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05-06-2008, 06:56 PM   #1
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Dark Room question.

I am thinking about using my bathroom for a darkroom from time to time to develope b&w film. This won't be a permenant dark room just when I am using it. I am wanting to develope film and then scan the negatives into my computer. I am thinking that what I would need is the following.

A changing bag or darkroom
Film processing tank with reel for 35mm film
Can opnener
Developer (dark gallon jug)
Stop Bath (dark gallon jug)
Fixer (dark gallon jug)
Hypo Cleaning Agent (dark gallon jug)
A good timer
A clip to hold the film while they dry
Thermomiter
and a running water.
And a book on how to do this. I did take a b&w photo class in high school and learned how to develope film but I don't remember much.

Thanks
Jim

05-06-2008, 07:28 PM   #2
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Two things:

Make that a GOOD thermometer
Some graduated cylinders, sizes depending on tank size and developer used

BTW, if you can't pick everything up locally for almost nothing, I have a couple of tanks/reels and some other items you can have for cost of shipping.

Jeff
05-06-2008, 07:46 PM   #3
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kachow. if he doesn't take you up on that offer, wjw, may i?
05-06-2008, 08:17 PM   #4
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I sent you a pm Jeff.

Thanks
Jim

05-06-2008, 11:09 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbrowning Quote
Film processing tank with reel for 35mm film
(dark gallon jug)
(dark gallon jug)
(dark gallon jug)
Hypo Cleaning Agent (dark gallon jug)
A good timer
A clip to hold the film while they dry

The Lithos approved and patent (applied for) alternatives to the above:

Dark Gallon Jugs: Soft drink bottles. Try to use ones that held something that was citrus-flavoured; the ascorbic acid helps the developer. Rinse well, of course. Keep them in a cupboard, and they'll be fine.

Clearing agent - I don't use it. Just rinse the film well.

A good timer: I use the stopwatch on my mobile phone. Oven timers are also good 'n' cheap.

A clip to hold film: those metal coathangers that consist of a bar with two clips on either end. I think they're for pants or something. Use bulldog clips to weight the ends, if necessary.

Other tips:

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, get a Paterson Tank with the white self-loading nylon reels. There will be people who state that "real" men use the old-skool stainless steel reels, because that's what they used in the seventies when Ansel Adams was still breathing, dammit. I can only assume these people took some bad acid while inhaling potassium ferrocyanide fumes about the same time as NVA tanks (no relation to the Paterson Tank) rolled through Saigon and out the other side, and continued to do so as said tanks rolled on to Cambodia.

You'll thank me for this later.

There are other self-loading reels (SLR's - not the kind my Army field during the Vietnam Wa- I'm sorry, I don't know where all these references are coming from) that a weak and inferior to the Paterson reels. They are hard and inflexible, and shall snap like the proverbial oak tree in the storm of the loading of a particularly bad roll of film, not bend like the reeds that are the Paterson reels, as Aesop spoke of.

Paterson are, pretty much, the kings of darkroom supplies. They also make a nifty thermometer that's built in a stirrer.
05-07-2008, 04:56 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithos Quote
The Lithos approved and patent (applied for) alternatives to the above:

Dark Gallon Jugs: Soft drink bottles. Try to use ones that held something that was citrus-flavoured; the ascorbic acid helps the developer. Rinse well, of course. Keep them in a cupboard, and they'll be fine.

Clearing agent - I don't use it. Just rinse the film well.

A good timer: I use the stopwatch on my mobile phone. Oven timers are also good 'n' cheap.

A clip to hold film: those metal coathangers that consist of a bar with two clips on either end. I think they're for pants or something. Use bulldog clips to weight the ends, if necessary.

Other tips:

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, get a Paterson Tank with the white self-loading nylon reels. There will be people who state that "real" men use the old-skool stainless steel reels, because that's what they used in the seventies when Ansel Adams was still breathing, dammit. I can only assume these people took some bad acid while inhaling potassium ferrocyanide fumes about the same time as NVA tanks (no relation to the Paterson Tank) rolled through Saigon and out the other side, and continued to do so as said tanks rolled on to Cambodia.

You'll thank me for this later.

There are other self-loading reels (SLR's - not the kind my Army field during the Vietnam Wa- I'm sorry, I don't know where all these references are coming from) that a weak and inferior to the Paterson reels. They are hard and inflexible, and shall snap like the proverbial oak tree in the storm of the loading of a particularly bad roll of film, not bend like the reeds that are the Paterson reels, as Aesop spoke of.

Paterson are, pretty much, the kings of darkroom supplies. They also make a nifty thermometer that's built in a stirrer.
A couple of notes.

While a changing bag is essentual if you don't have total darkness, you may also wish to make a "plug in" shade for the window. you can do this with a sheet of thin plywood or masonite, with dark foam at the edges to make a tight fit and light seal.

While the changing bag helps, getting the whole room dark prevents accidents.

Also, a washing agent is needed to prevent spots, not to clean the film. In effect it is really a very mild soap that changes the surface tension so that spots don't form

I would also re-consider the 1 galllon jugs as this is very large for the chemicals, and when partially used allows oxidation of the developer (not good)

Consider a developing tank that lets you do 2 or 4 rolls of film at a time and batch process. this will help you out quite a bit.

for hanging the film, there are 2 issues you will have, first is keeping them streight and untangled. I would suggest using the following.
- shower curtain hangers, so they can be hung off the curtain rod, plus the smallest spring paper clips you can find, These work on both ends, 1 to hold the neg's the other to weight them down. the pant hangers also would work as above but might distort the film

Your biggest emeny is dust. It will be everywhere.

Also note that once you have the film in the developing tank you can work in room light.

When I did developing 20 years ago, using Tri X and Kodak standard chemicals time and temperature were very forgiving. It was (from memory) 6 1/2 minutes at 21C, and the data sheet for the developer gave you time / temperature charts for different temperatures and push processing.

I'm not sure what films and chemicals are used today

You also need to consider counter space. You need this for stabalizing the temperature of your chemicals. I used a large developing tray, which I used to set the temperature of all chemicals (this was more important for cibachrome printing but did it for B&W also)

Also note that while you can get a stir stick with integrated thermometer, I wouldn't. there is too much risk of mixing chemicals and contaminating things.

the thermometer is only used in water. either the water prior to mixing chemicals, or in the tempoerature control bath, but NEVER in the chemicals themselves.

You should have one graduated cylinder for each chemical (again to avoid inadvertant mixing, as well as one stir stick per chemical.
05-07-2008, 06:21 AM   #7
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WOW, thanks for all the responses on this subject. I will try and give you all somemore info on this. I live in a basement and my bathroom is smack dab center of the basement so there is no windows to worry about. So what I am thinking is that the only time I would have to worry about light is getting the film from the cartridge to the reel/tank and getting is sealed, after that I can flip on the lights and I should be ok.

No with living in the basement our hot water heater is in a storage room. The only time the light is turned on is if someone is in there getting something which isn't too often. Could this take the place of the cupboard to store the chemicals?

Thanks
Jim
05-07-2008, 09:08 AM   #8
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What kind of temperatures do you get in the storage room? The two biggest killers of chemistry are oxidation and high temperatures.

Another post mentioned the oxidation problem with large bottles and this can be a problem. I use a one shot developer (Rodinal) and acid stop, but re-use the fix (within limits). I use multiple 1 liter bottles (mostly HDPE) completely filled and don't have a problem.

05-07-2008, 09:09 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by lithos Quote
FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, get a Paterson Tank with the white self-loading nylon reels. There will be people who state that "real" men use the old-skool stainless steel reels, because that's what they used in the seventies when Ansel Adams was still breathing, dammit. I can only assume these people took some bad acid while inhaling potassium ferrocyanide fumes about the same time as NVA tanks (no relation to the Paterson Tank) rolled through Saigon and out the other side, and continued to do so as said tanks rolled on to Cambodia.

You'll thank me for this later.
What a load of BS! Seriously, your post would be fine if you had listed the positive aspects of plastic developing tanks, such as the fun clicking noise you get when you load film on to the reels, or built in 135-120 support, but the comments about acid and geography are ridiculous.

Cons of plastic tanks:
They don't survive if you drop one.
There are far too many parts to keep track of. Don't forget to put the center rod in before you happily go pouring chem with the light on.
On average, you use far more soup than with steel tanks.
You can't load film while the reels are wet.


Steel tanks don't have the problems I listed. I use heavy duty Hewes reels. Spend the money and get these (Adorama is a good supplier). The thin gauge reels really are a pain to load. You do have to buy a separate 120 reel if you would like to develop the larger film.
05-07-2008, 09:10 AM   #10
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Darn, hit the wrong thing.

One good resource for developer/film combinations is:

The Massive Dev Chart: B/W Film Development Times, Processing Data
05-07-2008, 09:33 AM   #11
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Lithos,

I agree wholeheartedly on the Paterson tank and reel comment and will add that those relating SS reels to Ansel Adams fail to realize that sheet film doesn't use reels.

As for thermometers and timers -- B&W processing is not nearly as temperature and time sensitive and color so unless you plan to make B&W prints, virtually any basic timing device will work and if your room temperature is consistent and between 68-73 degrees Fahrenheit, you should be fine.

You will want data sheets for the film types and developers you are using.

Unless you are using distilled water to rinse, I found it hard to have the film dry without spots unless I used a rinse agent such as PhotoFlo. Most tap and well water has enough calcium and other minerals tp present challenges.

Consider making the bathroom light tight. I always found loading film on reels in the confines of a changing bag to be a real pain. I used to make mask for the windows and doors from heavy cardboard and attach them using black duct tape.

QuoteOriginally posted by lithos Quote
The Lithos approved and patent (applied for) alternatives to the above:


Other tips:

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, get a Paterson Tank with the white self-loading nylon reels. There will be people who state that "real" men use the old-skool stainless steel reels, because that's what they used in the seventies when Ansel Adams was still breathing, dammit. I can only assume these people took some bad acid while inhaling potassium ferrocyanide fumes about the same time as NVA tanks (no relation to the Paterson Tank) rolled through Saigon and out the other side, and continued to do so as said tanks rolled on to Cambodia.
05-07-2008, 07:24 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by bdavis Quote
What a load of BS! Seriously, your post would be fine if you had listed the positive aspects of plastic developing tanks, such as the fun clicking noise you get when you load film on to the reels, or built in 135-120 support, but the comments about acid and geography are ridiculous.
Imagine a tongue. Imagine it is Lithos's tongue. Now imagine that tongue is firmly in his cheek.

Also imagine that the OP said he was looking to load 135 film only.

QuoteQuote:
Cons of plastic tanks:
They don't survive if you drop one.
There are far too many parts to keep track of. Don't forget to put the center rod in before you happily go pouring chem with the light on.
Dropping a dev tank...? Never done it. Sounds like a worse case-scenario, and a lack of due care.

Can't remember last time I used the stirrer. Actually took me a while to figure out what it was (well, I didn't figure it out. The guy standing next to me at the camera store counter did for me.)

Normally I just slide the entire dev tank back and forth on a flat surface in a vague figure 8 pattern. Not only do you not need the lid, but since there's always dev in contact with the film, it leads to more even development. Or something. I don't know, frankly, I've yet to take film development that seriously, to be honest.

Does stop you dropping the tank, though.

Kodak used to suggest the sliding technique for non-invertable tanks, but for the life of me, I can't find where they mentioned this (might've been in the old Tech Pub for the old Tri-X.)

As for not being able to load wet film onto wet nylon reels, I find five minutes with a hairdryer sorts that out.

Film changing bags are great, because you can watch TV or admire one of Monet's Water Lillies.

I used to load my film in a cupboard in my room with the lights off. Still wasn't 100% light tight, but I found this had no negative effects at all, and that was devloping up to speeds of ISO 3200. It's ok, as long as you're quick.
05-07-2008, 07:34 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by davef Quote
Lithos,
I agree wholeheartedly on the Paterson tank and reel comment and will add that those relating SS reels to Ansel Adams fail to realize that sheet film doesn't use reels.
I know. Although apparently the California Hall Of Fame has Adam's Zeiss Ikon camera.

It was just my way of way of saying that everything old is not necessarily better, and that, occasionally, something comes along that improves on the old stuff .

For example, I, for one, welcome both self-loading reels and a smallpox-free world.
05-07-2008, 07:37 PM   #14
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I thank you all for the information you have given. It seems like there is a little more to it than I remembered. But I'm sure it will come back to me. For the life of me I don't remember anything about the temperature of the chemicals, but maybe that was something the instructor took care of for us. This was high school after all.

Thanks
Jim
05-07-2008, 08:52 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by jbrowning Quote
And a book on how to do this. I did take a b&w photo class in high school and learned how to develope film but I don't remember much.
First check your local library. I would be surprised if they didn't have at least on book that covered developing film. A basic outline can be found at:

DarkroomSource Developing your own Black & White film
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