View Full Version : no pre-soak for Ilford films?

16-Feb-2009, 20:31
Just browsed all Ilford film data-sheets and they all says: "A pre-rinse is not recommended as it can lead to uneven processing." :confused:

David Karp
16-Feb-2009, 20:51
I always used a presoak with Ilford films before going to 2 bath developers, and never had a problem. This was with ID-11/D76, XTol, Ilfosol-S, PMK, etc.

16-Feb-2009, 20:53
I pre soak it just like everything else.

Gem Singer
16-Feb-2009, 21:02
According to the Ilford tech I spoke to a few years ago, there is a wetting agent incorporated in their films. Pre-soaking will remove the wetting agent and possibly lead to uneven development.

I have found no difference in the results if I pre-soak, or not, with HP-5+ and FP-4+. I use those films in 120 rolls and 4X5,5X7, and 8X10 sheets.

However, when developing film in trays, it does help to pre-soak to prevent the sheets from sticking together.

Jeff Graves
16-Feb-2009, 21:34
I do a 5 min presoak in jobo expert drums changing the water once. This removes the purple anti-halation layer. I've found without it there is more of a chance of uneven development.

Jim Fitzgerald
16-Feb-2009, 22:39
I just did some 11x14 FP4+ and presoaked it for 5 minutes before developing it in Pyrocat-HD. The negs are great.


Glenn Thoreson
16-Feb-2009, 22:39
I do it the easy way. I pre soak everything. No problems.

Jim Graves
16-Feb-2009, 23:31
I presoak FP-4 and HP-5 in 120 (Jobo 1520), 4x5, 5x7, Whole Plate, and 8x10 sizes (Jobo 3005) ... 2 minutes, then one change and 2 minutes more ... no uneven development.

If I don't, I occasionally have some anti-halation left on the negatives. I think it also makes sure the tank and film are at or close to 68 degrees before I introduce the developer.

I use HC-110, Perceptol, PMK, or Pyrocat, water stop, fix, 6 changes of water over 15 minutes of wash, and Photoflo final rinse.

16-Feb-2009, 23:35
I use rotary processing and pre-wash for about 10 to 20 seconds before developing. Never have any problems.

clay harmon
17-Feb-2009, 05:01
I used to presoak all the time and about two years ago tried developing without the presoak. No difference other than very slightly faster development times. So I decided to save time and skip this step because it apparently is not necessary.

17-Feb-2009, 05:36
Just browsed all Ilford film data-sheets and they all says: "A pre-rinse is not recommended as it can lead to uneven processing." :confused:

If that is so. How does one get 8 sheets of 8 x 10 film into the developer at the same time when using trays?

Paul Bujak
17-Feb-2009, 06:57
I just developed some FP4+ in 8x10, 4x5 and 120 in my Jobo. All got 5 minutes pre-soak. All the images look like they did on the GG, negatively speaking. ;)

All the washing was one-shot. Do you think split pre-soak gives better results?


Brian Ellis
17-Feb-2009, 08:02
I never presoak any film including Ilford. It's unecessary IMHO with modern films.

neil poulsen
17-Feb-2009, 09:20
Just browsed all Ilford film data-sheets and they all says: "A pre-rinse is not recommended as it can lead to uneven processing." :confused:

This sounds counter-intuitive, but this is what I was told by an Ilford tech long ago.

Maybe the wetting agent is more soluble in developer than in water??? So, an incomplete presoak might remove only portions of the agent that could lead to more aggressive development in those areas of more complete removal. (Complete speculation. Dunno, really.)

Drew Wiley
17-Feb-2009, 09:55
I always prewet Ilford films, just like all others, whether we are talking about sheet film
or roll films. It seems that a failure to do so would be more likely to produce uneven
development, and would certainly raise the risk of the film sticking together in a tray
and potentially ruining it.

Jim Graves
17-Feb-2009, 10:18
Do you think split pre-soak gives better results?


Only reason I do a split pre-soak is to double the volume of 68 (or 65) degree water available to temper the film and tube temperature before adding the developer. Living in the Central Valley of California where the temperature in our house is often in the mid-80's in the summer ... it seems reasonable.

Don't know that it makes any difference but that's the way I learned and I think it helps remove one variable from the developing equation.

Gene McCluney
17-Feb-2009, 17:22
If you are developing in trays, you "have" to pre-soak in water, otherwise the sheets will stick together. I have no indication that this is detrimental to Ilford films.

Merg Ross
17-Feb-2009, 17:39
I have always used a pre-soak for sheet films, and tray develop. Perhaps this is not necessary with the Ilford films, but old habits are hard to break. My pre-soak has the addition of a weak balanced alkali (Kodalk) solution which helps prevent films from sticking. For time and temperature development, I like to get all of the sheets into the developer at the same moment and develop no more than 15 sheets (4x5) at a time.

Kevin Crisp
17-Feb-2009, 17:44
I do it the easy way. I don't presoak anything. And it is never a problem.

17-Feb-2009, 18:01
I presoak ilford film 2 minutes just like everything else. The only film I ever had a problem with was Agfa.

17-Feb-2009, 19:21
As of a few years ago, it seemed to be common knowledge that FP4 in PMK would be prone to airbells if not presoaked; I found this out the hard way and thought that it was due to my rather hard well water. It doesn't seem to be necessary with other films that I have used (Plux-X, Tri-X) but doesn't help anything much, either. The problem seems to be unique to PMK, because FP4 in HC-110 in the same well water is fine without a presoak. I always put a trace of Photo-Flo in the presoak water haven't seen an airbell in years.

Oren Grad
17-Feb-2009, 19:56
I develop roll film on spiral reels and sheet film in Jobo Expert drums. I never presoak Kodak or Ilford films, and I've never had a problem.

So I would say, save the time and the water and don't presoak - unless you have a problem with evenness, in which case presoaking is something you can try. If it solves a problem for you, feel free to do it. If not, feel free not to do it.

Either way, don't sweat it.

Jim Graves
17-Feb-2009, 20:32
I like Oren's approach ... even tho I pre-soak ... as you can tell from the responses, it doesn't seem to matter ... maybe I better go back and try it again with no pre-soak.

Merg Ross
17-Feb-2009, 21:39
I like Oren's approach ... even tho I pre-soak ... as you can tell from the responses, it doesn't seem to matter ... maybe I better go back and try it again with no pre-soak.

What may matter, is the difference between tray development and the alternatives mentioned, such as tubes and drums. For tray development by inspection, perhaps a pre-soak is not needed. However, if the process involves tray development of a dozen sheets, by time and temperature, a pre-soak seems prudent. Also, much depends on the subject matter being photographed. My check on a good development procedure includes a close look at the rendering of the skies in a negative, assuming a landscape is the subject.

I agree with Oren's last comment!

al olson
18-Feb-2009, 07:19
I have been developing Ilford films, both MF and LF, in my JOBO rotary processor. I recently started using a presoak wash before the developer step.

I am finding that the films are overdeveloped along the edges that fit into the reels. I am assuming that the reel spirals cause additional turbulence along those edges, leading to more intense development.

I don't recall having this problem before I started presoaking, so perhaps the turbulence combined with the Ilford wetting agent is contributing to this problem. Tray development, I would think, should not cause this difficulty.

18-Feb-2009, 08:45
A pre-soak is totally unnecessary regardless of the method of development, it has little or no effects on evenness of development. I've never met anyone who uses one except for colour work.


19-Feb-2009, 14:15
A pre-soak is totally unnecessary regardless of the method of development

Perhaps not, but they it would be quite a coincidence that the airbells went away when the presoak was introduced, and others on Photonet pointed out that this was well known for the FP4/PMK combination.

Evenness is not necessarily the only reason to presoak...

19-Feb-2009, 14:32
On another forum I've posted photo's of air bells, they have nothing to do with a pre-soak, but eliminating them has everything to do with a small amount of wetting agent in the developer, small is the word that need emphasising.

If you get airbells it's poor technique pure & simple.


Chris C
19-Feb-2009, 17:28
I've found that when I don't pre-soak it's virtually impossible to get all of the the purple anti-halation layer off after I've finished processing. I'm sure I'm doing something wrong, but when I pre-soak that usually gets rid of it and I have great looking, clear negs after.

19-Feb-2009, 19:10
And I tried putting wetting agent into the developer, with no success (a lot of foam, though).

So perhaps there is something unique to the combination of FP4, PMK, and my well water--it is rather hard, with a high salt content. Sometime I should try using DI water with the Photo-Flo in the developer instead of a presoak, and see how that works.

Andrew O'Neill
19-Feb-2009, 20:09
I presoak FP4 and HP5 for 2 minutes with no problems. BTZS tubes.

20-Feb-2009, 03:57
I tried 120 with and without pre-soak. I couldn't see any difference so have stopped as I like things as simple as possible!