1. Welcome to NikonCafe.com—a friendly Nikon camera & photography discussion forum!

    If you are thinking of buying a camera or need help with your photos, you will find our forum members full of advice! Click here to join for free!

The Black and White Film Developing Thread

Discussion in 'Film Forum' started by Chris101, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    This thread is about black and white film processing technique, that is the process that I use. Film shooters are independent. So everybody will have things they do differently than I do. Remember, the only rule is that it works for you. As long as it does, then you are doing it right. I invite others to comment on my technique, as well as present their own techniques, or additions. The key to processing film is that you find what works for you, and then do it exactly the same way thereafter, to get the same results. Well, in theory anyway.

    Film development always involves a bit of experimentation. One thing to remember however, is that experimentation is the opposite of consistency. If you want your results to be the same from roll to roll, be sure and do everything the same to all of them. On the other hand, you enjoy the surprises that film is so good at, then by all means try out new things often. But as you experiment, go slow - make adjustments to one parameter at a time, and make them incrementally.

    The next three posts will cover the following topics:

    Equipment This is what I use, and some suggestions as to what else you might want to have.

    My process This is what I usually do when I develop film.

    Fine tuning your process Adjustments you can make, and what to expect. Film choices, developer choices, push/pull processing and contrast control.

    After that, Everybody should add in with your own techniques, fill in the holes I left and correct what I got wrong. Your posts will make this a real resource for film users that come to the Cafe for the Film forum!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  2. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Stuff You Will Need

    There is no doubt about it - photography is expensive. Before you can develop film, you will need to obtain some equipment. You probably have some of it, and will need to buy or borrow (but don't steal!) the rest. Some things can be substituted with stuff you already have. And a few items are really nice to have, but not essential. Here is a picture of my film developing kit:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    1) The main item that you will need is a 'daylight' developing tank. It's called 'daylight' because it has light baffles so that it can be used in full light. The film is in complete darkness inside. If the daylight tank is damaged, it may start leaking light into the film inside, so be careful with it, and replace it if it gets broken, worn out or bent.

    There are two basic types of tank for 35mm and medium format film: stainless steel and plastic. Each type has advantages and weaknesses. Neither is 'better' than the other. I use stainless tanks and reels. They are easy to clean, and very durable. Don't drop it though, as a bend in the side of the tank makes it useless. Many (perhaps most) folks use plastic tanks. Some people find them easier to use (I don't) and they are more redily available and less expensive. Usually a dropped plastic tank bounces.

    2) The next important thing you need is a temporary dark space. If you have a closet or bathroom that you can make COMPLETELY DARK you can use that. Go into the room and wait 20 minutes with the lights off. If you see ANY light, it's too much, especially if you use fast film. If you don't have a dark space, that's fine, they sell them, in the form of a changing bag. These are usually double rubberized walled bags - they look like shirts with a double zipper at the waist, no head hole and elastic at the wrists. You put the film, scissors, a can opener and your daylight tank into the bag, then stick your arms through the sleeves. It's completely dark inside, so you can remove the film from the cassette and wind it onto the spool.

    A word of caution: the scissors and bottle opener have sharp parts. Be sure not to cut the inside of the bag, as this will let light into the bag. Unless you like random fogging that is.

    3) You'll need chemicals. Photographers call the chemicals "chemistry", but I can't bring myself to do that. There are three required chemicals: developer, fixer and a wetting agent. There are also two optional chemicals, stop bath and hypo clearing agent. I don't use the optional chemicals. Some schools of thought believe stop bath and hypo clearing agent are detrimental to the process.

    The developer is the most important chemical - it turns the invisible latent image on the film into something you can see, by growing silver grains of various sizes in a very controlled manner. There is a large variety of developers available, all with different capabilities. Decide on a developer to use and stick to it for a number of rolls before you begin to experiment with other developers. This will eliminate any process related differences when you are trying to solve problems. I use Kodak's HC110 because it's an easy to use liquid concentrate, that gives predictable results and is inexpensive. Other popular developers are Rodinal (aka R09 and Adinol), Xtol, D76, Ilfotec HC, and ID11. Some folks like esoteric developers like diafine, pyro and caffeinol.

    • To mix HC110 dilution B, mix 17 milliliters of the concentrate into 500 milliliters (a bit over a pint) of water. This is enough to fill a stainless, two 35mm roll (or 1 120 roll) tank. Get a 500 mL bottle to hold the mixed developer.

    Development depends on time and temperature. You will need a thermometer that you can read to 2°F around room temperature. An analog thermometer with a large dial is ideal, but if you have something else, use it. Also get a clock with a sweep second hand. Alternatively they make several apps for smart phones and pads that can be programmed for timing all of the steps. But we are doing this the analog way, right? ;) 

    Fixer is used to remove the undeveloped silver from the film. Without fixing, the entire negative would turn black over time. Use rapid fixer — it works better, and as the name suggests, faster than 'just plain' fixer. All of the brands work the same, so buy what is available and inexpensive. You can reuse fixer a number of times before it no longer works. After a few rolls check the fixer by placing a small chip of exposed film (like the leader that you will have cut off the roll before loading the film into the developing tank) into the working fixer solution. If the film turns transparent in a minute or two, the fixer is fine. If it is still cloudy after three minutes, it's time for fresh fixer. If you like, you can get a small dropper bottle of 'Hypo Check', that turns cloudy when a drop is added to the fixer. The problem with this is it only tells you when the fixer is dead, and gives you no warning about how much longer it will last, like the clearing test does.

    • Mix the fixer according to the directions that come with it. Both Kodak and Ilford Rapid Fixer are mixed 1:4 t make a working solution. Store that working solution in a 1 liter bottle. You can reuse the fixer multiple times.

    Wetting agent is the last solution your film touches, and is needed to prevent water spots from forming on your film. It also helps speed up the drying of your film, which is illogical considering the name of it. Wetting agent is a specially formulated detergent that does not leave a residue. The most common type is Kodak's Photoflo. A bottle of this will last for hundreds of rolls of film as you mix 5 milliliters (a capful) to a quart, so don't try to save money here by using dishwashing detergent, or skipping this step. Since this is the final rinse for the film, mix the wetting agent with purified water. This will reduce the possibility of water spots on the film. Store the mixed Photoflo in a 1 liter bottle.

    You will also need lots of water, and perhaps a small tray to contain the tank and overflow while you process. Depending on how you wash your film, you will use between one and 10 gallons of water to process each roll.

    Just for completeness, stop bath is 5% acetic acid. Distilled (white) vinegar is about 4% acetic acid and woks just fine if you decide that you need to use stop bath. Hypo clearing agent destroys residual fixer in the film's emulsion. However it takes just as long to wash HCA out of the film as it does to remove the fixer by washing, so there is no net gain. Note: when you are printing, especially on fiber based paper, both stop bath and HCA are needed. But not for film.

    4) You will need a place to dry your film so it doesn't get dirty, and hardware to hang it with. They make clips to hold film, but clothes pins work just as well. You will also need some sort of line to suspend the film. I use a straightened out wire coat hanger, that I bent 4 notches into, with 4 film clips hanging in those notches. I hook the suspension hanger from my shower curtain rod to the window in my shower. Then I hang the film from those clips and put a second clip at the end of the film to make it hang straight.

    A shower makes an ideal drying area, because you can steam it up prior to hanging the film, to precipitate out any dust suspended in the air. Then hang your film and close the curtain or door.

    5) Finally you need to store the developed negatives. PrintFile negative sheets do this well for medium format and 35mm film. Well, the 35mm film usually has 1 to 3 more exposures than will fit in a single page. None-the-less, they are nearly universally used, as they protect your negatives from dust and fingerprints, while letting you see them, as well as make contact sheets or whole page scans.

    That's about it. Get all that stuff, then proceed to the next post to actually develop the film.
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  3. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    My B&W Film Developing Process

    Before you can get started, you must load the film onto the reels. If you have room (or even a closet) that you can get totally dark, you can skip getting the changing bag and just go in there for this step. Otherwise, put the reels, tank, film cassette(s), church key style bottle opener and some small scissors (if they have rounded tips, it's better) into the changing bag. Reach in through the sleeves. Use the pointy end of the bottle opener to pry the cap without the protruding spool end, off of the film cassette. Use the scissors to cut the leader off the strip of film.

    Load the film onto the reel. (This step is non-trivial, and I suggest that you sacrifice a roll of cheap film to practice in the light until you can do it with your eyes closed. ) The process is different for loading stainless reels and for loading plastic reels. Which one is best is controversial, an I believe based on whichever kind you learn on. So just pick one, learn it and go from there. Once you get the entire film strip onto the reel, cut off the spool.

    Note: if you are loading medium format film, you do not need to pry anything. just peel off the little bit of tape that holds the roll closed, and pull the paper from the spool. The film will come right off, and coil into a tight roll, but it is taped to the spool at the end. Carefully remove the tape from the film and then separate the film from the paper. Load the film onto the reel similarly to the process of loading 35mm film. I find it easier to load medium format film, but it is also more prone to crimping. Be careful about that, because crimping makes marks on the film that cannot be removed.

    You are now ready to process your film. First, get the solutions to the right temperature (most folks use 68°F.) Consult the Massive Development Chart for time and temperature recommendations for your combination of film and developer. If it is inconvenient to use 68°F, you can convert the temperature using the time/temperature conversion chart. Follow these steps:

    1) Develop for the recommended or your experimentally adjusted time. Agitate for the first minute then every 30 sec there after for 5 seconds (turn the tank over three times. Tap it on the sink or tray when done agitating to disloge any bubbles.)

    2) At the end of the developing time, pour the developer down the drain. Be sure to include the time for the tank to drain in the total time. Then fill the tank with water agitate for 15 sec. Pour it out and refill it with water, agitate, then pour it out.

    3) Fill the tank with the working rapid fixer solution. Agitate for the first two minutes then every 30 sec thereafter for 4 to 5 minutes of time in the fixer, pour the fixer back into the fixer bottle. You can reuse fixer about six times. After the last use, pour it into a waste container. See below for disposal.

    4) Fill and empty the tank several times with water and remove the top of the tank. Run water constantly into the tank so that it changes the water in the tank in about 30 seconds. Keep it in the wash water stream for 20 minutes. Pour the wash water out.
    Note: to conserve water, you can use the Ilford method of film washing.​

    5) Fill the tank with wetting agent solution and gently swirl the negatives for a minute. Pour the wetting agent down the drain and take the reels holding the negatives out of the tank.

    6) Gently rap the reels to dislodge any clinging liquid, and de-spool and hang the film to dry in an enclosed shower or other dust free environment. The time it takes for the film to dry depends on the humidity - from an hour to overnight. The slower the film dries, the less curl it will have.

    7) Wash the tank and reels, and dry with a lint free towel. Now cut up the film and put it into sleeves. Label the sleeves so you can remember what is on the negatives.

    Chemical disposal: Most developers are biodegradable and can be poured down the drain. HC110, Ilfotec HC, and Xtol were developed to enhance the environmental friendliness of the developer. Pyro and rodinal are toxic, and should be disposed of though a municipal or industrial waste disposal method. However tiny quantities, such as those used by photo hobbyists are unlikely to have a significant effect on municipal waste water facilities. If you use a septic tank, consult the tank manufacturer for recommendations for disposing photo chemicals.

    Wetting agent is used in tiny amounts, and is merely detergent. You can pour it down the drain.

    The chemical that presents a problem to both septic systems and to municipal waste treatment plants, is the used fixer. Fresh fixer is not a problem - it's ammonium thiosulfate and sulfite, but used fixer contains silver ions which are not degradable, and are toxic to the bacteria that break down the harmful chemicals in waste water.

    Some cities provide chemical waste pickup, and you can dispose of your used fixer that way. If you do not have that service, then there is an easy way that you can remove the silver from the spent fixer, and render the liquid safe to flush: Buy a package of non-soaped steel wool, and pull the pillows apart, and fluff it up. Put the mass of steel wool into a plastic bucket, so that the steel wool takes up a quarter to half the volume of the bucket. Pour your spent fixer directly onto the steel wool. You can continue doing this until the liquid reaches the top of the mass of steel wool. Put the bucket outside because it will generate obnoxious smells as the reaction between the iron of the steel wool and the fixer proceed.

    Over a period of a couple days, the iron of the steel wool will replace the silver in the solution, and the silver will precipitate as a dark powder. Let the precipitate settle, and carefully decant the clear liquid from the bucket. This liquid is silver free and is safe to pour down the drain. The mass of steel wool and solid silver may be then disposed of, or you can extract the silver from it and sell it. There is less than a dollar's worth of silver in an entire roll of film, and you probably used half of it to make the images. If you process a lot of film, this can yield some spending money, but for an occasional roll ... not so much.

    Happy developing!
  4. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Fine Tuning

    This post is about fine tuning the development process. You would want to fine tune the process in order to achieve faster or slower film, to change the contrast of the film, to reduce or enhance the film grain or to affect the characteristic curve of the film. Several parameters are available to adjust to make these changes.

    First and most obvious, is the choice of film. One of the main characteristics of a film is the sensitivity of the film. It is measured by the ISO number of the film. Slower film, that is film that is less sensitive to light has a low ISO number. Slow film requires more light, a longer shutter speed or a larger aperture to expose it than does fast film. Film with an ISO of 125 or less is usually considered to be slow film.

    The advantages of slow film are that it has smaller, less prominent grain. So the images are smoother than are grainy images. Slow film often has a more gentle characteristic curve that will capture more detail in the highlights and shadows when compared to faster film. It is also often less contrasty than fast film. And of course it will require a fast lens, a tripod or other stabilization in poor light. Examples of slow film are Kodak Plus-X, Kodak Tmax 100, Ilford FP-4, Ilford Pan-F, Ilford Delta 100 and Efke KB-25. Each of these slow films have a different curve, and so render the recorded tones of the scene differently.

    Medium speed film has an ISO of 200 or 400. These are the most popular black and white films because they can be used in most lighting situations with the common shutter and aperture found on most cameras. Medium speed film compromises the curve for versatility. However medium speed films are very nearly as good as slow speed films. I shoot film slower than ISO 200 only very rarely. The most common medium speed films are Kodak Tri-X, Kodak Tmax 400, Ilford HP5 and Ilford Delta 400 and Fuji Neopan 400. Again, these films differ in their speed, contrast and curve, so pick one that fits your needs and expectations.

    High speed film is anything over 400. Not many films are made any more at this high speed. In fact only Ilford Delta 3200 comes to mind. High speed film has prominent grain, and plenty of contrast. I should admit that Delta 3200 is my film of choice for a lot of my shooting.

    There are specialty films. These include infrared film, red sensitive film and ortho film. The very best infrared film, no - the best film of all time - Kodak High Speed Infrared film (HIE) is no longer made. So we must make do with the films available. Efke, and Rollei make infrared film. The curve of IR film is very different than that of regular film. Things look other-worldly when shot on IR film, particularly if the lens has an IR filter on it (HIE was so sensitive to IR that it only needed a red filter to be effective.) Efke makes two similar IR films, 820 IR and Aura. They are both very slow - ISO 25 unfiltered, and ISO 1 to 6 with a filter. Aura has no anti-halation layer, so light bounces around inside the film, producing auras and halos, thus the name. You need to load and unload Aura in complete darkness. 820 IR and Rollei 400 can be loaded and unloaded in dim light.

    Ilford SFX 200 film is a medium speed red-sensitive film. It has a tiny bit of IR sensitivity, but not enough to classify it as an IR film. It IS good at darkening skies, water and lightening caucasian skin, clouds and incandescent light. These effects are enhanced with a red or orange filter.

    Rollei Ortho film is just the opposite - it is not sensitive to red light at all. This makes it good at recording high contrast material when illuminated by flash, arc or sunlight. Photocopying text with an electronic flash is a perfect use for ortho film, as is enhancing fog and mist, especially when used with a cooling filter such as an 80B. An advantage to ortho film is that it can be handled under a safelight.

    After film, the next choice is the developer. I am of the school that says choose one two or at most three developers, and learn them well. This is the way toward consistent development. Nearly all of my film is developed with HC110, but I have also used D-76 and caffeinol, and very occasionally rodinal, xtol, diafine, pyro and Sprint. Ilford makes some developers I've not used such as Ilfotec HC, ID11, Ilfosol S microphen and Perceptol. Each developer is unique, and gets chosen for it's properties. I like HC110 because it is a versatile (easy to push/pull) developer that is a liquid concentrate, so it can be mixed in batches that fit the amount of film to be processed. As such, it is very economical, as there is very little waste.

    D-76 is a powder that produces results much like HC110, with a slightly tighter grain. It is also easy to push and pull D-76. However, unless one is prepared to weigh, mix and store powder, D-76 is much less convenient than HC110, with very little difference in the result.

    Caffeinol began as a lark - it is made from coffee, washing soda, vitamin C and potassium bromide, all very available components. However with some practice caffeinol is a very nice developer, with a pleasant characteristic curve that has a very long highlight (shoulder.) Caffeinol especially lends itself to stand development, which is a technique used to tame high contrast light.

    Rodinal is another liquid concentrate that can be used at many concentrations. It works best on slow films, as it yields larger than normal grain when used wit fast film. Rodinal is not particularly good for pushing, but is very good for stand development. If the highlights of a particular scene are important, rodinal stand development is often the best choice. Rodinal is toxic and irritating to skin, so protective precautions must be taken if it is used.

    Xtol is a general purpose developer made by Kodak to be especially easy environmentally. It degrades quickly to innocous compounds. Expect performance similar to D-76, and it is mixed from a two part powder.

    Diafine is an interesting, two part developer. It develops all films with the same time, three minutes in each part, and is not very temperature dependent. This makes diafine a good choice if the temperature of the water you have available is difficult to get to the correct temperatur, or if you want to develop different films at the same time.

    Pyro is a 'staining' developer that yeilds brown negatives thatt are hard to print on variable contrast paper, but scan well. Pyro produces a very long curve that can handle the harshest light and till give beautifully graded transitions from full black to stark white and everything in between. Like rodinal, pyro is toxic, so gloves and other protective equipment is vital.

    Sprint is another all purpose developer, that has been optimized for minimal cost. It is often used by schools. Negatives developed in Sprint are very similar to D-76. Sprint chemicals are only available from Sprint, and they make a full line of color coded chemicals for both film and printing.

    Dilution of developers is done for a couple reasons. the first is obvious - diluted chemicals go further. For example twice as much film can be developed in 1:1 D-76 as can be developed in the undiluted developer. The other effect is based on lengthening the amount of time the film spends in the developer. Although the relationship is not linear, the general rule is that dilute developer works more slowly, so film needs more time in dilute developer than in more concentrated solutions.

    Thus diluting developer can be useful for extending very short development times so that the development of the film is more even. Time in the developer also has an effect on the sharpness and grain of the film. While this does not hold true for all developers, most general purpose films become grainier and sharper when a more dilute film is used. Thus D-76 1:1 is sharper than straight D-76, and while it is slightly grainier, the sharpness gain makes it worthwhile to dilute this developer for most negatives. With HC110, dilution B (1:31) is often chosen as the best grain/sharpness point.

    Rodinal can be used at a wide range of dilutions, so it is often diluted up to 1:100 to give extremely long times for stand development. Other developers such as diafine and caffeinol are always used at full strength.

    Push, pull and stand developing are techniques for radically affecting the development of film. Push and pull are the way that film contrast is managed in the Zone system, and other methods of tailoring the development of the film to the contrast of the scene. Stand development is a way of selectively developing the shadows more than the highlights by employing the concept of local depletion of the developer solution.

    Pushing a film increases it's contrast and the effective ISO of the film. Some films can be pushed more than others and some developers push better than others. Some developers are not good at pushing at all. General purpose developers, HC110, D-76 and Sprint are all good choices for simple pushing. Simply underexpose the film - that is, shoot it at a higher ISO than normal. For example set the light meter to 1600 when shooting Tri-X instead of 400. This will give the film 2 stops less light than normal. Then give the film more time in the developer. For the Tri-X you shot at ISO 1600 give the film 13 min. and 15 sec. in 1:1 D-76 instead of the 9 min. and 45 sec. you would have used if it had been shot normally at ISO 400.

    The effect of pushing the film 2 stops will be that the grain will be much more pronounced, and that the contrast of the film will be considerably more than normal. If you are shooting in a situation where the lighting is flat and dim, push processing will give more suitable negatives. If the contrast is already high, for example indoors under spotlights, then it will be VERY high if the film is processed. The shadows will not be brighter while the highlights will be much brighter. For some scenes, this will be great, but for others it won't. In those cases, choose a faster film to begin with.

    Pull processing is the opposite of push processing. The effective speed of the film is lower, grain and contrast are lessened. For bright contrasty scenes, such as full sunlight with deep shadows, this is really a bonus. Fast film can be pulled a stop or two. While this is still fast, the contrast is tamed, and more of the shadows are rendered. For example, Delta 3200 can be shot as if it has an ISO of 1600. The contrast is lower, so this is often a good choice for shooting indoors under spot lights when compared to pushing Tri-X two stops. Additionally, pulled film grain is less noticeable than it is when processed at full speed.

    Stand development is done with a very dilute developer. So dilute that, where the film develops a lot - the highlights - the developer begins to run out. The name, "stand" developing comes from not agitating the film during development. in this way, highlights are developed much less than are the shadows, so the scene contrast is dramatically lowered - even more than with pull processing. For example rodinal can be diluted as much as 1:100. This solution is ideal for stand developing slow to moderate speed films. A roll of Tri-X, for example can be exposed at ISO 200, then stand developed for 30 minutes to an hour in 1:100 rodinal, which gives very printable negatives, even where bright light sources are part of the scene. Stand develop by agitating normally for the first minute of the time, then leaving the developing tank to sit undisturbed for 30 minutes or more before either giving a single agitation, or ending the development step.

    Other fancy techniques include flashing the film to stimulate a weak latent image in film that has been underexposed by several stops, chemically hypering film to greatly increase it's ISO with hydrogen or mercury vapor, and cross processing film - such as deliberately processing color film in black and white chemicals for special effects. You can also do all sorts of destructive things to film for even wilder effects, like freezing, burning or microwaving it.

    Once you have mastered the basic techniques, anything goes. Like i said, the only thing that matters is that you like the results you get.

    At this point, I haven't much more to say. But I know that many of you who develop your own film know some developers and techniques much better than I do. Also there are large holes I haven't filled. I'd like to invite everyone with any experience with film to add their thoughts and experience to this thread so we can build a deep and well rounded set of instructions for folks to follow (or not) when learning about film developing.

    Thanks for reading this far!
  5. Great job Chris! I'll chime in soon.
  6. brbo


    Nov 29, 2009
    This is SOOOO great! Thank you, Chris.
  7. Chris, thanks for the sticky.

    I actually use a hybrid of the Ilford method of film washing. I do the 5/10/20 inversions process and then wash in running water for about 10 minutes. Whether the second step is necessary I don't know. I just want to be safe.
  8. Fantastic Chris!!! :smile: Working on reading through it (James is dismantling something in my office :eek: ). Can't wait to send him off to Mimi's with Daddy for a few days and have time to sit and read! Thank you so much for putting this together. LOVE the photo of the equipment needed, very nicely done. Your time and effort are much appreciated! :smile:
  9. shadowkon


    Nov 10, 2009
    I think this ushers in the next step of growth of this "Film Forum"

    From fanciers to practitioners, I like that.

    Chris, expected nothing less from you. Good job!
  10. Thank you very much for this topic.
    Can you do the same for sheets [LF] film processing?
  11. venchka


    Sep 28, 2010
    My method:

    1. Load/unload film in a Harrison Changing Tent. I don't know how I managed without it. Anywhere, anytime, a 24/7 portable darkroom.
    2. Film goes into one of the following:
    Jobo 3010 Expert tank. My most used tank for 4x5.
    Jobo 2551/2553 tank on a 2509 reel. The two numbers refer to different Jobo drive arrangements. The tanks are the same.
    3. Either tank rides on a Beseler/Uniroller (same function-different brands) motor base. Both bases rotate in one direction. Internet myth says that is bad. I have no problems. These types of bases can be found with a reversing mechanism. Probably a good thing, but I don't see any difference in the negatives.
    4. Time/Temperature for a given film from the German Xtol data sheet for 1:3 dilution and rotary processing. Films used to date with good results: Ilford HP5, PanF & Delta 100 & 400, Kodak Tmax 100 & 400Tri-X & Plus-X, Efke 25.

    4 minute pre-wash in Jobo tank.

    5. I use a quart/liter size funnel and attached clear plastic tube and end fitting from the auto department at Walmart. I'm sure auto parts stores sell something similar. I cut about half of the delivery tube off. My version has a twist turn ON/OFF valve between the funnel & tube. I have it set to about 2/3 open.
    Place the drum/tank on the motor base. Opening over the sink to catch dribbles. Turn it on.
    Funnel in left hand. 700-800ml developer in graduate right hand. Gralab timer close by.
    Pour all the developer in the funnel. Turn timer on.
    About 25 seconds before the end I dump the developer in the sink. Tank/drum back on base with about 10 seconds to go. Same arrangement for stop. Pour stop when the timer buzzes. I am most comfortable with times around 10 minutes or more & Xtol 1:3. That way any slight deviation in the fill/dump/fill cycle doesn't throw things off too much.
    6. Stop, fix, wash as normal for any B&W film.
    7. Photo-Flo mixed at less than 50% of the Kodak directions in distilled water. I have a Polaroid bucket with a rack that holds 10 sheets of film. 2 liters of the Photo-Flo mixture covers the film. I mix about 5ml of Photo-Flo per 2 liters of water. I transfer the negatives from the Jobo tank to the Polaroid rack and place the film in the Photo-Flo solution. I spin the rack a few times. Then I take each sheet out and hang it on clothes hangers with plastic slips on the shower curtain rod in the bathroom. TIP: I turn on the shower for a few minutes to really fog up the bathroom and settle the dust before hanging the film. Once the film is hung, I LEAVE IT ALONE FOR 24 HOURS! I tried taking it down sooner and had trouble with still soft/damp emulsion.
    8. Once totally dry and hard, I take the negatives down and sleeve them.
    9. Scan as my schedule permits.
    That's all there is to it. It takes me 1-2 hours from setting up the tent to hanging the negatives to dry. Chemicals and water for stop/washing go in 1 or 2 liter bottles in my sink filled with water. After a couple hours the water is at room temperature. I consult my temperature conversion chart for the correct time. Very simple after you do it a few times.


    Good luck!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 18, 2011
  12. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Thanks everyone!

    Wayne, that tent looks nice!

    Tareq, I do juat about the same thing to 4x5 as I do to 35/MF film. I use a Yankee Agitank for processing.
  13. OK, thank you very much!
  14. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    Wayne, thanks for the great addition and tips for developing 4x5. The tank idea sounds good. I have a question - for other developers, or those who do not have the German Xtol sheet, would this be the "large tank" number seen on other data sheets?
  15. venchka


    Sep 28, 2010
    "Rotary tube" is the chart I use. In fact, I downloaded the Kodak data sheet for Tmax films yesterday. There are rotary tube charts for roll film and sheet film. I use those numbers as a starting point and adjust for my personal equipment, taste, scanner, etc. Not a lot of trial and error. Just a bit of tweaking.

    ps: Chris, the Harrison tents are NICE! Expensive but well worth the investment. Cheaper than building a darkroom. Very portable too. One of these days when I can go places I plan to take the tent with me in the field so that I can handle film way back in the woods.
  16. I use Photoflex tent, ZERO issue.
    I can't buy JOBO processors, so i have to use those daylight tanks, i didn't like trays for now due to the place design [the bathroom].
  17. shadowkon


    Nov 10, 2009
    I developed all my 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 with a single Unicolor Print drum (and it's motor base).

    I'll take some snapshot for this thread's purpose.
  18. venchka


    Sep 28, 2010
    I don't have a Jobo processors. Stupid me. I turned one down. Big mistake. You can buy Jobo tanks and have them mailed to you, right?

    What type/brand of daylight tank are you using? Look for a 4x5 Nikkor stainless steel tank with the sheet film holder. They are NICE! If I were doing 4x5 in daylight tanks I would seriously consider a reuseable 2-bath developer. Filling a daylight tank with one shot developer gets EXPENSIVE.
  19. I have HP Combi-Plan tank for 4x5, also i have BTZS tubes where i have to spin the tubes in the included tray, those tubes taking very little of the chemicals, the tank taking 1L of chemical [diluted or working solution], i heard a lot about leakage of the tank, and with tubes i really didn't understand the manual included and the videos on UtUbes, so that i was thinking about something different those 2, i tested only once to do tray, ended up with scratches sheet and back full of pain of sitting in bad position doing the processing of film, i don't have any high level to put/rest the trays and do it while i am standing.

    In all cases, if i can't do any of those methods smoothly or no issues then i can't do 4x5 developing any soon, i hope if i got a lot of money then i saw a machine on a UK website/store which is very expensive price, from what i read it can do 35mm up to 4x5 B&W and color with easy loading and i just press the button and go away.
  20. I use a Jobo 2551 with two 2509 reels also. I have the Uniroller bidirectional roller base. I develop 8 4x5 sheets at a time, 4 sheets per reel. And use 560 - 600ml of solution.

    I use the film datasheets to figure out the developing times for rotary tank with continuous processing. Some film sheets have the temperature/time listed others tell you to reduce their times by a certain percentage when using continuous agitation.

    Like Wayne suggested it is best to use the manufacturer's as a baseline and experiment to see what gives you the results you want.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.