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Discussion in 'Film Developing / Chemistry' started by pdk42, May 9, 2015.
NICE! I just got my chemistry delivered the other day and A co worker lent me a tank and reel. I need to get some dark 1 gallon containers for the mixes now. Hope you're as excited as I am.
Seeing the developing tank above brings back good memories, I can almost smell the chemicals!
Presumably you've got yourself a changing bag, or you may have devised a better method.
Your wife will be pleased with you, I can picture negatives hung up over the bath. My wife would divorce me if I tried (now there's a thought ).
When I was a kid, my parents had to put up with bathroom going u/s whilst I spent hours becomming intoxicated by the fumes. Wasn't healthy I'm sure.
Winding the film on to the those reels in a bag is not easy. Definitely worth sacrificing a cheap roll of film for practicing with.
Do you have a better tank in mind? I'm interested to know just in case I'm tempted to go down the home processing route myself.
I've got a Paterson tank with the white plastic reels, just like the one above except mine fits two 35mm reels. The double reel tanks can also be used with 120 medium format film.
That's all I've used, and even though I think it's the best way to go, its still takes practice to get good at. The reel works with a ratcheting action to wind the film on. The main problem is, you can't see what the film is doing and it can get twisted/tangled and come out of the feeding mechanism.
As far as I understand, the only other main type is a stainless steel tank with stainless steel reels. With these you have to manually wind the film onto the reel from the inside out, which is apparently even harder.
It's a while since I've done it, but I used Patterson tanks and reels extensively back in film days. Threading the film on is not too difficult - the difficulty, esp with longer film lengths, is making sure that the film doesn't kink as it snakes itself onto the spiral. Friction is your enemy here - which is why the reel is made of Nylon. It's imperative that there is no moisture on the reel since this will cause the friction to increase and at some point to impede any further loading. If I'd used the reel recently, I always put it into the drying cupboard or used a hair dryer before loading another roll.
Other than that, it's just about practice!
I've developed a bit of a technique I like to use.
I use a film picker to get the leader out, and in the light I pull enough film out to get it started on the reel. It helps if you cut the first bit of the leader off, because its usually kinked and that can cause issues with the feeding mechanism.
So, I get it started on the reel before I put it in the changing bag, the first bit of film has already been exposed to light anyway. Then when it is in the bag I hold the reel and film cassette together in my left hand and ratchet it with my right hand, feeding film out from the cassette as it goes. This prevents kinks or twists.
I've used both plastic and stainless reels, and now prefer the stainless. Here's a third option: The Agfa Rondinax. No darkroom or changing bag required, everything done in broad daylight. I've developed many rolls of Tri-X in D76 1:1 in one of these, with absolutely no problems. The only drawback is that you have to turn the knob throughout the development to agitate. They're usually not hard to find on ebay, and go for nearly nothing (or at least did last time I looked).
A good habit to get into when planning to develop you own film is to not rewind the film all the way into the cassette. When you feel the leader release from the take-up spool, stop winding. When you open the camera, the leader will be there, just waiting to be trimmed.
I develop and print my own film. I prefer the stainless steel reels, especially for 120 film.
I haven't used the steel reels in a couple of decades (since HS and college). I've been thinking of going back to the steel reels b/c I've been having issues with plastic ones, they've been jamming up on me half way through. I use a community darkroom so the tanks and reels are not in the greatest condition but I always check the reels before going into the closet. It's frustrating having to put your unspooled film into the tank and step out to grab another reel b/c the first one jams up on you half way through.
PS - Welcome to the forum 4BDesigns.
I've always found the stainless steel reels easier to load. Unless the reel is damaged somewhere, getting the film on is a walk in the park -- or walk in the dark, in this case. I've never understood the fear of SS reels so many photographers seem to have.
I agree loading 120 reels is easy with stainless. I always hated loading 220 on anything but dip and dunk racks and wasn't sorry when they stopped making the stuff.
I used to use both. But after a long layover of doing pure digital, I seem to have more trouble with the steel ones now. I could not get the spring to attach to the end of the film even in daylight
Some things I do when the plastic reels jam. I cut the end of the film creating a curved triangular point. I make sure that the feeding end do not have any sharp edges on the side; usually these sharp edges are from film sprocket holes that are partially cut. These snag on the plastic reels.
I do not twist the plastic reels like they show you on You tube to feed the film. I feed the film in manually until it will not go any more and then I slide the film in using the gap in the reel where you can feel the edges of the film. I do twist the plastic reels if there is a snag and all else fails. And go back to sliding it in.
Of course if nothing works most probably you have a part of the film that has derailed and you need to pull apart the plastic reel and rewind your film for another attempt.
Lastly, before you even start the reels need to be washed and fully dried.
Let me warn you that I use Jobo reels and I do not have any Patterson's. Both may have some similarities but do not know for sure.
They are the best in my humble opinion, I tried and failed with the steel reels. The Paterson reels must be bone dry then they are a dream to load. I don't use a bag, I go down into my cellar, lay out all I need, sit quietly, compose myself and that's it, 35mm or 6X6, a dream