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Thread: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

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  1. #1

    Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    Hi all, I'm an engineer from New Zealand who is also a (recent) keen film photographer, starting with 35mm and moving up to a lovely Chamonix 4x5 field camera.

    I've done a fair bit of home film development of various kinds and have spent some time talking to local photographers and small film lab owners. As a result of this I've decided to kick off a project to build and eventually market a new fully automatic film processing machine targeted at the hobby/light commercial market.

    As part of this effort I've put together a quick website where I'll be posting regular updates of the progress of this project, and hopefully getting people interested and commenting/discussing so that we all end up with the best possible result.

    So if this sounds like something that would interest you, the website is http://midtonemachines.com

    Please go have a look, and subscribe/comment/share on social media if you'd like. I also intend to post updates into this thread as I go as well.

  2. #2
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    Good luck with the project!
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing you don't already know

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    Yes, good luck!

    Many here shoot only sheet film.

    For some this forum is the only social media.

    I signed on for updates.
    sin eater

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    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    Good luck, Andrew! To make sure that your efforts are well-targeted and that the feedback you get is informative and realistic, it will be helpful for you to explain in what ways, if any, you expect your device to differ functionally from alternatives currently available new - Jobo CPP3, Stark SST4/SST8, Filmomat, Heiland TAS - and roughly what price level you will be targeting.

  5. #5

    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    Thanks for the comments so far, yes my next blog post will be coming in a few days (about to go on holiday for a few days so not much time to reply right now) and I'll hope to cover what the existing market/options are, what I've done to determine where the need is, what my plans and point of difference are and how I intend to go from here.

  6. #6

    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    New blog post/update hopefully with some answers to questions people have:

    On the Shoulders of Giants

    Now for a large format specific question. Personally the only sheet film I shoot is 4x5 and only very recently. One of the things I really want this machine to do well is sheet film (specifically so I can process my own E-6, I don't think there's really anywhere in my country still doing E-6 sheet film processing). Can people link me to as many examples of rotary processing machine sheet film holders they know about? And if anybody has personal experience I'd love to know what works well about them and what doesn't. The more I know the better the chance that whatever I end up making will work!

  7. #7
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    How do you clean it after use? I'd think that would be the one thing were improvement over existing film processors could be achieved. In a "Lift" Jobo, each bottle needs to be rinsed with water after use, and 1 liter of water needs to be poured through the lift. With the Jobo, this additional step adds 30 seconds to my day. Can your device improve on that?

  8. #8

    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    Thanks for the replies so far, keep 'em coming.

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    How do you clean it after use? I'd think that would be the one thing were improvement over existing film processors could be achieved. In a "Lift" Jobo, each bottle needs to be rinsed with water after use, and 1 liter of water needs to be poured through the lift. With the Jobo, this additional step adds 30 seconds to my day. Can your device improve on that?
    One of the inputs to the machine would be water for rinsing/flushing (tap or deionised water depending on you preference). After the process is complete the machine would automatically clean itself by flushing water through the dev tank and pump. It's designed to suck in chemistry from whatever bulk container you'd like which wouldn't ordinarily require flushing after each use however if you wanted to change chemicals around there will be a full cleaning cycle that would flush water through all channels. All of these features would of course be fully automatic so you wouldn't need to do anything, just come back when it's finished.

  9. #9
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewBurns View Post
    Thanks for the replies so far, keep 'em coming.



    One of the inputs to the machine would be water for rinsing/flushing (tap or deionised water depending on you preference). After the process is complete the machine would automatically clean itself by flushing water through the dev tank and pump. It's designed to suck in chemistry from whatever bulk container you'd like which wouldn't ordinarily require flushing after each use however if you wanted to change chemicals around there will be a full cleaning cycle that would flush water through all channels. All of these features would of course be fully automatic so you wouldn't need to do anything, just come back when it's finished.
    That would be great. I was just using my Jobo last evening and I can't see doing it without the darkroom sink and tempered/filtered water to prepare each bottle of chemistry, then to rinse each bottle and graduate for the next use. For example, rinse bottle, rinse graduate, add concentrate to graduate, dilute with filtered water from the darkroom sink, rinse graduate, repeat with next bottle, etc. If somehow yours could automatically dilute the concentrate solutions too, that would really make it 'plug and play.' The important thing being dilute solutions won't last, so the machine needs to be in constant use like almost every commercial machine already in existance, whereas the concentrated solutions last years.

    As I think about this I realize my wife's clothes washer has the ability to accept powder or concentrate. It automatically dilutes either one. That is another interesting idea, that your machine could dilute a powder too!

  10. #10
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    Re: Midtone Machines - Automatic Film Processing Machine

    Quote Originally Posted by ic-racer View Post
    How do you clean it after use? I'd think that would be the one thing were improvement over existing film processors could be achieved. In a "Lift" Jobo, each bottle needs to be rinsed with water after use, and 1 liter of water needs to be poured through the lift. With the Jobo, this additional step adds 30 seconds to my day. Can your device improve on that?
    To be clear to those who are not familiar with the Jobo processors, the processor needs an after-wash only if you don't do the film wash on the processor. If you do, that takes care of both the film and the processor. (The bottles do get a brief rinse as part of my clean-up afterward.) If for some reason one couldn't conveniently do the wash on the processor, that would be a strike against it for my purposes.

    Getting back to Andrew's additional question, I use the Jobo Expert drums. A key benefit of the Jobo drum system for some of us is the ability to accommodate a wide range of sheet film sizes other than 4x5, from 2.25x3.25 all the way to 20x24. That said, I think it's likely that 4x5-only users are the largest subgroup within this small market.

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