View Full Version : New to LF - Diafine/Daylight Tanks for 4x5

20-Nov-2006, 14:01
Hi All,

I'm new to 4x5 and would like to develop my own B&W film. I already do this using Diafine for my 35mm rangefinder work, so it's a process with which I'm somewhat familiar. However, I'll need to buy or build a new daylight tank solution for sheet film, and I need the cost to be rock-bottom, to start. The volume of chemistry is not an issue, as the Diafine can be re-used.

What are my options? Do the homemade tubes work OK with Diafine, or should I go with something like one of the Jobo 25xx tanks with a 4x5 film reel? Any other solutions which might be out there?

Also, how about agitation with Diafine? For 35mm I use a plastic tank and therefore agitate/invert the Part B solution every 30-60 seconds or so, just to prevent the chemical trails from building up. I'm confused as to whether a similar method would be best for sheet film, or the manual tube-rolling technique I've read about.

Any suggestions would be appreciated - thanks very much for your help!

Bob Salomon
20-Nov-2006, 14:45
The Combi-Plan T is a daylight tank for 45 that also functions as a film washer. Sold by most camera stores.

Ron Marshall
20-Nov-2006, 15:00
I use both the Combi Plan and Jobo Expert drums. Both will give evenly developed negs. I much prefer the Jobo, easier to load and fill, less chemistry required. Jobo drums are occasionally available for about 50% of their cost new on ebay and APUG. If you buy used you will make up the price eventually is savings on chemicals. But the Combi-Plan is a fine alternative, especially for semi-stand.

If you have a darkroom the cheapest solution would be to build a slosher.

20-Nov-2006, 15:04
I think that Diafine is particularly well suited to tray developing. Suggest you do that for a while before deciding that you need a tank.

20-Nov-2006, 15:06
Thanks, Bob and Ron.

No darkroom yet - I'm still a changing bag/daylight tank kind of guy! I'll do some research on the slosher method, however. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to try to black out a room in the house.

Thanks again,

20-Nov-2006, 18:13
I used to have a longer 35mm tank that would take 4 rolls simultaneously (Jobo 1520 + extension). What I did then was to tape one half of the 35 mm spool to the bottom of the center bar and the other half about 5 inches above it. I could just fit in 2 sheets of 4x5 using this method :)

Of course, now that I have a Jobo 2500 series, it is a lot easier with the 6 sheet 4x5 holder :)

Brian Ellis
21-Nov-2006, 09:43
The least expensive equipment for processing b&w film is probably with trays since they can be bought inexpensively and you need them for other purposes anyhow. I've used trays for 8x10 and hated them though - you stand over the trays in the dark for 15 or so minutes while you inhale chemical fumes and shuffle film. And you'd need a darkroom (not necessarily a dedicated darkroom, just a place you could keep dark for about 15-20 minutes and with enough room to spread out the trays). The next least expensive is probably home-made tubes. They work fine for 4x5 if you use the proper materials. One of the nice things about tubes (and Jobo) is that once the film is loaded you do everything else in light. Tubes take up little space and chemical costs are lower than with any other method I know of so that's nice if you're on a tight budget. I use one ounce of stock developer per sheet of 4x5 film with tubes and D76 1-1 so processing six sheets requires only six ounces of developer.

Jerzy Pawlowski
21-Nov-2006, 11:00
I use HP Combi tank and 3010 on Beseler base. The HP tank is used for all semi stand, it works very well and I do not find it much more difficult than the 3010. The HP tank is slow to empty but one can go around this problem.

Donald Qualls
21-Nov-2006, 15:32
However, I'll need to buy or build a new daylight tank solution for sheet film, and I need the cost to be rock-bottom, to start. The volume of chemistry is not an issue, as the Diafine can be re-used.

Simplest method, cost beyond current equipment: zero.

Put two 4x5 films in your existing quart-size stainless tank, facing each other, and process in your Diafine just as if it were two rolls of 120. Done.

The diameter of the tank will cause the two films to bow about an inch in the middle, and they will thus hold each other in place and both front and back will be in free liquid. Given reusable solutions, this is a zero-outlay method.

If you need to process more films, use the "taco" method; curl each film, emulsion in, and slip a heavy rubber band around it to hold it in a sort of "taco shell" shape; you can fit four or five, maybe even six of these tacos in the same quart size tank. There may be marks where the rubber bands prevent base-side dye from clearing; if so, soak the film in a tray (a food container dedicated for the purpose works very well) of hypo clearing agent or fixer, and rewash in a/the tray, to clear the retained dye.

If you have a darkroom space, you can use inexpensive semi-disposable food containers (generic copies of Glad or Ziploc containers, I got three for $4 at the local grocery store) as trays, though this would probably work better with conventional developers than with Diafine.

But yes, I've used my homemade ABS pipe tubes with Diafine, also, and that works well, too.

22-Nov-2006, 22:45
Thanks, Everyone for the continued suggestions - I appreciate it!

How about agitation with 4x5 and Diafine? Are the principles similar to 35mm?

Thanks again,

steve simmons
23-Nov-2006, 08:41
My tray processing procedure is in an article in the Free Articles section of the view camera web site


If you are new to large format check out the books there and the see if you an find them in your library. Any one of them has lots of good intro and reference info

steve simmons

Donald Qualls
24-Nov-2006, 21:15
How about agitation with 4x5 and Diafine? Are the principles similar to 35mm?

When I've done 9x12 cm in tubes with Diafine, I agitated the same way I would with 35 mm or 120: once a minute, five inversions each cycle in A, two inversions each cycle in B.

The emulsion is gelatin in both, so should require the same treatment to get the developer in and avoid washing it out of the emulsion. The only real difference, in the tubes I used (which I fill and let stand between cycles, just like roll film tanks) is that there's a lot more devleoper for each square inch of film -- but since only what's actually in the gelatin does the work, that shouldn't matter, either, as long as you don't overagitate the B bath.