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Forget the bakelite Rondinax, the Lab Box is coming
Old 02-16-2017   #1
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Forget the bakelite Rondinax, the Lab Box is coming

http://www.ars-imago.com/lab-box/

Long live Kickstarter and 3D-printing!
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Old 02-16-2017   #2
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Having owned just about every brand of daylight processing tank in my misspent youth, I think the flaw is in the concept itself - tanks should be as simple as possible, for better cleaning and better sealing. A loading mechanism inevitably makes them too complex. It was better than nothing when I lived in a squat and had to process film in a broken kitchen sink where several other inhabitants were washing or cooking, or when you have to process in a hotel bathroom. But when you can set yourself up in a more permanent way, there are more affordable options that deliver better results...
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Old 02-16-2017   #3
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Put a sensible price next to it and I will support it and buy it. But if its price looks like a joke, no way it will replace my trusty bakelite Paterson from the 70s.
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Old 02-17-2017   #4
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I often wonder why nobody ever made a Minox daylight tank scaled up to 35mm. It is the only DT that really makes sense.
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Old 02-17-2017   #5
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No mention yet of how much liquid is needed to develop a roll (my Paterson tank uses 290ml developer per 35mm roll and 500ml for 120).

Looks like it can only develop one roll at a time. Paterson tank will do 2 rolls of 35mm.
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Old 02-17-2017   #6
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Okay, I agree it's particularly nice for those who shoot and develop single rolls at a time or have no confidence / proficiency in developing in Hewes/Nikkor or Paterson tanks.

But, having easily sold my unused Rondinax 35U across the globe recently for a stunning EUR 65 + shipping, I think this is of interest to many people.
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Old 02-17-2017   #7
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I'm signed up for the news letter, I'm looking forward to the kick starter announcement.
I'm not sure if I'll back, just because I have both Patterson (2 and 5 roll capacities) and several steel tanks.

While it may be a potential cause of trouble down the road, what interests me here is the auto-loading capability. Even with good (Hewes? I forget the name for them, they have a different and much better centre clip) reels, loading the reals is still the biggest headache in my film processing workflow. If I could do it any time of day (my film loading room can only be used after the sun goes down) and it was always painless, it might be worth the money.
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Old 02-17-2017   #8
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I signed up for the news letter as well and I am curious how this product will develop...
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Old 02-17-2017   #9
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I'm just pleased and encouraged to see another 'new' film product in the 'about to be' stages.
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Old 02-17-2017   #10
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Anything which encourages more young people to get into film photography, and buy more film, which this plainly does, can only be viewed as a good thing if you love the hobby. And I say "young people" because the photos of the ten principals indicate this is a hipster project. More power to them, and I wish them luck. I will probably back it for that reason alone, as I don't need another daylight loader.
Eventually many people who buy these will fall in love with actual-not instax- film photography, set up a real dark room, buy even more film, shave, and the world will be a better place for everyone.
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Old 02-17-2017   #11
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Looks expensive, to make, to sell. My guess, well north of a C note. What I got works, why mess with it. All I got to do is close the laundry room door.
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Old 02-17-2017   #12
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What? - No changing bag or locking oneself in a darkened closet to load a reel?

It's heresy, I say. With that said, it's been over four decades since I used a Rondinax 35U. I was in the military at the time.
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Old 02-17-2017   #13
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I'm perfectly content with my changing bag and 1 reel and 3 reel Paterson tanks. I think it's cool to see people doing "new" things but I won't buy into it.
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Old 02-17-2017   #14
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I use Rondix and Rondinax tanks almost exclusively for all my film developing nowadays. A modern replacement that does both? Sure, it will be great.

Long past the day when I would process two or more rolls in a single session ... :-)

G
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Old 02-17-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
I use Rondix and Rondinax tanks almost exclusively for all my film developing nowadays. A modern replacement that does both? Sure, it will be great.

Long past the day when I would process two or more rolls in a single session ... :-)

G
Godfrey,
The biggest downside for me (real or imagined) of the Rondinax is the inability to maintain a precise temperature for processing formula that require long developing times. This has always forced me, if using the Rondinax, to use processing methods I might not normally choose if using a tank and a temp controlled water bath.
Do you have a preferred developer, time, film that you have settled on as working optimally with the Rondinax? Just curious.
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Old 02-17-2017   #16
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I must admit, daylight (rather than dark bag) loading would be pretty neat, as long as it works reliably. I wonder how easy it would be to unspool/reload if it mis-loads? Not for me, I'm comfortable with the Paterson, but I wish them all the best.
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Old 02-17-2017   #17
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this is worth watching but it's too early to determine if it's a 'buy'
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Old 02-17-2017   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Cloetta View Post
Godfrey,
The biggest downside for me (real or imagined) of the Rondinax is the inability to maintain a precise temperature for processing formula that require long developing times. This has always forced me, if using the Rondinax, to use processing methods I might not normally choose if using a tank and a temp controlled water bath.
Do you have a preferred developer, time, film that you have settled on as working optimally with the Rondinax? Just curious.
I process all film in the Rondix and Rondinax tanks exactly the same way: HC-110 mixed from concentrate at 1:49 dilution (4 ounces mixed into 196 ounces of water); one-shot only, I toss after every film processed. I process only when ambient temperatures hover between 70 and 76 degrees in my condominium, have all the water I'm going to use sit to stabilize temperature overnight before processing. When starting out, I chill the developer down to 68°F and let the temperature float afterwards. Process routine:

1 min - Pre-soak
8 min - developer
1 min - water rinse
8 min - fixer
1 min - water rinse (6 changes, last change with two drops wetting agent)
Squeegee and hang to dry

Because of the constant agitation, I see little point to extended development times: that would just boost contrast and grain unless you went to hyperdilute developer. The slightly lower HC110 concentration and constant agitation for 8 min generates a slightly thin, sharp, slightly grainy, slightly contrasty negative at standard EI; I often add 1/3 to 1 stop exposure to flatten down contrast a little and get more shadow detail, depending on the light.

Since all my rendering work is from scans, this works very well for me. The negatives have a uniquely pleasing look to my eye. :-)

G
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Old 02-17-2017   #19
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Thank you, Godfrey. Will give it a go. Always nice to try things that others have made the effort to standardize.
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Old 02-19-2017   #20
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You should look at it like the makers look at it:
It is not a replacement for Jobo, Paterson or AP developing tanks.
It is just an addition to the market mainly for
- photographers on travels
- beginners in home-developing (no need for a darkroom or changing bag).

And as such a supplement it makes sense.
Home developing is getting more popular.
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Old 02-19-2017   #21
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I wonder how easy it is to disassemble and run a 'wash' thru?

Also where is the chemistry being fed thru? How does it handle inversions (is it sealed with the lid on... is the light tight with the orange lid removed? or is it more like a drum where it's constantly needing movement). How easy is to clean the tank especially with a rotary knob on it, what about making sure each step of chemistry is flushed between steps and not hidden in some nook?

Also I don't want to bash a particular country but it seems like anything specialty-related that comes out of Italy is both expensive, and yet lacks decent quality control (ie: Visconti or the Late Omas pen makers for example). But boy does it look great.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skiff View Post
You should look at it like the makers look at it:
It is not a replacement for Jobo, Paterson or AP developing tanks.
It is just an addition to the market mainly for
- photographers on travels
- beginners in home-developing (no need for a darkroom or changing bag).

And as such a supplement it makes sense.
Home developing is getting more popular.
I fear it may be too cost prohibitive for the usual beginners.
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Old 02-19-2017   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb244 View Post
I wonder how easy it is to disassemble and run a 'wash' thru?

Also where is the chemistry being fed thru? How does it handle inversions (is it sealed with the lid on... is the light tight with the orange lid removed?
The only inversions on this type of daylight processor will be to drain the tank at the end of each step. The reel is cranked nearly continuously while processing - which eliminates inversions.

The lid stays on when pouring in or emptying chemistry from the tank.

If the design mimics the old Rondinax 35U - a small leader needs to be extracted from the film canister - before placing it in the apparatus and clamping the strap from the reel to the leader. Once the lid is on and locked - the film is then wound onto the processing reel.

There is a cutting blade that is pushed up once all the film has been wound on to the reel. The lid of the processor needs to stay locked until the fixer is poured out.
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Old 02-19-2017   #23
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Just make more affordable changing tents... I worry that one day, I'll wear out my photoflex and won't be able to afford a harrison
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Old 02-19-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lynnb View Post
No mention yet of how much liquid is needed to develop a roll (my Paterson tank uses 290ml developer per 35mm roll and 500ml for 120).

Looks like it can only develop one roll at a time. Paterson tank will do 2 rolls of 35mm.
The website says: "Tank capacity: 270 – 500 ml"

Cheers!

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Old 02-19-2017   #25
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Tanks like these are pretty much for just a roll and do not offer much of flexibility in terms dilutions used for the developer. For example, if it calls for a high dilution and the minimum required developer makes the total volume over 500ml, you are done.
I prefer classic tanks, a small one that can be used with the least possible development solution, and another bigger one for high dilutions that make up for a total of over 500ml.
It is nice and simple though. I don't need it, but if it gets reasonably priced I would buy it.
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Old 02-21-2017   #26
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There's a video demonstrating the Lab Box, courtesy of Huss in California:

https://vimeo.com/203000292
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Old 02-21-2017   #27
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I did notice that during the 120 demo, right at the 2:00 mark, the film kinks in the guides, right before the shot cuts away. Maybe that's not indicative, maybe it is.
They did blow past their kickstarter goal almost instantly though, that's encouraging.
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Old 02-21-2017   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb244 View Post
I wonder how easy it is to disassemble and run a 'wash' thru?
Also where is the chemistry being fed thru? How does it handle inversions (is it sealed with the lid on... is the light tight with the orange lid removed? or is it more like a drum where it's constantly needing movement). How easy is to clean the tank especially with a rotary knob on it, what about making sure each step of chemistry is flushed between steps and not hidden in some nook?
...
The design is very similar to the late-series Agfa Rondinax 35U (for 135) or Rondinax 60 (for 120) but with the twist that the film loading section is a 'module' which can be interchanged on the tank, and the spiral/film guide can be set to one or the other size.

From the video and the other information available:
  • It looks like it comes apart exactly the same as the Agfa tanks, which means you pull the bolt and the spiral comes out, slide apart the module, and wash it.
  • The chemistry is fed in and poured out through the open section of the top. This says that you can't invert the tank during processing.
  • The top creates the light seal on the tank and film loading module; it must be on until the film is fixed.
  • If you fill it to 270ml, you must turn the spiral constantly; I do a gentle turn-turn-pause-turn motion with the Agfa tanks that works well. If you fill it to 500ml, you can let the film be stationary while it processes.
  • Given the design's similarity to the Agfa tanks, I doubt there will be any problem with draining the tank between process steps.

If you look at my development process for the Agfa tanks up-thread, that will be pretty much the same for this tank but with another 70ml of chemistry. The ability to fill up to 500ml and let the film sit stationary nets additional processing options if you want to to hyperdilute developer/stand development type stuff.

The Kickstarter came live today and I put in a pledge that includes delivery of tank and both modules. It's not that much more expensive than an EXC++ condition original Agfa Rondinax 60 tank I bought three years ago, which is more than forty years old.

Quality control ... We'll see.

G
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Old 02-21-2017   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Cloetta View Post
I did notice that during the 120 demo, right at the 2:00 mark, the film kinks in the guides, right before the shot cuts away. Maybe that's not indicative, maybe it is.
They did blow past their kickstarter goal almost instantly though, that's encouraging.
The Rondinax 60 tank does the same thing as the load starts. It never makes a mark on the film however.

G
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Old 02-21-2017   #30
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Looks like leak-city to me, and twirling your film spool is a recipe for surge marks all over your negs if done too enthusiastically. The first thing I did when I bought my Paterson System 4 tank was throw that little twirley contraption away.

The best way to agitate is by inversion, and it gives you the ability to custom tune your negs. These folks are trying to reinvent the wheel. You really need to have the capability for inversions, as some films need a gentle inversion, some more firm, and having the option to increase contrast by more inversions is necessary for developing your films the way you want them.
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Old 02-21-2017   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
The Rondinax 60 tank does the same thing as the load starts. It never makes a mark on the film however.

G
Thanks, I only have the 35U, so didn't know.

I've signed on for the tank and both modules as well. I've got a darkroom with a temperature controlled water bath, but this has its place. Just hoping it is well constructed.
I had a short learning curve with the Rondinax originally, but the theoretical problems with the method have not materialized for me.
It's not perfect, but I've had enough developer running down my arm from inverting every Patterson tank I've ever owned to know that few things are perfect.
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Old 02-21-2017   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Looks like leak-city to me, and twirling your film spool is a recipe for surge marks all over your negs if done too enthusiastically.
I've processed perhaps 200 rolls of film in the Agfa tanks like this one. Never a single surge mark. Of course, you have to follow the instructions: you can't just spin the knob like a top and expect to get good results. You turn the knob at the measured pace described in the manual, with a darkroom timing going so you can pace it properly.

Similarly, I've had zero problems with leaks using the Agfa tanks despite them being up to a half-century old... or even more. I do sit them into a big tray while processing to protect my counter top against casual splashes of developer and fixer, and to make it easy to clean up after processing a load of film.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
The best way to agitate is by inversion, and it gives you the ability to custom tune your negs. These folks are trying to reinvent the wheel. You really need to have the capability for inversions, as some films need a gentle inversion, some more firm, and having the option to increase contrast by more inversions is necessary for developing your films the way you want them.
I disagree completely, based on my own 50 years experience processing film by hand and by machine. Inversion agitation generally causes too much contrast build up and highlight blocking when not done very carefully.

The ars-imago folks took the Agfa Rondinax tank design and developed it further, that's all. Of course it's not the best tank for all possible situations and processing methodologies. But there's absolutely no need to be so didactic about it. If it meets the design goals and works as well as the Agfa Rondinax tanks do, it will be a very good product and a very useful tool for darkroom use.

BTW: I bought four of the six Rondinax tanks I have from a retiring professional photographer who'd been using them to process all his B&W film for thirty-plus years, in his business' lab. So they're useful for more than just beginners and home-process hobbyists...

I've bought in because I support good projects that promote photography and film use, making it accessible to more people. I don't really need another tank, but it will be nice to have one that isn't thirty years old.

G
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Old 02-21-2017   #33
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Looks interesting, but I already have sufficient Stainless Steel gear for now. With the assistance of a changing bag I can soup my film in indoor light without problems too.

I bought into the 4x5 kit a year and a half a go or so. Looks interesting but I'm on hold with any more wet gear (less it's free) for now.

Thanks for sharing, thank G_d for 2D printers!

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Old 02-21-2017   #34
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Godfrey: Can't say I have the Rondinax, or that having just bought a slew of equipment that I needed to spend mo' dough, but I subscribed for much the same reason - "the good of the cause". Whether it will or would become my primary method.. who knows? But seems to me the sort of thing that could spread good things in many and untold ways. Worth a shot... especially with your endorsement. Guess I wondered whether they'd do a two-reel version or not... or two tank... but that might not be practical anyway. Cross my fingers it's a good thing "as is".
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Old 02-21-2017   #35
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Something P.T. Barnum once said comes to mind.

It seems to me that these people are busy reinventing the wheel, and they want us to pay for it.

If this project takes off, and I wish them the very best of luck, I may go into the business of selling used bridges.
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Old 02-21-2017   #36
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Well, I don't have a darkroom and limited space for processing so this looks just up my street. I paid up for the kit and 2 modules. We'll see how it performs :-)
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Old 02-22-2017   #37
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Just backed for the double-module, even though I've never done any processing myself before (apart from one single weekend at university).

The Kickstarter is soon gonna blow past €200,000 - almost 3x the final goal - after just a single day. Only 34 days left! That must mean that film is dead, as I saw someone on this forum comment yesterday...
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Old 02-22-2017   #38
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Film IS dead ... but we need to process what little of it remains.

G
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Old 02-22-2017   #39
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I mentioned in a comment over on The Online Photographer recently, an interesting album of images on a Facebook user group showing last year's Stockholm Camera 'Yard Sale'. What was interesting about the images was that all the sellers were old men, and the vast majority of buyers were young kids, and particularly young women.

I don't for a second think film is dead, I think that the grumpy old men that hang on forums like this are getting nearer that status...

Anyways, the Kickstarter has blown past €220,000 (over $230,000) on its first day - on a €70k target.
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Old 02-22-2017   #40
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I have a toilet without windows.. So no buy for me.
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