View Full Version : Deep Tank 4x5 b/w processing advice please.

Gene McCluney
20-Feb-2007, 10:04
For years I have processed b/w film in the black Cesco type 3.5 gallon deep tanks. I have always had some issues with the edges of the film being a bit denser than the middle. For most of my commercial work..which is products on white background, this didn't matter at all, but for my personal pictorial work I need to get absolutely even density. My developer over the years in the deep tank has been D-76 straight. I have used Tri-X, APX-100, Ektapan, etc.

I tend to process my 8x10 b/w in trays with a water pre-wet. I find this less satisfactory for 4x5, as the small sheets are harder to control in the dark in the tray for me.

I would like to resolve my deep tank issues, because I am starting to want to shoot more 4x5 pictorial images. I will sometimes have 30 sheets at a time to process, so using a drum or a Combi-plan tank (6 sheets) would be very very time consuming.
I have stainless steel film hangars that hold 4 sheets of 4x5. I have 10 of these hangers so I could process up to 40 sheets at once, but would rather keep it down under 30.

So, in rethinking my processing..there are a couple of things I could do to try to get more even development. One is to use a film developer that gives a longer developing time for the films I want to use, but it would have to be a tank style developer that would have a fairly long tank life. A weak HC-110 comes to mind, other than D-76. HC-110 can be replenished. Another thought is to use a water presoak, as I have plenty of tanks, and could easily have one filled with fresh tempered water each time I want to process. Also, perhaps I need to adjust my agitation style. Perhaps I have been too aggressive. Any advice would be appreciated.

Armin Seeholzer
20-Feb-2007, 10:13
Hi Gene
"Another thought is to use a water presoak"
You are on the right track, since I started with 1 min. presoak in water all my problems are solved in my XTOL!
Good luck, Armin J. Seeholzer

Henry Ambrose
20-Feb-2007, 10:53
I've started using Xtol 1:3 one-shot with hangers in tanks because I love the way Xtol 1:3 looks on roll film and 35mm and I wanted to duplicate that. To get all that film you're talking about and all lot of working solution in any one container you pretty much have to use deep tanks.

I lift the hangers once a minute letting them drain briefly, alternating corners each lift. Just lovely results. I have not measured for edge density build-up but don't see any. The longer times and very gentle agitation I think make this work great. 16 minutes with HP5 works for me. Same as I use on roll film in small tanks and similar very gentle agitation.

To do your 40 sheets of 4x5 at a time you'd need at least one liter (or quart) stock Xtol solution. (100ml per 80 sq ins) More would be better, I view it as a guarantee of enough developer activity. Anyway that gives you one gallon of working solution but by the time you fill your 3.5 gallon tanks you're using lots of developer and you'll have more life left after one run of film. How much is to be debated. You'll have to test for this I think. I've run second runs in my gallon tanks and got visually same results. I extended the time 10%. I'd think twice about keeping the solution though. Or maybe I just wouldn't do that as unpredictability in processing is about the worst thing I can think of.

If you wanted to run 20 sheets you could half fill your big tanks and load only the bottom row of the hangers. I also have these hangers and used them this way until I got the smaller tanks. So you could do 20 then 20 in the same solution if you do it right away. Not the next day or next week.

Similar requirements for D76 when diluted - you need a certain minimum amount of stock. Check on Kodak's D76 data sheet for this. So now you're doing one-shot deep tank processing. Who's ever heard of such?:p

And even if you do waste a bit of developer, a $10.00 pack of Xtol will process about 50-60 sheets of 4x5 used diluted one-shot, maybe more depending on how you can control waste and not jepordize your results.

20-Feb-2007, 11:00

I consider a presoak an absolute must!

Dilute HC110 for TXP sheets gives beautiful results. I use Dilution H 1:63 from concentrate. 9 minutes is a good starting time for trays with normal agitation, depending on contrast needed, shooting conditions, etc...

Mark Sampson
20-Feb-2007, 13:04
I tried for 3-4 years to use the 4-up 4x5 hangers in a deep tank. This was in a commercial situation similar to what you describe. The sink line had a nitrogen-burst system, supposedly the best agitation method. (We used either D-76 or HC-110'B' at different times, replenished carefully.)I was never able to avoid surge marks on the negs. It was all the more galling because before that, in a different situation, I was able to get perfect negatives with the single 4x5 stainless hangers and manual agitation as per the old Kodak handbook. I finally decided that the 4-up hangers were the problem, and shortly after that we went to a different sheet-film processing method (Wing-Lynch). I agree a presoak may be a good idea (it certainly helps when tray processing) but I still detest those 4-up hangers... so that's where I think your problem lies.

Jim Rhoades
20-Feb-2007, 13:20
I've had surge problems using 8x10 in the 3 1/2 gal. tank with Rodinal. I switched back to D-76 1+1 and was careful with my agitation and did not have any more problems. Always used a pre-soak. I use the 4 up hangers for 4x5. I don't use more than 8 at a time so that's 32. Works well. Try the D-76 at 1+1.

Herb Cunningham
20-Feb-2007, 14:14
the secret is the method of lifting and immersion-VERY slow. No surge marks.

Gordon Hutchins told me he could not avoid surge marks, but a lot of us can, as you can see from Henry's very accurate description

good luck