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Super 8 Home Processing Tips?

Mark Sperry

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I just picked up the Jobo expert drum for Super 8 film.  Works great!  Easy to load too...well relatively speaking.

I have an Arkay CD40 film dryer, which is large enough for Super 8.  However, how do people go about draping all the film about safely so that it can dry?  Some tips would be appreciated on that point.   I'm curious if there is some trick to it...

I'm currently processing Tri-X as a negative.  Tonight I tried 10 minutes in a 500ml solution of 1:1 XTol, the results came out looking good.  I'd be interested to hear alternative development starting times if people have them however.



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That's great, as JOBO has made fine equipment for film processing.  I just think that tank is way too expensive for something made out of plastic, but the design is elegant....and much easier to load for most than the spiral reel design.

For film drying, many folks just loop the film emulsion side out around vinyl rope or hooks hung up in a relatively dust free room [bathrooms work great].  I prefer to use wooden film drying racks that I build myself.  Mine are 2ft long wooden half round dowels affixed crossed wood slats  creating four dowel surfaces.  With care, each rack will hold up to 4 - 50ft Super 8mm films.  I loop the Starting film about an inch or so through a rubber band which is attached to an S shaped large paper clip.  The film loop is stapled and the rubber band provides good mild tension as well as movement to compensate as the film dries.  Each film on each rack (if doing more than one film) is stapled to the previous one end-to-end, and the last one also has a rubber band and bent paper clip arrangement (sometimes have to add in another rubber band so it will reach the next dowel without too much tension).  The racks  have a bolt with washers and nuts on each end through the middle of the 2 crossed flat wooden slats on each end, and this allows the rack to 'sit' on a stand I made so it can rotate.  Since I have several of these racks (since I process lots of movie film here for customers, as well as my own), I have 12 gauge wire hooks on the lab ceiling so I can hang up each rack after it's loaded with film.

   As for TRI-X, great film!  It can be processed a variety of ways:  as a continuous tone Black & White Negative as you have done...using various film developers, as a high contrast B&W Negative if using D-94 or D-19 as the only developer without reversal, as B&W Reversal, and also as Sepia tone Reversal using the Sodium Sulfite solution for the 2nd Developer/ReDeveloper without any need for Reversal Exposure.   Keep in mind, when processing TRI-X as a Negative, nominally the filmspeed will drop to nearly half.....although you can push it to maintain the ISO 200 rating use.   I recommend  doing various exposure tests to fine tune your own processing. You can shoot several short lengths of film of a photo or scene and an 18% Gray Card and/or the Density Scale from the KODAK Film Processing Guidebook or something similar.  With care, you could make several "Control Strips" like this for yourself......cut them up into manageable 5 to 10 inch film lengths and place them into small air tight/light tight film containers (Kodak 35mm plastic still film cans), label them with date and film type and freeze them.  Then these will be your reference strips with each batch of chemistry prior to processing actual film.  To minimize film waste, you can film several at the start of a film cartridge, using up only 5ft to 10ft of film or less, then just film whatever you're going to with the rest of the cartridge.  Later in the Darkroom, just cut off whatever the film length was that you had shot, and cut up your "Control Strips".  You could get an old Densitometer to actually read them out and if you used an exposure scale you can 'plot' each test out on graph paper to see how your actual film processing is doing. Or have a local lab (IF there is one left) read this out for you.....OR just examine it visually, since your own eye is a more subjective method of exposure/processing determination for your own work efforts.

   Anyhow, various B&W Developers will produce differing tonal, grain, and contrast results, as well as film speed results.  Some softer working developers will allow some film speed loss due to their very nature compared to others.  For example, one of my favorite Negative Film Developers for many years was Kodak Microdol-X, which will produce very fine grain diluted 1:3, but has a long developing time them.....typically in the 15 to 19 minute range depending what temp you're using.  But, there's some slight film speed loss, so I would push it a little by adding another minute or two to compensate.   At full strength, there's more grain, but full film speed and more snap.  D-76 is another venerable Developer, but there's so many to try, if you prefer processing as a Negative.

It's always exciting to me to hear/read about others processing their own film! 

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I am using the Lomo tank with the Foma reversal kit for processing of Tri X. However, I am unable to eliminate white flashes on individual frames of film. I developed one cartridge which showed about 50 of these individual flashes throughout the length of the film. In developing another cartridge, I increased the amount of the chemical solution and ensured I observed the correct temperature of the developing solutions, but still I noticed flashes during the last 13 feet of film. Is this to do with inadequate agitation - I notice that the flashes become fairly regular on that part of the film which is closest to the centre of the spiral? I am using tap water to mix the solutions and to clean the film between processes - and the water is fairly hard in my area.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ah yes.....there is a flaw with the LOMO tank...a few actually. However, the one possibly causing your light flashes is the bowel of the spindle. There's a small tiny hole drilled in it for liquid to drain.  Light passes thru this and fogs film closest to the center of the spiral reel.   Just tape it over with a piece of black electrical vinyl tape and that will cure the issue.

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