Large Format Film Photography - 4x5 Film Developing/Processing Methods

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in this video I'm going to go over the

methods that I use or have used to

process my 4 by 5 black and white fill

so I've got several different methods

here that I'm going to go over and I'm

going to go over some of the good

aspects of each of them and the negative

aspects of each of them so I'll go ahead

and get started remove some of this out

of the way the first method that I'm

going to go over is tray processing

sheet film tray processing is probably

my least favorite way of doing it and

the one that I would recommend the least

of all

so in trade processing we have a series

of trays one for your pre-wash your

developer your stop bath in your fixer

and you have to do this entirely in the

dark of course if you're using pan

chromatic film if you're using

orthochromatic film you could do this

under red light but as most of us are

using pan chromatic film I'm going to go

at it from that approach so you would

have all the lights off and once you got

your chemicals and everything ready I'm

just using one tray to demonstrate here

so you would take your sheets of film

out of your holder and then you know you

would have all of your trays filled with

the chemicals and you would place each

individual sheet into the tray making

sure that it was submerged underneath

the liquid and you would have them

rotated so they weren't all going in one

direction so you would criss cross them

in the tray and again this is the least

recommended way of developing sheet film

in my opinion so as as you put each one

in you would make sure that it's

completely submerged and then you want

to rock the tray back and forth in

different directions and then pull up

the one that's underneath on the bottom

and rotate it to the top and then turn

it so that it's it's a crisscross there

then rock the tray and pull the next one

out from below at the bottom and then

crisscross it again

in make sure it's submerged and rock the

train you would continue this for the

duration of the time and then move to

the next tray the problem that I have

found with this method is that being in

the dark for the whole time is not the

issue it's the fact that as you're

pulling this up you can scratch your

negative along the ones that are still

in there as you're rotating them and I

have found that almost always I end up

having scratches or I did have scratches

when I would use this method so it's not

a method that I recommend it may work

for some people but it does not work for

me and so therefore I I never used this

method I would use this method if I were

doing a single sheet and wanted to do

Stan development stand development being

where you're going to place the sheet in

agitated briefly and then let it set for

a long period of time in the developer

just to give it a you know higher a q10

sand so forth a lot of people use that

with Roden all so I do use that method

with still the tray method with Stan

development but that is the only method

that I would ever use it with so I'll

set that off to the side the next method

that I want to go over is the mod 54 the

mod 54 uses a Patterson for for real

tank in order to place it in and so the

idea behind this is that you would use

the the tank here you've got your center

column that it's important that that

goes in because that's your light baffle

and you place that into the core of the

mod 54 and then place it into the tank

itself both lids being in place and then

you would a j't 8 either either you

would use the the rotating spindle that

it comes with or some people would

educate in the inversion method as such

making sure to tap twice to dislodge any

air bubbles now loading the actual mod


I have actually found to be quite

difficult some people might be able to

do this well I have found it to be quite

difficult so we'll talk about that so on

these methods you want the emotion side

to be facing in the way that you find

the emotion side it's on the upper right

hand corner of the film here and so you

want to make sure that's facing in now

the idea is is that you pinch the film

and then you place it into here and

there's some series of slots that it

fits into and so the idea is you fit it

into one slot you do this in the dark of

course and then you take the other sheet

and you put it into the next slot here

and then you take the third sheet put it

into the next slot as such the film is

curled there and then you would rotate

to the other side and put in an

additional three now the method that I

the reason why I dislike this and I've

had found it very difficult to load and

I'm sure there are several people out

there that don't have a problem with

this but I seem to have a difficulty

with this in the dark it's very

difficult the first sheet is not hard to

load to get it into the proper slot

there but I have found that when you're

loading the subsequent the the next

sheets it's hard and it's difficult to

not get the sheep to make sure that the

sheet is in its own individual slot

there's no guides or anything I mean

sure you can check it with your fingers

here but I have tried to load this and

I've struggled a lot getting it into the

individual partitions and slots that

that are allotted and obviously you

don't want your film sticking together

so I have found the mod 54 to be not the

most reliable in terms of loading if you

do load it properly it does a great job

when you develop it so the mod 54 is a

good method but does definitely take a

learning curve on loading and you have

to be especially careful that it hits

into each individual slot so the

chemicals can get in between the film

and develop it properly now the next


I'm going to go over here I'll set that

off to the side is the job oh this is a

job out to five to one this is a rotary

process drum you on the edges here with

this orange band as you you pull up on

it and this will release it so you can

open it and then you take the lid off

inside you will find the reel with the

white baffle spindle again and then it

has the film retaining I call them wings

but I don't know what the actual proper

term is abut the film retaining clips or

wings here and then you also have a

loader base for it and this is so that

you can properly feed the film into the

individual channels of the actual real

so how you load the film on you do this

in the dark of course so there are some

individual slots here and you have to

make sure those are oriented the proper

way this this moves this is your film

guide so the film guide you you place

the spool over the spindle and then sort

of push the guide out of the way and

then push down on the spool then you

rotate it until you hear the first click

then you take your film and you would do

a motion sight in on this so you locate

the emulsion which is the notch codes

the emulsion the notch codes are in the

upper right hand corner then the emotion

is facing you so you put feed it in you

place it on to the guide and then if I

sort of use my hand here to feed it on

to the actual into the actual channel

for the film oh see sometimes it doesn't

work all the time that one didn't feed

properly so I'll try again and then pull

it around and there we are so it's now

in the proper channel I click to the

next channel

and then I place in the next sheet of

film and then go to the third channel on

this side and place in the third sheet

of film and I sort of use my hand here

to guide it as it goes back in and then

I always check it by feeling here that

there's a gap where is necessary between

each piece of film and there is there

and then I rotate to the opposite side

which there's three more on the opposite

three more channels on the opposite side

this loads six sheets of film and then I

will continue to put those on one at a

time and then go to the next channel and

so on and so forth after that all of the

film is loaded on to it you will push

sort of push out on the actual guide

itself and then pull up pull the reel

off of base then you have to take the

film retaining clips or wings as I call

them and there are some small notches

here I don't know if you can see them

but there's some small notches right

here and right here that this fits into

so you place them in you have to do this

in the dark and the idea is is that they

fit on like like that so this helps the

film from pulling out of the channels

and also it helps the the agitation

method of it I have found that without

these I don't know if this is the reason

that that Jobo created them but I have a

feeling it's one of them one is to stop

the film from coming out the other one

is that at without them the as you're

rotating this the developer or the

chemicals can go into the small channel

here and it creates the venturi effect

where it speeds up as it go

into that channel and it creates a flow

pattern at the edges and some uneven

development so for me it helps create

some turbulence in the actual developing

tank when developing it and it helps

keep your film on there so you're going

to take the this column or the spindle

here place it into it and then place it

down into the tank itself place the lid

on and push it push the outer ring all

the way down now

this is meant for use with a Jobo film

processor I actually had a Jobo film

processor I did not use it that much

because I mainly do black and white and

I have found that my chemical

temperatures stay pretty stable or

stable enough with black and white as

long as the ambient room temperature

isn't too extremely hot or extremely

cold so I actually traded my Jobo

processor for a lens that I use with my

eight by ten camera and that was a good

trade I'm happy with it so what I do

with this method is I've built a turbo

film developing board here the film

developing board was just one that I had

a went to the hardware store found a

plank of wood some caster wheels here

and they just used some shims to get

this end up to where it needs needed to

be so you pour the chemicals into here

now this method actually is pretty good

because it doesn't take nearly as much

chemicals to develop this this takes

probably about five well realistically

about 600 milliliters to develop six

sheets of film which is actually not

very much it's a very small amount of

chemicals to develop that much film so

you're going to pour your chemical into

this this area here the opening pour

them in and then I rotate it on to my

platform here and then the chemicals


I'm sort of developing the film as it

rotates down and throughout it like this

so the idea is is that you're going to

spin this in a not too fast not too slow

but you have to go at least 380 degrees

when spinning this so you want to make

sure you go at least a full revolution

and then a little bit more and I

wouldn't go extremely fast like this I

wouldn't go extremely fast and I

wouldn't go extremely slow I just go at

a nice even measured pace it's important

that you repeat the that you develop a

certain rotation that you always stick

to for predictable results when

developing film so you would just do

this for the entire duration of the film

development time or you know any which

have the time for whichever chemical

that you're developing in making sure to

go at least three hundred and eighty

degrees and so that's that method there

that's a nice handy method I do use that

from time to time especially if I am

doing color development like I said I

don't really do a lot of that color

development is a lot more specific on

the actual temperature range that you

must stay within but I use that a lot

for black and white it's a really good

method so to Jobo to five to five to one

tank excellent and you can just build a

little base that you can rotate it on so

I'm going to move on to the next method

the next method that I have oh I've got

to get the film out of this tank so I

can show the next method just going to

take the sheets out there

place this off to the side so the next

method that I'm going to go over is the

Jobo expert drum for four by five this

is the three zero one zero or the 30 ten

expert drum the expert drum is Jill Bo's

answer to solving the problem of any

development issue that may arise when

developing agitation and so forth the

expert drum holds five I'm sorry 10

sheets of four by five film and the film

goes into these individual cylinders and

there is sort of a I don't know if you

can see it but they're sort of at two

little bars in here that inhibit the

film from going to the other side of the

chamber so two two films can go in here

again you want the emulsion side to face

in so you take the the film and you curl

it and you place it down into its

individual side of the chamber so you

want to make sure that that film is

sorry I'm doing this upside down let me

do this here so you place it in in the

dark down into the chamber and what I do

is I always run my finger down in the

chamber just a little bit to make sure

that it isn't it is within the confines

of those two little indents that hold

the film on this side of the chamber

then take another one make sure that

it's a motion side in and you would

place that into the other side of that

chamber making sure that it is fully in

there so it's down in there and then you

would continue that method in each of

the chambers that you would use and this

would fit ten sheets of film and of

course you have to do this in the dark

so you have to really make sure that you

I would practice any of these methods if

you've never used them before in the

light before you go into the dark after

you've loaded all of the sheets that

you're going to develop you take the lid

and you place it on to the top

of it making sure that it's down 100%

all the way down and this actually will

also need to be rotated it's a rotary

process just like the the previous

smaller Jobo Drobo rotary tank but this

is an expert drum so I built another

base for that that can also be used on a

java processor but I built a different

base for this basically it's the same

thing it just had to be slightly

different because of the size of the

drum itself so the idea there is you

pour in the chemicals again it uses very

little amount of chemicals this one you

can develop 10 sheets of film I usually

use one full wieder in here to do 10

sheets but to be honest with you a

leader is probably more than you

actually need to cover it so that you

pour the chemicals in and then tip it

and then rotate it on the drum itself

and so the chemicals are down here and

the film is rotating into it it's

entering in the chamber and each

individual chamber has a complete

chaotic movement of the fluids so there

is no chance for flow patterns or

anything like that it's pretty much a

100% foolproof way of developing film to

get 100 cent even development so that is

the Jobo expert drum 30:10 excellent way

I use that quite a bit but it's not the

one I use the most

so I'll set that off to the side I've

actually left my foot pump downstairs or

a hand pump or foot pump to get this off

you have to build internal pressure into

the drum and so it pops the lid off you

do that by taking a hand pump or a foot

pump and placing it into this area here

and then you press down now I for a long

time I actually didn't have a hand or

foot pump and to be honest with you can

get the drum off just like this it's

kind of silly but you just blow into it

and it pops up and off that that was a

method I use for a long time so if you

don't have if you have a chance to get

an expert drum it can't get the foot

pump you can just blow into the opening

there and build up pressure and pops the

lid right off so I'm going to move the

film there Jobo expert drums can be kind

of expensive they are worth it

so if you are looking into a method and

you want one that's going to last you I

mean unless you crack the tank or

something it will last you a lifetime

they are definitely worth the money now

the final method that I want to talk

about is actually the one that I use in

most the combi plan is a the combi plant

4x5 it's a pretty interesting method

people either love this or they hate it

I have found that I really like this

method and I get 100% flawless negatives

from it every time I have no problem

whatsoever I've actually never had a

problem with the negatives on this so

it's built it has your your tank here

with a pour out spout and a cap that

goes on to that pour out spout there it

has the lid itself which the lid has a

screw the the spout where you pouring

the chemicals actually comes off

entirely you would not remove this when

developing film otherwise light would

enter in there but it's light baffled

but you do have to twist that to get the

chemical in there so so that you can

allow air to be released as the chemical

enters it has another cap on the top

where you then pour in the chemicals you

use this little cup here to pour in the

chemical as you place it onto the top

like that

and then you pour the chemicals in there

after you've twisted this to the open

position a little bit so that air can

escape out of the tank

so you would have it like this here and

then you would pour the chemicals in so

I'm going to go over that a little bit

more but we'll go over some of the other

apparatus parts to this okay so this is

where the film goes on to this piece

right here it has these it comes with

these little guides and these guides are

used to place onto the film here and you

can do this when the lights on you can

get everything prepped and ready with

the lights on and so each side you place

a guide now when you place the film on

you take and you put the emulsion side

make sure on this one I put the emotion

side facing out when I place this in I

don't think it really matters if you

place it in or out on this method but

what I'll do is I will locate the first

one which is on the back here and then I

will slowly place down the actual sheet

of film this was kind of difficult we're

not doing it facing me so I'm going to

face it toward me and then I will work

it so the first one is now in now for

the next one's what I do is I take and I

sort of just drag the film on this guy

just a little bit in account so there's

the first slot the second slot and

that's the one I want to go into because

I've already put one in the first one so

there we go and then I go to the third

slot and place it down in and then I

check to see that each one has it is in

its own individual slot and then you

take up the guide itself okay and then

you rotate it so that you have so that

you can place film on to the next side

and you just repeat the process there so

find the first slot then move it up to

find the second slot and then finally

the third slot after you have them in

each of their individual slots remove

the guide for this

right and then you want to put on this

little film retaining clip the film

retaining clip has a little tiny teeth

here that keep the film seperated from

each other there are actually two types

of clips that I wanted to go over if you

can see it but this clip has lots of

tiny little teeth on it lots of tiny

little teeth and that is not recommended

it will work but that they change the

design later to only have these two

teeth on there so that each of the three

sheets of film have their own individual

slot this method it's possible for the

film to sort of stick together because

they're fitting in they have too many

options for the teeth so the ones with a

lot of teeth I don't recommend so the

film retaining clip goes on to the top

here this top portion and it sort of

clicks down its you want to click it

down I usually click it down about three

clicks and so the idea and then I check

the film in the dark with my finger as I

make sure that it's all where it should

be in there in their own individual

slots and so the idea is is that the

film sits like that then then you take

the actual the point where the film sits

there you place it into the tank

then you take the lid make sure that the

the the lower drain spout cover is on so

that when you pour chemicals and it

doesn't spill everywhere they're doing

this in the dark then you take your lid

and you place it over the top making

sure it's all the way down over all the

edges that's important you don't want

one side to be up a little bit like this

and then light to be able to enter when

you come out oh yeah all of these are

you can process your film in the

daylight or out in room light except for

the trade processing so this after

you've got your film in there and the

lid on you're ready to come out in the

light then

then again what you've got your chemical

said if you want to rotate this don't

don't unscrew it the whole way because

then light would come in but you just

need to open it a little bit so that air

can evacuate out of that chamber then

take the top off here and you want to

take your little cup and place the cup

on to the top so that here you can pour

your chemicals into that takes about 40

ounces to fill this entire chamber now

like I said some of the expert drums and

the rotary processing methods like this

they take much less chemical so if

chemical economy is one is something

that's on your mind the rotary

processing Jobo tanks might be something

for you to look into but the combi plate

plan has never gone wrong with me and so

I have to fill it with a few more

chemicals it's not a big deal to me I

really like this method so you pour the

chemicals into here takes about 30

seconds to fill some people have said

that because it takes so long to fill it

might cause a problem with uneven

development so never had that problem I

actually endorsed this method of film

development for your four by five one

hundred percent so after the chemicals

have filled you take the cup remove it

and then make sure to twist this and

close that so that the air so that the

liquid when you invert the tank cannot

come up place the cap on to the top and

then start your development now the way

that I add to take this tank or the way

that you agitate it is important you

want to go like this side to side and

then tap it twice or three times to

dislodge air bubbles you never want to

go like this don't tip it this way

because this can put pressure on the

sheets of film and dislodge them so do

not go these this this direction when

you agitate only go this direction when

you agitate now and then tap it twice

then when you're ready to drain that

particular chemical twist this to the

open position so it will allow air to

enter now and then take off

bottom portion here and then liquid will

start to pour out and the air will be

able to come in if you forget to twist

this if you forget to twist this and

open it then air can't enter and it

pours out very slowly so it'll take

another 30 seconds to drain it also then

make sure to put the drain cap back on

or otherwise when you put in the next

chemical it's just going to pour out

then take your cup again place it on to

the top and begin to pour in the next

chemical and just repeat that procedure

in through your till your all the way

done with your fixer and then you can

remove the win so this is the combi plan

four by five developing tank it's an

excellent developing tank some people

actually don't trust it and they don't

like to do the inversion method with it

so they will actually purchase more than

one tank the reason I have so many tanks

is because I like this method so much

that I want to be able to have spare

parts and backup because they do not

unfortunately make this anymore and some

of the little pieces like the film

retaining clip here are actually quite

fragile so I have several of these but

the people who don't trust this in terms

of inversion which again I highly

endorse this method even for the

inversion method so go ahead and try it

if you're interested but some people

what they will do is they will take

three tanks and they'll have you know

their developer there stop bath and

their fixer and so they will take the

developer and they will do a sort of a

dip and dunk method of developing where

they dip it in and then allow it to

drain off and dip it in and allow it to

drain off and then when they're done

with the the full development time they

go to the stop bath and then when

they're finished with that they go over

to the fixer I do not find this method

of using just the combi plan four by

five at all necessary I did want to show

you that though the reason again why I

have these is just for spare parts so

this is some

that I use or have used to develop four

by five film I hope that you found this

informative and thanks for watching and

stay tuned for my next video