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.
In the last post I reported that neither acetate or polyester film would load correctly in the Rondinax 60 if the end of the film that enters the film chamber in the tank was partially flattened by keeping it under a heavy book. The films were Rollei Infrared and Ilford FP4. After winding the films back on their spools I tried again. The result: no problem; both loaded perfectly into the tank.
So the failure to load I originally described with fresh Rollei Infrared and others have reported for some other polyester-based films does seem to be related to the longitudinal curliness of the film at the time of processing. How long fresh polyester-based film, cut from flat sheets, needs to be stored on a roll in order to take the curly, rolled form, I do not know. Several weeks or months possibly? What I do know is that the Rollei Infrared film I have had for several years now loads perfectly in the Rondinax 60, unlike when I first received it from the online retailer.
So, the problem of getting film flat for scanning or enlarging using a glassless carrier is reversed for the Rondinax 60 user. We want film with a curled ‘memory’ for processing. That’s not usually a problem but sometimes is.
I thought I had solved the problem of the film and backing paper failing to separate for certain types of film. As a reminder the film comes through the slit with the backing paper and does not enter the film chamber in the Rondinax 60.
I thought applying extra pressure from the metal spoon in the lid was the answer to this problem as it is Andrés Cuervo’s problem in which the film comes out of the slit on top of the backing paper.
When I tried a Rollei Infrared film with tighter pressure from the spoon, it loaded fine. However, I realised a week or so later that the spool of film had been stored for several years and that the film itself coiled easily whereas when I first used film from that batch the film did not curl easily. So was I testing like with like? The answer was no.
I took the Rollei infrared film and an Ilford FP4 film and placed the backing paper and the end of film that loads first into the tank into a heavy book for a few weeks in order to flatten the films. Today I wound them back onto their reels. There was still some degree of curl in both films but when I tried to load them into the tank, they both failed to load, either jamming as they hit the ridge after they should have gone into the film chamber or coming out with the backing paper. With an open tank no amount of pressure on the top of the spool made any difference.
The answer must be that this type of failure to load must be related to how long the film has been spooled and to the properties of the film base. I must have had factory fresh Rollei film that takes some time to maintain a curl when spooled for the first time. It would seem that polyester film base might be particularly prone to wanting to stay flat, for want of a better term. However, the fact that flattened acetate-backed FP4 also failed to load would suggest that there may be a problem if really fresh film of that type is used. However, acetate may be less prone to wanting to stay flat since I have never had any problem with Ilford films.
A problem with film that had been in a camera for some time or had been wound backwards in some film backs was known about by Agfa and the instructions for using the tank (see Manual download for the Rondinax 60) include warnings like this one on page 21:
Partly exposed films which are in the camera for more than two weeks lose their curling quality. To regain this quality which is necessary for threading, the film must lie rolled up tightly for at least one day. Films from cassettes [film backs] with opposite winding must be rewound before (see p. 11)
In some roll film cameras the film is wound up in the opposite direction to the original winding. If these films are to be developed in the Rondinax 60 tank they must be rewound twice and kept tightly rolled up for at least a day. Caution! The film must be rewound twice so that the end of the film showing the word “exposed” points outwards again.
These instructions would have applied to acetate film. The question is: how long does it take for polyester film to gain or curliness its curliness? If my experience with Rollei film is anything to go back, some time in excess in several weeks for new film could be the answer. For the time taken to regain its curliness when spooled after partial flattening, I shall do further tests and report them here.
Clearly though, the physical property of ‘curliness’ and the maintenance of ‘curliness’ and ‘flatness’ when flattened or when spooled, respectively, is important for trouble-free use of a Rondinax 60.
A regular feature in Amateur Photographer magazine in the 1950s was ‘How I Make My Exhibition Pictures’. In some bound copies from 1954 and 1955 I found several contributors to the series mentioned Rondinax tanks.
Thus W.A. Fleet ARPS in the 2 June 1954 issue wrote:
Since the advent of FP3 film most of my work has been done with that, developed in Microdol in a Rondinax tank. The necessity of having to throw away the used developer has always been a good point with this tank, which I have used continuously since 1933 and would use no other.
The date 1933 is interesting since the date present written evidence (shown in a number of previous posts) suggests the Rondinax 60 was introduced in 1937. Was this a misprint, failing memory or did some people get hold of one before 1937?
Ruth Handley FRPS (1899-1957) recognised for her portraits of actors (2 November 1955) was another user of the Rondinax 60:
I use Plus-X rollfilm and P1200 plates. I develop my rollfilm in a Rondinax tank…I use D76 for negative development…
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.
Jim Horne writes:
I have an Agfa Rondinax 60 tank which I used for many years. Unfortunately one of the ears broke off the film guide, is there anywhere I can get a replacement, I would even consider buying a complete tank. hope you can help, thank you.
There does seem to be a shortage of film guides. They are often missing from tanks sold on eBay and can be broken fairly easily. Any chance of anybody making some by 3D printing?
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.
Firstly thank you for the videos and info on the Rondinax’s. I developed tri-x 120 with the help of one of your videos.
Chems below :
11mins with 3ml Rodinal + 147ml water
2 – 3x 150ml Water Rinses, no stop bath.
30ml fixer + 120ml water.
Medium contrast, very soft grain ( for tri-x )
A question though, have you ever used or seen a Combina 35? This looks like a Paterson tank, but with a film leader attached, like in this picture :
The film leader is on the left, in red. Currently I’m unsure as to how it’s used without wasting a 35mm roll so if it comes to it I’ll waste one but just thought I’d check first and see if you know?
My assumption is it attaches to the spool and once attached to the clip then the leader is unhooked and the film is unwound with the lever but I really don’t know yet.
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
From Christopher Moss
A salutary tale today. I used the Rondinax 60 for the first time in a few weeks. The film was exposed in a Rolleiflex, so no reverse curls etc from a Hasselblad insert. Placed it in the Rondinax and put on the lid and started to pull out the paper. What’s this? I see film coming out of the tank on top of the white side of the backing paper. Off into the dark, where I takeoff the lid, pull out the rest of the paper/film, separate the two and feed the film manually into the ‘film safe’ of the Rondinax 60, which I then close and attach the strap to the end of the film.
At this point I can’t quite understand what happened. Was the film manufactured incorrectly with the film on the wrong side of the paper? (in which case I will have no images as the backing paper was between the film gate and the film), or did I place the spool of film incorrectly in the Rondinax? – I don’t think so, as if I had the black side of the paper would have been uppermost as I pulled on the paper, and I’m sure I saw film on top of white paper.
I was actually surprised to see images on the film after fixing, and even more confused, as some kind of conjuring trick had been performed to get the film on the wrong side of the paper! I explained my difficulty to my clever and beautiful wife, who quickly figured out the facts of the matter. The film was made correctly, loaded and exposed correctly in the camera, and placed correctly in the Rondinax 60. Then some unnamed idiot didn’t open the light safe enough (‘Position 2’ in those blasted instructions I hate to read), so the advancing edge of the film didn’t enter the light safe, but went around again to emerge with the paper, but this time on top of the paper. Rather like a roll of two-ply toilet paper when the two layers become separated and incorrectly re-associate, so the perforations are no longer super-imposed. Obviously I’m not safe to be let out alone without her to supervise me! The film is drying, and the negatives look far nicer than I deserve for being such a twit!