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nimo956
19-Mar-2016, 03:55
Hi, I'm about to begin processing my 4x5 film for the first time and have a few basic questions about equipment and setup. I'm trying to avoid buying too much stuff that I don't need. Note that I'll be using the BTZS tubes for development.

1. How many graduates do you use and what sizes (150, 600, 1000ml, etc.)? Do you use the same graduates to measure the developer, stop bath and fixer, or do you have separate ones for each?

2. How many storage containers do you use and what size? Do you need one for developer, stop bath, fixer, wash aid and wetting agent? Do they all need to be at 68F, or is that just the developer?

3. After the stop bath, should I use a dip & dunk container with hangers for the fixer and wash, or a tray? With a tray, is there still the potential for scratching?

4. I've seen LFN recommended as a wetting agent, which is only a 3-4oz container. If you only need a few drops then this should last quite awhile, correct? There'd be no need for the 1 liter container by Ilford here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/25041-REG/Ilford_1905162_Ilfotol_Wetting_Agent_Liquid.html

5. Do you find a film squeegee essential or can I save money by skipping it? Can you just use your fingers?

jp
19-Mar-2016, 11:14
I don't use btzs tubes but.
1. I use one 1 L plastic graduated cylinder for large format. It holds the next chemical in the process. Never any mixups or getting things out of order that way.
2. Developer (pyrocat hd/hdc) is mixed for one-time use, so I have containers for the concentrate. stop is water. I keep fixer in a 1 gallon jug. I use distilled water for the final rinse and don't need a wetting agent because if it's clean film and clean water it will not dry with water spots. I keep the develop temp precise, but the other chemicals can be within 5f and never a problem for me.
4. A tiny bottle will last a long time as only drops are needed. Big jugs of this are for water fountain pranks.
5. Once final rinsed in distilled water, nothing touches my film till it's dry (except the hanging clip) This keeps it clean such that water removal is not needed. If you want it to dry faster, squirt the negative in clean rubbing alcohol.

angusparker
19-Mar-2016, 11:20
Here are a few suggestions for a 21st Century Darkroom: http://www.angusparkerphoto.com/blog/2016/1/suggestions-for-a-21st-century-darkroom Will get you thinking about alternative approaches to the traditional silver gelatin darkroom....

David Schaller
19-Mar-2016, 11:32
Probably three graduates, one liter size. The containers would depend on the developer and fixer you'll be mixing. The one gallon size works for Kodak packages.

Skip the squeegee and don't use your fingers either! Just hang by one corner.

The LFN will last a long time, yes.

Jim Jones
19-Mar-2016, 13:01
I usually use 8 and 160z glass kitchen measuring cups. Use whatever size you need for your own darkroom. Glass is easy to keep clean, and kitchenware is often cheaper than darkroom equivalents. Measure very small amounts of liquid with syringes intended for medicine. Plastic soft drink bottles work well for chemicals. Remove original labels and relabel them with the darkroom contents! Keeping the darkroom at 65 to 75 degrees ensures that all chemicals, tanks, and a supply of wash water are at the right temperature. Dip and dunk works well enough for every processing and washing step, but proper tray washing can save water. Some people squeegee film with no problems, but it is risky. Shake drops of water off of the negatives and hang them up to dry. I've also dried roll film on the reels.

TXFZ1
19-Mar-2016, 15:10
If you are using the BTZS tubes, then search for Fred Newmans video showiing the process.

David

Peter Lewin
19-Mar-2016, 17:12
My responses to your questions, which are to some extent impacted by the fact that I use either PMK or Pyrocat developer for both 4x5 and 120 film:

1. I have 2 one-liter stainless graduated beakers, one labelled fixer and the other developer. Even though I rinse thoroughly, I like keeping them separate. These are the containers I mix working solutions in. I also have 2 small transparent graduated cylinders, since PMK is mixed 10ml of "A" and 20ml of "B" to make 1 liter, and Pyrocat is 10+10 to make a liter. Again, the graduates are marked "A" and "B" to avoid cross-contamination. even though they get washed out after use. I actually use a set of 4 small graduates made for cooking (almost anything not made specifically for photography is cheaper!) Actually this would be a minimum, over many years I have accumulated a bunch of graduates and measuring containers.

2. the PMK and Pyrocat parts "A" and "B" are kept in brown glass bottles (rather than the plastic containers originally supplied by Photographer's Formulary) since plastic containers are porous which speeds up oxidation, while glass does not. Working solution of fixer is in a half-gallon plastic container (the issue with fixer life is silver build-up, not oxidation).

3. I wash my negatives in a plexi "negative basket" (slots for the edges of each negative, max 12 negs) in my ZoneVI print washer. You want some way to keep the negatives apart without scratching in the wash. I also have an old KombiPlan tank and negative holder, I have also used that for washing, just running a hose into the bottom of the KombiPlan.

4. Final wash step is a dunk in distilled water with a couple of drops of PhotoFlo (actually I use the Photographer Formulary equivalent). Negs then get hung by a corner from a cord strung along my darkroom ceiling, using wooden clothes pins (the type with a spring); no squeegee or fingers, the water just drains off.

John Kasaian
19-Mar-2016, 17:30
Don't forget a piece of clothes line and some clothespins.
For mixing chemicals you can get by with a single graduate. Since I shoot 8x10 and use a lot of chemicals, I have a 2000ML Patterson (two actually, but I can get by with one)
Also get a stirring stick(the old Kodak yellows are nice, but Delta makes practically the same thing in blue)
Mai tai swizzle sticks are fun to collect :o but they don't work too well at stirring chemicals:(
I have brown glass jugs to store stock my solutions because I got them free from a pharmacy(Robatussin syrup used to come in glass jugs) Ask around during flu season and you can probably get the newer plastic empties they use now. Free is good!
Delta, IIRC sells new ones if you can't wait, but Hydrogen Peroxide comes in what appears to be the same plastic for less $$ than Delta. Of course you'll need to find a use for three containers of Hydrogen Peroxide (if you have kids prone to skinned knees or a girlfriend on a Marilyn Monroe wannabee kick, it will surely help use the stuff up!)
A deep plastic funnel from an auto parts place is handy for filling the jugs.
I don't know how BTZ works, but if you'll need to have quantities of working solutions of your chemicals ready, I've used plastic measuring cups (Betty Crocker?) from the kitchen dept. at Walmart.
Most important, have fun!

John Kasaian
19-Mar-2016, 17:36
Oh, for a stop bath for film, you can use water---distilled water would be my preference

Duolab123
19-Mar-2016, 19:12
Having a darkroom is a great excuse for collecting dozens of fancy graduates and beakers, I have dozens. I like playing with this stuff. You don't need but a couple simple graduates. Paterson makes cheap polystyrene graduates. Also farm stores sell all kinds of measuring beakers for diluting herbicides etc.
Squeegees scratch film, they work great at removing water and speeding drying but don't use one.
As someone else mentioned distilled water and a couple of drops of wetting agent. Don't use any film dryers just hang and walk away.
I don't like trays for small sheet film, I've switched to Jobo stuff, but for black and white it's pretty hard to beat rubber tanks and hangers super easy and cheap.
Replenishment is a great way to keep costs down on developer. Get TWO halfway decent thermometers, just to make sure they come close to agreement. I bought an electronic aquarium thermometer off of Amazon, shipped directly from a fellow in Shenzhen China. Cost about 5 bucks delivered I use it to check water bath temperature.
I was taught to keep ALL solutions start to finish at a constant temperature, theory is it prevents reticulation of the emulsion, I'm not sure it's something to get overly concerned about but I think it's just good technique.
I love the darkroom, shoot and develop film all summer, and print when the weather is bad, and have fun!
Best Regards Mike

nimo956
20-Mar-2016, 06:26
Thanks for the advice everyone. Equipment order has been placed!

barnacle
22-Mar-2016, 02:04
Plastic soft drink bottles work well for chemicals.


Not if you have small children around the place, please. My five year old granddaughter is into everything, and there are times when I'm putting things away when some stuff is as yet uncleared.

For what it's worth, I don't use a darkroom at all at present; lack of space. I just use a daylight tank to develop the negatives and a changing bag to get the film into it. Using a Paterson Orbital tank for four 5x4 negatives, the fluid required is only 150ml (a little more for washing) and the biggest difficulty is measuring the 3cc of developer to dilute to 1:50 - I weigh it.


Neil

jp
22-Mar-2016, 10:13
and the biggest difficulty is measuring the 3cc of developer to dilute to 1:50 - I weigh it.

Neil

I bought some disposable plastic bulb pipettes that do 3ml. (I use them for dispensing cyanotype chemicals) They are completely reusable by rinsing and filling/emptying with clean water a few times.

Michael Graves
22-Mar-2016, 12:00
I don't use btzs tubes but.
1. I use one 1 L plastic graduated cylinder for large format. It holds the next chemical in the process. Never any mixups or getting things out of order that way.
2. Developer (pyrocat hd/hdc) is mixed for one-time use, so I have containers for the concentrate. stop is water. I keep fixer in a 1 gallon jug. I use distilled water for the final rinse and don't need a wetting agent because if it's clean film and clean water it will not dry with water spots. I keep the develop temp precise, but the other chemicals can be within 5f and never a problem for me.
4. A tiny bottle will last a long time as only drops are needed. Big jugs of this are for water fountain pranks.
5. Once final rinsed in distilled water, nothing touches my film till it's dry (except the hanging clip) This keeps it clean such that water removal is not needed. If you want it to dry faster, squirt the negative in clean rubbing alcohol.

I'm with you on all but one point. I've gotten permanent iridescence from using rubbing alcohol on wet negatives. As a result, I will no longer do that.