Thursday, May 11, 2017

Using the Stearman Press SP-445 Developing Tank - Part 2

I have used the SP-445 three or four times since my initial post.  Executive summary:  It works.  Well.  If you need to develop 4x5 and don't have an actual/proper darkroom, get it.  If you have a proper darkroom and have an established, well-working workflow, it's not necessary unless you need an alternative to deep tanks.

Longer summary:  The only issue I encountered was loading film into the holders.  The user guide delivered with the tank advise to practice loading with some scrap film.  Did I do that?  As someone with 40 years of experience ... no.  While doing so would have saved some time for the first attempt, I did get the sheets properly loaded.  After some fiddling. 

The "issue" is that the tabs that keep the film properly loaded are "subtle" enough that until you have experience, you aren't aware of them.  Not practicing could result in disaster, but I got on OK.

During processing, when agitating I found the best for me was to hold the tank in one hand, gripping both at the side and over the top.  It's hard to explain without a drawing (my drawing skill is less than limited,) but think of it as gripping at a top corner - I am most comfortable using my left hand, even though I am right handed.  Even thought he lid seats securely, this grip makes me feel the tank and its contents are more secure - the lid can't fall off if you've got it in a firm grip.

That's it.  The system is simple, elegant, it works.  Highly recommended, it has saved me time and effort.