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Thread: Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?

  1. #1

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?

    It would help me a lot to hear from anyone out there about your preferred method for developing 7x17 (or 8x20) film. Tube or tray? Brush development in tray for evenness and chemistry reduction? Tube for ease of process? One consideration: I'm not OCD but I am picky.

    Many say the tube works well for them for 7 x 17/8x20. Others insist that the tray is a must for evenness of development. Tubers tout daylight use/minimal chemistry/space savings. I have been comfortable with trays for developing 4x5 and 8x10. Trays to accommodate 7x17 are going to be big and the chemistry weighty. (BTW, what size tray for 7x17?) Looking for the best compromise. Brush development in trays maybe? If I don't act on something soon I'm going to have to join the French Foreign Legion like Laurel and hardy did.

    Many Thanks in Advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Frisco, Texas

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?

    Hi Robert,

    I've only seen commercially- made tubes available for up to 8X10 size film. In fact, I'm preparing to use J&C tubes to develope four 8X10 films that were shot yesterday. I prefer tube development to tray development. However, if I had the facility for it, I would use dip-and-dunk development for my 8X10, 5X7, and 4X10 films, the way I do for my 4X5 films.

    You would need to fabricate your own tubes for your 7X17 and 8X20 film. For that size film, brush development in trays is probably your best choice. Good luck.

  3. #3

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?

    No set rules here as each individual must work around there individual parameters. From my perspective I feel that folks that are space limited trend toward the tubes for the obvious reasons.

    Since it is likely that you already have 16x20 print trays, already are comfortable with this technique and assuming that you are not space limited I would recommend the tray development route since it is the quickest and most cost effective to evaluate. You can get purple nitrile gloves at Wal Mart for $4.00. As far as the large volume of chemistry goes, these are large sheets of disproportional sized film and it is what it is.

    I can comfortably do as many of six sheets of 8x20 in trays without scratching if you take your time and are consistent in your technique. All it takes is a little practice. The size of the tubes I would need to do that many sheets in a run was enough of a disincentive for me to try this technique although many use it with great satisfaction.


  4. #4

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?

    The most readily available "tubes" that you can use for processing 7x17 film are Jobo print drums. I hope to start some experiments of my own with 7x17 shortly, and that's what I'm going to use. This has been discussed previously in other threads here - see, for example:

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Frisco, Texas

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?


    B&H sells a Jobo Drum (tube) for a single sheet of 16X20 film, or paper, for just over $300. Is that what you are referring to?

    It seems to me that that is a huge price to pay for a developing tube. Using a little imagination and skill, inexpensive tubes can be fabricated from 4 inch ABS drain piping and caps, available at plumbing supply outlets. A carefully made, simple tube with end caps, should be capable of doing the job.

  6. #6

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?

    Eugene -

    No. I had in mind something like the Jobo 2850 print drum, which is listed by B&H at $66.95 - Michael Mutmansky mentions it in the linked thread.

    The Jobo 3000-series Expert Drums, intended specifically for sheet film, are very expensive, typically in the $250-350 range. But many ULF workers have used one or another of the print drums successfully. These range in price from perhaps $50-150. These will be most convenient if you plan to work with a motor base, or, of course, if you are fortunate to already own a Jobo processor.

    But as you point out, for those on an extremely tight budget, who don't mind fussing with pipes, glue and sandpaper, it's possible to make your own tubes for even lower out-of-pocket cost - Phil Davis has instructions in his BTZS book, and probably anyone who's handy can just figure it out for himself anyway.

  7. #7

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?

    Excellent article in the new View Camera magazine about semi-stand tube development that looks pretty interesting. Give it a look.

    I feel that your objectives with the print may very well dictate which technique you want to use.

    If you are contacting with Azo, then you clearly need density and if your shooting includes soft light then the need is even more intense to get a usable density range with only grade 2 and grade 3 available.

    If you are a conventional silver shooter, then the requirements of the negative are nowhere near as intense.


  8. #8
    phil sweeney
    Join Date
    Aug 2001

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?


    Like Michael said if you have 16 x 20 trays go for it. I use pyrocat and total water of 100 ozs. The negs with that volume can be shuffled easily. No brush needed as pyrocat is excellent for eveness and the cost is quite low. With the large trays, slide the bottom neg forward and then up, well after it has left the pack. I can develop 7 x 17s with fewer scratches than 8 x 10. First time just try 2 negs.

  9. #9

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?

    Wow! Great feedback and info. Thanks, guys.

    BTW, I spoke at length yesterday to Rick at Jobo customer service (734-205-9421). He was helpful, articulate, and knowledgeable. He said:

    1. Yes, I can use 2850 (2830+2870) with chemistry on 1509 roller base ($28.00 locally for base) if I don't need built-in temp control or motorization.

    2. Smaller Jobo tubes can handle film quite well (up to 8x10). No promises with larger (17x17). He said 2850 will work if "not too picky."

    3. He said three problems with 2850 and film:

    (a) improper processing of antihalation backing due to tendency of sticking; however, not to difficult to work around.

    (b) problems with chemistry relative to eddies/currents within tube --> unevenness in processing. He said this was insurmountable (but if I can live with it, then not a big problem). Can you imagine what Howard Bond would say? Whew!

    (c) Problems with pouring chemistry in with tube first vertical, then horizontal for processing. Evenness problems again. He suggested a siphon (like from the automotive supply store) with a gooseneck/flexible neck. This could be used, he said, to pour in chemistry into drum while drum was already in horizontal position. Mitigates against evenness problems.

    (d) He said the "3000" series can be fitted with a special membrane (for 7 x 17) which holds film from contact with tank side (sticking) plus encourages, I think he said, more even developing.

    I guess it's all a compromise and I'd just have to try it. And that's about what he said. The 3000 version of 2850 is bigger and fitted with membrane, etc. is a custom deal and is around, he said, 400.00. Lot of dough for something that may still be just a compromise.

    My photo retailer in Atlanta has a number of Jobo items, he says, at half-price. But even if it's $150.00 to get things going, I don't want to turn around and have to get rid of it.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    South Carolina

    Tube or Tray Development of 7x17 film?


    For developing 7X17" film my advice would be to buy one of the Beseler or Unicolor print drums and a motor base. The 16X20 Beseler drum, *if it has the internal spacer tubes", will allow you to process two sheets of 7X17" film at a time, as will at least one of the Unicolor 16X20" drums. All 16X20 Beseler drums I have seen are alike so all will work, assuming you have the spaceer tubes, but some Unicolor drums are different. The one that will allow two sheets of 7X17" at a time has internal spacers built in, and it measures about 25" long by 5.5" ID.

    The drums work perfectly and are widely available for very little money as they were sold in great quantity for color printing and are rarely used any more for that purpose. The motor bases that were sold to be used with these drums are also very inexpensive. Using two drums at a time on their separate motor base you can process up to four sheets of 7X17" at a time for equipment that should cost you much less than $100.

    You could also use the drums with the semi-stand type of development described in the current issue of View Camera magazine, a procedure I highly recommend for certain kinds of subjects.
    For discussion and information about carbon transfer please visit the carbon group at Yahoo.

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