|The SP-445 sheet film developing tank.|
David M sent me a Kickstarter link which is all about a fund raising campaign for a "new" way of developing 5x4 film without resorting to open trays in the darkroom. The inverted commas around new are necessary because there have been a few tanks like this over the years all purporting to do the same thing: develop sheet film in much the same way that we develop 35mm or 120 in a Paterson tank.
Getting your hands on one of these old tanks is difficult, though. Even if you find one you have to keep your fingers crossed that it's light and developer proof to avoid the twin evils of fogged film and stained worktops and/or clothing. This new affair should take care of these potential problems nicely providing it does exactly what it says on the tin.
The people behind it were looking for $27,700 but I see they've already attracted pledges of almost $70,000 - possibly above that figure by the time you read this. I think that shows that there's still quite an interest in large format in general and that, in particular, people really don't like standing over trays in the dark for an hour at a time! Count me amongst them.
Rather than explain what it's all about, here's the video accompanying the project although I should point out that the "plunger" agitation system has been ditched in favour of the good old inversion method.
The tank seems a well-thought-out device and already has more than 200 backers. Four sheets of film can be developed at a time using just 500ml of chemicals. The retail cost is likely to be in the $80-90 range. It's scheduled to ship in April so we'll know soon enough whether or not it's the answer to some large format users' prayers.