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08-20-2009, 12:45 AM   #1
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Developing tanks

With regard to plastic, stainless steel, and stainless steel with plastic lid developing tanks: is there any inherent difference other than aesthetics and price? Same question for the reels, too. Is it easier to work with one over the other? I'm sure the stainless steel tanks are more durable but I'm not sure how important that is. .

08-20-2009, 02:07 AM   #2
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The easiset reels to use are the plastic ones, with the largest flaps for where you put the film in. These usually go with the plastic tanks. All I've ever used is plastic. 30 years ago I used Paterson which are well made... now I have Samigon which are cheaper and probably not as well made, but have the largest flaps, which are more handy getting 120 film loaded.

The metal ones make you look like a pro - and do have advantages apart from durability. Supposedly as they conduct heat better, you can temperature control them better. But IMHO getting film onto a metal reel is a pita, and while with practice can get easy, it does require more practice. I've never really bothered.
08-20-2009, 05:10 AM   #3
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I find it quite easy to get the film onto the plastic reels I have for my paterson, but sometimes it just doesn't slide in very well, does anyone else have this problem? I guess steel reels would make this problem disappear, or do you load steel reels in some other way? Nesster why is the steel reels difficult to load?

I would also like to have a tank that does not leak, do all paterson tanks leak? This really annoys me, and wastes fluids.
08-20-2009, 06:45 AM   #4
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I use both steel tanks and reels and plastic (Jobo). In most respects I prefer steel, I find them easier to load than plastic reels, which have an annoying habit of buckling the film. However, the Jobo system uses plastic reels and I really like the Jobo as a film processor.
A word to the wise with plastic reels is to use a toothbrush to clean the channels periodically as they do build up scum.
Also, wet plastic reels are pretty much impossible to load, and they take quite a while to air dry.

08-20-2009, 07:17 AM   #5
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It has been awhile since I last did any developing, but I will add my two-cents worth. Early on, I used the plastic reels and tanks at the high school darkroom, but found that the film would sometimes not feed properly (like Wheatfield says...film buckles). When I bought my own stuff I got chrome-plated reels and single reel stainless tanks with the flexible plastic lids. Later on, I also picked up a few stainless tanks with stainless steel lids. All have worked well for me with a few cautions:
  • Beware of cheap metal reels. The sides must be uniformly parallel or the film will not feed. Some also have inadequate plating and tend to rust.
  • Beware also of cheap metal lids. The last thing you need is chemistry leaking onto your work area.
  • Multi-reel tanks are a potential time saver, but I always questioned whether agitation was as consistent as with the smaller tanks.

Steve
08-20-2009, 07:24 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Jimfear Quote
Nesster why is the steel reels difficult to load?
I will answer in case Nesster is away...

The steel reels load from the "inside" out and require some practice to slide the edges of the film evenly into the tracks on the reel. A little poorly made reel or a lapse in concentration and the edge of the film will slip into the wrong track on one or both sides. That is why a well-made reel is a sound investment.

Steve
08-20-2009, 07:37 AM   #7
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AP Compact

I really like my plastic AP Compact developing tank (2-reel model).

The reels load very easily. They have a large flange to guide the film on, they have a very positive ball-bearing to hold the film, and the ratchet mechanism is smooth and loads the film perfectly every time. I can load a roll of film as fast as I can ratchet my wrists back and forth. I also like that the AP reels adjust to most imaginable film sizes (including the 127 that I like to occasionally shoot in my stereographic camera.)

The plastic tank on the AP has a nice tight-fitting lid, so it's a no-mess solution even for full inversions.

I have a hodge podge of older plastic tanks and reels, none of which work as smoothly (but they all work when dry.) They also make a mess because none of them are sealed like the AP tank. I have used stainless in school and not liked the fussiness.
08-20-2009, 07:57 AM   #8
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I've got the 2-reel AP tank as well. Works like a champ and no issues with film loading. The only time I ever get any spills/mess is with C-41 (blix bubbles and fizzes during agitation - nothing you can do about that).

08-20-2009, 08:13 AM   #9
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I like the Paterson reels & tanks personally. I used to like the stainless mainly because that what we had in the darkroom of the school paper. We had both in grad school for the electron microscopes darkroom (pre digital days ). The Paterson reels are adjustable and mine can take 35mm, 127 or 120 film. I have tanks that will take 2 rolls, 3 rolls of 35mm, and 5 rolls of 35. Of course the number of rolls they take go down with the 127 and 120 rolls. Loading the film on them is kind of cool also by twisting the sides of the reels back and forth in opposing directions. They tanks also don't hold residue from color chemicals which is good if you want to use them for c41 and b&W or E6 for that matter.

This was tough because I like the "bling" of the stainless tanks.
08-20-2009, 10:14 AM   #10
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I find metal spools so much easier to use. Plastic ones are annoying.
08-20-2009, 10:28 AM   #11
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I am a fan of the plastic Paterson tanks and reels. I used a Spanish made brand that was less expensive and damaged some film attempting to get it loaded. I did have SS tanks and reels but after practicing with them I was never confident enough in my ability to use them. Plastic works fine.

You do have to be careful with the plastic reels if they are wet -- they will "grab" the film and are nearly impossible to load. SS reels can be loaded wet so you can do a second run right after the first if you so choose.
08-20-2009, 11:13 AM   #12
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That's a good point about the plastic reels need to be dry. For those that don't like "plastic" reels, please specify which ones that you have used.
08-20-2009, 11:26 AM   #13
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I have used Patterson style reels for many years, and I love them
Last time I bought several Kalt, Patterson brand reels with the wide lip for easy loading.

Tried SS reels but those are a PITA until you get the hang of them.
08-20-2009, 11:52 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
That's a good point about the plastic reels need to be dry. For those that don't like "plastic" reels, please specify which ones that you have used.
Patterson and Jobo. If I could get my Jobo to accept steel reels I would never use plastic again.
08-22-2009, 05:00 AM   #15
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Once I practiced and learned how to use the steel reels it was easy and foolproof. You have to learn to get the end of the film into the right place, and then to bow or bend the film slightly as you load the reel.

35mm is easy and 120 not as easy because the MF film is not as stiff. The challenging thing was learning to load 220 reels - do not even think about doing it "for real" without a lot of practice on a sacrificed roll of film, and it might be particularly hard for people with short fingers. The reel is larger in diameter and so is harder to handle than any others.
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