slow count of two, and then right it again. Smack the tank on your work-surface (padded with a towel or similar) to dislodge any air bubbles and wait for the next agitation cycle to come round - it's that simple.

    BTW, with a multi-reel tank that size, you'd be well advised to wrap some vinyl electrician's tape around the lid to prevent it accidentally being pushed off by the weight of reels and solution. That happened to me - just the once. Since then a length of tape has been a permanent fixture to my stainless tanks. Vinyl tape can be re-used on stainless steel quite a few times without losing its 'sticky'.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2020
    robert_bowring likes this.
  12. All of that can't possibly correct. Youtubers say that I need to do gymnastics while agitating!

    I've been catching up a bit on backlog the past few weeks and have developed about two dozen rolls. Every single one has been in HC-110b(I need to make up fresh D76).

    I have used what I often call two reel, 4 reel, and 6 reel tanks(even though the big tanks usually get 2 or 3 of 120 rather than 4 or 6 of 35mm).

    On every single one, all agitation has been by inverting long enough for everything to "settle"(1-2 seconds depending on tank size), flipping back over, and setting down firmly to dislodge bubbles.

    I do the 2-reel tanks one handed as I can hold the lid with my index finger while grabbing the rest of the tank. The bigger tanks, especially the 6 reels, get one hand fully on the lid and one on the body to keep the lid from falling off.

    Every single one has been perfect(aside from the time I inadvertently mixed Plus-X and Tri-X in the same tank and ended up with super dense Plus-X).
  13. Be careful Ben!
    A lot of people here don't seem to appreciate irony or sarcasm.:eek:
  14. If you shoot with a lot of sky or high zones in your photo, twice per minute will cause under agitation and under development of the high density areas. I have used 6 inversions in 10 seconds once a minute for about 50 years now. Pre-soak for one minute prior to development. This will prevent uneven development. Been there too many times early in my career
  15. To avoid the reels moving in the tank I cut a piece of one inch PVC tube to permit no more than 1/8 inch clearance between th top of the reel and the bottom of the tank cover. This will prevent over agitation when the tanks are inverted.
  16. Where does this utter nonsense come from?
    Not from any authoritative source, nor from anyone with experience.

    I've been processing film, both professionally and as an enthusiast since I was 10. I'm now over 70, and for most of those 60 years I've used no more than two inversion agitation cycles per minute with B&W film, and no pre-bath. In all that time I've never noticed a lack of development in the highlights, nor had any complaints about the quality of negatives produced.

    Lack of highlight density is produced by using a too dilute or too cold developer, or too short a time. The amount of agitation is generally grossly overrated in the effect it has on the degree of development. The main purpose of agitation is to prevent streaming and 'Mackie lines', not to control density. If you aren't getting streamers, patchy development or edge-effects, then your agitation technique is more than adequate.
  17. I am 40 and I've been processing film since last February. Having developed only about 30 rolls I can clearly see that frequency of agitation has very similar effect (to image contrast) than the development time. In fact, one doesn't need 40 years to notice that. Just 1 hour and 2 rolls is enough to follow Kodak-recommended agitation (every 30 seconds) and Ilford's (every minute) to see the difference. That difference is clearly visible in their data sheets too, i.e. Kodak's development times are usually shorter for the same developer+film combination.

    Perhaps your point was that people exaggerate the importance of agitation, and maybe that's true, but it reads almost as agitation hardly matters. Apologies if I misunderstood.
  18. My first tank was a Yankee II, mostly with 120 and some 35mm.
    I don't remember any problems with film moving, but I probably didn't agitate so much.

    Not so much later, I inherited my grandfather's darkroom supplies, including a 35mm Nikor tank,
    which is still my favorite tank. (50 years later.)

    Not so many years ago, I got a stainless steel 120 tank and reel, which has a clip to hold the film.

    The first time I used it, like with the 35mm tank (which doesn't have a clip), I didn't use the clip.
    I used inverting agitation, as usual, but the film started moving toward the center.
    (That roll wasn't especially interesting, so I didn't lose anything important.)

    So, now I use the clip.

    For many years, my favorite developer has been Diafine, which mostly doesn't like
    over agitation. Instructions are at the start, one, and two minutes. Most important
    is to get air bubbles off.

    For 35mm rolls, I sometimes don't cut the tongue off, and it sticks out past the end of the spiral.
    I have never had any problems with that part, though there aren't any images there, either.
  19. My usual habit is to leave the leader sticking out, and I tear the end of it off as a visual reminder that it's exposed. I started doing it this way because the labs I use for both C-41 and E-6 load through the trap(they tape the leader to a plastic card that feeds through the machine) and I've found that I'm less likely to get scratches this way than if I hand it over with the leader in and they pick it out.

    In any case, I usually just leave the rough torn end as-is when I develop B&W.
  20. Fluid dynamics is very important in film development. Under agitation causes the film adjacent to edge to develop slower. If that edge is a sky value, it will exhaust the developer at a slower rate than the rest of the film. This is not just my observation but the observation of every pro I went to school with and had to put their butt on the line when they saw poor results from using the manufacturer's recommendations with regard to proper agitation

    Shadow areas exhaust the development more quickly. I have been using 6 inversions in 10 seconds once a minute ever since I began to understood the concept of fluid dynamics and flow. It is most important to stop the vertical movement of the reels inside the can, as I detailed previously using a small length of PVC pipe.

    I conferred with many photographers before the internet and we compared notes and found out the same thing. You can eliminate the small tank (30 sec) vs. large tank (60 sec) intervals, by adjusting the processing times for smaller tanks down slightly.

    Consistency is everything. It is the only way to eliminate variables. It is also crucial to mix developers using distilled water. Either too hard or too soft water will wreak havoc with your film. Too soft can cause the emulsion to lift right off the base, too hard can cause mineral deposits to form during development, creating spots that print black on the film. I had film ruined that was used during research for a Guggenheim Fellowship I was awarded back in 1972 due to soft water.

    I banged my head on the wall for quite some time understanding all of this. I hope this helps. I've had nothing but consistent results since 1976, when me and my photographer buddies met to discuss all of this and figure out both the source of the problem and an approach to remedy it.
    robert_bowring likes this.

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