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.
I gets lots of emails from people who do not own a Rondix tank and who cannot see how the thing works. There are sometimes additional questions, like does the film go in and out of the cassette. To explain the brilliantly simple concept I tried drawing coils of film with the film turning back on itself when the winding direction is reversed. But I could not draw that. The video of the tank in operation does not and cannot show what is happening inside so I decided to build a mechanical model of the tank. I found an old length of film and a 35 mm cassette. I then went into the attic to unearth some 1970s Meccano and even found the sewing box in the house to extract a cotton reel.
The result you can see here and on the Videos Page.
What a crude mechanical model cannot show are the other design features, the ridges in the bottom of the tank and in the lid that prevent the image area coming into contact with the walls of the tank, for example.
The ‘poor man’s Rondinax’ may have been simple but it was a brilliant design. Truly elegant.
I’m now up to four Rondinax 35s – one for use, one motorised and two for spare parts. Sadly no spare Rondinax 60, but that’s probably OK as I don’t do as much MF as 35mm. Today, however, was a big day in that my first Rondix arrived. I had no expectation that it would be so tiny! The latent engineer in me has to admire the simplicity of design and the minimalism of it. Remarkable! I note a couple of things – compared to the Rondinax it looks like it was made for a left handed person, in that the open end for pouring in solutions is on the left if the right hand is used on the crank. I can’t imagine why they did that, unless it was a deliberate attempt to allow continued cranking with the right hand while solutions are poured in with the left?
Secondly, I see the manual says it is for black and white films only. I don’t see why that was written, and I will try a C-41 film in it at some stage just to see how it goes. It’s a bit of a tedious process, so the motorised Rondinax is probably going to remain my usual tank for colour 35mm.
On a different note, I see my 35u tanks belong to four different generations:
1. The oldest is black (?Bakelite) with a black reel, red rubber strap, a small black winding knob, black film canister opening knob.
2. The next has a black reel, red rubber strap, a large black winding knob, and a black film canister opening knob.
3. The next has a clear reel, red rubber strap and a large back winding knob, and a black film canister opening knob.
4. The newest is black plastic (not the possible Bakelite of earlier models), and has a clear reel, clear plastic strap, large grey winding knob and red film canister opening knob.
There was a discussion on my YouTube channel whether any of the tanks might be suitable for processing APS films. The Rondix is the only candidate and so I took a processed film to see what would happen. The cassette fitted so I stapled the end the APS film to a short length of 35 mm film in order to enable the film to be gripped by the central spindle. So far so good, but the film chamber was too wide and the film soon became tangled. Failure.
However, if, after perfecting a 3D-printed standard Rondix for 35 mm, somebody could attempt a narrow Rondix especially for APS film then some APS users (who have plenty of old film available but a diminishing number of commercial processors) might be very happy.
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.
Joachim has commented on an earlier post. Here it is as a screen grab with details of his blog below (the link within the screen shot cannot be activated):
I often do a search on eBay to see what Rondinax tanks are available. This week for the first time in years, the worldwide search using ‘Rondinax’ showed none. Because people (and Agfa in the original German catalogue) get confused and call them ‘Rodinax’, it is worth also searching eBay under that name. This time, one, a 35U appeared. So in the whole world at the moment there is just one Rondinax on eBay.
There is a Rondix (in the USA) which is relatively unusual. Sometimes months go by without one being seen.
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.
The outline history of Rondinax and Rondix tanks is known but there is still much to find out. For example, when did the change in materials to produce reels with translucent ends take place, or when plastic replaced the rubberized cloth to pull the film onto the reel? There must be information in Agfa and dealers’ catalogues from around the world. Even the date from instruction manuals (the last digits) would provide clues as to which model was being made at a particular time. So, if you have sources of information please contact me. Similarly, are there any former Agfa employees out there with information?
The later Rondinax tanks were made from what appears to be polystyrene. Moulds or tools for injection-moulding were extremely expensive to produce. In some industries the moulding tools were kept and sold on when brands folded, the 1950-60s British Frog aircraft kit tools, for example, were used to produce the Novo kits in what was then the USSR and some Revell kits in the USA. Rumour has it they may still be in use in Eastern Europe. The obvious question is what happened to the tools for Rondinax and Rondix tanks? Were they destroyed when the Agfa factory was closed or are they still out there somewhere, waiting to be rescued and brought back into use by somebody keen to market them again? Do any old Agfa employees know the fate of the moulding tools?