Frequently Asked Questions VI

Can I Still Buy 5x7 roll film?

Q: I am an amature photographer and camera collector. I try to use all of the cameras I collect and I now have an old, but in new condition, kodak 5x7 roll film camera. My question is: Where can I get some film? Or can I even get film? mlambdin

I have a web site called The Brownie Camera Page which has listings of where to get discontinued film sizes. The address is: I'm not sure whether that size is available but call Film For Classics at the number on the page.

There seem to be 2 cameras that used that film. One is the Rollholder Kodak from 1898 using #112 rollfilm and the other is the #5 Cartridge Kodak also from 1898 using #115. I know Film for Classics does not make those films. There is another place listed on the Brownie Camera Page that may but I doubt it. I sometimes roll 120 thru these cameras just to get an image even though it's not the correct size. At least it's a way to use the cameras if you have 2 spools. Good Luck!--Chuck Baker

Try Kodak for Ariel film for that format. Or try military surplus stores. --Dan Smith

Any suggestion about T-Max films and HC-110?

When I started using T-MAX, I tested the films with T-MAX developer and HC-110 dilution B. I choose HC-110, because it allowed me to obtain consistent results at 20¡C and the lower contrast needed to correctly print the images in a condenser enlarger.

However, I obtain the best results using a (N) development time shorter than 5 minutes, with both films exposed for a sensitivity index slower by 1-stop respect to the nominal (50 ASA for the T-MAX 100, 200 ASA for the T-MAX 400).

The time is a little too short, and I'd like to use a greater dulution in order to obtain a development time in the order of 10 minutes, that would help me to achieve even more consistent results. Moreover, due to the short dev time, (N-1) development can't be successfully achieved.

I would be grateful to receive some help about the following issues:

- suggested development times referred to HC-110 dilutions E and F with T-MAX films.

- suggestions in using different developers (perhaps XTol or Rodinal ?) with T-MAX films printed on a condenser enlarger. Suggested development times are - obviously - welcome.

I too use a condenser enlarger and running into too short a development time was a problem. I used to use both HC-110 (B) and T-Max developer with T-Max film, but wihen Xtol came out I switched to that since it give a wide range of dilutions and development times along with excellent results. However, it's best to check this out yourself. Download the file from Kodak on Xtol at: This is 12 pages of very usefull information. -Ted E. Felton

First suggestion-try a different developer. T-Max films were tested by Kodak mainly with D-76 and the TMax Developers were formulated specifically for them. Try using the TMax or RS for sheet film at weaker dilutions. I use Ilford ID11 with TMax 100 in 4x5 & 5x7 regularly, diluted 1:3, with 75 degre times in a Jobo processor of 11 to 18 min, depending on + or - development. Good shadow detail and negs that print on my particular enlarger set up easily. You will have to test a bit, but with your enlarger it shouldn't be much trouble to dial it in. Just be sure of one thing-CONSISTENCY. TMax films seem to go off the charts if you process with any deviation. They are pro films and need consistent technique to get the best from them. Look at John Sexton work & see what they are capable of.-Dan Smith

Is brown Dektol OK to use?

I just mixed up a batch of Dektol and it is tinted fairly dark brown. Is it OK to use?


No, probably not... This happened to me recently with some old (but still in powder form) dektol. I was confused about it too; it seems even dry the stuff has a limited shelf life! I tried to use it anyway (such a waste to dump it!), but it was dead. Very dead. An exposed piece of paper, when placed in the tray WITH THE LIGHTS ON (!) very slowly turned grayish (never black)!!!! Totally useless. They should improver their packaging and state the shelf life. If anyone happens to know this, I'd love to hear. --Patrick Hurley

I also have some Dektol I bought in 1 gal. cans. After opening up the can, just as in your case, the powder starts to oxidize. I then divided the remainder into small plastic bags w/ one of those vacu-seal machines. This helped slow down the process, but not eliminate it. My mix also has a browninsh tint, not too dark, but unlike the previous persons experience, I can still get excellent prints from it. I don't keep it as long as I would had it been 'fresh' since the oxidation has already started, but it has worked just fine. --Ron

Multiple Filter Printing/Split Grading

I have read a couple of brief accounts about using at least two filters on a single multigrade print (in this case Ilford RC paper and filters). Apparently the process is to start with a very low contrast filter such as a #0 or #1 to get the best midtones then use a high contrast filter such as a #5 to blast the shadows. Does anyone use this method? I have tried it once with mixed results. Is there any rule of thumb for the timing of each exposure?


The technique is commonly referred to as split grading. It is used to extend the tonal range in your prints and separate the values more without increasing contrast. It is one of the best ways to get the tonal separation in a VC paper close to a graded paper.

The greater the difference in filter grades, the greater the tonal separation will be. You can experiment with filter grades and times to acheive different results.

It is a very effective technique for negatives that need more tonal separation. I use it a lot. -Doug McSpadden

Several months ago, I picked up a copy of the book "Black & White Photographic Printing Workshop" by Larry Bartlett with Jon Tarrant (Silver Pixel Press, ISBN 1-883403-39-1), which describes a method of printing using different VC filters for different areas of a print. The book includes many examples with both straight prints and prints made by use of multiple filters. The results are quite dramatic (one review I read characterized the style of printing as more in favor in the UK and Europe than in the US). I've tried to put their principles to work in my own printing (especially with some negs that I've found difficult to print previously because of contrast range), and have been quite pleased with the results. --Jack Klasey

I have used the split filter printing for some time and have had very good results. Try changing the order of filters, use the #5 first then #0 next it is different. Also I have made great B/W prients from color negs .Little to no grain on the print. --Joe Good

I agree with the comment by Joe Good. Though I don't use the technique regularly it is there for the negative that needs that bit extra. I also find that printing with the #5 or highest contrast filter then the low contrast one gives me the control I need. I carried out an experiment on one occasion where I compared this technique with flashing the paper; this technique provided much more detail than flashing the paper. --David Cameron

Has RC Paper Improved?

I've noticed, in this forum and eslewhere, that quite a few people use RC paper. I have been using it for years primarily for it's ease of washing. There was a time when you would't dare admit that you used the stuff. I'm curious to know what has changed? Are RC papers improving or are more users just coming out of the closet in these politically correct times?

I have used RC paper for proofing because of the cost. However for a "keeper" print I would never use anything but fiber base papers. There is just no comparison in the amount of detail you are able to retain with fiber base papers. And detail is the reason I use large format (4x5) so I feel it would be rediculious for me to use anything but fiber base papers for final prints. --Dell Elzey

I love FB and IT has been unmatched for most of it's existance but I am now getting great results with Agfa premium RC. It meets their claims of quality. There is a great improvement. You can't just say there's NO comparision. There's SOME now where ther was none only a few short years ago. My new V-54 Cold light requires very close examination when it does the exact same print RC/FB to see the difference. Very few of the Photogs south of the Cdn Border seem to mention Agfa. I must say however their New Classic FB/ VC is getting raves from my fans and clients. They like the RC too however. --Stephan Lehmann

I am a neophyte printer and mainly use RC because I don't have the facilities for proper 'archival' washing. I haven't tried the AGFA paper but will in the future. I am interested in your comparison and would like to know what the differenced are that YOU notice between RC and FB. I have heard that FB has a higher silver content but thats about it. --Andy Laycock

I can tell you that the National Archives and Libarary of Congress will not accept RC paper because it is not archivally stable and does not meet archival standards. If you want a "permanent" print, use fiber base paper. --Rick Athearn Photography

Archval Processing Guidelines?

I would be interested to know if there is an official protocol for archival processing of prints. I read an interesting article a while back about archival storage. In it's purest sense archival would mean stored in a strictly controlled environment which would include total darkness. If a print is exhibited then it is not archival. A bit pointless really.

I don't know about an "official" formula, but there are a number of variations on the basic sequence of develop/stop/fix/hypoclear/wash. Ilford's data sheet for Multigrade IV, for example, recommends a single, short-duration (30 sec for RC, 60 for fiber) fixing step in film strength (1:3) fixer, followed by a 5 minutes wash in running water. Next, a 10 minute soak in a washing aid (hypo clearing agent) and finally, a second 5-minute wash in running water. Kodak, in its B&W darkroom data guide, specifies the more traditional two-bath fixer method (2 1/2 to 5 minutes in each bath. Dilution isn't specified, but I would assume 1:7 "paper strength"). The fix is followed by a 60 minute wash time... or alternately, a 1 minute rinse, 3 minutes in hypo clearing agent, and 20 minutes final wash. For "image stability" Kodak recommends then using a suitable toner (instructions vary with type of toner), followed by an additional 30 minute wash. I'm sure there are many individual vatiations between these two extremes. I use a sequence that I was taught by a teacher/photographer who has a strong technical background. It follows the Ilford sequence, with two variations: selenium toner is added to the hypo clearing agent (at a 1:8 ratio), and the final wash is extended to 20 minutes. --Jack Klasey

Yes there is. My book "A WIndow to the Past--A View to the Future, A Guide to Photodocumenting Historic Places" Denver: Bureau of Land Management, 1994) outlines the entire process of producing archival quality prints. You are right, by displaying them, light and UV rays will damage them. However, most such prints are produced for record purposes and therefore are stored under archival conditions (like the National Archives or Library of Congress). I have had several exhibits that were printed on RC paper go bad from exposure, like fading and brassing. The stuff printed on FB paper did not go bad under use. Archival is a relative term. Properly stored, the life is hundreds of years. Displayed, the life is much less. You have to decide what you are going to use your prints/negs for to determine their real life. --Rick Athearn Photography

Shelf life of Ilford liquid universal fixer

Once the bottle is opened, how long will Ilford universal fixer (liquid) remain usable?

Ilford's tech sheet states 12 months in a full tightly stopped bottle and 6 months in a half-full tightly stopped bottle. --Garry Teeple

T-MAX VS. T-MAX RS Developer

I have been developing T-MAX sheet film in T-MAX developer for years now with excellent results. Now I read that the RS version of the developer is the only one that should be used for sheet film. I know that in the info-sheet packed w/ the film that RS is the recommended developer, but Ansel Adams once stated in one of his books, that replenishment-type developers should be avoided and that he only recommended 'one-shot' type developers. As I said, I have had excellent results w/ the regular T-MAX. Can switching to the RS really make any difference? Thank-you for your advice....Ron

I just "discovered" this RS vs. regular Tmax recommendation. Kodak says non RS with sheet film may result in a black streaking, although I have never seen it (Jobo drum processing).

In regards to replenishing....I just use the volume I need and chuck it. A gallon of mixed RS will last me a long time, so I don't care to hassle with replenishing, as the solution is likely to go bad before I use it all. Thus it is for me "one shot".

Can't say I've noticed a difference, but I just switched to RS. Did you notice a difference? --Peter T.

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