NEW 8x10" Film Processing Tank

David M

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I seem to have been able to download a copy of Mr Anchell's book.
Thank you Steve.
On Page 40, under the heading Developer Volume, he quotes Kodak as saying that 150ml of developer is the minimum for 80 sq ins of film. Then he asserts that for "full and complete development" we should use more. And somehow, we arrive at 250ml. Why not 300? 500?
Two points arise. Firstly, which developer? It cannot be a universal rule or some developers would require a bathtub. On page 41, it seems that he is assuming D76.
More importantly perhaps, we do not subject negatives to "full and complete development". Prints, yes, but negatives are developed to produce a desired level of contrast, not maximum possible density. That's half of the Zone System. We can use agitation, temperature, time and dilution as we choose. Dilution is only one factor. Mostly, we use time.
For LF photography, there's another factor. A roll of 35mm film (nominally 80 sq ins) may be assumed to have a variety of images with an average overall density. An LF negative would consume different amounts of active ingredient for different subjects – cats in coal cellars and brides in snowdrifts.
I have to admit that this is a last-minute thought and I don't know how significant it is.
It would be relatively easy to test Mr Anchell's assertion in the Stearman 10x8 tank. Not me, or rather, not at the moment.
 

Alan9940

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David,

Valid points! I would be the first to agree that more developer is generally better than less. However, I don't know how one arrives at an arbitrary volume of 150ml. HC-110, for example, needs 6ml per 80 sq in (see my post above.) Pyrocat-HD works successfully at minimum levels, too; I routinely use 6ml of developer (A) and 4ml of accelerator (B) to 1L of water to process a single sheet of 10x8. I'm sure other photographers have their own levels of developer concentrate that they feel comfortable with.

It's all a very easy thing to test, if one is so inclined. Determine your own personal EI using a starting development time from, say, the MDC. Mix what you believe to be plenty of developer concentrate into your working solution (250ml, per Anchell.) Then, determine your own accepted development time for the high values; I use a densitometer to measure Zone VIII, but correct development time can easily be determined in the darkroom. OK, as my photo mentor used to say, "Now, ya got one foot on a rock." Using your now hard earned knowledge about your film stock, start reducing the developer concentrate watching for that point where the high values don't develop fully, low values start loosing definition, and/or the negs simply look too thin. And, Bob's your uncle (sorry, do y'all say that on your side of the pond?)
 

Sverre

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Ad developer minima: I reread what Anchell/Troop writes in "The Film Developing Cookbook", page 31 in my edition. The starting point is a Kodak claim (this is in the late 90-ties) that 100 ml undiluted D76 is sufficient to develop one 8x10 sheet (or roll) of film but adds (and this seems to be a Kodak quote) "it may not always be enough to develop the film to it's fullest potential. The amount of solution required to cover the film's surface should not be confused with the amount of developer required to fully develop a roll of film". So there are/were several Kodak sources. This is why I was concerned with SP-810's potential solution volume. I'm not a photochemist, but my empirical experience has led me to use rather more than less of the often recommended developer volume. Some other users, as this thread shows, have different experiences. I have nevertheless decided to by an SP-810 to develop 5x4 and look forward to reporting my findings.
 

David M

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That seems the best solution (Oops, not intended). Will you be able to share your findings with us, after a long enough trial?

The distinction between covering and developing seems sensible.
I haven't handled a Stearmen 10x8 tank, but my worry with large amounts of solution would be splashing it out during agitation.
Stearman Press are in the final stage of producing their own developer, which they claim is formulated especially for LF. I know no more than that.
 

Ian Grant

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Registered User
The figures given for volume of developer take into account the amount of developing agents used and the level left after a specific time. It gets complicated because Kodak's figures for D76 are how much developer is used in a replenished system so is less than say processing one sheet of 10x8 film in a tray.

In the 1950's Ilford did a lot of work on the actual levelos of depletion of various chemicals including developing agents, this was part of their research into producing a PQ version of ID-11/D76 published as the Axford-Kendall PQ Fine Grain developer and marketed as Autophen. Essentially the major issue with ID-11/D76 replenished is the Bromide build up suppresses the action of Metol so you need an inefficient bleed system or replemnishment. Phenidone tolerates Bromide to a far higher level so Autophen used a simpler top up replenisher, didn't collapse over time so was used in large scale D&P labs, there was also a bleed replenisher for older machines.

There is an optimal level of developing agents need for a film so the greater the dilution the higher the volume needed or you get compression when the level drops and retards development of the highlight areas.

Ian
 

David M

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Registered User
A simple test would be to expose two 5x4 negatives identically. I suppose a "normal" scene would be best. One would be developed alone in (shall we say?) 500ml of developer and the other in a batch of four, taking care over temperature, agitation and so on. A factor of four should show up any significant differences. Best to clip a corner off one of them. Then it's onto the scanner or densitometer or perhaps make two straight darkroom prints with identical times, processed together at the same time. And with luck, onto the forum.
It's more work for someone else, but if there are observable differences, the next step would be to make "best possible" prints (this time with the full repertoire of printing techniques) from each negative to see if there is any significant difference in the final result. If one neg needs another half grade or a couple of seconds more, I'd count that as negligible. Others may be more fastidious. Scanning and digitally printing would be a parallel route.

It does seem that there are several alternative narratives about this and probably no definitive answer. We do seem to have established that many successful photographers do not follow Mr Anchell's advice.
 

Sverre

New Member
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David M suggested I could share my findings on the SP-810, and here they are.

I went ahead and bought an SP-810 to develop 5x4 black and white film. As readers of tread will know I was concerned with the tank’s maximum volume of developer. I may want to use double the required amount. Alan9940 reported regularly using a liter so my question was answered right there.

At first the SP-810 was a disappointment. The unit I received had a warped lid causing the negs to slide under the center divider pins causing artifacts. After documenting this Stearman Press’ dealer Morco sent me a new unit which I up to now have been using to develop around 45 sheets of 5x4. The results are very good. TMY2 (personal EI 200) in D-76 1:1 gives me sharp negs with a nice even tonality. I use 550ml of 1:1 solution for developing 4 sheets of 5x4. I really do recommend the SP-810 for 5x4 users. My method of agitating is a clockwise slight tip of all four sides for 10 seconds every minute.

My notes on developer minima caused some interest in this tread. I was referring to the book “The Film Developing Cookbook” written by Stephen G. Anchell (photographer) and Bill Troop (photochemist and writer) suggesting using the minimum amount of stock developer solution is 250 ml for one 10x8 or four 5x4. The photographer Christopher Crawford has similar advice writing that diluted D-76 is a weak developer and therefore needs adequate volume. I have followed this advice for years developing 35mm, 120, and 5x4, 7x5, and 10x8 sheets. Since I’m not equipped to do scientific tests and also don’t feel the need nor have the time to prove whose right or wrong I will just continue to rather use too much than too little developer (if it’s not broken, don’t fix it). I make the developer from scratch so using it is anyhow inexpensive. This is the advice I give everyone starting out with film development.

Anyhow: my main point is: The SP-810 is a great investment and it will continue to be my main equipment for developing 5x4.
 

Alan9940

Active Member
Registered User
Glad to hear you're getting along well with the SP-8x10. I have processed 10x8 and 5x4 film as well as 10x8 and 5x4 glass plates in this tank and have always been satisfied. My only minor quibble with the unit is that I worry that my fumbling fingers might accidentally pop the lid for a second causing a light leak. IMO, it would be nice if the lid had some sort of catch on each of the long sides to ensure it stays closed.
 

thronobulax

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I find sitting in the dark developing film therapeutic (I know, I know ...) I thus develop all film in tanks, whether via hangers for sheet film or dropping stainless reels in the soup. My default are 1/2 gal Kodak rubber tanks that just actually hold 2L. For larger runs, I use open Tupperware containers that hold 4 gallons. They will also conveniently hold the film washer basket for 4x5 sheet film and I thus can
use that basket to lift and drop up to 18 sheets at a time if memory serves. I have thus never had to worry about sufficient amounts of developer on the negs. The cost of one-shotting 2 or 4l of working developer even for, say, a single 35mm reel seem trivial to me. This is now even moreso the case that I've discovered "roll your own" Pyrocat.

I built my own temperature driven timer that uses LEDs to display things so I can see progress in the dark. The LEDs are sufficiently dim and far away that film fog is not a concern.

Now that I'm messing about with stand processing, I darken the room leading into the darkroom before beginning a session. After initial agitation, I place a dark plastic bin over the developer tank and exit the darkroom.

Admittedly, this does all come at the cost of sitting in the dark, but - like I said - I'm strange that way ...
 

Sverre

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Just a comment to Alan9940. Good point, one must secure a good grip on the unit so the lid is not opened inadvertently causing a light leak before or during development.
 

Alan9940

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@thronobulax, I find sitting in the dark during film development therapeutic, too. But, when I have only 2 or 3 sheets to develop it just doesn't make sense to me to fire up my 5L tanks. I have lids for the tanks so, if I had the room to leave them setup & filled I'd probably be inclined to use 'em more often.
 

Alan9940

Active Member
Registered User
Just a comment to Alan9940. Good point, one must secure a good grip on the unit so the lid is not opened inadvertently causing a light leak before or during development.
Yeah, I use a kind of modified "panning for gold" agitation technique so I'm very careful about getting a good grip on it before picking it up. But, I do occasionally have "fumble hands" with other things. :)
 
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