Ilford deep tank developing instructions

Discussion in '[Partner] ILFORD PHOTO' started by 2F/2F, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Apr 29, 2008
    Los Angeles,
    Multi Format

    I recently tried my hand at deep tank development, with 30 rolls of HP5 in one batch, in 3-1/2 gallon tanks.

    I followed the gist of the Ilford instruction contained in the Ilfotec HC data sheet, which state to completely lift the rack out of the developer solution three times, alternating direction of the tilt. This is much like sheet film.

    Leery of the gushing of water through the sprocket holes, as I am with sheet film, I made my agitations very slowly that I only did two per agitation cycle, and this took me 30 seconds each time.

    I noticed that someone on APUG stated that Kodak recommends lifting the basket just a little bit to agitate, to prevent pump marks.

    Well, even though I was extremely careful, I got pump marks on my 30 rolls. They are noticeable right on the negs, especially in areas of solid tone. I am hoping that some of them are salvageable, as they are all totally irreplaceable and very important to me.

    What did I do wrong? I was more careful than Ilford recommend in their own data sheet.

    Why are Ilford's and Kodak's recommendations so different?

    I am, obviously, foolish for trying this for the first time with important film. However, I considered Ilford's instructions to be like gold, and have not had any problems with pump marks in the past, so I figured I was good to go.

    Developer used was Ilfotec HC 1:63, film was HP5 Plus in 135-36 format.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 4, 2010
  2. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member
    Ads Enabled

    Aug 20, 2006
    London, UK
    Medium Format
    I also find processing 35mm in 3 gallon tanks a tricky business. I have no great problems with 120 or sheet film but with 35mm, there was a tendency to get surge marks. As I work as a printer, getting the processing right was always very important, so I decided early on to only process 35mm in hand tanks and the rest in deep tanks. Apart from my own film, I rarely get much film from clients to process these days, (thanks digital), but still prefer to do up to 10 at a time using two 5 reel tanks, one in each hand, and all the jugs of chemicals ready to use. I did look into different methods of agitation with the 3 gallon tanks, and in most cases the processing was fine, but as I could not be sure, stopped processing 35mm in them myself.

    However, a good friend who worked for me for many years used to do a lot of the processing, and she always got excellent results using deep tanks and I think would have been using the recommended Ilford way. Agitiation would be lift and tilts though in one of four different directions each time so the exact pattern was not repeated each time. (Same way I still do 120 in deep tanks.) Doing it over 30 seconds does sound very slow though. I think another thing we used to do was interspace each spiral in the cage with an empty one below so the developer could flow about better between the rolls when agitated. (And the fix too of course as lack of agitation in the fix can cause problems too.) OK, this cut down the capacity of each process but we still could do 18 rolls at a time, same as the the amount of 120 I'm happy to do. Also, this was the maximum we could get in the film drying cabinet.

    Not much help I'm afraid but it is one of those things that can give excellent results when cracked, though sadly if it's wrong, it is very distressing so I do understand your anguish. It's surprising sometimes when looking at classic photographers work such as Robert Frank and seeing that they've suffered the same fate too. Not much consolation but at least we are in good company!
  3. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member
    Ads Enabled

    Jan 17, 2005
    Downers Grov
    Pump marks or surge marks are from lack of sufficint agitation. The more careful you are, The worse it is.

    They are caused by normal replenishment near the holes and lack of suffient relenishment elsewhere. You can not overreplenish, only underreplenish.

    I can do reels on a rod in a deep tank. It helps to spin the rod going up and down.
  4. Photau

    Photau Member

    Apr 20, 2015
    One thing struck me, "I considered Ilford's instructions to be like gold", but you said yourself that "you were more careful" meaning you did not follow the instructions. Have you solved the issue, I am about to try this myself.
  5. JOR

    JOR Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Med. Format RF
    As part of my apprenticeship (1960s) I processed thousands of rolls and sheets of film. Bromide streamers were never a problem. But the agitation given was never tentative or gentle. The basket of reels was raised quickly and tilted first one way, then reimmersed and tilted another way. And then repeated, all within 15 sec. I seem to recollect that it was called the 'curvicycle'. It certainly worked but was messy, with developer on the floor, my wellies and my apron.
    But the agitation was so vigorous that 120 films occasionally began to unwind from their stainless spirals, so I had some clips manufactured that held the tails in place. Several large London labs copied this idea.
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