View Full Version : developing roll film

Eric Brody
14-Apr-2007, 18:34
I would love to know how the roll film users on the forum develop their film. What tanks and/or processors are people using? For the record, I shoot TMAX 100 and 400 and develop in Xtol diluted 1:2. My issue relates to evenness of development. I realize this is not a strictly LF question, but there must be LF camera users who shoot with roll film backs.

For a number of years, I had been developing my 4x5 and roll film in a 2521 Jobo tank with a CPE-2 processor. Uneven 4x5 development and recommendations from experts led me to get a Jobo 3010 drum recently (from a LF forum member) and I am using it on an old Beseler roller base until I can acquire a CPP processor at a reasonable price. The 3010 delivers exquisitely even development at least in the few batches I have done. I only wish I had done it sooner.

I have not been happy with the evenness of my roll film development in the 2521. There is occasional unevenness along the edges. I do not recall having this problem in the old days when I used stainless steel reels and a stainless steel tank in a water bath and agitated for the first 30 seconds and then 5 seconds per minute. I was using Agfa 100 and Rodinal 1:50 then.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

"Tanks" so much.


14-Apr-2007, 19:03
I use 2551 and bigger tanks for everything basically. All on unicolor motorbase.

Some people have no problem others have problems. I've never been able to figure out why it doesn't work for some. At first I thought they were using low developer volumes but some of the people it works for using very low amounts of developer.

You could try inversion with your 2521 tanks if you want.

Herb Cunningham
14-Apr-2007, 19:08
I use patterson tanks/reels. Presoak 3 to 5 min , develop in pryrocat hd for 12 min

at 2:2: 100. Multiple inversions first minute, two inversion/minute after. Works for me. never could see doing the motorized stuff just to save a touch of developer, which I mix myself from raw chemicals, so it is cheap.

don't have any un eveness issues. developing 120 film

John Cahill
14-Apr-2007, 19:42
My 120 goes in my gallon 5x7 tanks, on ss reels, on a rod. Of course, I have to sit in the dark listening to music and the timer, but have never had a problem with uneven development. I agitate as if it were sheet film. Thirty to forty seconds gentle lifting at the beginning, then lift it free, tilt the reels, back in solution, lift again, and tilt.
For years I have used replenished D23, which is a very forgiving developer.

14-Apr-2007, 19:43
My issue relates to evenness of development.

Yes, excellent question. I have been concerned with this also (here is a thread on my rotary/rodinal experiments http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=23322).

From a, so called 'expert technique' standpoint, I would evaluate a rotary process with evenness of development first, followed by the evaluation of other characteristics (like sharpness/grain/contrast) only after estabilishing an even development.

Much has been written on the relationship between developers and film when it comes to grain/contrast/sharpness, but much less is written about evenness of development. So a lot of the decision making has to come from anecdotal accounts of others or extensive personal experimentation.

Broad statements like 'this reel is better; this tank is better; prewash is better' etc, are unfounded without defining the developer/film/agitation parameters.

I have not had the time to experiment with 1/10000th of the combinations available, but I can say from personal experience with t-max developer that it gives good results even in the toughest of conditions: Jobo 1500 tanks, plastic reels, 120 film, rotary process.

The worst I have tried is tech pan developer (but this is expected).

Rodinal looks like it is also a star player with rotary, however, my tests all involved the pre-requisite of 10cc of solution per 120 roll.

I think getting good results with the 120 rolls is more difficult than 35mm because the image area comes much closer to the edge of the reel. Because of this, I tend to think that if I can get good 120 processing, the other formats will also come out even.

Interested in reading other's results.

Brian Ellis
14-Apr-2007, 21:16
Paterson tanks.

Mick Fagan
14-Apr-2007, 21:47
The only times I have ever had uneven development of 4x5" film in a 2521 tank was whenever I loaded 6 sheets, instead of 4 on the reel.

Jobo states that these reels do hold 6 sheets but for critical processing of even backgrounds, it's recommmended that only four sheets be loaded onto the reel.

I tested this when I first started processing B&W, E6 and C41 sheet film and Kodak's sheet color print film, which is a C41 process but you end up with a transparency. This was in 1986, I don't believe anything has changed since.

I agreed with Jobo, you do get an uneven development, since then I have only ever developed 4 sheets at a time.

Regarding roll film, I use the 1500 series of tanks exclusively, never had an issue with 135 nor 120 with one roll per reel. I have had an issue with uneven development when I use the 1540 tank and load 4 rolls of 120 film, two rolls to each reel.

The issue was due (I believe) to running the minimum amount of solution, which is 470ml. By switching to 500ml of solution the uneven development went away and hasn't returned.

I've been using 500ml for all processing whenever I use the 1540 tank, regardless of the film combinations. Likewise whenever I use the 1520 tank for one or two rolls on one reel, I use 300ml instead of the minimum of 270ml.

I run a very early model CPE2 which has the two speeds and a lift.

Obviously with E6 and C41 processes I use those solutions as they are basically, but not exclusively, not negotiable. With B&W film whether it be Tmax 100/400, Ilford FP4 & FP5, Fuji NP100/400 & 1600 I use D76 mixed from scratch. Almost always at 1+1, sometimes 1+3, hardly ever, neat.



Marco Polo
17-Apr-2007, 16:57
I was frequently getting edge marks on my 120 roll film when I developed it in a Patterson tank using a staining developer. I read somewhere that inversion agitation can cause this. Now I shake the tank up and down like a cocktail shaker and the edge marks have disappeared. Remember that staining developers are more prone to uneven development.


jj golden
17-Apr-2007, 20:50
i shoot LF with a 6x9 film back, my development is pretty simple, my tank is a yankee, presoak for 1 min, rapping the bottom of tank, then d76 1:1 9 min invert tank 4 times for the first 10 sec, then wait 50 sec for the clock to go back around. invert 2 times in 5 sec, then when clock gets to the half min mark invert 2 times in 5 sec, do that until about 15 sec before time is up. stop bath 30 sec(continuous agitation) fix agitate for 30 sec per min up to 10 min. i have never had any problems with uneveness.

Per Madsen
18-Apr-2007, 00:32
I have a Patterson tank with space for 3 35 mm rolls or 2 120 rolls.

I presoak for 2 minutes and use D-76.

18-Apr-2007, 00:45
Hewes stainless reels and stainless tanks...works perfectly every single time.

For 4x5, I use tray development...also works perfectly every time...and no big expense!

Both always with a presoak...

jj golden
18-Apr-2007, 21:17
I have never used a stainless tank. ive only had the plastic ones. just curious, are the steel ones better? ive always used the stainless reels. as far as 4x5 goes ive always tray processed also, never had a problem with that either.

Ron Stowell
18-Apr-2007, 21:40
Use Yankee tanks for both 4x5 and 120. 2 minute presoak and then Rodinal at 1: 50 and 15 minutes of development time with agitation at 10, 5 and 1 minute and I get the negatives that I want.

brad martin
18-Apr-2007, 22:54

For roll film I also used the patterson tank. Never, had the trouble you describe. Even the first rolls I processed. Also used the tall tank for two rolls but with only one roll in it. And used a little more chemistry then called for. Mostly Tmax 100 with the Tmax developer.

William D. Lester
19-Apr-2007, 11:57
I use a Patterson tank as well. And recently, for the first time in 25 years of developing film, I have started to use the small rod and twirl it for agitation. Absolutley perfect results. I'm using PMK. I had always been scared off of this method because of comments about eneven film development. That just isn't the case.

19-Apr-2007, 12:45
Patterson as well, the 2 120 roll tank. Develop acros in rodinal 1:100 semi-stand. Use inversion. No problems at all, even the plastic reels are simple to load as long as they are dry.

Brian C. Miller
19-Apr-2007, 21:47
(actually, I thought this thread would be about processing LF roll film)

I have Patterson, stainless steel, and Jobo. I haven't done an eveness test, but I've only had problems when I've misloaded the reel. Yes, misloading can happen on anything.

When I developed Kodak TechPan in rolls, I would use the SS tank and use the martini shake. Otherwise I do the "rotate in air" movement (hold tank horizontal, do funky motion, tank goes through complete rotation). Patterson with swizzle is good, Jobo is good.

As for the Jobo 2551 tank, I did a test with 12 sheets and didn't notice any uneveness. But I did it on the roller base, not in the Jobo CPE2+. I rolled it in one direction for 30 seconds, and then reversed for the other direction. I used D76.

Kevin Crisp
20-Apr-2007, 10:09
The same stainless Nikor (aka Honeywell) tank I've used since 1970. Works just fine.

20-Apr-2007, 11:01
paterson tanks with T-Max Developer and Ilford Fix. No pre-soaketc ... slam it in make sure there is at least half again the recommended amount then agitate with upright by swirling. This creates a lasting motion in the tank allowing highlights to be a bit better. Also pour out and in is a bit neater all round.

Been like this for 8 years and never had evenness problems. Just make sure you agitate well when the chemistry goes in and dunt the tank to dislodge bubbles.

Then 10mins in the Fix, as required by T-max (silly kodak)

Larry Kalajainen
30-Apr-2007, 06:08
I use Omega stainless tank and reels.
I use a home-brew Xtol-like developer (Phenidone, Ascorbic acid, sodium metaborate) with Delta 400 and Acros. 7 and 9 minutes respectively at 70F. Two inversions every 30 seconds. No problems with uneven development.


30-Apr-2007, 07:06
back when I shot a lot of 120 in a 6x6 camera, I was macho and refused to use anything but steel tanks. Now I shoot only the occasional roll of 120, and I've begun to use the Patterson tank. I don't have to relearn how to load the reels due to months between shooting rolls.

I use the same Pyrocat 1:1:100 and extreme minimal agitation I use with my 8x10 film. I've never seen any sign of unevenness.

Stan. L-B
30-Apr-2007, 12:37
I have been using the Jobo Cpp2 system with lift and the tanks mentioned. I have not experienced any uneven development on film. I use Kodak TMax with T.MaxRS Dev. for 10X8 4x5 and TMax Roll Dev. on Ortho, Ilford 100. For Pan F Plus I use Rodinal 1:25or 50, or T.Max; dil. 1:2 Dev. I always pre soak for at least five minutes with the speed set to 'P'
With T.Max film I find it particuarly important to fix and wash well to get rid of the dye. I have enjoyed excellent results with my Jobo gear whatever the film type.