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Karasugoi
18-May-2015, 08:14
So I've set up a very small/minimal darkroom for 8x10 tank development. This is my first attempt at 8x10 developing and developing at home with no "real" darkroom. (My darkroom is pretty much a sealed cardboard box - which does the job.)

I went out this weekend, shot six images and developed the negatives. Nothing turned out - I sort of expected this. The negatives had broad unevenly developed streaks, were over-all uneven in development, splotchy, under exposed and unrecognizable. I made the mistake of bringing my cell phone into the darkroom and it went off, so that can account for some of the uneven development, but not everything. My thoughts are that I didn't mix the developer properly and then didn't leave the negatives in long enough. So I was hoping some of you with more experience could help show me where I went wrong. Below is my current process.

Equipment:

3 8x10 custom made 5L developing tanks
6 8x10 film hangers
Assorted Beakers
Milliliter Syringe
Thermometer
2 3 Gallon Amber Glass Bottles
Amber Darkroom Light


Chemicals & Process:

Film: Blue Sensitive X-Ray film
Process: In total darkness, remove film from camera holders. Place into 8x10 film hangers.
Developer: Adox Rodinal
Dilution: 1:200
Quantities: 25ml Rodinal : 5L Water
Process: Measure and pour Rodinal into 5L container, then pour water at 68 degrees. Mix with custom made spatula. Wait 30 minutes. Use. The mixing is all done before the darkroom is darkened. Once the film is on the hangers, dunk film into 5L tank and wait 6 minutes. No agitation.
Stop Bath: Water at 68 degrees.
Process: Pour water into 5L tank. Leave it alone. Once the film is in the stop bath for 30 seconds, I flip on the amber light and prepare the Fixer. The film just sits in the stop bath. No agitation. After the fixer is mixed, I move the hangers over to the fixer. (roughly 3-5 minutes in stop bath)
Fixer: Photographer's Formulary's TF-4 Archival Fix
Dilution: 1:3
Quantities: 1L TF-4 : 3L Water
Process: Pour TF-4 int 5L tank and mix while film is in the stop bath. Dunk film into fixer and wait 30 seconds. Open darkroom, hello daylight. Final rinse.


Thank you, any expert advice is appreciated!

Kevin Crisp
18-May-2015, 08:28
With the sizeable caveat that I've never worked with x-ray film, a couple observations:

(1) That seems like a really short development time for Rodinal at so high a dilution. At least for regular film, the time with agitation at one minute intervals would be much, much longer than that.
(2) Zero agitation generally does not equal even development. Unless there is some reason people don't agitate x-ray flim I don't see why this is being done. The shorter the development time, generally the more important it is to have predictable and even agitation.
(3) Turning on the lights with unfixed film is generally not a good practice. I did it by mistake myself (with regular film) a month ago, noticed my mistake in about 30 seconds of very bright light, and got the film in the fixer and the negative came out ok. But I was using real stop bath, not water.
(4) 30 seconds is a very short fix time, especially with no agitation.

Again, all my experience is with non x-ray film so if I'm way off base I'm sure I'm about to learn that.

Will S
18-May-2015, 10:45
Just an idea, but since you can develop x-ray film under safelight why not do a sheet or two in a tray so you can see what is going on and get an idea of how much time is needed for your process? Scratching is the biggest problem with this method, but if you are careful it can be done. I've done brush on x-ray for agitation but it leaves marks unless the brush is very soft.

I don't wait 30 minutes before using rodinal. Is this a thing?

Fix seems way short, but you can know for sure by watching it and when the film clears double that time.

Karasugoi
18-May-2015, 11:15
Hey Kevin,

Thanks for the reply, your feedback was very helpful. First, I should specify, that sizable caveat you talked about with X-Ray film? There's two of us in it.

My lack of experience/knowledge is in LF film developing in general, X-Ray film is attractive because it's cheap. So I don't mind if I mess-up while learning along the way.

From what I've read, there isn't that much difference between it and other film... There are a few differences. It has emulsion on both sides, it's high contrast and very delicate. Hence the high dilution and lack of agitation - at least that's how I understand it. If someone want's to enlighten my, I'm all ears.


(1) That seems like a really short development time for Rodinal at so high a dilution. At least for regular film, the time with agitation at one minute intervals would be much, much longer than that.

That's what I thought, but I know I read that development time from somewhere. I'll double check my sources and figure it out.



(3) Turning on the lights with unfixed film is generally not a good practice. I did it by mistake myself (with regular film) a month ago, noticed my mistake in about 30 seconds of very bright light, and got the film in the fixer and the negative came out ok. But I was using real stop bath, not water.

Heh, looking back I see that was a mistake. Thanks for pointing it out. Back in the day, I used a dark room for developing 35mm negatives... I think I got confused with the printing process when I switched to 8x10. Those 8x10 sheets sure feel reminiscent to print paper. I guess muscle memory is hard to kill.


(4) 30 seconds is a very short fix time, especially with no agitation.

I'll have to double check, but I think the TF-4 said to mix for a 30 second fix. It sounded short to me as well. Another thing I'll double check, I might have to do some trail and error testing, what's a good rule of thumb for fixer?

Thanks again for the helpful feedback.

Karasugoi
18-May-2015, 11:23
Just an idea, but since you can develop x-ray film under safelight why not do a sheet or two in a tray so you can see what is going on and get an idea of how much time is needed for your process? Scratching is the biggest problem with this method, but if you are careful it can be done. I've done brush on x-ray for agitation but it leaves marks unless the brush is very soft.

That's a great idea, except I'm poor and this is all I got at the moment. So for now, I'm stuck with tanks. EDIT: You can develop X-Ray film under a safelight? :D


I don't wait 30 minutes before using rodinal. Is this a thing?

That could be a problem actually, I wanted a good mix. Now that I think about it, waiting might cause the Rodinal and water to separate. Do you mix your batch and just go straight in?


Fix seems way short, but you can know for sure by watching it and when the film clears double that time.

Interesting, I'll have to give this a shot... if I'm using a tank, can I just pull it out and check? Or could that cause streaks?

Kevin Crisp
18-May-2015, 11:34
After I put up that post I did some research to see how totally off the mark I would be. Some people do recommend the 1:200 Rodinal, but I see development times for some x-ray films being 1:50 and for 10+ minutes. People do indicate it is very sensitive to over agitation but I don't think that means don't agitate as well. What will happen with very dilute no agitation development is that you will exhaust the developer locally on highlights. If you are doing 3 sheets at once, you should check for the capacity of the rodinal to make sure that 25 ml is enough for all that surface area. As effective film speeds are widely given for these films, we can assume you're at least in the ballpark there.

Kevin Crisp
18-May-2015, 12:38
I did see this thread from about six years ago, but that is a different film than the one you are using:

I have been messing with green sensitive x-ray film. I have attached an early 8x10 image which was developed in D76 1:3 for about six minutes. As perhaps you can see from the scan, I didn't manage to completely tame the contrast with this developer, so following Chris Nze and Jim Galli's advice, I switched to Rodinal. I am currently developing green sensitive Xray film (50 ISO) for Kallitypes in Rodinal 1:200 for about six minutes. This is working very well for me, and at 58 a sheet for 11x14 I really can't complain!

Karasugoi
18-May-2015, 14:52
What will happen with very dilute no agitation development is that you will exhaust the developer locally on highlights. If you are doing 3 sheets at once, you should check for the capacity of the rodinal to make sure that 25 ml is enough for all that surface area. As effective film speeds are widely given for these films, we can assume you're at least in the ballpark there.


I checked the Rodinal website, admittedly, I should have checked this before. The recommended dose of Rodinal per 8x10 sheet is 5ml. So I was close, but off by 5ml since I'm exposing 6 sheets per Rodinal dunk. Does this keep those highlights from getting exhausted, since it's the recommended dose per sheet? Seems like an efficient way to use my developer.


I have been messing with green sensitive x-ray film. I have attached an early 8x10 image which was developed in D76 1:3 for about six minutes. As perhaps you can see from the scan, I didn't manage to completely tame the contrast with this developer, so following Chris Nze and Jim Galli's advice, I switched to Rodinal. I am currently developing green sensitive Xray film (50 ISO) for Kallitypes in Rodinal 1:200 for about six minutes. This is working very well for me, and at 58 a sheet for 11x14 I really can't complain!

You know, this reads very similar to what I found. Maybe it's what I saw and where I got the 6 minute development time. It is a different film, though I don't think it matters if you have blue or green sensitive film. I could be dead wrong. The massive dev charts for Rodinal unfortunately did not have my film listed, no surprise there, but just looking at the development times for 50 ISO films diluted at 1:200 (or 1:133.33 now), gave me a range of 20-50 minutes. That gives me something to play with. I think we can rule out 6 minutes.

Kevin Crisp
18-May-2015, 15:14
I think you'll find you get a bit more density with 4 to 8 X longer development.

koraks
19-May-2015, 00:24
With blue x-ray film (exposed at iso 50), I develop in rodinal 1+100 for about 8-10 minutes, gentle agitation every two minutes. Turning on the light during a diy stop bath severely fogs my film. Fixing is really quick (1-2 minutes) due to the thin emulsion. Blue x-ray film can be handled under a safelight that's used for wet printing, but a red led lamp works very well too and will allow you to use green x-ray film as well.

So I'd suggest the following:
Develop longer and/or use a stronger developer.
Don't turn on the light until fixing is complete.
Use a safelight to judge progress.
Fix for a little longer.

blueribbontea
19-May-2015, 20:52
You should be using TF5, the alkaline fixer with hardener to protect your negative and you should fix with agitation for at least one minute. The agitation is important but the hardener is equally important.

Karasugoi
20-May-2015, 06:03
With blue x-ray film (exposed at iso 50), I develop in rodinal 1+100 for about 8-10 minutes, gentle agitation every two minutes. Turning on the light during a diy stop bath severely fogs my film. Fixing is really quick (1-2 minutes) due to the thin emulsion. Blue x-ray film can be handled under a safelight that's used for wet printing, but a red led lamp works very well too and will allow you to use green x-ray film as well.

So I'd suggest the following:
Develop longer and/or use a stronger developer.
Don't turn on the light until fixing is complete.
Use a safelight to judge progress.
Fix for a little longer.

Thank you Koraks, and everyone else who helped me out. Here's a quick update.

I pretty much did what Koraks outlined in the above quote, which was consistent with everyone elses advice. Koraks, I will try the dilution you suggested.

I tested a dilution of 1:200 for 20 minutes, water stop bath for 10 minutes (not sure how long to do this, but I got good results with this.) and Fixed for 6 minutes - I'll also try a shorter fix as suggested above.

I got a few good results from this, X-Ray film is very high contrast, I knew it would be, but I was surprised non-the-less. I didn't think it would be that intense.

This also revealed some leaks in my bellows, but that's another issue. :P

Koraks in your experience, does the higher dilution/shorter developing time help reduce contrast?

Karasugoi
20-May-2015, 06:07
You should be using TF5, the alkaline fixer with hardener to protect your negative and you should fix with agitation for at least one minute. The agitation is important but the hardener is equally important.

Hey Bill,

I've heard about TF5, but didn't know much about it. I'll try it out after I exhaust my TF4 stock.

Thanks. :)

Will S
20-May-2015, 08:22
You can develop under red safelight with x-ray film. Makes everything a little easier when you can see. LEDs that only emit a particular frequency make a great safe light since they are so bright.

Remember you are developing two sides of the film with each piece of film when you calculate your developer exhaustion since it is double-sided. So when you say 6 it is really 12. I'm guessing you already have an 11x14 tray for doing paper? Just use that to develop a piece of film. It will get scratches, but you can see everything come up under the safelight, and the scratches can be controlled with care. I use some homemade acrylic development trays with holes in them to let in the various fluids myself and have managed to get no scratches.

I think most fixers today have hardener except for plain hypo. And you can leave the hardener out of the kodak rapid fix since it comes separate.

Kevin Crisp
20-May-2015, 08:26
Your developer is already rather dilute, a water stop bath with agitation in a good sized tray or tank for just a minute should be plenty. Save yourself some time.

koraks
20-May-2015, 11:42
Koraks in your experience, does the higher dilution/shorter developing time help reduce contrast?
I think it'll only cut development time and not change contrast at all. To control contrast, try giving the film more exposure (and develop for a little shorter) and/or use less agitation. The former method is the more effective one. I find that with x-ray film, it's especially important to judge the contrast of the scene and adjust exposure accordingly. With a sunny-lit, not too contrasty broad daylight situation, my blue x-ray film produces usable results when exposed at ISO 160 or thereabouts; with more contrasty scenes and scenes that are in the shadow (e.g. forest-floor situations), I expose at 50 or so. X-ray film is finicky since it seems to consist of only one emulsion layer (on both sides of the film), while actual photographic films tend to be multi-layer types with faster and slower layers stacked on top of each other, which affords a lot more exposure latitude so to speak. If I'm talking out of my ass, please correct me, but this is how I understand it.