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Thread: Developing Tank and Reel for Whole Plate 6.5x8.5 inch Film

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2021

    Developing Tank and Reel for Whole Plate 6.5x8.5 inch Film

    Hello, some good news for whole plate film enthusiasts!

    I just purchased a Poilot developing tank and 8x10 reel and was able to convert the reel to fit whole plate 6.5x8.5 inch film reasonably simply by shortening the centre column. The Poilot tank is a Chinese copy of the JOBO 2550. They make reels for 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 (and a kit that includes enough parts to fit all three formats). For all formats the reel top and bottom part is the same part, only the centre column height changes to suit the film dimensions. The 4x5 and 5x7 reels fit 6 sheets, the 8x10 3 sheets. I cut the 8x10 column down to fit the whole plate film and after developing my first 3 sheets I can happily say that it worked.

    I use inversion agitation (5 seconds of inversions every 30 seconds, the Kodak method) and even with an overly vigorous technique the sheets stayed in place. Loading the sheets into the reel is a challenge, but that's the nature of the these reels, regardless of format.

    I've sent a message to the seller asking them to get the manufacturer to contact me about making a specific whole plate reel.

    Note that I'm in Australia and what with COVID and all, getting the tank delivered has been a challenge. I first ordered in March, that was canceled some 3 months later and refunded. I re-ordered in June and it arrived yesterday (mid July) and I'm pretty happy.

    I'm using a Rittreck View 5x7 camera with the Hope WP spring back with Rittreck-branded WH film holders. (I also have a WP back for glass plates as well: the Rittreck is a versatile camera.) The WP back is large – bigger than the camera itself – but very light, it gets carried around in its own bag. When buying film holders, make sure they fit the back: both back and holders were made by Tachihara and apparently Rittreck specified unique external dimensions for the holders (there is no ISO standard for WP) so holders that aren't marked with the Rittreck brand may not fit (I know because I bought two before realising they were different). Note that the Rittreck WP backs and holders are relatively cheap, and it's possible to pick up a scruffy camera with WP back for about the same cost as the back alone.

    I'm using Shanghai GP3 film which is readily available in WP size (shipping issues aside). I'm experienced with it in 4x5 and 5x7 so moving up to WP has been easy. I will note that the WP sheets seem to be cut rather unevenly, at least the first couple in the box I have were undersized and fell out of the holder. (This turned out to be a good thing because I need a few sheets for test in daylight anyway.) The rest are OK.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    London, England

    Re: Developing Tank and Reel for Whole Plate 6.5x8.5 inch Film

    Hi Vaughan,

    lovely to hear another whole plate format photographer finding a solution for daylight processing.

    Have you been able to ascertain how consistent the development of the negative using the drum style wrap around for the larger image area of the whole plate is?

    Unfortunately anything other than Ilford or Kodak wholeplate cut sizes seem to deviate with a margin of error which causes chaos sometimes with negative sheets flying around when the dark slide is removed.

    Good luck!

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