View Full Version : "hobbyist" 4x5 c41 developing equipment question

26-Apr-2011, 06:55
Hi all,

I need some advices on choosing the right developing equipment. I have reat lots of topics here which are quite useful but at the end I end up quite confused between the different techniques diy-s and wide range of options. I think I am close to the solution, but feel now a bit lost...

I almost bought a jobo CPE-2 which I thought could be ok with a 2509n reel and a drum for c41 4x5 developing. I thought not the expert drum but a "regular" as I read many of you could get good results. Thanks Kevin he told me I should not buy a CPE, rather a CPA or CPP.

Now what I know for sure:
- I would develop about 4 shots/week this would be mainly a hobby besides my 3d archviz professional work, so this is why I think I wont need pro stuff.
- for me a cpp with an expert drum would be too costy...
- I think I can live with just good quality, I wont need supergood (if I need I can bring the film to a lab, but it is quite far). but I would happily do the efforts at home.
- I am not afraid of diy if it works...

Is there a "right" solution for me, or I should forget about it and bring them all the time to the lab or have to buy a cpp?

Any advices are highly welcome!
((and sorry for starting a new topic on this, probably I should get along with the existing ones but hope you dont mind... somewhere I read there is no problem with asking the same questions time by time as it keeps the forum lively. ))

Brian C. Miller
26-Apr-2011, 08:12
You can do just fine with the CPE2. I have one, and the bath temperature is quite stable. However, and this is important, you have to measure the bath temp with a high-quality thermometer, like a Weston or a glass thermometer. There is no temperature readout on the CPE2, unlike the CPP, and the dial is not calibrated, and may be wildly off.

The CPE2 is fine with the 2509n drum and reel. I use mine with a double reel size, and it's fine. The CPP needs to be one with a later serial number for use with the expert drums, otherwise the control electronics will burn out.

You can also mail your negatives for processing. There's some threads here about good mail order labs.

26-Apr-2011, 08:24
You can also get by without an automated processor.
There are a few threads here on colour processing by hand with Jobo tanks, using C-41 kits.

26-Apr-2011, 08:48
More important than getting a CPE-2 vs a CPA/CPP-2 is getting a lift. Using a lift on any of the processors makes doing color work which, by it's nature requires a lot of drain and fill cycles, much easier. Do you need one of the big expensive processors though? No the CPE-2 with the 2509N reel is fine, especially for C-41 which isn't quite as sensitive to temperature as say E-6.

26-Apr-2011, 09:46
ahh, thanks for the replies! helped a lot!

now I understand, so I can go easy and use cpe2... this is good news as I could get one for a reasonable price. This could fit in my budget but I think I wont go for the lift, I think I can do the lift job as I will do it only occassionally...

I will get a good thermometer then to make the calibration, and a 2509n reel with a drum. Nice! :)

Maybe I could try the manual rotation too, I suppose it would take the same amount of time to do, but I am a bit afraid of that needs too much experiencing so I would rather afford myself the cpe2 in this case.

Another thing I am not sure, is the four bottle slot in the cpe2 enough for the bottles processing c41? I guess it is enough because the fixing process is done at room temperature so it doesnt need to be in the pool.

thanks again,
any other more opinions welcome!

Brian C. Miller
26-Apr-2011, 10:19
The C41 process uses three chemicals for the home kit. The final chemical, the stabilizer, is not used with the film in the processor. Use a glass or ceramic dish, as this leaves residue on stuff. The CPE2 with a lift is just fine.

For using a drum in trays, that gets a bit messy. You will need deep trays, a fish tank heater, and a pump to circulate the water. If I used trays, then I would have just one heater, and then pump from a lower tray to a higher tray, and let the water flow back. You will also need the Jobo roller or make something using casters.

26-Apr-2011, 16:06
have people tried using unicolor drums for this? Just wondering if the results are reasonable.

26-Apr-2011, 16:29
have people tried using unicolor drums for this? Just wondering if the results are reasonable.

LF.info has an article (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unicolor/) where someone used unicolor for E-6. If it's get enough for E-6 it's good enough for C-41.

Bruce Watson
27-Apr-2011, 07:20
There's a lot of information on C-41 over at APUG (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum40/). Search around; there have been a number of threads (long and detailed) about home processing C-41.

One basic theme is blix vs. separate bleach and fix steps. The consensus is that it's considerably better to have separate bleach and fix steps. The reason is that bleaching can't always run to completion in a blix.

The problem with doing C-41 in a Jobo is the very short development time of 3:15. It's very difficult to get even development with a time this short. And if you lower temperature to try to lengthen development time, you create color casts that are difficult to impossible to deal with in printing (even scanning).

With this, and the lack of much cost savings in doing it myself, I decided to keep my local pro lab in business doing my C-41 as long as they are willing. Which probably won't be much longer, sigh...

Ivan J. Eberle
27-Apr-2011, 07:39
C41 is really easy to do--and do well--in a JOBO with a Lift. I've not done it another way, but expect if you had fairly close temperature and time control you could process it any number of ways. RA4 paper has a much tighter time in the developer, so you may want to look at a system like a JOBO to keep your overall process as consistent as possible.

Most of the color crossover issues I've encountered with with C41 have to do with mixing and matching of one brand of paper to another brands emulsion when printing wet in the darkroom; specifically, printing Fujicolor on Kodak paper. (The "4th layer" added to balance multiple color temperature light sources seems to be the issue).

If scanning, these issues become relatively trivial-- relative to how bad these crossovers can become in E6 emulsions, even when processing at the recommended intervals!

27-Apr-2011, 07:46
Wear gloves and develop them in trays. Save the expense and unnecessary bother of mechanical stuff. (Note: this is good for C41, do not try E-6 in trays.)

27-Apr-2011, 09:34
thank you all for the advices! pretty useful!

It seems I have found a great CPE2 in quite fair price, I am curious how it will work! Cant wait to see! This time without the lift, I will try first and later maybe I will consider getting one.

Its quite astonishing how many variations and aspects this topic has anyway... a whole universe.

bill_1856: I was thinking of trays too, I have watched a good "how to" on youtube but I think I would need a big tempered bath for it which I dont have.

I plan to do scannings so the printing will be digital.

Until I have everything to start developing, I am doing instant images just for experienceing this new format, which I enjoy quite a lot too! Also there is a "ready" negative under them which I tried revealed once with bleach (although the sharpness was not that great...)

Brian C. Miller
27-Apr-2011, 09:54
If you don't have the lift, then you must get drums with the magnet base and the plastic red lid.

27-Apr-2011, 10:39
"The problem with doing C-41 in a Jobo is the very short development time of 3:15. It's very difficult to get even development with a time this short."

I haven't experiences any problems with uneven development using a time of exactly 3:15 in a Jobo. The trick, if there is any, is to mix the chemistry accurately, bring it to 100.4F and keep it there, time the developer with drain time precisely (I allow for a 15 to 20 second drain time to eliminate excess chemical cross over into the next step), and don't short time the other steps. I try to be precise with all steps.

Rotary processing with a lift is the way to go with C-41 and E-6 and B&W.


29-Apr-2011, 09:02
thank you all for your kind support!
for me it was also crucial to see clear of the tanks like with magnet or not...
hopefully I will soon be able to start the "long journey" now with a cpe2... :)
and finally submit some images too! My epson v700 is on the way for a start, so the developing part was the only missing for a quick start...

3-May-2011, 08:02
C41 is easy. I use jobo/unicolor kits with fairly good results for my own needs. A 2551 tank on a simmaroller does the job for 4x5 and a regular patterson tank for 120 film. I find the temperature issues aren't that major so far and just heat the accordion bottles in a hot water bath until they're up to temperature and get started.

It's literally as easy as this video makes it out to be http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB8qXU7dkNk&playnext=1&list=PL32FBB6CBAB9EDE92. Mind you I'm not printing in the darkroom where I'm fairly sure the colour shifts due to temperature differences would be visible but for for scans on my v700 it looks great. I think you're going to like the results :)