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View Full Version : New to LF: pyro/processing/jobo questions



Shula
18-Aug-2016, 19:19
These questions are aimed at LF photographers who use pyro PMK and/or pyrocat and jobo tools.

This ended up being very long, so Iíve decided to break up my questions into two posts. First I want to decide on the processing tools and once I decide that, I will address the questions around pyro.

My background
A year and a half ago, I returned to the darkroom after a couple decadesí absence. Iím taking photo courses at a community college, so have access to a darkroom until I get something rigged up for myself at home. I process my medium format film (daylight processing) at home so that I donít waste precious, limited darkroom time processing film at school. And I plan to do the same with the 4x5 negatives, so please donít tell me I should process in trays, like my darkroom instructor did.

Iíve wanted to try my hand at large format for decades. I recently bought a 4x5 field camera on ebay, but havenít taken it out for a spin yet. Before I do, Iíd like to decide upon how I am going to process the film. One of my darkroom instructors suggested using Ilford FP4+ and pyro. He produces amazing prints, so I plan on giving that combination a try. Iíve been reading everything I can find about pyro(including buying and reading the book of pyro), but I still have questions. Iíve decided to try both pyro PMK and pyrocat to see which I like best. Right now, I will be printing/enlarging the negatives using non-alternative methods, but I foresee platinum/palladium /gum bichromate / who knows what else in my future.

Which way to go? I need to pick one, because I donít have everything needed for either of the approaches yet.
Jobo 3006 and Beseler motor base and/or Jobo 1509 roller base
OR
Jobo cpe processor and 2509n

JOBO 3006 option
Seems to me that using the Jobo 3006 would be the easiest way to go at least when it comes to loading the film (although since I will be loading it in a changing bag, I will load it dry.) My concerns are pouring the chemicals and maintaining the temperature. Using a funnel with a hose seems the consensus way that people not using a CPA or CPP pour the chemicals into the tank. One person in the forum who uses an expert tank said he started off with his tank on a motor base so that the tank is rotating while he adds the chemicals, which made sense to me. He then transferred the tank to a roller base and rotated it like crazy to develop his film. The roller base looks like itís a pretty simple tool that could be immersed in water, so Iím thinking that would be a good way to keep a constant temperature. (In the winter, I keep my house between 60 and 65 degrees, so would need a warm water bath to keep a constant 70 temperature, for example.)

Does this make sense? Any comments or questions?

JOBO 2509n option
Most days I hate loading 120 film onto the ss reel to develop the film. I have good days and bad days and the bad days stick in my mind more than the good days. The bad days are when the film is just not loading well and I have to try and try again. Interesting side note: I recently bought some equipment (sort of an estate sale) which included a couple old 120 ss reels. I find they are much easier to load than my newer ones. (I gave most of my darkroom equipment away 4 years ago. Letís not go there) Iím afraid that I am going to encounter the same frustration with loading film onto the 2509n. I know there is a loader, but Iíve read mixed reviews about it. The good news with this approach is that I have a CPE processor with a lift (I bought an enlarger at the estate sale mentioned above through a Craigslist ad and they threw in the jobo processor and lots of other stuff.)

So, in your experience with the above tools and developing with pyro, which way would you suggest I go?

Once I decide on the approach, Iíll open another post about processing with pyro PMK and pyrocat using that approach.

Thanks for your help.

adelorenzo
18-Aug-2016, 20:35
Temperature isn't that critical with black and white development I don't think you need to worry about a water bath. I certainly don't.

I'd go with the expert drum as it's quite a lot easier to load film. You'll need a good sized changing bag though.

I'm using a motorized roller base and Jobo 3010 tank (10 sheets of 4x5) with pyrocat. I just pour the chemicals in normally and then set the tank on the roller base. With my development times being 10+ minutes a few seconds to pour the chemicals in the tank doesn't make a difference at all.

FWIW I expose FP4+ at ISO 100 and then develop 10 minutes in the expert drum using Pyrocat-MC 1:1:100.

Alan9940
18-Aug-2016, 21:33
I use a CPP-2, Expert Drums, and Pyrocat to process both 4x5 and 8x10. I would highly recommend the Expert Drums vs the 2509 reel because IMO you'll get better, more even development. And, since pyro development demands that the drum be rotated fairly slow the motor base should work great! I wouldn't worry too much about temperature, unless you'll be working at some extreme. One word of caution, though, regarding choice of developer I wouldn't recommend PMK for rotary development.

Good luck and welcome to the world of LF! ☺

williaty
18-Aug-2016, 22:53
Keep in mind that there's 2509 reels and 2509n reels. You want the latter. I use 2509n reels and load up to 6 sheets per reel. I have never had a problem with loading them, never had a problem with uneven development.

Yes, the Expert Drums are easier to load and can eliminate some potential problems for developing that you can get into with the smaller tanks. On the other hand, they're huge, expensive, can't be used at all with the CPE machines, and get uncomfortably close to the motor load limits even on the CPA/CPP.

I think the 2590 and 2509n reels are quite easy to load. I don't use that stupid axle and chute "helper" Jobo sells either. I'm right handed, so the instructions are coming from that. Use your left hand to find one of the two sides of the reel where you can load film. Make sure that the openings "point" at your right hand (flip the reel over if necessary). Feel with your left hand and place your thumb and index finger just above the inner-most slot in the reel. Slide the sheet of film in between the reel and your finger/thumb. If the sheet hangs up, you've got a corner of the film sticking out through the "spokes" of the reel. Wiggle your right hand so that you get the sheet better aligned to the reel and it'll start sliding forwards again. Slide the sheet as far into the reel as it'll go. Load two more sheets on that side of the reel. Feel the ends of the sheets in the middle of the reel. All three sheets should be about the same distance from each other. They should be slightly mis-aligned stair-step fashion. Once you have the first side loaded, roll the reel around 180* and load the second side, again from the inside to the outside.

agregov
18-Aug-2016, 23:59
The 2509s are fiddly. From the sound of things, you don't like loading reels much. I think the expert drum would be the way to go. While it's true that you don't need to worry much about temperture, a CPA/CPP with lift is really great way to develop film if you have the space. Very efficient, offers more repeatable results and you can develop C41 easily. But starting with a roller base is a great way to get started. If you're primarily going to shoot 4x5, I'd skip the CPE and keep an eye out locally on Craigslist for a CPA/CPP. Remember to look for a model with the late generation motor. You'll need it for the expert drums. http://www.catlabs.info/why-are-jobo-cpa2-cpp2-serial-numbers-important

In terms of the two Pyros, Pyrocat is more reliable for rotary processing--less streaking. That said, with care, PMK can be used--lots in the forum use it with expert drums.

Alan9940
19-Aug-2016, 06:52
If you're primarily going to shoot 4x5, I'd skip the CPE and keep an eye out locally on Craigslist for a CPA/CPP.

If the plan is to use Expert Drums on some kind of Jobo processor, then the CPE definitely wouldn't be a candidate; AFAIK no CPE will take an Expert Drum. I believe you have to use the 2509 reels in one of the 2500 series tanks.



In terms of the two Pyros, Pyrocat is more reliable for rotary processing--less streaking. That said, with care, PMK can be used--lots in the forum use it with expert drums.

Yes, PMK can be used, but IMO it's a bit of a pain. Pyrocat will deliver beautiful, repeatable results every time. On a side note, if you decide to give Pyrocat a try and you're planning on rotary style development, then according to Mr. King the -MC version provides slightly better results with rotary processing. I've used both and can't really see any difference, but if the guy who created it says "this is a little better" then who am I to argue?! :)

David Schaller
19-Aug-2016, 09:34
I use the 2509n reels and tank with hand inversion. I use the loader. If you can load a film holder, you can use this reel. Practice with some unimportant negatives for a while. I used to do it in my bathroom, then develop in the kitchen. Pyrocat is my standard developer.

angusparker
19-Aug-2016, 09:57
Agree with all those above that the Expert Drum is the way to go with a CPP2 processor. As for Pyrocat I'd go with the two bottle glycol MC version. But Pyrocat is mildly toxic and it's real benefit is being able to do silver and platinum printing from the same negative. Stil I'd say go with Rodinal as it is cheaper and easier to use with a very long shelf life.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Drew Wiley
19-Aug-2016, 10:05
Jobos, even at their lowest setting, run way too fast (RPM) for certain formulas. For instance, PMK pyro tends to overoxidize in drums, so you end up with a lot
of unnecessary fog. You can print through it, but it's a nuisance. So people have come up with tricks to improve that, like displacing the air in the drum with argon gas, tweaking the formula (Rollo Pyro etc), or switching to pyrocat instead of pyrogallol developers. I personally feel PMK works best either in trays or more gentle Jobo hand inversion drums, like those used for roll film instead of mechanical rotation. You could also use a sheet film drum and simply gently roll it back and forth in your sink. All kinds of tricks out there. But Jobo rotary drums are especially slow to fill and drain, so not ideal for short development times. I do a lot of rotary processing myself, but with color materials. I prefer to develop sheet film in trays. In any event, practice quite a bit beforehand before you commit your prize shots to any unfamiliar processing method.

williaty
19-Aug-2016, 10:15
How does 510-pyro do with rotary processing?

Drew Wiley
19-Aug-2016, 11:52
I haven't tried it. You'd want to ask Jay DeFehr.

Alan9940
19-Aug-2016, 13:20
How does 510-pyro do with rotary processing?

I've only ever used 510-Pyro with hangers in tanks, but in a rotary processing application I would guess you'd have the same issues as PMK in this application, since they're both pyrogallol-based formulas.

williaty
19-Aug-2016, 13:24
Rollo-Pyro is also pyrogallol, isn't it (or is it catechein)?

Kirk Gittings
19-Aug-2016, 13:56
I run FP4+ in Pyrocat HD in Glycol in BTZS tubes. The simplest/evenest combo I have found.

Shula
19-Aug-2016, 13:56
Temperature isn't that critical with black and white development I don't think you need to worry about a water bath. I certainly don't.

I'd go with the expert drum as it's quite a lot easier to load film. You'll need a good sized changing bag though.

I'm using a motorized roller base and Jobo 3010 tank (10 sheets of 4x5) with pyrocat. I just pour the chemicals in normally and then set the tank on the roller base. With my development times being 10+ minutes a few seconds to pour the chemicals in the tank doesn't make a difference at all.

FWIW I expose FP4+ at ISO 100 and then develop 10 minutes in the expert drum using Pyrocat-MC 1:1:100.

Thanks for the information.

Shula
19-Aug-2016, 14:02
I use a CPP-2, Expert Drums, and Pyrocat to process both 4x5 and 8x10. . . One word of caution, though, regarding choice of developer I wouldn't recommend PMK for rotary development.

Good luck and welcome to the world of LF! ☺

Thank you for your response.

I'd love to get a CPA/CPP, but the ones I've seen lately on ebay seem pretty expensive and they aren't the newer ones that would better handle the expert drum.

Do you think using PMK with EDTA would be OK for use with a motorized roller base, which I assume doesn't rotate as quickly as the jobos (or am I wrong?)?

Shula
19-Aug-2016, 14:06
Thanks everyone for your replies. So far, it looks to me like I'm going to go with the expert tank and a motorized base until I find an affordable, newer CPA/CPP.

Patrick13
19-Aug-2016, 18:12
Just to make you feel more secure in that choice, while I don't do much LF processing this year when I do it's with pyrocat-HD and a expert tank on a makeshift motorized base wired not auto-reverse rotations. I manually reverse the tank to control that part of the process.
Haven't had a problem, scratch, drag, or failure so far.

I hear ya on the CPA/CPP prices, way out of my range too :(

Best of luck!

mrred
19-Aug-2016, 18:24
I have been using a rotary drum with pyros for years and would not go back willingly.

Pyrogallol based developers have been known to streak and can usually be coaxed into submission. One sure fire methoed is a presoak with a touch of photoflo. It breaks the surface tension and gives development an even chance. I don't prefer these developers beceause I find them a lot softer when compared to catechol.

Catechol based devlopers tend to be perfect to rotary development. Always sharp with little to no side effects. I have used PyrocatHD and Hypercat as directed with adiquate results. I find both better when using a %10 lye alkali as the stain vastly improves with a slightly better look to the grain. Today I have my own varient of a catechol recipe that is perfect for my needs, but that's just my preference.

I would also reccomend a water based pyro over glycol or tea. Yes glycol or tea vastly increases shelf life but makes it much easier to contaminate the developer with water. I like to keep my seringes clean and if they are still wet when used, introduces water to the glycol or tea. A water based devloper doesn't get contaminated. This leaves most pyrogallol based and Pyrocat-HD (regular) better choices.

If you make your own, you can also make smaller batches of developer. I also find pyrogallol (dry chem) does not last as long as catechol (dry chem). I just threw away 75g (100g bottle) of pyrogallol beceause it was dead. It was only 6 months old.

koraks
20-Aug-2016, 06:45
I find both better when using a %10 lye alkali as the stain vastly improves with a slightly better look to the grain.
Can you elaborate on this please? I find it interesting as I've tried pyrocat hd with a variety of activators. I tried a 0.15% concentration of lye / NaOH in the working strength developer, which gives very usable results. I have also tried both Na2CO3 and K2CO3, which give indistinguishable results, but I did find that the grain was a bit finer (and comparable to the NaOH version) with 20% higher activator concentration than the original recipe. I was wondering if you perhaps tried similar things and what your findings are. Btw, I do both manual agitation and Jobo CPE2 on its slow setting and both approaches work fine with pyrocat. I did find that I don't need to reduce development with the Jobo despite that it's continuous agitation as opposed to intermittent (with manual development I agitate for 5 second every minute with pyrocat). I wonder if it has to do with the fact that I use the minimal amount of chemistry per roll with the jobo, so 150ml for a roll of 135 in the small jobo tank.

mrred
20-Aug-2016, 11:27
150ml per roll is what I work with and my formulation I use 1:1:150. I find higher ph's give better stain and the formulation I use was optimized for the amouint of stain and not the curve as PyrocatHD was. I tribute the optimized stain level for the reason the grain looks better for me. When I used a V700, I wet mounted and I am still suprised what I got out of the scans. I am now using a prime film xa and the results come very close to what I got with the V700/Wet.

I think the Catechol is so natively sharp it would not matter what the agitation methoed was. My motor base does not change direction and the speed is a little high. No issues to date.

This is something from a zombie walk last year...

154057

Nikon F100, Sigma 105 OS MACRO, Orwo N74+, MCAT 1:1:150, V700 Wet mount

Note: ORWO N74+ pyro at it's best

That's a crapload of detail in that little 35mm frame. I like Catechol.