View Full Version : Photo therm

4-Nov-2007, 20:26
Anyone using the Photo therm sidekick? any comments would be welcomed?
thanks, rod

5-Nov-2007, 04:56
I have a friend who uses one. After a little work to get his developing times down, it works very well. He's adapted a holder to take his 5x7s and says the folks at the manufacturer even made a test holder to develop 8x10, although that has never been made commercially available. We've used it for sheet film only, so far - one sheet at a time. I would think the best advantage would be to roll film users who can develop multiple rolls at a time.

Jeremy Moore
5-Nov-2007, 08:05
I've got one and it's great though mine needs an overhaul by PhotoTherm so I've gone back to hand rolling a Jobo tube.

5-Nov-2007, 12:32
I have one that I used a couple of years ago when I lived in a small apartment and did not have the room or the plumbing for a Jobo. Now that I have a darkroom I have gone back to the Autolab and the Photherm is in storage under cover.

Phototherm pros:
MUCH better support then Jobo. When I call, they know who I am, and the current configuration of my machine (including firmware).
Smaller: can sit on a small table and pump to/from bottles under the table (including fresh and waste water).
Construction: Except for the case, much of the Phototherm is metal, Jobo is nearly all plastic.
Speed: Phototherm heats water and chemistry as it uses it. No warm up time.
On-machine drying.
Doesn't need plumbing. Pumps everything to/from bottles (5 gal. for fresh and waste water)

Photo-therm cons:
Volume. As I recall, I could only run four 4x5s per batch.
Flexibility: Jobo has more tank types.
Film size: Can't do 8x10 on Phototherm.
Doesn't do paper (but, who cares?)

Everything else: noise, consistency, process control, etc., is about a wash.

Overall I liked it a lot. If it would do 8x10, I'd probably still be using it. Actually, the next time the Autolab breaks, I probably will be, since Jobo service and parts has become little more than a joke.

Phil Hudson
5-Nov-2007, 13:05
Another vote for the Phototherm if automatic film processing is a must.

The B+W processing times can appear to be rather short at first because of the 75F process temperature and continuous agitation (many are in the 4-5 minute range) but I have never had uneven development as a result.

I have found well diluted TMax RS a good bet, but I have also had good results with D-76. Regular TMax developer left some nasty residue on the negatives (Kodak do mention this, but it doesn't appear to affect all users). Switching to TMax RS did the trick.


Gene McCluney
5-Nov-2007, 13:07
There are a number of Photo-therms in operation in my area. The local camera store/one hour lab keeps one for developing the b/w film people bring in. A local wedding/portrait photographer has one he uses for what film he shoots now-a-days.
I would like to have one, but I would be very frustrated only being able to process 4, 4x5 sheets at once. I often process 30 sheets at once in my 3.5 gallon Cescolite tanks.

Phil Hudson
5-Nov-2007, 13:38
The largest Phototherm tank can process 8 sheets of 4x5 (2 holders each of 4 sheets) but I admit it is still on a small scale.

One of the nicest things about the Phototherm is the way it automatically flushes itself internally after each run, meaning that you can run both E6 and B+W in a short space of time with no cross contamination, say after a day's mixed shooting.

Also, only the chemicals are heated to the correct processing temperature (there is no water jacket) so start up times are pretty much instant.

I'm not sure how it compares to other processors but I have a suspicion that the Phototherm is a little heavier on chemicals than others - 900ml is good for a large tank full of film (8x35mm or 5x120 or 8 sheets of 4x5).

I only use it for B+W at present and can I justify it for the convenience. However for E6 processing I guess you would have to reuse the solutions to make it viable (some and maybe all Phototherm models have the facility to reuse the chemicals without spitting it all into the dump water bottle, but you may want to look into this if you are considering E6).