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mentalcrisis00
27-Nov-2010, 20:53
Try not to laugh too hard, I've been away from 4x5 film for about 4 years so I'm a bit rusty. I just developed 14 sheets of 4x5 Kodak Tmax 400 iso film and I'd say about 10 of them came out with density fluctuations on the edges. Either the edges come out really white or the middle is dark and muddy. I have a few examples of this below. I'm wondering what could be the problem?

I'm using tank and hanger development which I have read can give uneven results but this is kind of ridiculous. A quick run threw of what I do is I put in 4 hangers at a time and make sure they're spaced so the film doesn't touch. I do 2 minute prewash, 9.5 minutes in diluted D76, 1 minute stop, 5 - 6 minute fix, 2 minute water wash, 2 minute fixer remover, and then 2 minutes in Photoflo.

UPDATE: AH HA! " Insufficient agitation in too small trays can cause the edge portion of the negative to develop more than the center, resulting in higher edge densities" - Ansel Adams. Too bad I didn't get the chance to read any of "The Negative" before I developed these. Still if anyone else has advice I'd love to hear it so I can avoid this type of thing in the future.

Also how should I be agitating? They never really taught me that in school. I've been just putting the hangers in the tank and lifting them up and down so the film stays under the solution at all times. However I looked at several how-to explanations that say to take the film hangers completely out of the solution and then back in slowly. I wasn't keeping a very accurate agitation cycle of 5 seconds every minute either, thats probably where I dropped the ball.

47724

47721

Kirk Fry
27-Nov-2010, 22:30
Did you also read the part how Adams also just used trays? No hangers!

mentalcrisis00
27-Nov-2010, 22:34
ya I did, the only reason I use hangers is because they keep me orderly. I have the feeling if I did tray development with no hangers I'd be fumbling around for the film in the dark and scratching them in the process. I've never tried tray though so it might be worth a shot, it can't get any worse than the results above.

Brian C. Miller
27-Nov-2010, 22:52
There's a number of ways to develop sheet film, of course. I tried the hangers, but I have a tendency to scratch the film. So then I tried trays. Photographer's formulary has a negative holder for trays (link (http://stores.photoformulary.com/-strse-241/SHEET-FILM-DEVELOPING-TRAY/Detail.bok)), but I decided to make my own (forum link (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=64766)) I also use Jobo tanks.

Merg Ross
27-Nov-2010, 23:38
Ansel was suggesting that selection of tray size is important in the process. Too small a tray will lead to uneven development.

Do yourself a favor, throw away the hangers and tank, and learn to do tray development. It is the best method once you master the technique, and will give you evenly developed negatives. I do a dozen 4x5 negatives at a time in 8x10 trays, have done so for years, and never had scratched negatives or uneven development.

mentalcrisis00
28-Nov-2010, 06:50
Ross I'm wondering how you do multiple negs in tray development? Do you place them in the tray one by one or stack them in there? I figured it would be bad for the negs to be touching each other while in the chemistry? Many of the tutorials on tray development I see suggest doing one sheet at a time, which is probably good for beginners I suppose. I'd love to do tray development as long as I could get a handle on the process.

imagedowser
28-Nov-2010, 07:02
Tray's the way.

Ken Lee
28-Nov-2010, 07:18
You might find this article helpful: Plastic Containers for Sheet Film Development (http://www.kennethleegallery.com/html/tech/devtray.php)

BetterSense
28-Nov-2010, 08:38
I use tanks and hangars. Agitation is a subtle art and getting even negatives depends a good deal on getting the agitation right. I never got on with trays because of scratching, especially with soft-emulsion films.

ic-racer
28-Nov-2010, 10:16
"Diluted D-76" ?

Possibly developer exhaustion. Try using more developer and less water.

Tony Lakin
28-Nov-2010, 10:31
I now favour hangers in large tanks with nitrogen burst agitation for all my sheet film, absolute consistency, no eneven development, perfect temperature control and minimum handling.

Gem Singer
28-Nov-2010, 11:54
Agitating the film in SS hangers straight up and down rapidly during the first minute of development can cause the type of results shown in the pictures.

Slow down the agitation. Lift and tilt the hangers forward and backward alternatively, and development will be much more even.

mentalcrisis00
28-Nov-2010, 15:45
Well I generally just go by what the bottle and the Film box tells me. The D76 Film developer says Dilute 1:9 and the Tmax box tells me to develop that mixture for 9.5 minutes. It might be that the particular bottle I used for this development is old. Thanks for the agitation tip Gem, I've probably been moving too fast.

I'm going to try out tray developing next time, with trays you do constant agitation with emulsion facing up correct?

ic-racer
28-Nov-2010, 16:19
The D76 Film developer says Dilute 1:9 and the Tmax box tells me to develop that mixture for 9.5 minutes.

Ok, but try the info on the Kodak PDF that suggests no dilution for sheet film and agitation at 1 min intervals in a large tank at 10 min 20C.

http://www.digitaltruth.com/products/kodak_tech/j78.pdf

mentalcrisis00
28-Nov-2010, 16:30
Huh wow I guess I was just all wrong than, should I be diluting the stop and fixer? Why would you dilute D76 for 35mm/120 film but not for sheet film?

Massive Dev chart says D76 1:1 for 9.5 minutes and straight D76 for 6.75 minutes at 20C for Tmax 400. I'm assuming they mean tray development because that Kodak PDF says straight D76 should have 7 min development at 20C. So for tray I should be looking at 7 minutes and tanks 10 minutes with no dilution. Ok this is clear now, chemical mixing and timing has always been my greatest failing I'm afraid.

http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php?Film=TMax+400&Developer=D-76&mdc=Search

Merg Ross
28-Nov-2010, 16:39
I'm going to try out tray developing next time, with trays you do constant agitation with emulsion facing up correct?

No! First, you will need a presoak tray. Do not believe all that you may hear or read, a water presoak is an important step in achieving uniform development. After the presoak, one at a time, move the film into the developer tray, face down. For 4x5 use an 8x10 tray with at least 64oz. of developer. Shuffle through the stack of film, pulling from the bottom of the stack and placing that sheet on top. Continue this process for the duration of development. Then, into a water bath, and then into the fixer, one sheet at a time.

mentalcrisis00
28-Nov-2010, 16:46
Then, into a water bath, and then into the fixer, one sheet at a time.

So you don't use stop?

Ross I am seeing what you're talking about in Ansel's book. Now that I'm getting the chance to read the part about tray development, which he also recommended. Actually your explanation is almost exactly as Ansel describes it. I had always thought you agitated film in trays like you do with paper. Like I said I'm pretty much a novice at large format so some of my question might seem really obvious but this a learning experience for me. And I've looked at dozens of explanations for developing sheet film in trays and everyone seems to have a different way of doing it. The shuffling approach seems to be the most widely accepted however. Thanks for the great suggestions this is really helping me figure things out.

Merg Ross
28-Nov-2010, 16:59
So no stop bath?

I prefer water, some use acid. There can be a problem with an acid stop causing pinholes, hence my preference.

Ari
28-Nov-2010, 17:03
From what I can remember, you dip the film/hangers in the developer straight down, pull out, dip them again at 45 degree angle on one side, pull out, and dip again at 45 degrees on the other side.
But I would tend to agree with ic, you might be using exhausted developer.
FWIW, I switched to JOBO tanks, and haven't once had problems...with the tanks, that is.

mentalcrisis00
28-Nov-2010, 17:13
Ari that is correct that's the way that Ansel describes tank/hanger development. I see now that I was doing it VERY incorrectly now that I actually have taken the time to read the explanations. When I did it I didn't take the film out of the solution in the tanks. Essentially I was leaving the film in the developer without agitating it. Rookie mistake.

Chuck P.
28-Nov-2010, 17:25
I'm using tank and hanger development which I have read can give uneven results but this is kind of ridiculous.


I had these problems of uneven development with tank and hangers. When I changed to the Combi-Plan tank, the problems went away.

Merg Ross
28-Nov-2010, 17:40
I had these problems of uneven development with tank and hangers. When I changed to the Combi-Plan tank, the problems went away.

The Combi-Plan tank works well.

There was a time when I developed thousands of sheets of 4x5 film in tanks with the 18 hanger racks. The results were okay for commercial work, but I never liked the way the skies looked. For my personal work I reverted to tray development, the way I was taught. I concluded that the hangers must have been designed for nitrogen burst, not manual processing.

theBDT
28-Nov-2010, 18:42
Another vote for Combi-Plan. However, there is a catch: the liquid drains out of the bottom, and the way it is filled the liquid settles at the bottom first. On top of this fact, filling and draining take about 30 seconds each. This means that, as you fill, the very bottom of your negative gets about 30 seconds more dev time than the very top. What's worse, as you drain the top empties first (like a keg). So, as you drain, the top once AGAIN gets 30 seconds less time in the soup than the bottom.

The solution is to flip the tank over to drain it: now the TOP gets the extra 30 seconds, compensating for the 30 seconds extra the bottom got during the filling. This only really matters for development; for stop baths and fixing what matters is that the whole of the film spends the minimum time in the liquid; a little extra time at the top or bottom doesn't matter much at all.

mentalcrisis00
28-Nov-2010, 18:56
Though a daylight tank is tempting the cheapest one I could find is $75 from adorama. I'll try tray, as long as I can master it I should be ok. I want to do more black and white cause color costs about $2.20 per sheet and then processing is $3 per sheet, so it's sort of steep. If I could find a better rate for processing it might take a bit of the sting off. That processing rate is from the Hunts near me, they send it to someone else though.

I also have all the trays I need on hand so I might as well give it a try that way before I buy a tank system. I'm not to worried about mass production either seeing as the 4x5 is for my personal work. I use my DSLR for weddings and commercial stuff to cut down post processing times.

BetterSense
28-Nov-2010, 20:47
Samy's develops color 4x5 for about 1.50 per sheet. I think that's very reasonable.

Chuck P.
28-Nov-2010, 22:24
Another vote for Combi-Plan. However, there is a catch: the liquid drains out of the bottom, and the way it is filled the liquid settles at the bottom first. On top of this fact, filling and draining take about 30 seconds each. This means that, as you fill, the very bottom of your negative gets about 30 seconds more dev time than the very top. What's worse, as you drain the top empties first (like a keg). So, as you drain, the top once AGAIN gets 30 seconds less time in the soup than the bottom.

To avoid the long drain/fill times, I use three tanks, but I don't use them in the "dip-n-dunk" method. The following method does away with the long fill and drain time; all three tanks are in a plastic tub water bath.

I turn out the lights and load film into the "stop bath" tank for the prewash, turn lights back on, then give a one minute prewash with constant agitation, then drain the "S" tank. When ready to start developing, turn out the lights, remove the "S" lid, put film in the "developer" tank with dev at correct temp, lift film holder up and down for about 20sec, my dev time starts at the end of the 20 sec, put the "D" lid on the "D" tank gently, develop and agitate by inversion method with lights on. Within the first couple of minutes of development, I put stop bath in the "S" tank and place in the water bath.

One minute before end of development time, turn lights out, gently remove lid at the proper time, quickly transfer the film from the "D" tank to the "S" tank at the end of development time for a 30 sec continuous agitation bath, lights are still out.

Finally, transfer film holder to the "Fixer" tank, put the "F" lid on the tank, turn on lights, fix normally, finish processing in the emptied "S" tank for all other steps.

It may seem convoluted but the work flow is very smooth without any concern for the long fill and drain times.

Check ebay for combi-plan tanks to accumulate three or four of them.

mikew
28-Nov-2010, 22:29
Try not to laugh too hard, I've been away from 4x5 film for about 4 years so I'm a bit rusty. I just developed 14 sheets of 4x5 Kodak Tmax 400 iso film and I'd say about 10 of them came out with density fluctuations on the edges. Either the edges come out really white or the middle is dark and muddy. I have a few examples of this below. I'm wondering what could be the problem?

I'm using tank and hanger development which I have read can give uneven results but this is kind of ridiculous. A quick run threw of what I do is I put in 4 hangers at a time and make sure they're spaced so the film doesn't touch. I do 2 minute prewash, 9.5 minutes in diluted D76, 1 minute stop, 5 - 6 minute fix, 2 minute water wash, 2 minute fixer remover, and then 2 minutes in Photoflo.

UPDATE: AH HA! " Insufficient agitation in too small trays can cause the edge portion of the negative to develop more than the center, resulting in higher edge densities" - Ansel Adams. Too bad I didn't get the chance to read any of "The Negative" before I developed these. Still if anyone else has advice I'd love to hear it so I can avoid this type of thing in the future.

Also how should I be agitating? They never really taught me that in school. I've been just putting the hangers in the tank and lifting them up and down so the film stays under the solution at all times. However I looked at several how-to explanations that say to take the film hangers completely out of the solution and then back in slowly. I wasn't keeping a very accurate agitation cycle of 5 seconds every minute either, thats probably where I dropped the ball.

47724

47721

I only briefly read through the comments...but here's my two cents...

It's definitely an agitation problem. If you're using hangers with holes in them, it's not over-agitation (that would lead to 'jet streams' of higher density), you're definitely using the wrong cycle.

If you're going to use hangers - dip and dunk - the best method is using constant agitation using this agitation cycle: move the hangers up and down in the developer and every five seconds or so, lift all the hangers out of the developer, tip them to the right and gently lower them back into the developer, lift them back out and tilt them to the other side. The 'tipping' is the key to getting even development.

The reason why constant agitation is important is that the developer - being more dense than water - will naturally split and sink to the bottom of a tank or tray...which is why semi-stand or stand development can't be done with dip and dunk processing.

Diluting D-76 isn't really an issue provided that you use the proper agitation cycle. Typically, large format film is processed in D-76 stock because it can handle the extra contrast relative to smaller formats...but using a tank development cycle of agitating every min will only give you a headache. It's not nearly enough agitation.

Further, diluting D-76 1:3 changes it from a fine grain developer to an accutance developer so it's an important consideration.

You definitely don't need to use stop. The worst that will happen will be that your neg will continue to develop for 30sec to a min and even then, a compensating effect would occur where the developer would exhaust in your highlights and keep going in your shadows because they need more chemistry to exhaust.

After your hypo-clearing bath, rinse your film for at the very minimum 5 mins. Then photoflo.

Ultimately, the vast majority of development problems happen in the first minute of processing...the effect amplifies over its duration. If you don't use constant agitation then make sure that you agitate adequately over that initial agitation period.

Best of luck.

Mikew

rdenney
28-Nov-2010, 23:35
Some comments:

1. Yes to the presoak. Might have been part of the problem here, but probably not.

2. No to the acid stop bath. You don't need the acid, and if it's too strong it can cause grain reticulation (ask me how I know). Not the problem here, though.

3. The notion that Adams didn't use hangers rings false in my memory. I remember him describing his technique, which I used myself for many years, and I never had uneven development when using steel hangers in deep tanks.

4. I developed FP4 (my standard film back when) in HC-110 dilution B (my standard developer in those days).

5. Here's the way I agitated: I followed manufacturer instructions, and in deep tanks agitated for 10 seconds every minute. My agitation cycle was to hold my hands flat to the sides of the tank, and then lift my hands. The edge of my hands would catch the arms of the hangers, and lift them all straight up in one group. I would lift them completely out of the developer, tilt them to the right to drain for a second, lower them back down into the tank. Then I would lift them back out, tilt to the left and drain for a second or two, and then lower them back down. That would take the ten seconds.

I did agitate for the first full minute, again as recommended by Kodak.

My development times were in the seven-minute range and I never had streaks or dense edges.

I used Kodak hard rubber deep tanks, which for 4x5 film are about 6 or 7 inches long, 4 inches wide, and five or six inches deep. I developed ten sheets at a time and never had any issue with developer depletion. I did it all in complete darkness, of course--but I had a darkroom then.

Rick "sure he got that technique straight out of The Negative" Denney

Doremus Scudder
29-Nov-2010, 06:04
My 2 cents as well :-)

I too vote for tray developing.

Unlike Merg, I use deep 5x7 trays (Paterson) and develop with the film face-up (i.e., emulsion-side up). I had some bad experiences with face-down developing (uneven development corresponding to the ridges on the bottom of the tray... it likely depends on the design of the tray being used) so I switched back to face-up. One caveat, face-up seems to increase the risk of scratching somewhat, so be careful, or try the face-down approach first and see if it works for you.

My preference is for minimum 500ml of developer and 6-sheet batches and smaller trays, although I have done up to 12 at a time in one liter of solution. Developer amount is dependent on the dilution. It is important that you have enough developer stock to do the number of films being developed. I have been using PMK for the last several years and find that 500ml does six sheets nicely.

As Merg says, a water pre-soak is indispensable to getting evenly-developed negatives. For me, proper agitation is at least as important. With tray development, as you agitate, a sheet of film is moved from the bottom to the top of the stack. If you push the film down into the solution too fast, the developer eddies around the edges, causing increased edge density. The trick is to immerse the sheets slowly, and a little from one side to eliminate currents and swirling as much as possible.

I agitate once through the stack every 30 seconds for the first half of developing and once through every minute for the second half, regardless of the number of sheets being developed. This ensures that films from large and small batches get the same agitation. I also rotate the sheets 180 each time they are moved from the bottom to the top of the stack. I try to keep the films in the stack together and as static as possible between agitations. All this contributes to more even development.

Although it might sound complicated, tray processing is the simplest and lowest-tech of all the developing methods. With a little practice and skill, it is quite reliable and flexible.

Rick: I believe that Ansel Adams described exactly your technique in "The Negative" along with his (preferred) tray developing technique. I also differ with you and others on the stop-bath as well. I prefer an acid stop (not too strong, of course... I usually use Kodak Indicator Stop at 3/4-strength) to ensure that development is stopped quickly and that the slightly acid fixing bath I use lives as long as possible. I had some problems with carried over developer being "reactivated" in an alkaline fix and causing streaking, so switched back to conventional rapid fix. There are no differences in results with PMK with acid stop and fix. Just proves that there is more than one way to skin a cat. We each need to find what works for our individual situations.

Hope this helps,

Doremus Scudder

Lynn Jones
29-Nov-2010, 10:20
Your pictures indicate horribly under agitated film in hangers. You can actually touch the hangers, it doesn't hurt anything if agitation is correct.

First: put the group of hangers in the developer, raise and lower them fully, sharply banging them on the tank rim at the bottom of travel, all for about 15 seconds (no less not significantly more).

Second: Raise the hangers up and tilt to 45 degrees for 5 seconds, lower them and lift again to the opposite 45 degrees for 5 seconds, lower them gently into the developer and leave them alone for the next agitation cycle. For most films the agitation cycle should be each 30 seconds, for long times or "thick" emulsion films, each 60 seconds.

Yes, I also use tray but this is pretty tricky if you don't have the right experience (thats what Ansel did), I also like rotary tube developement with the right films and developers. I actually know what the variablilities are with the various systems, but the sheet film holders (which are actually glass plate holders) are at their worst, pretty darned good.

Lynn

d.s.
29-Nov-2010, 10:43
Uniroller 352 (auto reversing) base and unicolor 8x10 paper drum plugged into a Gra-Lab timer. load it in the dark, process with lights on. Four sheets (4x5) at a time. 300 ml. of dev.
Available on the auction site for cheap. My whole set up under $50.
Do a search here and on $-bay.
Not as cheap as trays but for me... easier and no problems.

Terry Hull
30-Nov-2010, 16:25
Very informative spread. Thanks for all the posts!

mentalcrisis00
5-Dec-2010, 16:25
Welp I dove into the deep end and tried out tray processing for the first time. I did 3 at a time at first and they came out great! Very even negs, after that I had enough confidence to do 6 at a time and all of them came out very good.

I did 1:1 D76 for 10.5 minutes, very weak Stop bath for 30 seconds, and 5 minute fix, pre and post wash for 2-5 minutes. My agitation cycle was 10s for 3 sheets and 5s for 6 sheets as Ansel and others suggested. Very good tonality and sharpness. I figured I'd mess it up but somehow they all came out the way I wanted. Thanks all for the helpful advice! I'll be posting some more of my work to Image section soon.

48028
48029

Lynn Jones
8-Dec-2010, 10:05
To add to d.s. regarding unicolor or any other drum processor, fill the drum with reels or sheet full of water at the correct developing temperature for 3 or 4 minutes, drain if completely and then add developer. This will temperature control everything in there you don't do that, the temp will go up or down resulting in improper developing.

Lynn