Developing 8x10 B&W negatives

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by casper24, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. casper24

    casper24 TPF Noob!

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    OK, guys, thanks for you help on the contct printing light sources. It got me going in the right direction.

    Now I need some advice from those of you who've been there on how to process my 8x10 negs.

    My original plan was to have our local lab do them. They do a great job, but at 20 bucks a neg they have me thinking I need to do it myself. I have experience tray processing 4x5's and mixing my own chemistry. I'd like to tray process the 8x10's but have received advice that drum processing is THE way to go.

    Suggestions?
     
  2. compur

    compur No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have processed a few 8x10 B&W negs. I used a beseler drum with
    motorized base intended for use with prints. It worked OK but you
    have to allow for the constant agitation that the revolving drum provides
    when you use the motor.
     
  3. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    If you can do 4x5 in tray, you can do 8x10. I have processed in drums and tray, and for me, I find tray processing more efficient and reliable, but I also develop by inspection.

    A few hints:

    Process in flat bottom trays (Cesco-lite) one size larger than the film; on occasion I have had the grooved trays leave patterns on my negatives due to the concentration of developer in the grooves.

    Process at least 4-6 negatives at a time to a max of 12-14, any less can lead to uneven development, any more just gets confusing and lead to errors plus the risk of exhuasting the developer.

    Keep a hand or finger under the bottom edge of the film when shuffling through the stack to help guide the film back into the soup and stop from plunging the corner down and scatching another negative.

    If you are using an acid stop, weaken it a bit as pinholes are much more noticeable on 8x10's for some reason.

    Thats all I can think of for now, the rest is just like 4x5 just bigger!
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2009
  4. ZoneIII

    ZoneIII TPF Noob!

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    I realize that this thread is old but I stumbled across it and would like to make a couple comments for the benefit of anyone who may find it in the future.

    I have a Jobo processor and also a deep tank processor but I still prefer to process sheet film in trays. I find it to easier and simply better for reasons I won't go into here. However, I do use my Jobo for E6 processing and I use my deep tanks when I have lots of b&w sheet film to process - such as after a long trip.

    I would also like to comment on some suggestions provided by another contributor - quoted below:


    "Process in flat bottom trays (Cesco-lite) one size larger than the film; on occasion I have had the grooved trays leave patterns on my negatives due to the concentration of developer in the grooves."

    Actually, trays with grooved bottoms are better. The only reason the concentration of chemicals mentioned (above) would cause patterns in the film would be if you processed the film emulsion side down. But that is not the best way to process sheet film in trays. Process it emulsion side up. Not only is it easier to handle that way but it is less likely to be damaged. Ignore Gordon Hutching's advice (in his PMK Pyro book) to process sheet film emulsion side down. His advice must be based on some quirk in the way he agitates film and he provides no logical reason for why he processes his film emulsion that way. If you think about it, there is no reason that film is less likely to be damaged if processed emulsion side down and, in fact, there are several reasons why it would be more likely to be damaged and not develop as evenly when processed emulsion side down. On the other hand, there are good reasons why film manufacturers recommend that you process sheet film in trays with the emulsion side up and why experienced and knowledgeable photographers (like Ansel Adams) do (did) it that way. Use the grooved trays. Use grooved trays and process the film with the emulsion side up.


    "Process at least 4-6 negatives at a time to a max of 12-14, any less can lead to uneven development, any more just gets confusing and lead to errors plus the risk of exhuasting the developer."

    With all due respect, the above advice is incorrect and seems to indicate that the person who gave it does not fully understand how to process sheet film in trays properly. There is no reason that you can't process less than four sheets at a time. The key is to go through the stack once every 30 seconds. If you do that, each sheet will receive the same agitation regardless of how many sheets are being developed. I suspect that the person who suggested that agitates continuously, which is not the correct method. On the other hand, 12-14 sheets is too much. Although it can be done, you will have to agitate through the stack too quickly and that's where damage to the film occurs. Try to stick to from 1 to 8 sheets. Six is ideal. That would mean you bring one sheet from the top of the stack from the bottom every 5 seconds. The point is that when you agitate through the stack once every 30 seconds, development will be the same no matter how many sheets you develop (within reason). You will only run into uneven development if you go through the stack at the same speed (pace) no matter how many sheets you have and I suspect that's what the person who suggested not processing less than four sheets is doing. If you are processing two sheets, move one sheet to the top every 15 seconds. If you are processing 3 sheets, move one to the top every 10 seconds. If you are processing 4 sheets, move one to the top about every 7 1/2 seconds and so on. That totally eliminates the problem mentioned by the other poster here and it guarantees consistency. Four to six sheets is ideal. Eight sheets can be handled fine. Ten sheets is pushing it. More than that is too much. And remember that consistency is the key to all film processing. In fact, with b&w, it's more important than absolute accuracy.

    "Keep a hand or finger under the bottom edge of the film when shuffling through the stack to help guide the film back into the soup and stop from plunging the corner down and scatching another negative."

    When you place the sheet on top, either drop it straight down so it goes "plop" or place it on top using a swiping motion so that the trailing edge gets over the stack last. In other words, you DON'T push a corner or edge of the film towards the stack. It's really just common sense and should be intuitive. Imagine rubbing a sharp knife along your forearm. You can do it safely if the blade edge is trailing but you will cut yourself if the blade edge is leading. The principle is the same. I'm not exactly clear on what his advice about keeping a hand or finger under the film means but remember that if you keep your hand in the developer, you will raise the developer's temperature. Try to have a miniumum amount of flesh in the developer. If you place the sheet on top of the stack correctly, you won't have a problem with scratching. I can't remember the last scratch I experienced. It must have been decades ago.


    "If you are using an acid stop, weaken it a bit as pinholes are much more noticeable on 8x10's for some reason."

    I have never found this to be a problem with 8x10" with the possible exception of some Ilford films which seem to be more prone to this problem and also more easily damaged in general. The quality of your water may have something to do with whether or not you experience this problem. But it doesn't hurt to weaken the stop bath concentration a bit if you are concerned about this possibility. Or, if you decide to use a plain water stop bath, be sure to give it a thorough rinse in water so that you don't kill your fixer. One of the reasons for using acid stop bath is to preserve your fixer.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2009
  5. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    First, I have processed thousands, let me repeat that for you, thousands of 8x10 and 12x20 negatives and the advice I gave is based on that experience and the fact I was mentored by two well respected and accomplished contemporary photographers, who knew and photographed with many members of the Weston family. And, some of the advice above was passed on to them, and from them to me. So please make no assumptions about my level of understanding of how to process film.

    People are more than welcome to try methods other than I have presented, I have no hard and fast rules, as long as it is done with care, quality and consistency. Is there anything in what I wrote above that says “This is how it has to be done?” But, I am sure you follow everything you have read and follow all the “rules” of how to make a photograph as well.

    Film is no more or less likely to be damaged emulsion up or down, it comes down to a matter of care. I prefer emulsion up and flat bottomed trays based on experience, not because I read it in a book.

    Yes, successful development can be done with less than 4 negatives, but again based on my experience development is more consistent with 4 or more and I have found that my students find it easier to start with 4-6 negatives because it is more conducive to producing a good development rhythm. If you want to process less go ahead, if you can’t handle processing more than 10 negatives, don’t.

    My advice on taking care and guarding the film when placing it back on the stack says nothing about pushing corners down onto the stack. If you are unclear what something means, ask instead of making up an argument. So let me spell it out for you, keep a hand or finger on the bottom edge of the film so you don’t plunge a corner down into another negative, but I guess I already said that, perhaps reading comprehension is not your strong suit. Or, you could just ask for more clarification.

    Just because you have never experienced pinholes, which says something again about your experience with sheet film or would that be a lack of, in a negative from an acid stop doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen or that it’s from poor water quality. You may want to do some more research on what the more obvious reason for pinholes in emulsion and acid stop baths is. Just ask, I’d be happy to explain it to you

    Finally, don’t go spouting off about someone else’s experience without knowing all the facts or asking for clarification, because when you try to show us how smart you think you are, you’ll end up looking like an … well, I am sure even you can read between the lines there.
     

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