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Thread: Film Development Testing Question

  1. #1

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    Film Development Testing Question

    Here's another newbie question.

    I plan to do some 5x7 B&W film development sometime later this year. I have never done any film development before, and obviously don't want to start with the 5x7. I have a 120 back for my 4x5/5x7 camera, and would thnk that would be a sensible format to start with, since it will allow me to check some new (to me) lenses I recently got at the same time.

    I do not see myself ever doing a lot of film development, and if I do, it will probably only be 5x7. So I plan to use trays. Here's my question: will it work to develop the 120 in these trays, or will it curl up too much? I figure I'll want to experiment with times and such, and maybe even different chemicals (though maybe not that), so I would think that cutting the roll(s) of film into pieces in the dark and then trying each slice one at a time would make the most sense. Would they just curl into little rolls? Does my plan fail for other reasons? Or am I on the right track here?

    I'd be grateful for any tips on the best way to go about this.

  2. #2

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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kinzer View Post
    Here's another newbie question.

    I plan to do some 5x7 B&W film development sometime later this year. I have never done any film development before, and obviously don't want to start with the 5x7. I have a 120 back for my 4x5/5x7 camera, and would think that would be a sensible format to start with, since it will allow me to check some new (to me) lenses I recently got at the same time.
    Makes sense. What exactly do you want to check on your new (to you) lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Kinzer View Post
    I do not see myself ever doing a lot of film development, and if I do, it will probably only be 5x7. So I plan to use trays. Here's my question: will it work to develop the 120 in these trays, or will it curl up too much? Does my plan fail for other reasons? Or am I on the right track here.
    Develop 120 film in reels NOT trays. Your plan fails, but again, there are people on this forum that go out of their way to do some really unusual things! Also, do yourself a favor and get a copy of the Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker. It's under $5 at the Auction site. Read it twice. It will answer a lot of your questions. L

  3. #3

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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    I agree. You can't develop 120/220 film in a tray -- even if you could cut it. It WILL curl up. And cutting it won't "cut it", because you have no idea where the images are on the film.

    I assume you have or are planning to get 120/220 developing gear, but that will be of limited use here, since you have to develop the whole roll in one developer, at the same dilution, for the same length of time at the same temperature -- unless you go to a LOT of trouble.

    But using your 5x7 film gives you more options to try. You can use trays if you want. I prefer tubes. They save space, and money since you use a LOT less chemicals. It also assures fresh chemicals for each sheet. With trays, the activitiy of each chemical declines with every use -- to an unknown extent.

    As to exposure and development, You can use a gray card or step table to expose the film. If you expose a gray card and it fills the format, you can cut the exposed film into four (or more) pieces and develop each differently in a tray -- mark each piece, after cutting, with a waterproof marker or notch/cut on the film edge to distinguish each piece.
    Last edited by xkaes; 24-May-2017 at 10:24.

  4. #4
    Silver Fox
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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    Fred Picker's Zone VI Workshop will also give you very, very detailed instructions for loading/unloading film holders. While he is describing the process for 4x5, for 5x7, it works the same. He also provides simple instructions for finding the actual film speed for your exposure meter, lens(es), film, and developer. It doesn't require that many sheets.
    Peter Collins

    "Growing older is not for sissies." --anon.

  5. #5

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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    Yes I agree, it isn't possible to practice tray development of sheet film using 120 roll film, not recommended. I also agree with trying to learn from books, I learned a lot from books, they are invaluable as a reference source and guide.

  6. #6

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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    Roll film will certainly curl and can't easily be cut and tray developed. I know some people love trays, but I could never get the hang of multiple sheets in a tray and not scratching at least some of them. So I use tanks, usually Jobo expert drums, but also some nikkor stainless tanks for 4x5. If you use jobo tanks on a roller you can do 5x7 in the same way you do your tests with 120 film. Still I have found roll and sheet films to develop slightly differently even when trying to keep all else equal. So for best results do your tests on the film you will be using.

    Also you can test lens shutters without film. There are devices to measure shutter speeds. And some DIY methods with sound recorders and photodiodes going into microphone inputs.

  7. #7

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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    Once again people too young to know say you can't develop roll film in a tray. I grew up doing just that. I didn't have a tank for the first 20+ years of my photographic life.
    Roll film wants to curl and can be used to your advantage.
    Set up 3 trays in order, I work from left to right, developer>stop bath>fixer. I use plain water for stop bath.
    Remove the film from the paper backing, in total darkness of course..
    From here there are two basic methods. Each of these is far easier to do than it is to explain them.
    #1-Wearing nitrile gloves lay the rolled up film in the tray.
    While holding the edges of the film lightly pull the free end out and allow the film to roll up with this now on the inside.
    Repeat in the opposite direction and continue until time is up.

    #2 PLace the film in the tray . Grab the loose end and pull it up. if you allow it to, the film will hug the bottom of the tray as you pull the film up while holding the other end.
    You will now have a "U" of film with the bottom running along the bottom of the tray.
    Now keeping the film on the bottom of the tray, rock the film back and forth making sure the end gets into the developer each time.
    Move the film to the stop bath and repeat the action - 2-3 times then on to the fixer, and wash.

    Good luck.

  8. #8

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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Luis-F-S View Post
    Develop 120 film in reels NOT trays.......there are people on this forum that go out of their way to do some really unusual things! L
    Like I said........go for it!! Just let us know how it goes, or how many rolls you ruin.

  9. #9

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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    Thanks for all the different ideas! I'm also grateful for the book suggestion. I've checked out a bunch of other book suggestions in my couple of months here on the forum, but none so far has gone into the real nitty-gritty of some things it sounds like this one does.

    I do have a decent shutter speed tester. What I want to check with the lenses is the differences between some different makers, some single-coated vs multi-coated, and a couple with some issues: one has light haze and another has minor internal fungus. It is not simply a matter (for me) of replacing them; I'm on a tight budget that I've already gone outside of, and I got these very inexpensively. And I know from smaller format lenses that, at least sometimes, flaws are completely unnoticeable; other times, not so much. I don't have experience with how they will effect LF images.

    As far as cutting the film, that was just to try different development times, etc, to see what I liked. I've read quite a bit (and it looks like I could spend all my time left here in life reading more) on how different developing times, techniques, chemicals, temperatures, etc, can effect images. And there's no way to know what the 'proper' way to do it is, because what looks okay to some might look horrible, or perfect, to others. How it looks to me can only be determined by me. That seems especially exciting. I can obviously just follow the film and chemical specs, but why should I?

    Knowing that cutting rollfilm is a bad idea is helpful, though I'm wondering if it would not be acceptable to just cut it into short bits (I don't care if I cut frames in two; this is just for testing purposes) and then put a bit of a crease in each of the bits to keep them from curling up while developing them. Is there a reason to think it would not still work for my purposes: checking lenses (differences between them and flaws in some of them), and different developing parameters?

    I plan to use trays because I can afford them. I'm new to this, and do not know if B&W is something I will do more than every once in a long while, or if I do, what size to use. And for color, I obviously cannot get that in 5x7, and do not want to develop color myself, anyway. So getting anything beyond trays did not make sense to me, until xkaes mentioned tubes, which (yay! -- and I'm not being sarcastic) gives me something else to explore; Can anyone give me some links to more on them?

    Still, until I know just how much I want to and can do this (I have pretty severe back trouble, and did I mention not much money?), spending funds on tanks, reels, and other equipment doesn't seem like a good idea to me, especially since I have to decide between 4x5 (cheaper and more choices) and 5x7 (bigger, and an aspect ratio I prefer). I hope this makes sense.

    And I won't get started on enlargements, or even contact prints. That's a step past where I am right now.

  10. #10

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    Re: Film Development Testing Question

    Paul,

    I think you're overlooking the obvious. Why not find a scene that has an even distribution of tones, meter carefully and shoot a couple of sheets of 5x7 film.

    Then, when testing developing times, simply cut each sheet in half (lengthwise is likely best) and tray develop at four different times. If that doesn't get you in the ballpark for a developing time, you're not designing your test well enough. And, you've practiced tray developing sheet film as well.

    FWIW, film-speed tests are largely superfluous unless you are using a rather esoteric developer. If you plan to use the Zone System, just start by rating your film 2/3 stop slower than box speed. That will be very close; likely within a third of a stop. If not, then just use box speed to start with. Do your development tests and pick one that seems close to what you want (or extrapolate an intermediate time). Use this as a starting point for shooting real scenes. Keep notes and adjust speed and developing times as you go if needed.

    Best,

    Doremus

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