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Full Foma-based B&W processing pipeline - recommended for a beginner?
Old 11-27-2018   #1
albireo
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Full Foma-based B&W processing pipeline - recommended for a beginner?

Hello everyone,

I've been shooting film for a long time but for many reasons never tried processing my own film. I have now moved and in this city getting B&W film processed takes a looong time (~10 days) so I thought I'd try doing it by myself.

I've been really happy with Fomapan 100 and 200 film in medium format, which is, coincidentally, also really cheap where I live.

I noticed Foma chemicals are cheap too. I was wondering if they're any good and if you'd recommend them for beginner.

If it's any help, one of the labs I used for my Foma processing told me they develop using X-tol. I loved the results I got with this combo. Looks like Foma makes an X-tol clone.

So in short worth faffing around with foma chemicals or should I invest in old tried and tested Kodak/Ilford products at a higher price? Thanks!
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Old 11-27-2018   #2
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Foma products work fine. I spent a lot of the 1990s shooting Foma 200 and 800 (no longer available) developing in Fomadon Excel (Xtol clone) and fixing in Fomafix Rapid fixer. Learn good technique; the films are delicate.

Marty
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Old 11-27-2018   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freakscene View Post
Foma products work fine. I spent a lot of the 1990s shooting Foma 200 and 800 (no longer available) developing in Fomadon Excel (Xtol clone) and fixing in Fomafix Rapid fixer. Learn good technique; the films are delicate.

Marty
I can't speak to the Foma chemicals because I've never used them, but I can say that when emulsions are soft, a hardening fixer is often a good idea. I don't know if Fomafix Rapid is a hardening fixer or not.
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Old 11-27-2018   #4
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I use Rodinal with Fomapan 400 and for what I do, it works just fine. as the saying goes, YMMV.
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Old 11-27-2018   #5
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Spending more money on chemistry ? Not my first choice , with practice any of them can produce a good image , heck I'm now using Caffenol (that's cheap also) and the results are getting much better with some experimentation ( and chances are you'll be experimenting with any combo ) . YMMV , Peter
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Old 11-27-2018   #6
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Thanks everyone - that's right: I'm happy to try several combos but I predict my failure rate, at least initially, will be quite high. So I thought I would initially invest in the cheapest decent chemicals I can find.
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Old 11-27-2018   #7
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Foma film, no experience, but Fomabrom variant 111 is (to my eyes) equal to Ilford Multigrade, and cheaper, either locally or from fotoimpex.
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Old 11-27-2018   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
Thanks everyone - that's right: I'm happy to try several combos but I predict my failure rate, at least initially, will be quite high. So I thought I would initially invest in the cheapest decent chemicals I can find.
I would not bet on your initial efforts being poor - it's really not a terribly difficult thing to do. The chemistry is pretty basic for B&W, and most often it's down to the skill one has in loading the reel. For this, I would suggest allocating some money for decent equipment and perhaps doing some practice with a sacrifice roll of film in a darkroom or changing bag. Loading on the reel, then remove and inspect in the light to see how you did. Unload, go into the dark and load again. You can use one roll of sacrifice film over and over again to check your skill in loading the reel. This is a skill you can only teach yourself; it takes the 'touch' to do it right and most people can do it - but it does take practice.

The chemicals will largely work no matter what. Some thoughts...

'Agitation' is important but it doesn't mean vigorous shaking. Some don't seem to know that. You're just moving the liquid around, not changing zip codes with it.

A dilution that requires a longer processing time is less sensitive to errors in timing than one which requires shorter time. A 30 second error in a three minute developing time is a bigger error than the same 30 second error in a 9 minute bath. Same is true for minor errors in temperature or any fat-fingering of getting the stop bath introduced. Use longer developing times to even out errors.

When in doubt, fix longer. It won't do any harm. Short fix is the cause of many errors. People get excited and want to see their film. Let it sit.

Rinse longer than required.

Hang in dust-free areas to dry if you can.

Let it dry - don't get anxious.

And number one is to have fun. There's something magical about it. Hope you catch the bug and find it a lifelong hobby worthy of pursuing.
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Old 11-27-2018   #9
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Awesome advice, thanks man. I'm going to copy and paste your points in my logbook.

May I just ask - regarding reels and ease of loading 120 film: I read the Paterson setup is not the best with MF film and that I'm better off with an AP-branded one. What do you think?
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Old 11-27-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
Awesome advice, thanks man. I'm going to copy and paste your points in my logbook.

May I just ask - regarding reels and ease of loading 120 film: I read the Paterson setup is not the best with MF film and that I'm better off with an AP-branded one. What do you think?
Others may have better advice than I do. I like Kodacraft aprons, which is a whole different scheme, but many hate them. I have used and do like Nikor reels for 35mm, but no experience with 120 for those.

Paterson plastic reels are terrific for film that is utterly dry. If your hands or the film has any moisture, they become difficult to work with in my experience.

Stainless steel reels work really well in all conditions - it's just that you need to gain that experience we talked about loading them. Most common failure is that you will load the reel, it will 'feel' OK in the dark, but some small part of the film will be touching another part and that won't be developed properly. That's why it's vital to practice loading in the dark and then examining the result in the light, over and over, until proficiency is built and confidence gained.

In the end, all the methods of loading film work - experience rules.
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Old 11-27-2018   #11
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Kodacraft aprons - sounds like exotic stuff

Anyway thanks again for the advice, I feel already my wallet getting lighter!
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Old 11-27-2018   #12
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All of bmattock's points are spot-on. No black magic involved with film developing, just maintain fairly consistent temps and develop a routine that works for you. Everyone screws up at some point, but those will be the lessons you will never forget.

If Foma products are affordable and available for you, by all means use them. It's best to stick with the same films and materials until you get comfortable, before experimenting with other films or developers. I've never used Foma Chemicals, but love Fomatone 131 paper for Lith printing. I would imagine your results with Foma dev won't be hugely different from what you get from the lab. I find that using different films makes a much bigger difference than changing developers, for the most part.
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Old 11-27-2018   #13
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The Hewes film reels are the best, IMO. Very well made, easy to load (once you've practiced!), durable. They are expensive, but I see them as a one-time investment.
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Old 11-27-2018   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldwino View Post
The Hewes film reels are the best, IMO. Very well made, easy to load (once you've practiced!), durable. They are expensive, but I see them as a one-time investment.
Thanks, googled these - I see what you mean, they give an impression of durability. However I think I'd like to start with cheap plastic tanks initially, at least until I know if I will keep doing this home processing thing. It is nice to think I will have an added degree of control over the process.

One thing I haven't properly assessed is if the initial investment will pay for itself in the long term. I spend 5.95 euro per developed roll currently. In my basket I have, at the moment, about 130 euro of processing gear, including chemicals.

So it looks like it will take me about 22 rolls to break even - at my current pace, about 10 months of photography.

One factor to consider is that, if I know I can get immediate results from my B&W (rather than waiting for 10 days as I currently do) I might end up shooting much more B&W and less, or no, C41.

Anyway, food for thought, and the whole thing is certainly worth for the fun of experimenting at least. Thanks for all the advice!
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Old 11-27-2018   #15
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I've had many years of experience using Foma's powdered developer and can recommend it heartily. Foma also makes an R09-equivalent developer (a Rodinal clone) which is very economical as it is typically used at very low dilution (1:25 or 1:50) and has a very long shelf life. Macodirect carries Foma chemistry if you're unable to buy it in your city.

Cheers, Robert
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Old 11-27-2018   #16
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Bottle of X-Tol will lasts very long time and for many films.
If you have time, then dilution H instead of B. With dilution H it is going to be several bulks of Foma on one X-Tol bottle.
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Old 11-27-2018   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
So in short worth faffing around with foma chemicals or should I invest in old tried and tested Kodak/Ilford products at a higher price?
I have never tried Foma chemicals but I love the FomaPan 100 film because I can get it in 35mm, 120, 4x5, and 8x10 for less cost than the Ilford equivalent. I develop the film in Kodak D76 diluted 1:1 and then discarded.
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Old 11-27-2018   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
Awesome advice, thanks man. I'm going to copy and paste your points in my logbook.

May I just ask - regarding reels and ease of loading 120 film: I read the Paterson setup is not the best with MF film and that I'm better off with an AP-branded one. What do you think?
I recommend a JOBO developing tank. Because
- perfect quality
- excellent system, can be easily upgraded if you want to go further (tank extension, processor use)
- very flexible for using both 135 and 120 film
- they need significant less chemistry compared to Paterson or AP tanks, so in the mid- and long term you have the lowest development costs with them.
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Old 11-27-2018   #19
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I shoot mostly Fomapan 200 (as opposed to 100 or 400) and develop in either Foma LQN or XTOL. Happy with results.

For APX100 film (cheap Agfa film I bought expired) I use Foma R09 substituting Rodinal. Again, happy with results.

35mm Foma 200 in LQN (V700 scan):


last days of summer #542 by lynnb's snaps, on Flickr

35mm expired APX100 in R09:


informal portrait #147 by lynnb's snaps, on Flickr
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Old 11-27-2018   #20
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120 film Fomapan 200 in XTOL 1+1 (I'd expect similar result with Fomadon LQN):

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Old 11-27-2018   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
May I just ask - regarding reels and ease of loading 120 film: I read the Paterson setup is not the best with MF film and that I'm better off with an AP-branded one. What do you think?
I have both Paterson reels and AP reels (the plain model, without extended guides). To me they are equally easy to load. The main difference is that the AP tanks do not leak, thanks to a better choice of materials (less rigid, more rubber-like) for the gasket and the cap. Reels can be exchanged between the two brands of tanks.

If you are starting into film stuff and have limited cash, do not make a blind gamble regarding your personal preferences: buy a budget (but adequate) tank; my recommendation is AP if available where you reside. Later, and based on your personal experience, you may decide to upgrade, and/or gain darkroom credentials by using stainless steel reels.
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Old 11-27-2018   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Bottle of X-Tol will lasts very long time and for many films.
If you have time, then dilution H instead of B. With dilution H it is going to be several bulks of Foma on one X-Tol bottle.
Uh? I knew dilutions B...H for HC-110. Concerning X-tol that is new?
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Old 11-27-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
<snip>

When in doubt, fix longer. It won't do any harm. Short fix is the cause of many errors. People get excited and want to see their film. Let it sit.
Rinse longer than required.
Hang in dust-free areas to dry if you can.
Let it dry - don't get anxious.
And number one is to have fun. There's something magical about it. Hope you catch the bug and find it a lifelong hobby worthy of pursuing.
All good advice, IMO. I would add, between rinse and hang:
  • 1 min in photo-flo or equivalent, at the manufacturer's recommended dilution, or weaker (as long as water spreads as an unbroken film).
  • Hold the film at arm's length between the film clips, sloping diagonally, for approx 30s; this is to drain water and any residual particles on the edge of the film
  • DO NOT wipe, just hang.
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Old 11-27-2018   #24
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I don't mix X-tol or D76 anymore because I can't be sure I can finish it within a comfortable period. So I have standardised on Adox "Rodinal" 1:50 for slower films - Acros, Foma 100, Foma 200; and HC110 dilution E 1:47 for all 400 iso films. These two liquid developers last for years after opening so no pressure to finish anything. Also these developers are cheap. Just mix from the bottle when you need to. Very easy for the beginner.
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Old 11-28-2018   #25
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HCB and HCh, sorry
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Old 11-28-2018   #26
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Overwhelmed with the responses here. Thank you all very much. Thanks to those who shared their shots too, love them!

Question regarding Rodinal - is there a commercial name for this? Macodirect.de stocks a 'R09 - Compard'. I'm guessing this is the same thing?
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Old 11-28-2018   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BernardL View Post
All good advice, IMO. I would add, between rinse and hang:
  • 1 min in photo-flo or equivalent, at the manufacturer's recommended dilution, or weaker (as long as water spreads as an unbroken film).
  • Hold the film at arm's length between the film clips, sloping diagonally, for approx 30s; this is to drain water and any residual particles on the edge of the film
  • DO NOT wipe, just hang.
I don't disagree with you but I wanted to paint in broad strokes for simplicity''s sake.

Also wipe vs not wipe is a religious article and I didn't want to spark a war.
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Old 11-28-2018   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
Question regarding Rodinal - is there a commercial name for this? Macodirect.de stocks a 'R09 - Compard'. I'm guessing this is the same thing?

No, it is not quite the same.The formula is slightly different.
If you want the real, exact last original Rodinal formula Agfa has used before they went out of production you have to use ADOX Rodinal (which is also sold as ADOX Adonal). ADOX is the only chemistry manufacturer which is using the latest original Agfa Rodinal formula. Another advantage using ADOX Rodinal: ADOX has high quality bottles with an inner coating against oxygene diffusion. That further improves the shelf life of the chemistry.
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Old 11-28-2018   #29
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If you go with Fomadon Excel, the X-Tol clone, pay attention to totally, completely dissolving the first part before adding the second powder. It's said to be a little more difficult than X-tol, which I have never tried. In any case it can take long, even with warm water, you may need to crush the remaining crystals with your stirring rod. If you get impatient, you may end up with spots on the negatives, ask me how I know... although pre-soaking the film might prevent them.
I can recommend the stuff though, very good negatives, cheap, no great health hazard and environmentally friendly. If you're not keen on large grain, that's what I'd go with.
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Old 11-28-2018   #30
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Guys, this is how new film developers end up confused, demoralized, and driven away. We all start pounding on the 'thou shalt' podium and expounding our own particular brand of religious faith, and the message gets lost in the shouting.

B&W film developing is not difficult to get started in, and the perfect is the enemy of the good. The goal should be for a new person to be able to quickly and relatively painlessly climb the ladder of success.

To do this, they need exposed film, a dark room or changing bag, a light-tight tank and reel to hold the film, a developer, (usually) a stop bath, fixer, and fresh water. That is pretty much it. Get down into the weeds with arguments about how many angels can dance upon the head of a pin and the new users walk away.

Let them become converts before you beat them over the head with your particular bible, eh?
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Old 11-29-2018   #31
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Thank you so much for the useful advice everyone. I've gone ahead and placed an order with macodirect with what will hopefully be a decent 'starter kit'

-dark bag
-AP tank
-couple of large and small graduated cylinders
-skinny analog glass thermometer
-film clips
-foma fixer, foma stop bath, foma wetting agent

I looked into developers the longest. One can go crazy with the amount of choice. In the end I settled for a liquid concentrate (Foma LQN) and the Foma Rodinal clone (Fomadon R09). The idea is to try both for and see which one gives me the best combination of reliability, simplicity and reproducibility.

I did not purchase any powder developers for the time being. I might be wrong, but I felt the mixing might introduce an additional degree of complication. We'll see.

Very excited to try this and will report back. If I manage to get some results I will certainly scan some test negatives and post them here for critique. I have some Fomapan 100 ready to go and I'm especially looking forward to developing some using the Rodinal formula. Will keep you posted, thanks again!
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Old 11-29-2018   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
Thank you so much for the useful advice everyone. I've gone ahead and placed an order with macodirect with what will hopefully be a decent 'starter kit'

-dark bag
-AP tank
-couple of large and small graduated cylinders
-skinny analog glass thermometer
-film clips
-foma fixer, foma stop bath, foma wetting agent

I looked into developers the longest. One can go crazy with the amount of choice. In the end I settled for a liquid concentrate (Foma LQN) and the Foma Rodinal clone (Fomadon R09). The idea is to try both for and see which one gives me the best combination of reliability, simplicity and reproducibility.

I did not purchase any powder developers for the time being. I might be wrong, but I felt the mixing might introduce an additional degree of complication. We'll see.

Very excited to try this and will report back. If I manage to get some results I will certainly scan some test negatives and post them here for critique. I have some Fomapan 100 ready to go and I'm especially looking forward to developing some using the Rodinal formula. Will keep you posted, thanks again!
I'll bet everything works out fine for you, and I hope you have a lot of fun doing it. Others have suggested and I second the notion to not get to worried about all the available developers - not yet. Work with one until you feel comfortable with its characteristics and variables. It's too easy to get sucked into the whole chasing the rainbow thing - maybe this magic developer, maybe that one. All of them work. Some have different characteristics, which makes things interesting, but master making a cake using the recipe off the cake mix box before you start breeding chickens to get free-range eggs, right? Have fun!
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Old 11-29-2018   #33
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Originally Posted by albireo View Post

May I just ask - regarding reels and ease of loading 120 film: I read the Paterson setup is not the best with MF film and that I'm better off with an AP-branded one. What do you think?
I actually find the Paterson reels are easier for 120 film than they are for 35mm. But load the uncut end, just in case you've cut from the backing paper unevenly. Or peel back the paper and start to load the film from that end. It's just practice and feeling your way around. Like pmattocks says, the reels must be bone dry.

I also rub a soft pencil over the ball-bearings each time as a bit of 'dry lubricant'. And it's possible, once the film is in place, to grasp it
with thumb and forefinger v-e-r-y lightly round the middle and twist the reel so that the film goes right to the inner end-stop. You can then wind on a second 120 film. But don't attempt it if you're not certain you've reached the end stop or your films will overlap and you'll ruin a frame. I only do this 'cos I'm a cheapskate with developer and it saves time.
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Old 11-29-2018   #34
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Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I would not bet on your initial efforts being poor - it's really not a terribly difficult thing to do. The chemistry is pretty basic for B&W, and most often it's down to the skill one has in loading the reel. For this, I would suggest allocating some money for decent equipment and perhaps doing some practice with a sacrifice roll of film in a darkroom or changing bag. Loading on the reel, then remove and inspect in the light to see how you did. Unload, go into the dark and load again. You can use one roll of sacrifice film over and over again to check your skill in loading the reel. This is a skill you can only teach yourself; it takes the 'touch' to do it right and most people can do it - but it does take practice.

The chemicals will largely work no matter what. Some thoughts...

'Agitation' is important but it doesn't mean vigorous shaking. Some don't seem to know that. You're just moving the liquid around, not changing zip codes with it.

A dilution that requires a longer processing time is less sensitive to errors in timing than one which requires shorter time. A 30 second error in a three minute developing time is a bigger error than the same 30 second error in a 9 minute bath. Same is true for minor errors in temperature or any fat-fingering of getting the stop bath introduced. Use longer developing times to even out errors.

When in doubt, fix longer. It won't do any harm. Short fix is the cause of many errors. People get excited and want to see their film. Let it sit.

Rinse longer than required.

Hang in dust-free areas to dry if you can.

Let it dry - don't get anxious.

And number one is to have fun. There's something magical about it. Hope you catch the bug and find it a lifelong hobby worthy of pursuing.
12 min. in D76 diluted 1+3. 1 min in acid bath. 10 min in kodak fixer. 5sec. agit every minute..20 minutes wash.

Dry. Contact print. Chose and enlarge.

Life is good.
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Old 11-29-2018   #35
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Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
I don't disagree with you but I wanted to paint in broad strokes for simplicity''s sake.

Also wipe vs not wipe is a religious article and I didn't want to spark a war.

wiping is begging for scratches.



metal reels for loading film are safer than plastic but the plastic tanks are much smarter if you donīt have a light blocked darkroom.
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Old 11-29-2018   #36
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wiping is begging for scratches.
Religion. You have yours, I have mine, and I'm not going to argue about it.
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Old 12-11-2018   #37
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Hello everyone

So I went ahead and developed my first 2 rolls. Thank you once again everyone for the awesome advice. This is something I had wanted to try for a long time but for some reasons never quite round to doing. Well I was missing out. If going back to film over the past year has rekindled my interest in photography, seeing the my own shots appear on a wet roll of plastic has turned me into a potential film addict

I thought I'd share a few scans. Any comments and suggestions welcome. I mostly followed the advice of people here, and for the actual development times I used an android app called 'Massive Dev Chart Timer'. It basically contains a database of film/developer combination and assists you during the actual processing by setting timers for development, stop, fix, wash, and giving you audio cues for agitation. I also followed the advice contained in the app for diluting my chemicals.

So I did follow my own plan and went with a full 'Foma pipeline' so to say. Setup was as follows

Roll 1
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Camera: Fujifilm GA645i (6x4.5)
Film: Fomapan 400
Developer: Fomadon LQN 1+10; 10min @ 20C

Roll 2
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Camera: Rolleicord Va (6x6)
Film: Fomapan 100
Developer: Fomadon R09 (Rodinal clone) 1+50; 9 min @ 20C

For both tests I used the Foma stop bath, fixer and wetting agent indicated in one of my previous posts above. Everything is one-shot, apart from the fixer, which I diluted before the 1st roll and then stored in a bottle, and am reusing.

Unfortunately the weather is miserable currently, so I didn't really get any good light. Most of my shots are indoors. The second roll was shot entirely indoors, on my tripod. with cable release.

A coupe of samples from roll 1 (Fujifilm GA645i, Foma 400, Fomadon LQN)





A couple of samples from roll 2 (Rolleicord Va, Foma 100, Foma 'Rodinal')


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Old 12-11-2018   #38
albireo
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A couple of notes / lessons learned / questions

1. Loading the AP tank was incredibly easy. The spiral has two large flaps in which to insert the film. I didn't even have to sacrifice a roll, luckily. Well in a way I did: my 1st roll was my 'sacrificial' roll. I just went around taking silly pictures I didn't worry about losing. But overall it was really doable. One thing I realised, I should have probably bought a slightly larger dark bag, the one I have is pretty tight. Nothing major though.

2. Rookie mistake: I realised my tank needs 590ml of liquid to work. However, the beakers I bought are 500ml. How stupid of me. Getting to the right amounts of solution was more convoluted than it should have been. Should have known better.

3. Washing: I did about 10mins of washing under running tap water, and a final wash with 2 drops of wetting solution for 1 further minute. Is this what people recommend?

4. After drying, I did not find the film dirtier than what I get from the lab, which was nice. However, 1 or 2 of the photos in the second roll have some marks (see 3rd shot above, tiles on the right, there is a faint mark). What might have caused this? Water is quite hard where I live, and I didn't use distilled water. Might this be the reason?

5. (Foma 400+Fomadon LQN) vs (Foma 100+Rodinal). I have to say I find both quite pleasant - interestingly I do not notice a massive difference in grain size between the two. I guess it's too early to say which combination I prefer based on the above. For the rest of the winter, while available light is scarce, I might stick to Foma 400 + Fomadon LQN.

6. Transition between the different stages of processing: I'm still a bit a unclear on how crucial it is to time the swap of chemicals in the tank with precision. My understanding is that time is critical in the dev->stop transition. However, I would imagine time is not critical in the stop->fixer transition, because of what the 'stop' stage does (i.e. stops the development process). Is this correct?
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Old 12-11-2018   #39
lynnb
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Results look good to me.

Re 3: I use Ilford rapid wash technique mentioned here - though I do it a bit more thoroughly:
Step 1. fill tank with fresh water, invert 10 times, discard
Steps 2-5: repeat but invert 20 times.
- this all takes around 6mins. Then I add photo-flo solution, very gentle agitation to avoid creating detergent foam, let sit for around 10mins.

Re 4: Do you mean the white outline mark? That's a drying mark from having a wet patch on the neg as it dries. That's why some prefer to gently wipe or squeegee the neg (which risks scratches).

Re 6: That's my understanding, too.
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Old 12-11-2018   #40
Freakscene
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
4. After drying, I did not find the film dirtier than what I get from the lab, which was nice. However, 1 or 2 of the photos in the second roll have some marks (see 3rd shot above, tiles on the right, there is a faint mark). What might have caused this? Water is quite hard where I live, and I didn't use distilled water. Might this be the reason?
Yes, it’s a drying mark. They are usually from minerals in water. You can also get them from using wetting agent that’s too strong. I get them if I use Kodak Photo Flo at the concentration recommended on the label, so I use half that. Any less and there is not enough for it do anything. You can try distilled water OR less wetting agent, but I’d try distilled water for the final rinse first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
5. (Foma 400+Fomadon LQN) vs (Foma 100+Rodinal). I have to say I find both quite pleasant - interestingly I do not notice a massive difference in grain size between the two. I guess it's too early to say which combination I prefer based on the above. For the rest of the winter, while available light is scarce, I might stick to Foma 400 + Fomadon LQN.
In medium format Fomapan 400 is excellent. The images you posted look great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by albireo View Post
6. Transition between the different stages of processing: I'm still a bit a unclear on how crucial it is to time the swap of chemicals in the tank with precision. My understanding is that time is critical in the dev->stop transition. However, I would imagine time is not critical in the stop->fixer transition, because of what the 'stop' stage does (i.e. stops the development process). Is this correct?
As usual, it depends. If the development time is long, a bit more or a bit less is proportionally small. If the development time is very short, a short variation is a greater proportion of the total time. I tend to try to use developers where the development time is 10-15 minutes. This is long enough to make slight variations not very meaningful, and short enough that I don’t get bored.

Your images look great. Read what Brian wrote above. Just keep at it, what you are doing looks fine, and change only if you want to or if you have a reason or issue you are trying to address. If you do make changes, just make one at a time. If you use distilled water AND change the concentration of wetting agent, you won’t know which one made the difference if the marks disappear. If you try one, you do know what is making a difference.

Go out and take photos, forget about all the contradictions here. Develop your film and scan it or print it and show your friends and family and us the photos, and don’t be scared to ask if you do have any problems. But it isn’t complicated and the voodoo is mostly just that.

Marty
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