Sunday, January 11, 2015

Daylight Development Tanks - Introduction

Daylight development tanks, very convenient to film shooters, are not made any longer. That is a real pity, since those are really convenient for developing your (B&W) film w/o the need for a darkroom or even a changing bag.

In today's digital age, that means that one can shoot "full frame" (135 film that is) with moderately price to extremely inexpensive cameras, develop the film (in bright daylight, using coffee) and scan to produce the images, w/o any need for a darkroom whatsoever!

As mentioned above, daylight development tanks are not made any longer and they are more and difficult to obtain on the 2nd hand market.
Personally, I got lucky on 3 daylight development tanks, I am sure that I overpaid, but, at least I can call those mine now (in order of purchase):
  • Jobo 2400
  • Agfa Rondinax 35 U
  • Agfa Rondix 35
Interestingly enough, all those tanks are German brands. I wonder if there were daylight development tanks of different makes too.
Concerning 120 film, I am aware of the existence of the Agfa Rondinax 60.

All three of the above 135 film tanks work on very different principles.
The Jobo 2400 and the Agfa Rondinax use reels, similar to conventional development tanks, on which the film is rolled onto. In contrast thereto, the Agfa Rondix 35 does not employ a reel at all.

In the Jobo 2400 the film is fed onto the reel in a way similar to the any other Jobo or Paterson reels, it is slid in, although, from the inside rather than the outside. At the end of the process, the film is cut from the cartridge. The advantage of the Jobo 2400 is, that it is watertight and can be used as a regular developer tank, also for stand development. Here is a video with a demonstration of the tank.

Loading the film onto the reel of the Agfa Rondinax 35 U is similar to loading a steel-reel. The film is fixed to the inner part of the real and rolled on, slightly bulged. As soon as the film is completely loaded to the reel, a knife needs to be engaged to cut the film next to the cartridge. Due to the fact that the reel is upright in the tank, the reel has to be turned at all times during processing. The Rondinax is not water-tight and therefore has to be kept upright during precessing. Check out this full tutorial.

The Agfa Rondix 35 is the most economical amongst the three, in terms of chemicals' volumes. However, when it comes to washing the film, it is the one that requires the most activity and time. The Rondix does not employ a reel, the film is wound onto itself on a spool. Agfa's advice is to actually roll the film onto the spool when there already is developer in the tank. My advice is to install the film and spool, fill the tank with developer, than close the lid and start winding the film.  The Rondix will keep you busy turning a little crank back and forth for the entire time of the processing. The cartridge will be attached to the film throughout the entire processing, this allows the reversal of the film onto itself. Actually, I use the cartridge to anchor the film for drying. The Rondix is not water-tight and therefore has to be kept upright during precessing. Again, someone else already did a video on the topic.

It is my turn now to use said tanks with alternative developers, e.g. Caffenol, and share the results.

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