I am getting a fair number of emails on development time in a Rondinax because of the difference in agitation. I have nothing to add on my original post which can be found here. If anybody has information to add on particular film/developer combinations please let me know.
Andrés Cuervo’s solution to his problem reported in yesterday’s post got me thinking overnight. Would additional pressure from the metal spoon in the lid of the tank solve the other problem bugging Rondinax users – some polyester-backed films not entering the film compartment but emerging with, and not separated from, the backing paper through the slit?
I had a few rolls of Rollei Infrared film in a drawer so I passed one through a camera and then held it down firmly in the Rondinax with the lid off and the film compartment open (lever position ‘2’). While pushing the spool down firmly I pulled gently on the backing paper, and what happened next – the film coiled perfectly into the film compartment. So I then bent the spoon in the lid down in order to apply more pressure to the spool of film and tried loading the Rollei film as in normal processing, i.e. lid on, position ‘2’. And, would you believe it, the film loaded properly.
UPDATE – I now know the reason the original film did not load properly. It is not helped by additional pressure from the metal spoon. See Post of 7 March 2017 for update.
So does this simple solution work for other polyester based film types that people have reported problems with? Feedback please, because if that is the case, the Rondinax is back to being suitable for all 120 film types and brands.
I reckon Andrés is Rondinax man of the year and it is only 7 January.
Andrés Cuervo contacted me via a comment on my YouTube video on the Rondinax 60. On his ‘new’ tank the film did not enter the film chamber but went around the film spool again and emerged on top of the backing paper through the slit in the end of the tank. He was using Tri X, Portra 160 and Portra 400.
Note, this is not the same problem as occurs with some polyester-backed films where the film comes out of the slot underneath the backing paper.
I found the cause; the metallic spoon that acts as a spring on the inside of the top lid is not pressing the film spool in place so the film is getting wound around it self and not inside cartridge thus coming out of the tank on top of the paper. When I saw the film I sacrificed that roll and opened tank rolled it right and tried several times adjusting springs until found out what’s wrong the metallic spoon spring.
He also wonders if the explanation for the ‘rogue’ tank (post of 24 July 2014) is right. The bend in the film may cause the film to be well away from an edge getting in the way at the left-hand side. Instead, the curve may well make the end of the film hit the right-hand side of the film container first. This is his superb diagram:
So, thanks to Andrés solving this one with the take-home message of ‘check the metal spoon’. He has made a short sequence on YouTube to show this:
I can add three points. The first is that on the 1930s Rondinax 60 I had for many years, the rivet holding the metal spoon in place corroded and had to be replaced by a small nut and bolt.
The second is that I suppose exactly where the film end enters the film container depends on how naturally curvy the film is. For the past day I have been playing with a spool of FP4+ and seeing how the film end enters the chamber. That particular length seemed to miss both lips of the chamber and, as far as I could tell, enter between them without touching. I could even get the film to load with the slit partially closed (i.e. between the 1 and 2 positions).
Over the past month I have had a number of emails and comments from people who have bought Rondinax tanks and then found the film guide was absent. The film guide is essential so please look at the BUYING TIPS in the bar above for advice on how to check that all the parts are there. Many sellers on eBay are not aware of what they are selling. The film guide is the one item most likely to be missing.
I have received the following. I have never processed a colour negative film in my life and so I am hoping for replies to come in.
Comment: Hi, my name is Thomas and I am a industrial-design student from Germany.
For my Bachelor thesis I am currently tackling the negative colour development for home usage as I have been suffering of keeping the temperatures on myself. So the aim right now is to make an easy kit which heats and stirrs the chemicals to a desired temperature both before and during the chemical process and to automate the rotation/agitation of the film in the tank.
During my research I came across your great website and ever since then I really want to include the ‘daylight tank’ technology into my project.
I would be more then thankful if you could spare some minutes to help me with a few quastion.
1) The daylight tanks have disappeared for quite a long time and have quite a bad reputation among some users. Do you think this is due to the lack of the slide film possibilities at that time? Or because it can only load one film at the time? Or maybe ecause of ‘less contrasty/sharp’ image results? Or because of some difficulties while developing colour negatives?
2) As I am completely rebuilding the tank I thought of maybe adding the option to load two 35mm film at the same time or even make a universal tank for both 35 and 120mm films. Do you think that would be a big point for people considering switching from JOBO to a daylight tank solution?
3) Would you still consider the Rondinax 60 a good solution to go for although of a lot of complaints about films not working or would you recommend to stick to JOBO tanks instead for 120mm?
Quite a lot of questions but I do hope that you could give me some insights before I will take a wrong turn.
Thank you already for your time and effort.
Have a nice evening and all the best
How many Rondinax users and potential users are out there? I will start by showing the viewing data for this site.
2013. 808 views by 180 different people
2014. 12,779 views by 3,360 different people
2015 so far. 4993 views by 1419 different people
The people viewing in different years could be the same, so these data suggest there are more than 3,500 in the world who are interested in daylight-developing tanks and who have found this site.
The viewing figures for the videos on YouTube suggest about 5,000.
Leading the popularity stakes on YouTube is the video on the Rondinax 60 with 5240 views. This confirms my suspicion that the majority of Rondinax users are medium-format film users. The Rondinax 35 follows with 3547 views. The short video on how the spiral loading works has 1323 views; how to use the Essex 35 has 983 views. The Rondix video has 990 views.
These figures illustrate the level of interest but do not answer the question of how many Rondinax, Essex and Kent tanks are actually in use or in a condition fit to be used.
I have had a few queries on whether I have any experience of using caffenol developers in Rondinax tanks. I have never used caffenol but somebody out there may be using it in their Rondinax. If you have used caffenol let me know, or comment on this post, remembering to state the mix, the temperature, the time and the film, and then others can benefit from your experience.
Ian Livingston (www.ianlivingston.net) contacted me several months ago about a problem with his Rondinax 60. Sometimes the film separated from the backing path and wound its way into the light-tight chamber fine but most of the time the film buckled and got in a terrible mess. During film loading, of course, the lever was in the ‘2’ position. Between us over the next few weeks we worked out what was going on. In his tank, when the lever was fully over in the 2 position, the edge of the light-tight container protruded into the film path; the leading edge of the film hit that protrusion, buckled and folded up inside the body of the tank. However, he can now prevent that by not turning the lever the whole way to 2.
The photograph shows what was happening:
This diagram shows the problem:
I have never heard of this problem before. In the bakelite Rondinax 60 tanks I collected to make the video series, I noticed there were some differences between these containers, the shape and size of the ridge that hits a bar across the tank to prevent the lever moving past the 2 position, for example. I could not fit some containers to some tank bodies. In Ian’s tank, the lever moves too far, allowing the edge of the slit to protrude so I suspect tanks of different age or moulding set were made slightly differently, in this case by a couple of millimetres. It looks as if a different light-tight container has been fitted to this tank at some stage in its life.
However, this is something else to look out for when buying a Rondinax 60 and a potential problem that is not easy to see from photographs.
O has commented on my earlier post on replacing the belt in Rondinax tanks. Because comments are sometimes difficult to find I am copying it to a new post:
Hello user, this may be of use. I have fabricated a new belt for a Kent 20 (Rondinax 60 clone) which may work for you and hope the instructions below show how to make an identical one.
Materials required are a “checked laundry bag” (you will probably recognise if you do a Google image search) and a “snap fastener” (often used to fasten clothing.
(1)Use scissors or craft knife to cut a strip of material 8¾in long by 2¼in wide.
(2)Cut the strip down so it is
(a) 2¼” wide for ¾” length at one end (“stopper” section),
(b) 1″ wide for 1½” length (“threader” section through centre of spindle) and
(c) 1½” wide for the remaining 6½” to the end (“load” section).
(3) The cutting should be such that the strip is symmetrical along its length. Ensure corners are slightly rounded; you may want to ensure that the widest section is slightly arrowed – this section goes through the spindle to the other side to hold it in place, so you may want to shape it so it does not slip through. The thinnest past will remain through the spindle.
(4) Around ¾” from the narrower end cut a rectangular hole (rounded corners) about ¾” wide (ie across width of strip), by ¼”. This hole allows the clip to fit through.
(5) Cut an “I” shaped piece of material around 2½” long, 1¾” wide, trim middle to fit hole made in (4).
(6) Sew snap fasteners into the broad sections of the smaller “I” piece, thread through the hole made in (4).
(7) Thread fat end of long strip through spindle, test to ensure it can wind on etc.
(8) Wind strap onto spindle, hold in place for a day or so with string / rubber band (ribbon is quite good as you can use the snaps to grip and tie it round.
If you use small snaps they may be able to puncture the film to create a good grip, though if you use too much thread to attach them they may not clip properly, if you use larger clips you might need to pre-punch a hole in the film with a clipper similar to one used by train guard. You may need to dig out circles of negative from the snaps if you don’t pre-punch the film.
I have noticed after pre-punching a hole with the small snaps the larger snaps can use the hole as a pilot, avoiding the need for a punch – perhaps the design can be improved to use two sets of snaps, smallest furthest from spindle to “chew” the film(?).
The bags should be available from a small cheap plasticware/utensils shop, they bags are made from a thin, tough fairly smooth plastic. Snap fasteners can be found in large supermarkets, department stores, eBay etc; I tried 6mm and 11(ish)mm variants. Use non-rust snaps if possible, though they still seem to slowly corrode.
This has worked *fairly* successfully for me, though seems to work better if the film has been fully wound onto its spindle from the camera and allowed to sit for several hours, presumably acquiring a more even curl. You may want to experiment with the strap length as I have never seen an original Kent 20 / Rondinax 60 belt. Please don’t sue if wedding pics destroyed etc. Apologies for typos &c, sleepy.
The last two tanks of the ones I bought to start this site are now on eBay. They are a Kent 20 (Item number 181318876231) and a Rondinax 35U (171236914495).
That leaves me with a Rondinax 60 to use for the 120 film from the Rollei, and my Rondix. Although I have no 35 mm film cameras at present, the Rondix could be useful if I have to test such a camera in the future.
Why keep the Rondinax and not the Rondinax 35U? Smaller, easier to wash and keep clean, don’t need the thermometer in a centrally-heated house, don’t need to short cut lengths for processing.