View Full Version : Home process 8x10 e6 reasonable budget

Richard Fenner
27-May-2004, 16:43
My mail order lab has such low demand for 8x10 these days, they're down to three sheets per dip and dunk. This means an order of several dozen sheets takes a while to fill, and I'm not 100% convinced with the processing anymore. The alternative is a much more expensive pro-lab , offering fast service at nearly double the cost. So, with home processors getting cheaper, I'm considering doing it myself.

Expectations: I don't want to get too involved in things, but will for the day if I need to; I want to be able to process once or twice a month, up to a max of 100 sheets a month. E6 mostly, once in a while C41, almost always 8x10, once in a while 4x5. Budget is reasonably generous - I'm looking at something like a s/h Jobo ATL2000, or maybe one or two CPP-2/CPA-2 processors (more likely the CPA-2 if I get two). Either way, they are likely to be set up for up to 4x5, so I guess I need new drums, and a sheet-film cabinet.

Do these look practical for my needs? Have I missed any major, expensive accessories I'll need? Alternative ideas?

Larry Gebhardt
27-May-2004, 18:50
You should be able to do 100 sheets a month with out problems in a CPA or CPP processor, but I don't think I could operate 2 of them at a time without messing up. I personally would get the ATL2000 or ATL2300 if I could afford it.

Bruce Watson
27-May-2004, 19:58
I do 4x5 in a 3010 drum on a CPP-2. My suggestion is use a 3005 drum on a CPP-2. Since the processor has to be heated, and it will take a while to heat up a CPP-2, I would wait for 10 sheets and do two consecutive runs. You could do that in an evening without too much trouble I would think. In other words, you'd be doing that every three days more or less. Seems doable.

I thought about processing my own 4x5 color negatives (the few I do each year), but my local pro lab gives me two hour service, they do a great job, and they do it for just a few cents more per sheet than I could do it myself. So I don't have the incentive, yet.

If you go this route, be sure to get a CPP-2 with a lift, and a JOBO foot pump to help get the top off the 3005 tank. With all that, you should be good to go.

Bruce Watson
27-May-2004, 20:07
Oops. I missed that you only wanted to process once or twice a month. Piece of cake. It might take you the better part of a day, but it would probably be pretty effecient.

One thing to note. Don't run the E6 stabilizer in the Jobo (or in the tanks) which is sort of like running Photoflo. You'll never be able to completely clean it out (of the Jobo, or the tanks) and you'll forever have little bubbles to contend with.

This is especially true with used units (how I found this little factoid out in the first place is my used unit came to me contaminated). So ask, before you buy, how they ran their E6 process and pay attention to whether or not they ran the stabilizer throught the Jobo or not. BTW, IIRC Jobo recommends that you not run the stabilizer in the machine...

Dave Langendonk
27-May-2004, 20:38
By all means, get the Jobo CPP-2 with lift at least. It has better temperature control than the CPA-2. Use the expert drums also (3005, 3010, etc). They work great. I process B&W, E-6 and C-41 mostly in 4x5 but 8x10 is no problem. I started with the CPA-2, upgraded to the CPP-2 for the temp control and recently upgraded to an ATL-2300 for the process automation. No missed steps, no worries about timing after running your umpteenth batch in a row. I hook mine up to a timer so it starts 2-3 hours before I need to use it and everythings up to temperature when I'm ready to go. Also get the Mistral film dryer with sheet film cabinet if one comes up for sale. You won't regret it.

tor kviljo
28-May-2004, 02:09
I use the ATL 3000 myself - excellent machine if You have the space & You find a used machine with the right price-tag. New, these ones were about $$ 15K. Having used the manual CPA & CPE2 w/lifts earlier, I find the automation of the ATL is a blessing. However, it is also possible to use the smaller & very numerous ATL 1000/1500 for 8"x10", with some reservations. I used mine for 8"x10" for a while, using fuji RFP/RDP 8"x10" (from Freestyle of course...) & Tetenal 3 bath E6 kit. Drum used were the 2556 I think (memory....) , but anyway the biggest drum the ATL 1000/1500 can take - being a 6-reels (35mm) drum with internal ribs for holding 2 sheets 8"x10" paper when used for paper dev. Using the paper drum for film works well for films not requiring HEAVY washing of base side. Thus I encountered problems (sepia/violet "fog" on base side) when developing ektachrome 8"x10" using this system due to less than perfect chemistry-contact on base side. But for Fuji rev. - = OK. Changing the tank from roll film to sheet film/paper developing = just plugging the hole in the tank-lid connecting the spool-holder. Necessary to avoid light leak when not using the develop-reel holder.

28-May-2004, 17:12
consider this-- a 5 liter, 6 step kit will run about 40- 50 bucks or so with a 25 buck hazmat ship fee in most places. depending on how serious you get, there are a number of things you might wind up needing as far as process control goes (densitometer, hydrometers, etc)-- then depending on the type of processor, you may need a water panel, filtration etc. You will need a good supply of hot water though.

If you do batch processing--where you try to do the 100 sheets in a marathon session? You'll need a film dryer of some sort, and plan on having an extra tube or two so one can dry while the other is being used. Personally I think it's optimistic to think you can do 100 sheets in a jobo in a long day or two. I use a Wing Lynch machine where I work for E6--and sometimes run 100 sheets of 4x5 in a couple of days. it's alot of work in a machine that only runs 12 at a time. alot of multiple runs in an automatic processor that is basically ready to go anytime of the day. You'll run film for an entire day, and then spend a couple of hours mixing chemistry and running control strips to get it right all over again. It's an endless cycle of zombie-like chem mixing.

I'm not saying you can't do it in a jobo--but consider the fact that alot of them will only hold 2-4 sheets of 8x10. Then, look at the chem tanks which are around 1000ml or so on most. You need to think about how long it will take you to mix up chemistry and get the machine warmed up. Or, think about alternately storing larger amounts of chemistry in such a way that you can readily get at it, but it won't oxidize either. Because even if you can do 4-5 sheets, that's like 20 runs possibly with having to mix fresh for each run, and wait for the chem to warm up. A run of E6 on a wing lynch takes about 40 minutes. It takes about maybe 15 min or so to dry the film in a heated cabinet. So really--about an hour, hour fifteen tops if you count in loading the tubes and running a quick preheat. the machines hold 5 gallons of chem in tanks pressurized with nitrogen--heated to temp. but even these machines have their downside-because you need to be using them on a daily basis to keep the chem fresh.

Unfortunately, to process 100 sheets of 8x10 film in a day or two, you'd need a dip & dunk machine, but then you'd have to do about that much film every day to make the process run right. another option would be to do it the old fashioned way--batch processing by hand in a tankline or using nitrogen burst plenums for agitation & movingh the film racks by hand. you can get 8x10 sized tanks as small as one-gallon, in stainless steel. most of these come with a water-jacket tank and for E6 you'd need about 7 plus a film washer and probably a tray to do the final rinse. you can usually run about 4 8x10 racks in a one gallon tank (or 16 4x5s, 4-up) or about 7 racks in a 2 gallon tank, and quite a few in a 3.5 gallon tank. About 20 or so. You'd want to use "real" E6 in this tankline--replenished chem. But here again, if you don't use it with enough frequency, you'll use more chemistry trying to aggressively replenish it. You'd also be stuck in the dark running it by hand, and in much closer proximity to the nastiness that is E6.

personally I think if you have access to a good lab, that's the most cost effective way, unless you don't consider your time to be an issue. my opinions as always.

Richard Fenner
30-May-2004, 02:59
Still not entirely sure which way to go - new E6 lab or doing it myself. The processors I mentioned each take 5 sheets of 8x10 a go. The next couple of months are quiet for film usage, so I'll spend the time getting advice and looking for alternative labs before making a decision. Thanks.


Dave Langendonk
31-May-2004, 10:35
Your decision depends a lot on whether you like doing darkroom work or not. When I come back from a trip I have 50-100 sheets to process. I do them over the course of a week or two. But I enjoy doing my own film and prints. I don't do it to save money. Considering the cost of all my equipment, I'm sure I don't save anything over a lab. This is a hobby I enjoy. If you don't like doing darkroom work, find a new lab since it will just feel like a chore instead of something you enjoy.