I know, another one of "these" threads-- but my question is actually rather specific.

So I've been lured to LF by way of 35mm -> MF ->LF . I have purchased a Shen Hao 4x5 and a 135mm Nikkor-W (with help from Jim at Midwest) and I'm ready to start experimenting. Long-term goal is mostly landscape with this setup, but time will tell where I end up.

I already develop and print my own B&W (35mm and 120) and have been happy with a combination of FP4 and HP5+ usually developed via intermittent inversion using HC-110, dil H. My guess is that I will end up shooting quite a bit of color with the 4x5, but I want to get comfortable with the kit using B&W to keep the costs of my multiple and inevitable mistakes as low as possible.

All of my reading has thoroughly convinced me that 4x5 sheet film is a whole other barrel of fish with regards to development. I am not going to start with trays secondary to my concerns re scratching and the fact that my converted bathroom/darkroom is very small -- no fun to hang out in complete darkness for long periods of time.

I have decided to start with BTZS tubes for several reasons, chief among them that I may not be processing large numbers of sheet film at one time. The other concern is that I want to spend some time working with exposure-development relationships and the flexibility of the tube approach regarding the ability to alter developing times per sheet is attractive to a beginner like me. I have also been thinking about trying some less dilute developers (Ilford DD-X, for example) and my other major option, the Combi-plan, takes nearly 1.5 liters per round-- not cost-effective for me.

Before I buy the BTZS tubes, however, I have a few questions:

1. For those of you using the Ilford films, I know the company advises against a presoak, while many of the threads I have read make the point that presoaks are important for sucessfully using the BTZS system. Any input?

2. Are there any problems with using the dilute developers like hc-110 at dil h in the tubes given the 3 oz of syrup limitation? Any other specific advice regarding hc-110?

3. I have been thinking about trying either xtol, d76 or DD-x with the FP4/HP5+ -- are there any known problems regarding using constant agitation (tubes) with these developers? Can you point me to any references that show me where to start with my times?

Of course, any and all advice or suggestions would be great. I've lurked here for quite awhile and learned a ton.

Thanks in advance,