If you could automate your film processing, would you?

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by BHuij, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. btaylor

    btaylor Subscriber

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    ozmoose, part of the appeal for me in this project is that it is new, and not a 20 year contraption with unknown repair potential. I have been lucky in repairing a fair amount of old darkroom gear, but it is always a crapshoot. I don't want to dedicate space to a Jobo especially since I won't use it for printing. Nice score on your Duolabs. $300-500, if they can do it would be a winner for me.
     
  2. OP
    OP
    BHuij

    BHuij Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2016
    Location:
    Utah
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Great feedback, I've addressed some of your points here:

    It's entirely possible that we have different definitions of what constitutes a "decent profit." I'm a college student with a 9-5 job, so 100% of profits on any sales that may happen here basically translate into the ability to buy film, paper, chemistry, and maybe a lens or another toy. This project is first and foremost for fun because I enjoy creating things. If I walk away having spent a 200 hours on the project and pocketing $2,000, that doesn't translate to "$10/hr" to me. More like "I did a fun project and happened to make $2000 on it."

    Well, if the 5 odd people who replied to this topic saying they would purchase such a unit at a <$500 price point are any indicator, then the market is big enough to be worth my time :smile: I'm not looking to start a company here, just do a production run on a unit that makes life easier for those of us who do still process film. I firmly believe there are enough people who are processing their own film (or want to try) to create a niche market for a product like this.

    No apology needed - I need honest feedback, not pats on the back :smile: Appreciate your thoughts.

    Our $300 target price seems to be giving a lot of people "reverse sticker shock." Despite the skepticism, the closer we get to validating all of the components we've sourced to ensure that they work, the more confident I am that we probably won't be too far off from this price point. I suspect the magic sauce here that's making this possible is nothing more than my own standards for how much profit I need in order to justify the project to myself. Certainly wanting to make some money is a factor, but it's far from my top priority. As I stated before, if I go through all the effort to design, prototype, and build a machine that does everything I want it to, and not one soul buys it... then I'll go to sleep with a smile on my face because now I have a machine that takes some of the grind out of my own photography hobby and frees up time for shooting and printing. If 5 people buy it, I'll go to sleep with the same smile on my face immediately after placing an order for some Ilford MG FB, 4x5 FP4+, and Fixer :wink:
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    22,134
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't think your price estimate is likely to be off because of profit requirements. If it is off, it will because of errors with respect to the additional and ancillary costs you are likely to encounter.
    If you make 100 of them, and 5 end up having to be returned due to defects, will that and all the additional shipping and other costs be enough to turn profit and loss.
     
  4. calebarchie

    calebarchie Member

    Messages:
    293
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2014
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Don't bother, OP seems to have selective hearing. Based on what he has just said, no purpose for this thread anyway.
    Seen this all before, just watch him succeed or fail.
     
  5. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,368
    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Location:
    Northern Vir
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    While I think it’s ambitious, if you can keep the cost at $500, or so, I’d be interested, assuming it does everything you promise it will. I have a Jobo ATL-2 ( currently out of commission), which spoiled me regarding automatic processing. Best of luck...
     
  6. paulbarden

    paulbarden Member

    Messages:
    544
    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2014
    Location:
    Oregon, Willamette Valley
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I use trays for film processing. The "repair potential" is astonishingly low with this technology.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    22,134
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Do you use trays to process colour film?
    It seems to me that us people who shoot colour film are the most likely customers.
     
  8. btaylor

    btaylor Subscriber

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2010
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I process C41 roll film at the recommended temperature. While open trays are wonderfully simple, they aren't going to work for me.
     
  9. barzune

    barzune Member

    Messages:
    188
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    WOW! All the negative vibes here!
    If the kid wants to produce a self-contained film development system, and
    put it out at a $300 pricepoint, why not encourage his efforts?
    I, for one, would never think of spending $2,000 for a basic JOBO CPE unit
    to help me enjoy what is simply a hobby, a passtime.
    If most of those who responded negatively are professionals, depending upon
    high-volume, steel-clad quality production, then I doubt that this system is intended for you.
    Others, amateurs who pride themselves on their multiple Rolleis, Hasselblads and Leicas,
    can probably afford to consider any toy costing less than a few thousand, to be beneath their
    interest. So, if this suggested project is so worthy of your contempt, please just pass on to the next thread;
    don't be shredding the OP's idea.
    JEEZ!
     
  10. Cholentpot

    Cholentpot Member

    Messages:
    1,560
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2015
    Shooter:
    35mm
    But the TRUTH is allmight! Number don't lie. Nice, cold, numbers. Yes, I will go look for the numbers in my hobby. Numbers.

    Go for it kid! Don't let the technicals get you down.
     
  11. I bought not one but two Jobos through APUG Classified for between $100US and $130US, so why would one want to pay $300US for an unproven and as of now non-existent product?
     
  12. barzune

    barzune Member

    Messages:
    188
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not sure, but guessing, the JOBO units ( of what type?) that you bought were not new?:angel:
     
  13. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Member

    Messages:
    131
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Location:
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Maybe they'll build it mostly with a 3D printer! Imagine that, a printer that builds a film developer? LOL.

    Seriously, they ought to be encouraged. I am also extremely skeptical, but never say never. But what are the specs? Everyone is likely assuming something very different from one another. Will it be a single roll processor or a multi-roll unit? Will it have one fixed tank or interchangable tanks? If it has tanks, will they be based on existing ones or proprietary? Will termp control be analog or digital? Will temp remain constant throughout the process? If its automatic, it will need a pump and electrical. Will it be self-contained or require a water and drain hook up? Will there be variable control over processing times and agitation? Will those be programmable? How many chemical steps will it support? Will it be self-cleaning? And a dozen more questions....

    Maybe they can build something for $300, but my bet say that f they did, it would be something with very limited capability, and that wold risk market failure.

    I don't buy that something decent in the $1500 is too much. CPP2s sell well used, and people think nothing of plunking down $1500-3500 for a new DSLR body. It all depends what your benchmark is as that's how folks will evaluate price to value when deciding whether some inexpensive is a cheap piece of junk or a bargain.

    MFL
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. calebarchie

    calebarchie Member

    Messages:
    293
    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2014
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I don't think anybody has said it can't be done?
     
  16. Exactly. There is still a large market of used Jobo machines in good working condition so that is a reason that a new machine at $300 will be still hard to sell.
     
  17. barzune

    barzune Member

    Messages:
    188
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Interesting; I've never seen a JOBO unit advertised at less than $350, and even at that, shipping was near $300.
    Your luck has, apparently, been much better.:whistling:
     
  18. OP
    OP
    BHuij

    BHuij Member

    Messages:
    108
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2016
    Location:
    Utah
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Fantastic questions! I'll do my best to answer here:

    Single roll or multi roll? As many as you can fit in a tube designed to hold up to 1 sheet of 8x10 at a time (4" inner diameter)
    One fixed tank or interchangable? Current design is using a proprietary tank which is removable. It would be a simple matter to buy more than one. But no, it won't be compatible with existing Jobo/Paterson/other tanks.
    Temp control analog or digital? Digital; the "brain" of this unit is a Raspberry Pi.
    Will temp remain constant throughout the process? Yes, via a tempered water jacket. The water jacket has a pump to circulate the water and maintain homogenous temperature throughout and a heating element to keep the temp at set levels.
    Will it be self contained? Yes, water jacket is simply poured in as a first step at setup. No hookups required.
    Variable control over processing times and agitation? Yes, each step has individually controllable time and agitation. These are programmable into presets that are loaded via a microSD card.
    How many chemical steps will it support? Up to 8.
    Will it be self cleaning? The current idea is to have the water jacket drain by being flushed through the entire system when you are finished with a developing session.

    Keep the questions coming!
     
  19. rpavich

    rpavich Member

    Messages:
    1,376
    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Location:
    West virginia, USA
    Shooter:
    35mm
    It's helpful to tell folks the truth. It's not helpful to tell them what they'd LIKE to hear if we think it's not true. That would seem to be basic respect for others.
    I would certainly want someone to tell me if I had a large piece of meat stuck in my front teeth rather than make me feel "good" by keeping that from me.
     
  20. gijsbert

    gijsbert Subscriber

    Messages:
    53
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2014
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'd be interested!
     
  21. paladin1420

    paladin1420 Subscriber

    Messages:
    94
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Northern New Jersey
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I would be interested. There’s not much creativity for me in film processing. The fun for me is in the exposure and printing steps. Automating the development would be great if I there was an easy way.
     
  22. One way to automate would be to send the film out for processing, then voilà the slides come back mounted and negative film is printed!
     
  23. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,182
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2004
    Location:
    Calgary
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Fish tank heater should do the job and a small circulating pump to move the water past the heater.
     
  24. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Member

    Messages:
    131
    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2017
    Location:
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  25. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,416
    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is possible for B&W film, but as far as I have experienced when I tried to go down this route around 40 years ago, no fish tank heater is hot enough for colour processing.

    Mick.
     
  26. obviouslygene

    obviouslygene Member

    Messages:
    53
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2016
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
,