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ben_hutcherson



Joined: 15 Jan 2017
Posts: 19
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:22 am    Post subject: About to get Rolling Reply with quote

I've been posting a bit here lately, but never made a formal introduction.

Basically, I've been interested in large format for years, and have also wanted either a Speed or Crown Graphic. My interest in them is two fold-first of all they make a great, practical, lightweight 4x5 camera. Second, I've always been a collector at heart, and the history and design of the Graphic cameras intrigued me. I've already been down the Rollei path(collecting Rolleiflex and Rolleicords) for much the same reason, although I DO use my cameras. I was going through my binders of MF transparencies the other day, and had forgotten just how much film I've burned through my main Rolleiflex.

I bought a miniature Pacemaker Crown a few years ago, although it's not seen much use. I still have a partial box of Efke 50 for it, but never shot it a lot and honestly didn't see the advantage of it over MF considering that I couldn't get the emulsions I like.

I'd been spot checking KEH for a while, and watched several Graflexes disappear while I debated on buying one. Finally, a couple of weeks ago I saw a nice Pacemaker Speed Graphic with a 135mm f/4.7 Optar. I was also able to pick up a couple of holders.

Of course, that's only part of the equation. Film is still a bit of a sticker shock for me. Since Kodak quit making my favorite B&W film(Plus-X) I've moved over to Ilford FP4+ in 35mm and Medium Format. I bought a 25 sheet box of 4x5, although it's unopened. I also picked up some Ilford RC paper. I can't get my preferred Velvia 50 in 4x5, but the eye popping cost of RVP-100 and RDP-III has me putting them off for a while. I'm also considering investing in a E-6 kit since no local lab can do sheet film. I'm also a bit disappointed that I can't get Tri-X 400 any more. I've heard good things about 320, but I'd love to shoot some rolls of it first before plopping down the cash-at least FP-4+ is a film I know fairly well.

A trip to a local used camera store today resulted in some great deals since "no one buys LF stuff anymore." I also got a lot of "I wish you'd asked me last month/last year/10 years ago." Even so, I picked through a pile of about 100 film holders and came up with a half dozen nice, straight wood Graflex branded holders at $5 each. As I was walking out, I grabbed an unopened box of 20 year old TMAX-100 for $5.

I did shoot some paper this past weekend. I was running 10 minute or so exposures inside, but did get some passable "negatives."

In any case, I'm still working out some logistic problems. I've never had a real dark room. I've always used a changing bag to load reels and then just handled everything under normal light in the bathroom. I rigged up a safelight(actually I was able to pull a proper one with a red filter and clear bulb out of the ceiling at work) and managed to get the dark room dark enough to handle paper. I'm afraid it's not up handling film, though. I'm afraid to try tray developing, and the light-tight 4x5 tanks B&H sells now seem to get mixed reviews. I'd use the "taco" method but all of my roll tanks are 2x35mm reel(1x120).

I have an Epson V700 so scanning is no issue, but I'd also like to try wet printing. Once again, the local camera shop suggested watching CL for an Omega 45 enlarger.

I suppose my only specific question would be on suggestions for alternatives to a 4x5 tank, but I'm mostly just making a rambling "hello" post. I'm excited to get started with this camera.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1553
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben, I can't tell you which way to go, of course, but maybe a short version of my story will interest you. Photographically speaking, I come from a 35 mm background, complete with home darkroom in which I spent many happy (and sometimes frustrating) hours over a period of many years. A friend and colleague, himself a very fine professional photographer, acquainted me with the possibilities of large format. Not wanting the bother of loading sheet film, I settled on medium format so I could use 120 roll film. I acquired a Century Graphic and a pretty compete kit of lenses, filters, and the rest. After briefly trying the wet process films familiar to me from 35 mm (Kodak, mostly), I discovered chromogenic black and white in the form of Ilford XP2 Super. and this has become my main medium ever since. Since it's processed in color chemistry (C-41, the same as color negative film), I don't have to develop it myself but can have it done at my local photo store lab. And since I already have a scanner, printer, and a Mac, I can dispense with the wet darkroom and do all the rest digitally. FYI, I have the Epson V700 and R2880 printer. I couldn't be more happy with the results.

Since you have the camera and the V700 (best in its class, bar none) and a computer, you could try this approach and see how you like it. You do need a good printer, one that uses pigment inks; Epson makes the best, IMO. Your scanner already came with a version of Photoshop, and if you have a Mac you're good to go. But I fully understand the appeal of the wet darkroom, believe me, and if the bug has bitten you, you'll just have to scratch the bite. I will say that I don't miss the wet darkroom at all, and it's becoming very inconvenient nowadays to get the chemicals and keep them fresh---not to mention the expense of tank, trays, enlarger/lens, thermometer, tongs, sponges, clips, a timer, and the darkroom itself (with sink!). Think it over!
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ben_hutcherson



Joined: 15 Jan 2017
Posts: 19
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henry,

Thanks for your response.

I've actually never shot chromogenic films. A co-worker still swears by XP2 Super, although he hasn't shot a frame of film in 7 or 8 years. In fact, he gave me his Coolscan V in trade for some Mac repair "miracles"(his words) that I've been able to pull off for him(I collect older Macs and have built 3 G4s for him to keep a scientific instrument going for him).

In any case, I'm pretty well sold on on scanning. Of course, the Coolscan is only good for 35mm(I can't afford an 8000 or 9000) so the V700 comes in for medium format. I prefer the Coolscan for 35mm, but I actually have three slide holders for my V700-that means that I can load up an entire roll of 35mm with minimal handling. It's also been handy when I've digitized slide shows for other folks since at lower res I can digitize an 80-slide Carousel tray in an hour and a half.

Of course, also when we talk about scanning chromogenics do have their advantages since you can use ICE on them.

All of that aside, I'm a chemist by training and profession(I have a masters in analytical chemistry) so I enjoy piddling around in the dark room. Also, when it comes to 4x5, having any color film(or color process film) developed is an issue since I haven't found even a semi-local lab that can do it. 120 is no problem, but sheet film is a different story. It's been a while since I've even shot any color negative film(although I have some Ektar 100 in 35mm and 120 stuck in the freezer) as I prefer transparencies. I'm pretty well hooked on the the over-the-top Velvia look, although I've shot my fair share of Provia to moderate things a bit. I'm also very excited about the new Ektachrome, although the last couple rolls of E100G I shot left me pretty underwhelmed.

Freestyle does sell some attractively priced E6 kits, so I'm tempted to give it a try. I have a ton of Kodak Lumiere in 120 stashed back in the freezer for just such a situation. I also have some Elite Chrome that I bought just after it was out of date and even though it's closing in on 20 years old, it has declined very predictably and I've done enough with it to have a good baseline.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1553
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben, good luck with the E-6. I never had the guts to try color chemistry at home, chiefly because of the temperature control needed and the expense, and also because the labs did it better than I could, and there were so many of them! Also, I shot a lot of Kodachrome, and we all know what happened to that film, the finest color positive process ever invented IMO, which you couldn't develop at home! Today, all that has changed, of course. BTW, I like Provia very much. Of course, it isn't considered "archival" like the K'chrome.

If you do try XP2 Super, know that I found by trial-and-error the best results for me came when I exposed the nominal 400 ASA at 100, otherwise the negs were too thin to record detail, and they didn't scan properly as the denser negs did. I wouldn't shoot any other b/w emulsion, and this from a guy who swore by Plus X and Panatomic X of blessed memory. The Ilford is better than the Kodak version, IMO.

My Minolta Dimage Scan Dual IV recently died, and I haven't found another on the current market that even approaches it at reasonable cost, so for now and maybe for the duration I'm sticking with the V700 for slide scanning. It's actually gotten some very good reviews in this role, and for larger negs it's the best. And as a flatbed it's a great copier of prints, too, which often look better than the originals after "shopping" them.
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ben_hutcherson



Joined: 15 Jan 2017
Posts: 19
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henry,

I have to admit that color chemistry is a bit intimidating to me also, but I do have a bathtub in my "dark room" that could hopefully serve as a constant temperature bath. I do use stainless steel tanks, which fortunately are also a bit more responsive to temperature baths also.

With E6 now running $8-10 a roll for processing at local labs, and the only mail order sheet film lab I found charging $5 a sheet, I feel like a $200 kit would pay off pretty quickly as long as I could get the procedure nailed down.

I actually sometimes have trouble with getting my B&W chemistry cold enough, although fortunately it's easy enough to adjust developing times a for a few degrees either way. Modern Kodak and Ilford films are also surprisingly resilient-I've tried to intentionally get Tri-X to reticulate, and have never been able to do it even with going straight into near boiling water. I wish Efke still made film-they were super easy to reticulate and and cheap enough that you didn't care . I've mostly played around with reticulating for effect, although I've passed that experimental phase of photography .

I did run across an Ilford paper on reversal processing, and once I get negative processing down on sheet film I'm anxious to give it a try(although I'll probably try it in MF first). They specify using a permanganate/sulfuric acid bleach, which is easy enough for me to make myself. I'm hoping that it will work with D76, as I think they specified a different developer(not their D76 equivalent) but chemically I see no reason why it wouldn't. They claim it will work with any current production Ilford B&W film.

As for your comment on overexposing-back when I still shot a lot of color negative(i.e. the days of the $8 5-pack of Fuji Xtra 400 at Wally World, and $3 send off processing) I would almost always go at least 1/2 stop over and often a full stop. I found that(within reason) a denser negative almost always scanned better and made the colors "come alive" a bit better. With color negative film, I used to live by "Sunny 11" and not "Sunny 16." By contrast, I often go about 1/3 stop under on transparencies-once again I find that Velvia seems to really open up, although the Dmax is so high that you really have to read the scene as you can completely lose your shadows if you just stick it there and leave it.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1553
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I rarely had a problem with lowering temperature, but in the winter I often had to raise the temperature of my bottled solutions by placing the jugs in the darkroom sink, partially immersed in hot tap water, and monitoring with the thermo until "just so."

I built my darkroom in one back corner of the garage, with access to plumbing thanks to the accessible washing machine hookups. The room was essentially unheated, though, so it got cold or hot depending on the season. I did have a small A/C unit in the wall, and an electric heater, but I only operated these as needed when I was using the room. At other times, it assumed the outside temp, as did the chemicals stored under the base cabinets (metal cabinets I got for nothing when the college I taught at remodeled the chem labs and threw out the old stuff!).

Pretty much all color positive (transparency) film is too contrasty by nature, it seems, at least that's been my experience, and the latitude for exposure error is very narrow, at best. That was one of the challenges of "real" (as opposed to digital) photography:you'd better get it right the first time, because there's no going back for more.
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3521
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

4x5 Developing tanks: I tried a FR slosher, same as a Yankee, and it was a mess. Chemicals splashed, uneven development, would require a learning curve similar to climbing the face of Half Dome.
Combi Plan-slow to fill and drain, film came out of the slots during inversions unless very gentle. Mine always leaked. Many use them as dip and dunk.
Jobo- vintage tanks are the 2521 magnet base and 2523 cog lid which holds a 2509n 4x5 reel that holds 6 sheets of film. Fairly easy to load. All 25xx and 28xx extensions can be added to make a multi reel tank. Current version is the 2520. 2800 tanks are for paper development and will not have the funnel in the lid or the center column.
The current roller base is listed as #1509 and will adjust to all size tanks Jobo made or currently makes.
A 2520 tank requires 300 ml of chemicals when used in rotary processing.
The tank instructions say 270ml but many get edge problems with that amount.
Manual rotary processing is easy to do. One must reverse direction of rotation to prevent streaking. An even number of rotations in each direction gives excellent results. I switch directions every minute, finger tip to heel then switch to heel to finger tip. Rotation is 50 rpm to 60 rpm at a slow even pace.
Inversion processing is possible with a single reel 2520 but the tank must be full of chemicals and 1500ml is heavy.
I would only go the mod 54/patterson tank route if on a tight budget and wasn't shooting for gallery quality every time.

The best B&W developer I've found is Xtol. Xtol will die in 4 to 6 months so if you are not processing frequently you may get ghost images or blank film. I used it 1:1, one shot. Similar holds true for D76. The best alternative is HC110, a concentrate that you mix just before use and use one shot. The concentrate keeps well beyond the expiration date.

E6 processing is easy especially if you have your B&W processing down and consistently get excellent results. Two plastic storage bins 4 to 6 inches deep that nest into each other and a sink to hold the chemicals are all that is needed. Fill the bottom container half to 2/3 full of 110F water, sit the second container into the first and fill half full of 105F water, fill the developing tank with 103F (preferred chemical temperature per chemical instructions) and sit it in the top container. The water in the container should cover 1/2 the tank. Monitor the tank temperature and time how long it takes the tank water temperature to drop 1F. Adjust the lower container temperature as needed to get the tank temperature drop of 1F as long as the processing time of all steps or longer. The stated temperatures will work in a 55F environment on a ceramic tile counter.

I have yet to see a chromogenic film I like but some have gotten some good results from them.

Jobo tanks are available at Freestyle new or ebay/craigslist used.

The www in my post takes you to my Flickr photostream. Click on the Albums then 4x5 for Jobo processed images.
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ben_hutcherson



Joined: 15 Jan 2017
Posts: 19
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Indeed-one of the things I love about transparency film is how it really shows when you get it "right."

Medium format made me slow down significantly, and I'm sure LF will make me do so even more.

Even though I use my DSLR a lot, I have a lot of left over film habits(or actually not left over since I shoot them both) that I can't break and it surprises a lot of folks. Among other things, I still adopt the approach of getting it right in camera which means I spend a lot of time composing shots and getting the exposure right before clicking the shutter. I can easily spend 5 minutes getting ready to shoot one frame, when most folks with a DLSR would have already said "screw it" and fired off a couple hundred in that time.

Also, I rarely look at the screen after a shot.

The end result is that when I get back from a day out from shooting, I only have to sort a couple hundred files and not thousands, and end up with a very high percentage of "keepers." I dump everything into Lighroom, and usually end up just tweaking the curves, sharpness, and doing distortion correction with some cropping.
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ben_hutcherson



Joined: 15 Jan 2017
Posts: 19
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2017 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

45PSS:

Thanks for all of the suggestions.

I'm pretty firmly in the D76 camp. I've used a bunch of different developers over the years, but ultimately come back it its nice, predictable behavior and moderate contrast.

I tend to develop somewhat sporadically. I like that D76 effectively has an indefinite shelf life before mixing, and is cheap enough that I don't mind dumping a gallon if it goes bad before I finish it. I usually use it straight, but of course will do 1:1 to cut contrast.

I had run across the Yankee tank on B&H's site. My first roll film tank was a Yankee Clipper, so I'm at least somewhat familiar with their design philosophy. If you've not used one, basically the Clipper is designed with a handle that fits the top of the reel and agitation is by rotating the reel, not inverting. I've been spoiled too much by my 2-reel Omega stainless tanks, as I know that a 4x5 tank probably would be unwieldy to invert.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 1553
Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should say, WRT chromogenic B/W film, that I have never used it to print enlargements by silver chemistry, only digitally scanned and printed, so I have no idea how it behaves in the darkroom. I did own a very nice Beseler 23CII enlarger and I had an 80 mm Nikon (El Nikkor) lens for it, but I sold them when I dismantled my setup.
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ben_hutcherson



Joined: 15 Jan 2017
Posts: 19
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright, I have now purchased a 4x5 tank.

I actually went with something that's a fairly new design-it's only been on the market for a little over a year-the SP555.

It has small screw caps with O-ring seals to allow for inversion or really any type of agitation you want. It can hold 4 sheets(not a problem for me) but only takes 16 oz. The reviews on it are very favorable.
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ben_hutcherson



Joined: 15 Jan 2017
Posts: 19
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright, I have officially exposed my first two frames in the camera.

These were FP4+ developed in D76 1:1. I know that they have a lot of technical issues, not the least of which is my finger in the second shot(I inadvertently manually tripped the shutter when the release bar got caught under the lever and I was fooling with it because my cable release wouldn't trip).

Also, dust is my never-ending enemy and these are no exception.





Plus, I should have known better. I've been photographing this site for years, and the afternoon light is terrible. It's down in a steep value along a creek in central Kentucky(the area known as the Palisades) and from this direction you get harsh light directly into the lens. Even modern MC optics struggle.

This is with the sun to my back with my Rolleiflex(also FP4+ and D76 1:1).



So, ultimately I need to get my rear-end up one morning and catch the dawn light and maybe even brave a few frames of color film.
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3521
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you're over exposing by a stop.
Have you tested your shutter speeds?
https://graflex.org/helpboard/viewtopic.php?t=6105
A thermometer being off 2F or more may be contributing also.
I found a Taylor digital thermometer at Target for $10 that is accurate to within 1/2F.
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ben_hutcherson



Joined: 15 Jan 2017
Posts: 19
Location: Kentucky

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks-I agree that the negatives are a bit on the dense side.

I have not checked my fast shutter speeds. I've timed 1s at about 1.75s, and 1/2 at about 1s, so I know they're off by about a stop.

The shutter speed test is interesting-I'll certainly do it.

BTW, I use a NIST traceable mercury thermometer for my chemistry so feel pretty good about my time/temperature. I work in celcius for developer temperatures(I suppose a by-product of being a chemist). I tend to shoot for 20C, but do make appropriate time adjustments if necessary(even if I'm off by 1).
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45PSS



Joined: 28 Sep 2001
Posts: 3521
Location: Mid Peninsula, Ca.

PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When shutters are that slow and are used until they stop working they either come back with only speeds under 1/125 good to 1/2 stop slow or they become non repairable as a key part breaks.
If they have had heavy commercial usage then its time to look for replacements.
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