View Full Version : Where to begin?

7-Jan-2016, 11:37
Howdy folks! I joined this forum a few weeks ago after receiving an Anasco Agfa 5x7 view camera as a Christmas gift. After some initial inspection I think she's good to go (very clean lens, shutter cocks and fires seemingly at various speeds still, bellows still light-tight, no front focus but rear tilt and shift works great...) so I want to take her for a test drive. Of course this begs the question "what am I going to do about the negatives"?

I just sold my house and my wife and I are renting while we decide where to move next, so I have next to no space to build a darkroom. I'm seeking advice for developing B&W sizes 35mm, 120/220, and 5x7 (...or 4x5 if this rig doesn't work out.) I will most likely be using the guest bathroom that I'll have to setup and breakdown for each use. I will be scanning the negatives, so no need for enlargers and paper trays, just the film. Is there a silver bullet for getting all this in one tank, or should I resign myself to buying a few smaller tanks for the 35 and MF and getting a dip'n dunk for the 5x7?

I haven't developed my own film since 2000 and I kind of thinking of seeking out a darkroom class for a refresher and get access to their lab instead of having to move stuff all the time...

Thanks in advance!

Leszek Vogt
7-Jan-2016, 12:09
You can develope the negs in trays, dip-dunk or even send it to your favorite lab. For time being you can do contact prints....assuming you wish to see actual print. Moving all the stuff is no fun (I'm there myself), but if you get the bug you might be motivated.

Anyway, you need to load the film into holders....take some test shots....so you can see whether there are any light leaks, determine whether the shutter is firing correctly, if your support is good for long exposure, etc. You might want to follow a list (mental or physical) so you're not going to get distracted. Make sure you compensate for the bellows or for extended film exposure. After initial processing, try keeping the film development to a specific standard (time & agitation)....once the testing is done, you can deviate and tweak it to your personal likes.

Oh, and take notes on each exposure in the field.....this can be handy in some ways, particularly in trouble shooting.

Overall, enjoy the LF experience.


Jim Galli
7-Jan-2016, 12:55
A little expensive initial cost, but the JOBO 3010 professional tanks that are made to hold 10 4X5's at a time can also hold 5 5X7's. 2 4X5's per hole or 1 5X7 per hole. There are 5 holes in the tank for the films. You don't necessarily need a JOBO processor to use the tanks. In fact you can experiment with stand development scenarios and just let 5 5X7 negs stand in the developer if you fill the tank all the way so that the films are covered. Or you can roll the tanks yourself on a countertop. It's all light tight once the film is in the tank, so even kitchen sink is possible. The tanks are out of production now so prices are high. I just checked ebay and $250 - $360 is going rate for one. But they are the cats meow for even development. You can waste $300 bucks real quick in this hobby just on film if you're messing around trying to get good negs and having screw ups.

Michael E
7-Jan-2016, 13:43
For 4x5", I use a JOBO 2500 drum with two reels for a maximum of 12 sheets per run. Very efficient. For 5x7" and 8x10", I use a JOBO 4540 drum. It's meant for paper and very cheap on ebay (at least here in Germany). It takes 4 sheets of 5x7" or 2 sheets of 8x10" film. I don't use a machine any more (mine broke down years ago), but roll the drums on my kitchen counter. That's an easy way to work, very little gear and very little chemicals.

7-Jan-2016, 14:07
Thanks guys, great tips. I really appreciate the JOBO info. Seems to be the gold standard, but I wasn't finding practical info for a first time user... and frankly bouncing around CPP/CPA 1800, 2500, et al was just getting a bit overwhelming.

7-Jan-2016, 14:23
Send out the negatives for commercial developing for the first few months. Individually, per/negative cost is high, but you won't be shooting sheet film like you do 35m, so overall costs will be reasonable.
I'm sure there are lots of labs near you; my favorite is MV Labs in NYC.

7-Jan-2016, 14:35
Rather than spending lots of money sending out sheet film to get it developed, I'd rather (personally - YMMV) opt for an approach that reduces the costs of learning whiteout having to delegate tasks you'll be doing in the end anyway. For example, buy a pack of generic xray film and cut it to the desired size; that way you can shoot 5x7 at around $0.25 per sheet. Developed in rodinal, the costs are low enough to not have to worry about them while getting the hang of it. Then shoot fancier film once you run into the fundamental flaws/limitations of xray. Just offering an alternative approach, which may suit some without one option being inherently better than the other.

John Layton
7-Jan-2016, 14:50
If your guest bathroom has a ceiling light/fan combo unit - simply replace the light with a small red safelight bulb, then black-tape some 6 mil black plastic over any windows, glue-stick some black felt around any door flanges - and you have a darkroom. Then, for negative processing, purchase a collapsible plastic table from Home Depot and some darkroom trays...and you are good to go for processing negatives. Maybe start with a lineup of Sprint chemistry (dev. stop, fix, fixer remover) for logistical consistency/ease of use, and go with Kodak Photo-Flo for drying without streaks. String up a clothesline for drying negs...and you're good to go!

But...before you process (shuffle technique) you should practice - with water in the trays and "practice films" - donated from another photog. Come to think of it...I've got some 5x7 "practice" film downstairs that I'd be willing to donate to the cause - just give me an address and I'll mail it to you - free of charge.

7-Jan-2016, 14:57
Jobo or dip/dunk with hangers/tanks.

Fr. Mark
7-Jan-2016, 23:00
X-ray film or paper negatives or Arista Edu from freestyle to keep costs down while making newbie mistakes. Develop the paper/film in glass trays from your kitchen in your bathroom you've made light tight (or at night). Some Red LED's can be used as safelights with paper and Xray. 5x7's a great format. Sounds like a light enough camera to go places with and not require an elephantine tripod. I hope you enjoy it!

mike rosenlof
8-Jan-2016, 12:00
I use this technique for sheet film of all sizes. http://www.davidkachel.com/assets/trayproc.htm In 5x7, you need a pipe with an inside diameter of at least 1.6 inches. I think 2" pipe is about right. I can do 2 sheets of 5x7 in a 5x7 plastic tray and 4 sheets in an 8x10 tray. It's rare that I need to develop more than this at one time. 5 sheets of 4x5 in an 8x10 tray 1.5 inch pipe.

8-Jan-2016, 12:09
If you're not doing a huge volume and can make the place light tight, trays are easy start. Three trays: Developer, water, fixer (tf5/tf4). Then clean the water tray and use it for final wash.
A 4x5 reducing back will get you more options for film and developing. I use a combiplan tank for 6x 4x5 in daylight developing. It's convenient.

8-Jan-2016, 13:55
Very grateful, lots of good stuff here!

John, I'll send you a side email with an address. Thanks so much for your generosity!

Regarding X-ray film. Does one develop the same way as film?