Tray developing of roll film

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by glen_h, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. Tonight I did my first tray development of roll film. Has anyone else tried it?
    My grandfather told me about tray development, when he gave me some nice stainless steel film clips (which I still have and just used). But I already had a tank, and a year later I inherited his darkroom equipment, including a Nikor 35mm tank, which I still have and use.

    First I used some 35mm film from a bulk loader that I bought, unlabeled as to its contents. Now I know.
    Second was a roll of 120 from a Holga, which also worked fine.
    Finally, a roll of 122, which I don't have a tank that will hold. I bought it on eBay, already exposed. (I have two rolls unused for the future.) This was the reason for tray developing. That is, where you make a U shape, and see-saw the film back and forth through the tray.
    I used diafine, as that is my usual film developer. Also, that helps from having to carefully time it. (Finding the trays in the dark takes some seconds.)
    I have a: to time three things at the same time, and I can start all three in the dark, at the beginning, set for 3:15, 6:30, and 11:00, giving a little time to find the trays in the dark.
    The first two had a little curl, which mostly went away as soon as they got wet. The 122 had more curl, and it took a little longer in the A developer for the curl to go away enough. The 122 also had the tape completely dried up, such that it fell on the floor as I unrolled it. Must be pretty old, as it is EI 80, which is unusual for VP122. I also once had a VP620 that was EI 80.
    There are pictures on the roll, and they look easily printable, though maybe just a little fogging. It is probably over 50 years old. Seems that VP came out in 1956, so not older than that.
    I plan to go back to tank development, except for future rolls of 122.
    I will have to contact print them, and scan the prints, I don't have a film scanner that will scan bigger than 35mm film.
  2. Verichrome Pan is incredibly durable stuff, great latent image holding, doesn't fog too badly, and keeps reasonable speed for unexposed rolls. (Same cannot be said of the preceding orthochromatic Verichrome film.)
    There were Nikor 122 reels, but very rare now, one shows up every few years on eBay.
    Probably better to use something more like a deep bowl for see-saw developing, so that more of the film stays in the soup. Don't want to scratch against the bottom.
  3. To answer your first question, - yes! About 65 years ago. You let the film roll up in your left hand in the soup bowl and alternately raised and lowered the end of the film with your right hand. Initially I tried to do the 'U' shaped thing but it was too easy to pull it out of the developer. This would be called continuous agitation nowadays.
    It helped of course that the film was ortho and I could use a red (safe) light.
    Seems the 'go to' for old films is HC-110 but I have no direct experience.
  4. See-saw development has been around for decades, but not something you hear of very often. I think once upon a time it was seen as a bare-minimum way to get into developing while spending as little money on equipment as possible. All you needed was a tray or bowl instead of a tank and reels. You don't even need clips -- just hold onto the end of the film with your fingers. Today it's most useful for the situation you describe -- where you have an odd-size roll of film that it isn't easy to find a reel for. I would not use it for 35mm or 120. You can also do sheet film in a tray by handling it the same as paper.
  5. This is how I started out: with orthochromatic 620 film (Verichrome Safety?), red safety light and development by inspection seesawing in the trays. Probably an Ansco developer (40?), but maybe D76.
    Later printed the 6x9cm images on an Ansco (I think) contact printer. All in the family kitchen.
    That's PHOTOGRAPHY! (I got my Boy Scout photography merit badge too)
    but I'm not brave enough to do it in total darkness, at least not these days.
    Good for you.
  6. Takes me back to 1959, or maybe it was 1960. There were no tanks where I then was. The darkroom had an extremely dim greenish safe-light.
  7. when I used 127 and latere 120 and 116 film it was possible.
    It was difficult to find a sufficiently dark area.
    a 24 exp roll of 35mm id poddibler. but a 36 exposure roll is neasrly impossible unless you have arms like a
    N ORAnutan.
    some developed movie film in a pail. no see-saw just throw it in.
    also the old tanks were larger in diameter and required more developer.
    the tri-chem packs and the glass and plastic double ended tubes of MQ developer ( I think) made a pint of developer.
    but yes, much of my 127 film was developed in a tray using that see-saw motion.
  8. The 35mm was for practice, and because I wanted to know what film it was. (Seems to be 5063, or Tri-X. And better condition than some other Tri-X that I have.) It was about the same length as the 120 and 122.
    The 120 was for more practice. That was from a Holga, and it wouldn't have bothered me so much if it didn't work. (Such as putting it into the wrong tray.) And, of course, scratches are expected with Holga, so if I scratched it in development, I wouldn't know the difference.
    I do wonder how others do the timing. Without the three-way timer, it would have been pretty hard.
  9. I haven't printed them yet, but it looks like one of the pictures in the 122 roll is the construction of the Mackinac Bridge, completed in November 1957. The towers are up, the cables are being installed, and the bridge deck isn't there yet. Must be close to the 1956 when VP came out.
  10. Wow, that takes me back a few years, to 1952. I learned to develop that way at summer camp. Like Murray and JDM it was an ortho film; the dark room had a very dim red safety light. I was 10-years old when the darkroom bug bite me. I've been doing it on and off ever since.
  11. Yes, I was nine when I started, 47 years ago.
    But with a Yankee II tank, until I inherited my grandfather's stainless steel tank (which I still have).
    It wan't so hard to do without the red light, though.
  12. My dad used to tray develop 120 film in the early 60's, but later used an Ansco tank with adjustable reel. By the time I was using the darkroom we had moved to stainless steel reels.
  13. Only tried it with 4X5 film
  14. Here is a scan of a VP122 negative, on a non-film scanner with a glass plate, a sheet of paper, and a light held above the scanner. The goal is to backlight the negative just enough.
    Then reverse the transfer function and adjust the contrast to make it come out.
    I put another picture in the Friday section of Classic Film Cameras.
    Seems like it is 1956 or 1957 near the Mackinac Brindge in Michigan.
  15. If you encounter any more old exposed but undeveloped film, you might try HC-110 or another low fog developer. I found Diafine tended to exaggerate fogging with both expired film that hadn't been exposed, and with old rolls of exposed but undeveloped films. And HC-110 can be diluted to suit preferences for quick tray or open container developing, or more dilute for slower times suitable to tank and reel developing. I find Dilution B too short for consistency with stainless tanks and reels, due to the pour times through the constricted lid. But the time is about right for open tray developing.
  16. I will look into buying some. I have some unexposed older film, too.
    Though Panatomic-X lasts a long time, and VP pretty long.

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