View Full Version : Developing 5x7 B&W negatives

Tony Lovell
17-Jul-2005, 05:45
I've just started using the 5x7 format for B&W landscapes. Can anyone give me some advice on developing methods. I developed my first batch of HP5+ negatives in dishes using a pyro developer, but its a long process in the dark!

I've considdered drum or orbital processing but I'm concerned about using small volumes of developer and not getting even development. ...or should I stick with the dishes?

17-Jul-2005, 06:13
Tray development (dishes) is still the best way for small numbers.

Ted Harris
17-Jul-2005, 06:20
IUt depends on what you call "small numbers" of negatives. I run a JOBO ATL 230 using Expert Drums. The 3006 Drum habndles 6 5x7 negatives and, IMO gives you the evenest most consistant development of any method available. Similar possibilities exist for other 'tube' processors such as Wing Lynchand PhotoTherm.

Tony Lovell
17-Jul-2005, 06:37
On a session I might only take 6 or 8 frames and then develop 2 at a time.

Using the drum system, are you using a pyra developer and what volume of devloper would you use.

17-Jul-2005, 06:49
I use about 400ml for two sheets of 5x7 in a print drum. It's pretty close to the limit for the amount of developer that the setup can use. Not the drum which can hold much more but the cup in the lid you pour the chemicals into. I'm thinking of using a film lid instead for 8x10. But that will pour the chemicals straight into the tank. OTOH it's never been an issue with smaller formats.

Sanders McNew
17-Jul-2005, 10:04
I shoot loads of 5x7 film and process the sheets, 12 at a time, in two JOBO 3006 tanks. Chemical use is maybe 600 ml per tank. If you put the JOBO tank on a Beseler or Omega rotating base for their drums -- you can buy them for $25 apiece -- the negatives practically develop themselves.

Sanders McNew


Paul Fitzgerald
17-Jul-2005, 10:18
Hi Tony,

For that small number of sheets it might make more sense to try Phil Daivis' B.T.Z.S. tubes in a tempered tray of water. The end caps hold the proper amount of chems. You can also make your own from 2" black P.V.C. pipe(7" long) and end caps OR leave the end caps off and roll 2 tubes back and forth in a tray of developer. Only advantage to that is you can't scratch the film but you do get perfectly even development. With the caps on you can turn on the lights after the stop bath but I don't think full room light would be smart.

Good luck and have fun with it.

John Berry ( Roadkill )
17-Jul-2005, 10:26
I second Dan's suggestion on pyrocat-HD. Especially if you use DBI as the film is desensitised by the developer. I use semistand development. I made my own tanks out of 1/4 in clear acrylic. 10.5 X10.5 X2.5 inside dimensions works out just right for 4 8X10 hangers with 4 ltrs of developer using 1.5-1-200 ratio, on Sandy's suggestion, works great for me. I also use night vision goggles for DBI. Using semistand I don't have to stay in the room with them all the time.

Tony Lovell
17-Jul-2005, 13:38
Thanks John, I've just been having a look at the pyrocat-HD developer...I'll give it a try.

I've not used DBI...how reliable is this method and what light are you using? Dan mentioned a green safe light.

I'm not sure the camera shops here in the Uk sell night vision goggles!

ronald moravec
17-Jul-2005, 13:44
Deep tanks are expensive to fill, but once up and running are cheap to maintain and nothing goes wrong.

I was standing in line at Chicago Calumet with a hangar rack and a few old Kodak hangars. I was going to buy some additional hangars. A photographer came past and asked if I used Jobo. My answer was color neg 4x5 only. Black and white still goes on hangars .

Ron Marshall
17-Jul-2005, 14:31

I hand roll the Jobo 3010 with 4x5 (black and white) and I have consitent and even development. The 3006 takes 5x7 or 4x5.

The Jobo is easy to load, easy to hand roll (50 RPM, reverse every 2 turns), and I save money on the chemistry: 50ml per sheet (330ml minimum, more developer than that sometimes depending on the dilution of the developer).

Good luck

Bruce Watson
17-Jul-2005, 15:57
I second Ron's vote for the Jobo expert tanks. I also use a 3010 for 4x5, and I've put thousands of sheets though it now. Each and every one has been perfectly, evenly developed. The only problems I've had were all "operator error" and there have only been a couple of those. It's a very easy system to use.

John Berry ( Roadkill )
17-Jul-2005, 19:02
DBI works pretty well, once you do enough to learn when to make the call. Time and temp work really well also. I went to Sandy Kings carbon printing workshop last month. It was nice to have a neg and print critque by THE man. Great guy by the way. I use pyrocat-HD as it lets me print new Azo#2 and carbon with the same neg. If you are using pyrocat-HD you can acually use a yellow filter if that works better for you. That is what I use when I don't use the goggles. I recomend working up a time and temp then use that to learn when to make the visual call for non-standard times. I used to use a jobo also. One of the older ones with 2 speeds. I prefered the slower one. I switched to semistand to increase the micro-contrast within each zone. Anyway I have convinced myself it works. Then again, mama always said, "They's just somthin not right with that boy". I would have answered sooner but I'm down in the darkroom doin the Azo-Amidol thang listening to Tom Waits.

steve simmons
17-Jul-2005, 19:38
There is a step by step description of my tray processing method on the View Camera web page. I can do 6-8 simultaneously for varying times.

steve simmons

17-Jul-2005, 21:16

Thanks for the generous comments about the workshop.

There are many good ways of developing sheet film. I admire people who are able to shuffle process sheet film in trays but I have never been able to do it without scratching and gouging the film. However, if you like tray processing you might consider a modified version which involves first placing the sheet film in open ended PVC tubes of the appropriate ID and length for the size film and then just rolling them around in the developer for agitation. When development is complete you just plop the tubes, with the film in them, into the stop bath and you can thenfinish processing in room light.

If you don't want to work in the dark it would easy enough to find a light proof container in which you could develop the film. I recommend PVC plastic for this kind of development since its specific gravity is greater than water (unlike ABS plastic which floats) so when you place the tubes in the developer they sink to the bottom.

steve simmons
18-Jul-2005, 08:03
One of the secrets to not scratching the film is to place it in the developer/stop/fixer trays emulsion side down. I have scratched one sheet in 25+ years. I also pre-soak.

steve simmons

John Berry ( Roadkill )
19-Jul-2005, 00:35
I finally discovered the way I was scratching during film development in trays was that I was draging the bottom one out at an angle instead of square with the stack. then I also bowed the center of the sheet down in the middle as I dropped it back on the stack, so the corner wouldn't dig in as I put it back on the stack.

steve simmons
19-Jul-2005, 06:37
If you place the fikm in the tray emul side down your risks for scratching are much less. The back of the film is much harder and slight scratches will not show in the print or output.

steve simmons