I have developed myself quite a few 4×5 sheets of film on a Patterson daylight tank using the fantastic MOD54. After the first development it got quite easy and my sheets are evenly developed with great quality. But stepping on the larger 8×10 format, everything changes.
I am shooting a 8×10 pinhole camera so we are not talking about great quality here, just the unique pinhole look and very few sheets every month (at least that’s my plan based on the very high price of each 8×10 sheet). With slide film I have to use the lab, but for b&w I want to cut the cost of lab development (plus the shipping cost).
An obvious way of developing is 8×10 is trays. But I am not yet willing to work in total darkness in my bathroom where the space is confined, creating a total darkness environment requires proofing window and door from light and inhaling chemicals from trays in a small non properly ventilated area.
The Jobo drums are a way to go but they are an additional cost which I am not willing to take right now. So, that leaves me with the taco method which is basically creating a taco with the sheet and keep it folded with a hair band (rubber bands can leave a mark on the film).
I had to sacrifice one sheet of film for testing the method before I use my changing bag. After many tries I found out that I cannot fit the folded film between the Patterson tank rod and the walls of the tank (I am using a multi reel 5 tank which is tall enough for 8×10 but not wide enough). The size of the film is enormous and the only way to fit it was to actually place it around the rod (you need the rod since it works a a light trap). The second problem was due to the absence of a film reel, the rod would not stay in vertical position so that I can secure it and close the tank. After many tries, I taped the damn thing on the bottom of the tank with electrical tape, that did the job. Needless to say how frustrating this whole experience was inside a very tight changing bag.
I wasn’t sure if the folded sheet around to work would work for even development but I had no other way to fit it in. So, I went on with the development process. Now, a serious consideration here. The amount of dilution needed to cover the whole surface of the film was about 1700ml !!
Even with R09 developer at 1:25 that meant 68ml of developer needed for just one sheet. I didn’t even wanted to consider using my favorite DD-X developer at 1:4 (that would mean about 340ml, so one bottle of very expensive development would only be sufficient for 3 sheets, no way !!!)
I have read that with continuous agitation you can decrease the solution needed up to 500ml but that was my first sheet of 8×10 and I didn’t want to risk it. So I went on with the R09 1:25 and 1700ml of solution.
During the fixing process I decided to take a risk and use 1000ml of fixer with continuous agitation. It worked fine. Now, when I opened the tank after fixing, the sheet had been unfolded since the hair band I used was probably not tight enough and the film was “glued” to the side of the tank. To my surprise that didn’t lead to any problems, the sheet was evenly developed with just a tiny spot.
So, its possible to use the taco method with good success, although I only have developed so far one sheet of film, so I cannot be sure about the consistency of the method. Time will tell !!
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