View Full Version : Agitation methods for semi-stand development

Mark McCarvill
6-Feb-2006, 16:47
If you’re using semi-stand development with BTZS-type tubes (including home made tubes), how do you agitate? Do you push the tube up and down in a tall container containing the water bath? Or rotate it in a shallow tray? I've tried both methods, but without success. The former produces streaks and the latter produces negs which are darker on the right than on the left.

Michael Kadillak
6-Feb-2006, 17:14
I am sure that others will chime in here but here is what I was advised and what has served me well.

I pre-soak the film in a tray for five minutes. This step is absolutely manditory. Each tube is filled to the top with dilute developer. After the completion of the pre-soak, the film is curled emulsion side in and inserted into the tubes and the caps are placed on the end. A 30 second end over end agitation is conducted and the film is left standing on its end. Break up the total developing time into four parts and agitate 15 seconds at each of these intervals by slowly reversing the tubes end over end. Sometimes I grab a number of tubes and do it en masse. At the end of the development the caps are removed and put into trays for stop and fix. Really not that complicated and the results are great.


Andrew O'Neill
6-Feb-2006, 19:59
I do same as Michael except for each agitation cycle, I pull the film out, invert and slip back into the tube, then agitate (rolling) for 15 sec.

Bob Younger
6-Feb-2006, 20:24
I realize that it's not supposed to work well, but I do mine (8x10) in a smooth bottomed 8x10 SS tray (horizontal) using Pyrocat HD.

I presoak (Bergger 200) for 3 minutes, then slide it in the developer (1:150; 1.5 litres) emulsion up. I agitate vigorously for a full++ minute; then for 30 seconds at 30 minutes. I inspect with the dark green safelight at 1 hour and will agitate for 30 seconds if not finished (but 1 hour seems a "normal" time for my photographs). Most everything is finished then within the next 15 minutes to half-hour. I had problems early on in developing this process wherein I skimped on the initial agitation (30 seconds) and the interims were only 10-15 seconds. I ended up with streaking in the sky areas. But now I get clear skies and phenomenal edges (between tonal boundaries).

In order to enable me to escape the darkroom between agitations, since I don't have rotary door, I put the tray in a black plastic bag from a package of 16x20 paper and close up the end.

6-Feb-2006, 20:32
“My method with ULF film, 7X17 and 12X20, is very similar to what Michael does, except that at the beginning I agitate for 1.5 minutes, and quite rigorously. The other agitation is for 10 seconds, and again very vigorously. Be sure to start with the developer about 1/2" over the top of film. There is some risk with this method because of the danger of scratching the film in transferring it from the pre-soak water and the tubes.

Another method I use with the ULF film is to place the film first in PVC tubes, dry, then plop the tubes with the film into a larger drum that will hold two or three tubes at a time, which is already filled with developer. After placing the lid on the drum I then agitate vigorously for 1.5 minutes, and for 10 seconds at the other times as above, also very vigorously. I have been doing this recently with no pre-soak and the results appear to be the same as with the pre-soak.

The second method is how I develop 5X7 film, six tubes at a time in an 11X14 Beseler drum..

michael Allen
6-Feb-2006, 21:29
I've just started playing around with this method now and my process mirrors what Steve Sherman suggests in his article in VC. The exception is I have been using a JOBO sponge cleaner to agitate in an up and down manner with the tube cap off and the lights off, Steve includes this procedure in a thread some where over on APUG I think. I'm processing 11x14 in newly made pvc tubes that work quiet well.

Michael Kadillak
6-Feb-2006, 22:02
Although it is not that big a deal, it is my understanding that Steve Sherman uses a conventional film tank with film hung vertically into it and the JOBO sponge is used as an agitation mechanism within the tank.

This subject was more than a bit vague in the VC article but I believe that he mentions this in the APUG write up. But at the end of the day if it provides you with the results that you want then all is very well. I have not been able to nor heard of anyone being able to attain acceptable results with this technque in a tray but Bob (above) has been able to do so.


7-Feb-2006, 12:06
"But at the end of the day if it provides you with the results that you want then all is very well. I have not been able to nor heard of anyone being able to attain acceptable results with this technque in a tray but Bob (above) has been able to do so. "

Originally I believed that the only way to make semi-stand work was with the film in vertical orientation, in tubes standing on end for example. However, quite a number of folks have reported excellent results with semi-stand and extreme minimal agitation using the developing tray inserts such as the Sumitek cradle or inserts of the same type made by other sources, including Photographers Formulary. In fact, I watched someone develop a set of negatives with a cradle, using a 1:1:150 solution of Pyrocat-HD, and the negatives came out perfect.

Mark McCarvill
2-Mar-2006, 09:38

Silly beginner mistake! I was adding developer to the tube containing the film. I just tried adding the film to the tube containing the developer and got absolutely perfectly even development. I couldn’t believe it when I examined the scanned negative (of a gray card) in Photoshop. Looked like I'd created a blank file and filled it with 50% gray; it was that even.

Hopefully this post will help other beginners avoid the mistake I was making.