SP445 developing tank

Discussion in 'Talk About Developing Film' started by Stephen Batey, Aug 24, 2016.

  1. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    According to the email from DPD (and their wonderful tracking system) I should be receiving one of the SP445 tanks in about 90 minutes. I'll be interested to see how it compares with Combiplan and MOD 54. There's no point in asking if anyone else has one, as they're only just shipping, although I know from TalkPhotography that others are expecting them - just not sure if anyone else here is.
     
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  2. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Looking forward to your review on this Stephen
     
  3. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    Waiting for mine... Cleared customs in Los Angeles a few days ago; should be here any day now.
     
  4. DanCooke

    DanCooke New Member

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    Received mine today, looking forward to testing it out
     
  5. Jonathan Woods

    Jonathan Woods Member

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    Received mine yesterday also. All in all, looks good. I like the film holders and the general feel is solid and professional. My primary concern is the light sealing around the lid and the lid retention... It's a single rubber ring style seal which serves as both the light seal and, through an ok-ish fit, the friction between the rubber seal and the inside surface of the main tank is all that keeps the lid on. Needless to say, I wont be testing this with an actual photograph to begin with. I'm sure they have done their testing rigorously, but I'm not comfortable with it at this stage and would rather be proven wrong - in that the lid is likely to be absolutely fine and I'm just overly cautious - than proven right, especially with a photograph I am happy with. In any case, I feel like with an ill placed knock, the lid would come off completely. I envisage a velcro strap round the top at the very least during the development stage.

    Patterson tanks, with their solid, threaded lids, feel more like house bricks. They 'feel' like they have some robustness to them. This lid does not fill me with confidence...
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  6. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Whats you view on the agitation method with the plunger
     
  7. Isabel

    Isabel Active Member

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    Oh, I am eagerly awaiting your reviews :) - I found them on the internet only last week while looking for alternatives to the mod54 which use less chemicals and was intrigued. As Jonathan I am also a bit worried about the sealing...so let's see what you guys have to say.
    Do any of you use a Jobo expert drum? I read somewhere that for B&W this continuous rolling agitation should not be as good but would love to hear your experience if any :)
     
  8. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    I like the Paterson tank (in its latest version - I have some of the older ones as well) because of its fast fill and empty. The lid has never come off in use - or seemed remotely likely to - but I always seem to get drips of chemicals from it when inverting.

    The Combiplan has a rubber lid held on by pressure as it has to be pushed over the rigid tank. It's quite secure, but fill and empty times are long.

    The SP445 doesn't worry me too much about the lid coming off, as it feels as though I'd be gripping the lid and tank body while inverting. I was more concerned about the light baffles, since they seem relatively small. I suppose the test would be to load a film and leave the tank in daylight for the time of a typical processing cycle (including time spent with film loaded before the chemicals were poured in - I load my tanks then mix the liquid developer). And having more than one tank, I have loaded three when back from holiday with a number of sheets to develop. That adds to the time a sheet remains in the tank.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  9. Jonathan Woods

    Jonathan Woods Member

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    In truth, I've not really looked into that yet. My main stimulus for buying one was that I really dislike the taco method (while the SP445 mounts them flat) and the mod54 seems to me as a bit of a ripoff - the SP445 rounded off at about $75 inc del for a whole system, which at the time was about £51 (vs the £44 for the mod54 alone). Given that the lid on the SP445 has threaded caps for the vent and chem input/drain holes, I'll probably stick with manual agitation by hand. I'm no expert in fluid dynamics though, but my intuition sides with rotations and/or inversions being a bit more uniform in replenishing the developer across the film.
     
  10. Jonathan Woods

    Jonathan Woods Member

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    Indeed. This, along with the lid seal, you'd have thought would be at the top of their "test to make damn sure it's ok" list! And yet I still worry :/
     
  11. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    A couple of comments...

    1) Regarding the lid coming off with the SP-445, Tim recently posted a short "Tips & Tricks" video where he mentions squeezing the tank slightly before putting on the fill/drain cap. I'm thinking this might provide a bit of suction inside the tank which might alleviate fears of the lid popping off. I don't have mine, yet, so at this point I'm just spit balling.

    2) Agitation with the SP-445 is strictly some form of inversion method. Tim moved on from the "plunger agitation" idea early on in the project due mostly, I believe, to inconsistent and uneven development.

    3) @Isabel - I have used Expert Drums on my Jobo for 20+ years for both 4x5 and 8x10 sheet film; work great and the most even development I've ever seen with LF film. Therefore, IMO whatever you've read regarding "not as good" is hogwash. The only real thing that I'm aware of--and this applies to any continuous agitation method--is that, in general, edge effects (Eberhard effect) are less pronounced when using continuous agitation. In general, to obtain maximum edge effects (depends greatly on the film/developer combo used) you need minimal agitation whereby the film simply sits in the developer for awhile. Some use various minimal agitation routines while others go with semi-stand or stand development. Whichever method you choose, you'll know it when you see it. If you hold the emulsion side of a negative with light glancing off the surface, you will see actual ridges in the emulsion!
     
  12. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Come on chaps, make 4 photographs of the cat, we want to see how it performs with film in it :)
     
  13. Isabel

    Isabel Active Member

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    @Alan - Thanks a lot. That's why I am asking, you read so many things but I'd rather hear from people who have actually used it. So I'll give it a try - can get a Jobo expert drum (I think it was the 3006) quite cheap ;-). Seems that it needs not even half the amount of chemicals I have to use in my Paterson/mod54 combo. :)
     
  14. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    SP-445 Tips

     
  15. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Has anyone got anything to share yet :)
     
  16. Alan9940

    Alan9940 Active Member

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    Funny you should ask... :)

    Just got my SP-445 in the mail, yesterday, and as I type this two negs are hanging up to dry. Here is my preliminary findings:

    1. Overall, the tank is very well constructed. I had to remove a couple of very tiny pieces of flash in the notches under the lid, but it was nothing.

    2. I've heard of a number of caps arriving cracked because the shipping company in HK didn't pack the tanks as Tim had instructed, but I thought mine was adequately packaged and the caps are fine.

    3. If the tank leaks with inversion agitation, I didn't notice; I normally get a bit of liquid down the side of any tank I use and in the sink. I'm not the most accurate pour! :)

    4. The film holders are very easy to load with film and the holders slip into the tank without issue.

    5. No scratches or other bugaboos; negs are nice and clean looking.

    6. One of my primary concerns with any development method is evenness of development. My "stress test" to determine this is to expose a smooth white card in even light to Zone VI exposure; filling the entire frame with the card. I very happy to report that the SP-445 produced an absolutely even looking neg across the entire frame!

    7. Along with #6, I didn't notice any areas of increased density (like around edges, for example) anywhere on any of the negs.

    8. One trick I discovered which may help others... I found it very difficult to remove the developed film from the holders upon completion. I don't know if it was some sort of suction or something between the film base side and the holder itself or simply that my fingers and the holders were too wet for me to get a good grip, but I just couldn't pull the film out of the holder. Here's the trick: Fill a tray, basin, or whatever with water and toss the holders in. After a few seconds, grab the holder, give it a couple shakes, grab the film and it will easily pull out.

    Oh, one thing I forgot... When I saw the film holder for real I was concerned that the film might dislodge or simply float up out of the holder upon inversion because there is nothing holding the film in at the top. I'm happy to report that this didn't happen.

    Overall, based on this first test run I'm extremely pleased with this tank. It's even fun to use! :)

    I hope something I've written here helps others and I wish Stearman Press great success with this tank.
     
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  17. Keith Haithwaite

    Keith Haithwaite Active Member

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    It seems to have gone all quiet on the SP-445 front, has no one got any thing further to share regarding their use?
     
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  18. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Funny you should ask that Keith, i was only thinking the same thing yesterday after watching the videos online about the product
     
  19. Keith Haithwaite

    Keith Haithwaite Active Member

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    It goes against the grain having bought a Mod54 but I think I'm going to have to get one because loading the Mod54 is driving me to distraction. I'ts fine doing it when you can see but get it into the dark tent and it takes on a life of it's own, especially when age robs you of most of your fine manual dexterity. <grrrr>
     
  20. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Its not the easiest task but since ive started putting my fingers where they are supposed to go (in the finger rests) things have become easier
     

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