View Full Version : hi and a problem

5-Jul-2010, 00:20
hi there from Queensland Australia.i'm 34, female, and I have been developing my own 120 and 35mm b+w for a while. I have just bought my first 5x4 camera, though. its a graflex speed graphic and I love it. I have managed to worry out a few good negatives, but was curious to find out how people develop their 5x4's, and also how the best way to digitize the negatives? I dont really have a proper darkroom as I live in a tiny bedsit. i have been doing them one at a time in a patterson tank, and the results aren't too bad i think. wonder if there is something a whole lot better I could buy or even make to make the job a little easier, and to develop multiple negs?

I do have a cannon 8800f scanner, and this is great for 120's, or 35mm. 5x4's are too wide for the light strip tho, and this makes it hard. wonder how easy it is to make contact prints, or if there is another really easy way? i have 2 boxes of film, and cant wait to use it. maybe someone can help please?


Tim Meisburger
5-Jul-2010, 00:50
Hi Emma,

I think you can find a lot of help here. I use a Paterson Orbital to develop both film and paper, but I think you can use a regular Paterson tank to develop up to four sheets using what is called the "taco" method. Essentially, you fold the sheet over like a taco shell and put a rubber band around it (I think). Contacts can be made and developed in a closet or dark bathroom, and are easiest if you have a safe light.

Good luck! Tim

5-Jul-2010, 00:54
Unless you have a huge number of negatives to develop, by far the best (and esaiest) way to process them is in open 5x7 or 8x10 trays, (when I was a kid I used to use my mother's ice cube trays until she caught me). For many years I made contact prints in the bathroom, (which you can do without an enlarger or digital scanner), with excellent results.

5-Jul-2010, 01:15
thanks guys. i have a safe light. where can i find info on making contact prints? exposure times etc?? my bathroom is dark enough ive always thought. love to know more.

Ross Chambers
5-Jul-2010, 01:31
I've used trays for 4x5" and still do for 5x7". They need a little space though and security of blacking out the room. I moved to Combiplan tanks which to some extent help with the possibility of light leaks. Also the sheet over sheet method of agitation in tanks can lead to scratching, especially if you use gloves--I didn't for a while and copped a variety of dermatitis which disappeared after I started using the Combiplan and got my hands out of the developer.

In the case of 5x7" I process one sheet at a time, agitate at the required intervals by lifting each side of the 8x10 tray in sequence, then swirling the developer around (not as hazardous as it sounds) I wear one latex glove to handle the transfer of the sheet into the next bath.

Before I owned an enlarger (and they take up lots of room in a small flat) I contact printed with a simple suspended house hold light, with the film and paper under a sheet of heavy glass. Works OK for grade 2 suitable negs and proofs, but doesn't offer much control of contrast.

Starting small was fine for me, after a while I had decided to work in LF without having made hefty purchases.

Can't help with scanning matters.

Regards - Ross

Jay DeFehr
5-Jul-2010, 10:30
Hello Emma, and welcome!

I would suggest, for your particular circumstances, the Jobo 2509n reel and 2500 series tank, for developing 6 sheets of film. Mine requires 1.2 liters of solution to cover the reel in the tank for intermittent agitation. Since I generally use dilute solutions for intermittent agitation, I find this acceptable. Rotary agitation requires far less solution (and allows me to use my automated processor), and I use both methods without issues, though I do prefer the expert drums for rotary processing. There are two Jobo processors on Oz ebay right now, for chips.

For contact printing, the best solution will depend on your patience and handiness. One can use a bare bulb suspended above a glass plate and get excellent results, but it might try your patience. Graded papers are the best for this approach, and with appropriate developers, between-grades of contrast can be obtained. If you're very handy, you might decide to build a contact printer, with the light source in a box beneath the glass, negative on the glass, paper on the negative, box lid on the paper. They used to make these commercially, and we can still find them on the used market here, for reasonable prices. I don't think many people use them, because most people who print have a darkroom, but they really are convenient and efficient. The attached image is of a very high end, sophisticated contact printer used for printing aerial film. You can see the rubber air bladder on the lid that assures even pressure, and the dozens of toggle switches that switch multiple lights in the box for controlling exposure over regions of the print. To the left of the contact printer is a timer, and a paper safe. A very nice system! Most amateur contact printers are considerably less sophisticated, but still more sophisticated than the bare bulb/ plate glass technique. Good luck!

5-Jul-2010, 13:24
The simple solution is to bow the film, emulsion in, short end to short end, and snap an elastic band on. Pop four of those in a standard old tank. Make shure that the pointy sides all face the same direction around the tank. If you have two bowed ends touching they will stick together. The column must be in the tank or it will not be light tight. The elastic bands can mark the base side and it is not easy to clean off, but not usually a problem. I am going to try washing my bands in dishwash sometime, and if that fails then I have heard of people using tubes made of nylon mesh, the type sometimes used to bag vegetables. I move the bands a little after 3 minutes in the fixer and fix for a couple more minutes. Not perfect but practical. Try it.

Jay DeFehr
5-Jul-2010, 14:07
It's been a while since I devised the taco method, and I might not have passed along a simple innovation that addresses the problem you note above. If you make a little bracelet from mono-filament fishing line and plastic beads in place of the rubber band, enough solution will circulate to remove the backing dye during normal processing. The film itself provides enough tension to keep the bracelet in place during processing, and a little movement is actually beneficial. To use the fewest possible beads, secure each with a knot on either side, and space your beads. fewer, larger beads is more effective than more, smaller ones.

Lachlan 717
5-Jul-2010, 14:43
Hi, Emma.

I got a cheap film changing bag (circa AUD$20) and a Jobo processor (waited a bit, but got one for around AUD$300). One Jobo 2509n tank and one for 120 roll film (product number escapes me) and I can do anything I want in a corner of the bathroom.

As for the image, I do most on an Epson V700. Take the really good ones to a guy in Nth Melb (Image Science) (http://www.imagescience.com.au/pages/Premium-Film-Scanning.html).

Can't stand the idea of a wet darkroom...

Michael Wynd
5-Jul-2010, 18:50
Hi Emma, welcome to the forum.
I used to have a combiplan tank when I did 4x5 and gave it to a friend for his processing. Now that I use 8x10 I do tray processing. If you need to process a lot of film you might want to contact a Brissie photographer who lurks here and on APUG under the name of largeformatpat. He has just built himself a new darkroom and might be willing to help you out with your processing. It might cost you a couple of tinnies though.LOL.

6-Jul-2010, 06:32
thanks guys.

Last night i developed 8 shots (my day out in Brisbane, shooting hand held on a bright sunny winters day) 6 had images on, one was double exposed, 1 had the darkslide out when the focussing stop was open, and one got the spring back caught on my shirt when the darkslide was out.

of the 5 left, 1 was under exposed, and 4 had quite good, in focus, images. developing is slow, one at a time, but seems to be working. Ill go shopping on monday (my day off) for photo paper and dev and stuff, and see how i go i guess, with contact printing.

I then need a darkroom. eeek does it ever end?

Sal Santamaura
6-Jul-2010, 08:02
... I live in a tiny bedsit...As usual, lots of guys jump to assist a young woman :) so there's not much for me to add in response to your questions. However, I'm always interested in other languages, so here's a question for you. Is "bedsit" Oz-speak for what we in North America call a studio apartment?

Thanks in advance!

Patrick Dixon
6-Jul-2010, 08:06
Bedsit is English for a studio apartment. Aussies probably just say it with a funny accent.

Bedsit is more likely to be used in a student, rental type context, whereas an Estate Agent (called a Realtor in the US I think) would probably call it a Studio Apartment when marketing it (along with 'deceptively spacious' and other interesting phrases).

Tom Monego
6-Jul-2010, 08:15
Invest in a large changing bag and a light tight tank, unless you have a room to bock off for a darkroom. 2-3 layers of black plastic, kind you get at a hardware store will light tight a window. Two old types of light tight tanks are Yankee (not sure if sold outside the US, difficult to agitate well) and Nikor (rare and expensive) these along with the already mentioned HP Combiplan and Jobo tanks. I have an old Nikor tank, like all of these tanks there is a learning curve, but I have never had the patience to be in the dark all night when I had a bunch of negs, and I always scratched the negs when trying to develop 3 or 4 at a time in a tray.
If you have the large changing bag you can load your tank in a fully lit room, bigger the better for changing bags.
Scanning, an Epson V700 will do 35-8x10, I get decent 4x5 scans from a V700, good for 16x20 prints. If you want to go larger then look into drum scanning alternatives. Warning here once you get into drum scanning, no other scanning may satisfy you.


Robert Hughes
6-Jul-2010, 08:56
I process film in my bathroom sink. When working with 4x5, I process four at a time in 8x10 trays. Sometimes though, we have to get creative; here is my setup for processing 8x10 x-ray film sheets (which have a soft, 2 sided emulsion that is prone to scratching). I use two, 1 gallon zip-lock bags; 1 for developer, one for fixer, and process 1 sheet at a time, sloshing the sheet inside the chemical bath filled baggie, all floating within the water bath (which, you'll notice, is a kitty litter tray). It's the best cheap solution I've found for this film, and best of all it's almost free!

7-Jul-2010, 04:39
yup thats bedsit in a nutshell :) there is room for me, about 25 film cameras, my computer, a kitchen, and my bed. its NOT deceptively spacious. lol.

ive learnt a lot from this forum, already. I have a room i might be able to set up, and i think thats the best at the moment. my bathroom is about 4' x 8' with a shower and other amenities in it as well. maybe if i got a sheet of mdf i could make up a shelf for over the toilet that folds down, as the sink isnt big enough to even wash in hardly..
id like room for an enlarger if i was going to the trouble.

carrying it in and out sounds a bit of a chore though..

still thinking about this, someone must have done it though.

thanks for all the help guys.


Jay DeFehr
9-Jul-2010, 12:33
I process film in my bathroom sink. When working with 4x5, I process four at a time in 8x10 trays. Sometimes though, we have to get creative; here is my setup for processing 8x10 x-ray film sheets (which have a soft, 2 sided emulsion that is prone to scratching). I use two, 1 gallon zip-lock bags; 1 for developer, one for fixer, and process 1 sheet at a time, sloshing the sheet inside the chemical bath filled baggie, all floating within the water bath (which, you'll notice, is a kitty litter tray). It's the best cheap solution I've found for this film, and best of all it's almost free!

I use a similar system for stand developing 8x10 sheet film, but I use black, light-proof bags for daylight processing.

Brian C. Miller
15-Jul-2010, 13:38
Well, Miss Emma, you're going to wind up with all of us showing shots of our bathrooms! I think I might have the rest of you beat for a small bathroom. My apartment is sort of attic space, and the ceiling is the roof, so it's sloped and small. I built a cart for my Omega enlarger, and I wheel it between my bathroom and kitchen. I put a plank over the tub for my Jobo, so it's a convenient "wet area." My bathroom sink's area is large enough for three 8x10 trays and a wash tray.

18-Jul-2010, 08:20
If you're using a graflex, with graphmatic holders especially, you may end up shooting quite a lot of film for LF, so a tank which can do 6 or 12 sheets at a time might be a good idea, also with a unicolor (or similar) roller. I use this kind of setup and find it very useful.

John Koehrer
18-Jul-2010, 13:44
When you do your contact prints with an overhead light there are a couple of things to consider.
You do not need much light. 15-25 Watts is probably going to be overkill with enlarging paper.
If you use contact printing paper($$$), not so much It is far less sensitive and more expensive.
The Jobo 2509 tank & reel is a very good system for you as are the Grafmatics if you can find them. Six sheets of film in one holder.

Brian C. Miller
20-Jul-2010, 21:55
id like room for an enlarger if i was going to the trouble.

Omega D3, on a cart.

I built the cart out of 2x4s (something equivalent should be available down there) and four large caster wheels. I bolted it together with lag bolts. It rolls very well, was cheap, and is exceptionally sturdy.

Tub to the left with plywood on it for the Jobo, and shower on the right to hang prints.

Hmmm, where to bathe?...

21-Jul-2010, 03:33
thanks guys, i'll see how i go setting things up. pictures much appreciated.

Ralph Miyashiro
21-Jul-2010, 09:03
contact printing should be doable in your bathroom. A light bulb and a printing frame ( I use an old proof printer, Patterson I think, designed for proof sheets of 35mm). A piece of wood over the tub for your trays (or a little table in the shower stall), a safe light. For paper I use Fomalux 312 from Freestyle. Silver chloride, contact speed, very slow, very affordable. It's resin coated (many people hate RC) but it's easy to use, washes in a flash. I agree with John Koehrer, enlarging paper is way too fast with the light bulb method. Have fun.

Brian Stein
22-Jul-2010, 04:51
My solution to the no darkroom issue was

1. development: film changing bag (actually use a tent now) and patterson orbital, but also use tanks as described.
2. printing: went to alt. process contact printing. i use cyanotypes and tone them for permanence. Very straight forward. Many excellent resources on the net: eg unblinkingeye.com or pm me