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Thread: Color film developing by hand. Inverting vs rotating agitation

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Vitebck, Belarus

    Color film developing by hand. Inverting vs rotating agitation

    I am new to large format photography. The reason I have a concern in the subject is I am not fully satisfied with the image quality of landscapes and architecture I get with my digital cameras (I have been using some Nikon DX cameras (D70, D200 and D300) for four years. I have already purchased Sinar F (4x5”) used, and am going to purchase Fujinon SWD 5.6/75mm lens in near future. I am going to shoot both negative and positive color films as well as B/W.

    I have found a lot of useful information about large format photography in this site and internet, but still need help to decide how should I process my films to get better image quality.

    One of my problems is I have to process my films by myself. There is no lab in my town which process 4x5” sheet films, and those in another towns do not serve their customers via mail. Purchasing processor is out of my budget, besides I am not going to do lot of large format shots (at least for the beginning). So I am going to process my films by hand. Inconvenience of such approach doesn't scare me. Image quality is what I want in the first place.

    So far as I have learned searching through this site forums and internet temperature and agitation are parameters one must consider while processing color films.
    What about temperature I am planning to use ordinary bath as a temperature buffer.
    Inverting agitation procedure is described in details in Kodak's CIS-211 publication “Using KODAK FLEXICOLOR Chemicals in a Small Tank”. I am going to use HP Combi Plan T 4x5 Processing Tank for the purpose. So far as I understand the tank accepts six 4x5” sheet films and require more than a liter of processing liquid. I cannot manage to find how much developer is needed to develop six 4x5”sheets but it seems to me it is much less than a liter (perhaps something about quarter of the amount). I am going to follow Kodak CIS-211 warning which reads: “Do not reuse the developer. Use the developer for one process cycle, and then discard it” as I hope this let me get better image quality in my conditions. On the other hand I don't like an idea to discard developer in which I could develop four times sheets more than I have done.
    Perhaps I could utilize all (or at least more) of the developer power by using horizontal rotating tanks (for example Jobo 2521 or Jobo 3010 drums) as they require much less liquid for processing. But Kodak's CIS-211 tells nothing about using such tanks, it describe invertible ones only. Perhaps Kodak considers that while developing color films by hand one can get good (agitation?) results using invertible tanks only.

    So here are my questions:

    1 How much developer is needed to develop one 4x5” color sheet film (both for C-41 and E-6 processes)?
    2 Is it possible to get good results processing color sheet films in drums with little amount of liquid and agitating them by rotating (not inverting) by hand (without processor)?
    3 Couldn't anybody recommend me a good book (or another source of information) on processing color and B/W films at home by hand?

    Thank you, sorry for a long message, Mikhail.

  2. #2
    Gary Beasley's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Marietta Ga. East Cobb.

    Re: Color film developing by hand. Inverting vs rotating agitation

    If you have to do several processing runs to get all the film developed you should replenish the developer in the tank according to the sink line processing replenishment charts in the Kodak publications. I've done it and it works quite well. Then at the finish you can dump the developer and be done with it.
    The times using the Jobo tanks is pretty much the same as with inversion tanks.
    The developer does exhaust pretty fast, you might get one more batch unreplenished with extended times but by the third you will probably have blank film. I found that out the hard way.

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