View Full Version : How about a Beseler Drum with Motor base for Developing?

Douglas P. Theall
19-Jan-2001, 18:19
I am just about to shoot my first 4x5 sheet of film and was planning or using my print drum which holds 4 4x5's to develop them. It also only uses 4 ounces of chemisry. Will this work ok? I am not sure about development times but was goi ng to use the same times I use for 6x7 roll film development. I also have a yan kee and a nikon tank I could use. Your input would be appreciated. Thanks for your help in advance. Doug Theall

Doug Paramore
19-Jan-2001, 18:27
Doug: The Beselar motor base and drum works fine. Use the seperators to keep the film from overlapping, or do two sheets at a time. If you don't have the seperators, you can make some from rubber erasers (that tip was from another photographer on this forum). Cut back on the developing time 15-20% due to the constant agitation. I just began using the motor base and drum for roll film last year, and it is the best method I have found. Nice even development and no scratches. Good luck with it. Wait until you see those 4x5 negs!


Charlie Stracl
19-Jan-2001, 18:46
Definitely cut back development time because of constant agitation.

Rotary agitation can be a problem for some B&W films, giving uneven development, so don't do this with priceless shots until you've tested it. Since you have sheets, if you find a subject you like, take a 2nd set of shots, but don't develop the second set till you've run the 1st ones through to see if all is OK and the development time is good.

Erik Ryberg
19-Jan-2001, 19:45
I find that giving my films a 3 or 4 minute water pre soak in the drum helps with even development, prevents problems from wayward water drops spilling out of the lid and spoiling the negative (by slowing development where the water runs down the neg) and lets me use the published times. Supposedly pre soaks need to be at least 3 or 4 minutes long for some reason I can't remember - the emulsion needs that amount of time to soak thoroughly or something.

Dave Perry
19-Jan-2001, 20:55
I also have found that if you take the published development times and subtract them by 15 % it works OK in a print drum. The old unicolour type seems to have just the right spacing with the proper inserts to let you do 4 sheets at a time. 4 X 5 sheets touching is a concern and if you want to put more than 2,one on each side of the drum you have to come up with a way to keep them apart.I'd like to know more about using erasers as spacers or is there another solution.

Winston Chang
19-Jan-2001, 21:15
I have a Beseler drum. My only problem with it is that, because the inside of the drum is smooth, the fixer sometimes has trouble getting to the backside of the film. With TMAX films, this occasionally leads to bluish blotches remaining on the film -- which can be removed by putting the film in back in fixer.

The bluish cast disappears right away when the film goes back into the fixer, but unless you leave the film in fixer for several minutes, the blue comes back when the film is washed for a minute or so.

I haven't bought a different drum yet, but if I were you, I'd save myself the trouble and but a drum with ridges -- someone said Unicolor makes one.

Kevin M Bourque
19-Jan-2001, 21:17
I second the notion of doing some tests. I recommend loading a few sheets, aim the camera at an evenly lit blank wall (focus at infinity so you can't possibly get any detail) and expose the film at the appropriate f-stop and shutter speed. You might even over expose one or two of them to be sure you get some density in the neg. Then develop the film in the drum. You would expect a smooth, featureless negative, so any streaking should be obvious.

As for cutting back on development, one of the guys at Jobo told me that at five minute presoak should allow you to use normal development times. Have fun!

James Phillips
20-Jan-2001, 12:53
Hi Doug,

I am presently using the Unicolor drum system with very good results. Dave asked about the eraser trick. What I have done is go to Wal-Mart and buy a plastic clothes hanger that has 4 plastic clips attached for hanging socks ect. These clips come off and I have used them very successfully to keep the sheets seperate. I had to trim the sides down so that two sheets will fit in on each side. This was very easy to do with a small hacksaw and a bit of sandpaper. The advantage here is twofold. The plastic clips do NOT absorb any liquid and they are very easy to put one in place in the complete dark. I have also discovered that a pre-bath is a must to prevent uneven development.

Dave Perry...if you would like one then send me an email and I'll send you one.

Best of Luck.

John Hicks
20-Jan-2001, 15:06
Unicolor print drums work very well; they have ribs that let solutions get aroun d to the backside of the film and remove dyes etc so it isn't necessary to remov e the film from the drum to fix it.

Although a drum may require a minimal amount of solution to cover the film (2o z in the Unicolor) that requires the drum to be perfectly level and it most like ly exceeds the capacity of many developers. I use 8-10oz per 80 sq in, whether f our 4x5 sheets or one 8x10 sheet.

The main reason Jobo recommends a long presoak is the idea that predetermined intermittent-agitation times can be used without compensating for the constant a gitation. In an article in Photo Techniques a couple of years ago Phil Davis pro ved that this assumption can be untrue; he found a variety of higher and lower C Is and EIs with no consistency at all.

If you're concerned about airbells, a quick prerinse for a minute or so will e liminate them and will have pretty much no effect on development characteristics .

I've found that usually a 10 percent reduction in development time is about ri ght when going from intermittent agitation to continuous agitation, while TMX ap pears to like 5 percent.

As for evenness, it's influenced by the film being developed, drum design and the developer used.

Fred Newman passed along this tidbit from the Mammoth Camera Workshop; he said they had lots of trouble with evenness of development with the huge sheets used , and that they found that the only developer that gave good evenness was D-76 1 :3. Also, developers that contain glycin are said to resist unevenness and strea king.

Film-positioning guides of any sort can cause unevenness. Although it may appe ar that contiuous rotary agitation must eliminate agitation-induced unevenness, what actually happens is that a thin layer of developer is sort of bound to the surface of the emulsion; agitation replenishes the top of this layer with fresh developer and sweeps away byproducts, while that fresh developer _diffuses_ into the emulsion. Anything that disturbs the developer/emulsion interface layer can cause more or less local development; film guides can cause what amounts to a s tanding wave that disturbs the layer and cause a line or streak of higher or low er density.

The sensitivity of the film being developed to development anomalies can provi de fine negs or unusable negs; I've found Delta 100 and HP5+ to have very little if any sensitivity to standing waves or flow patterns while TMX is _very_ sensi tive to them.

14-Jun-2007, 23:35
Apologies for resurrecting an old thread but I wanted to document my experience in case anyone else finds it useful in the future.

I'm new to black and white film development. During the past week, I've probably tried to develop about 15 sheets of 4x5 film using a Unicolor print drum on a Beseler motor base.

I could never get the sheets I placed on one side of the drum to stay in place throughout the agitation. I'd open the drum after the fixing stage and the sheet(s) that started on the right half of the drum (looking into the circular opening of the drum from above) would end up stuck on the sheet(s) on the left half of the drum. I varied the volume of chemicals, tried 2 sheets at a time, 4 sheets at a time, and all with the same result.

Today, I switched from a Beseler base to a Unicolor base and had no such problems. I think it has to do with the Unicolor drum rotating at a slower speed, but I am not sure.

Jim Noel
16-Jun-2007, 07:54
You don't need another comment about using the drum. I used one successively for many years.
I am concerned about the chemistry quantity. The 4 oz of developer is sufficient for most developers if you are doing 2 sheets. If you put in a separator and process 4 sheets at a time, you need to increase that to 8 oz to guarantee full and even development.
If you use very dilute developers, for instance HC 110 at any dilution less than "B" you may not be able to use a sufficient quantity for more than 2 sheets. The calculation has to be based on the amount of actual developer present, regardless of the amount of solvent (water).