"Lab Box" home developing

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by earthmanbuck, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. earthmanbuck

    earthmanbuck No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Like many people, I've been stuck at home due to a certain pesky virus, and likely will be for a while. I've been looking for new hobbies to keep me sane, and I figure now's as good a time as any to get into developing my own film. Just curious if anyone here has ever tried out one of those "Lab Box" devices.

    They seem kind of expensive and possibly not the greatest quality, but at the same time they do seem pretty easy to use for a first-timer, and I like the prospect of not having to spool up film manually in a changing bag, because I have a bad track record of trying to do things blind. Any thoughts/other recommendations?


     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    46,575
    Likes Received:
    17,968
    Location:
    USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    They offer a daylight changing bag for $29.95. Seems about right. That's what I have used off and on over the past 40 years when I did not have a truly dark room for loading film for developing. Remember, you only need complete and total darkness when handling film; once the film is inside of a film cartridge or loaded into a developing tank,you can work in daylight.

    If however you do not wish to use a changing bag then this system that they offer for sale looks good to me.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    46,575
    Likes Received:
    17,968
    Location:
    USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Learn to spool film with your eyes closed. Once you can do it reliably, then you can start using a changing bag. The website you linked us to sells a decent-looking changing bag for just under $30, which seems about right to me. I bought a Kalt brand changing bag in the summer of 2014 and I think I paid $25 for it. I think you will find that a changing bag is not that bad, at least if you can spool your film onto reels. I use very old Honeywell Nikor reels made in the 1980s, the wire spiral type.

    For a number of years the Patterson company has made easy-loading plastic spools which have a ratchet type system that some people find quite easy to use. Perhaps that system would work well for you?
     
    • Like Like x 3
  4. webestang64

    webestang64 Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    May 15, 2013
    Messages:
    1,674
    Likes Received:
    844
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO. USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Other than a changing bag there is a changing box. Most were used in mini-labs.

    [​IMG]

    FYI.. I use Hewes stainless steel reels and are easy to load and very durable. I have stainless tanks from a single 35mm reel up to a tank that holds 14 rolls of 35mm at once.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2003
    Messages:
    29,255
    Likes Received:
    3,650
    Location:
    In the mental ward of this forum
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    You have options, it's just a matter of how you want to spend your time. :) Being stuck at home gives you time to learn how to load film onto a film reel until you get the hang of it and can literally do it blind, in the dark, because developing tanks are much cheaper than this product. If you're a big fan of analog photography, the time to learn this process is time well spent.

    However, if shooting film will be an occasional thing, and you want to have the process simplified, this new unit looks pretty cool! Obviously, there's enough of a market out there of folks who just want to be able to pop the film into a tank like this, and get on with the development. No shame in that, and I would argue that whatever makes shooting and home development of film more approachable is a terrific thing. It's still going to pay for itself in the long run, by doing it at home.

    As for the quality concerns, you'll only know for sure once you use it. My Paterson 4-roll tank is leaky and drippy, annoying! But it's still light-tight, and gets the job done, that's the main thing.

    Go for it! Sounds like a lot of fun, and a wonderful way to distract from current events. ;)
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Original katomi

    Original katomi TPF Supporters Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2019
    Messages:
    1,558
    Likes Received:
    599
    Location:
    HI UK
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I used an old roll of film and started practicing to load film, whilst watching the tv, then with eyes closed, then in the dark and finally in the bag.
    Once you have cut the leader off just nick the corners off the leading edge
     
    • Like Like x 2
  7. Dave Colangelo

    Dave Colangelo No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2016
    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    156
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Thats pretty pricy for what is likely a finicky device but I have never used one so I cant say for sure. Labs and former enthusiasts are dumping film gear left and right you should be able to grab everything you need to process film for <$50 if not free (chemistry aside).

    If you are worried about spooling it up correctly I would take a look at the paterson reels they ratchet and make it quite easy to spool up a roll in the dark. I have always preferred a dark closet/bathroom to a changing bag, but thats just me. The simplest thing to do is get a roll of either processed un-cut film to practice with or just expend a roll to learn.

    If you have time to practice Im with @Derrel r.e. the Nikor reels, they are just a bit more firm and the tanks are smaller so you can stretch the chemistry a bit more (i think its ~20ml less than a paterson tank, not much but adds up over time).
     
    • Like Like x 1
  8. earthmanbuck

    earthmanbuck No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2011
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    118
    Location:
    Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit


    I ended up going for a more traditional setup...I figured it would be useful in the long term to know how to do it "right", and the lab-box just seems like something that would break quickly. If it was a fraction of the price I probably would have gone that route though.

    There unfortunately aren't any labs or hobbyists dumping their gear at the moment near me (I do see them pop up once in a while, but few and far between), so I ended up getting most of it from B&H. The one thing I found on eBay cheaper was the reels—I bought a 35mm and a 120, and he threw in a free one of each. Everything cost about as much as the lab-box altogether, and with the CAD exchange rate...it was pretty pricey. But, now I've got the gear, and as others have mentioned, the chemicals aren't that bad.
     

Share This Page