HOW DOES LAB-BOX WORK?
LAB-BOX is made up of three modules: 135 module, 120 module and the main tank. Once you have chosen the film format you are planning to develop, you attach the appropriate module to the main tank. You can then insert the roll in the slot, and clip the film. Having closed the lid, you can then wind the film onto the spiral by turning the outer knob. At this point you can pour in all the required chemical baths, according to the developing process you have chosen.
WHAT DOES “DAYLIGHT-LOADING TANK” MEAN?
As the word itself may suggest, a daylight tank allows you to develop film in the full light of the day, a characteristic that is common to all tanks present on the market. But the really great feature with LAB-BOX is that the film can also be loaded in daylight, with no need of a changing bag or a dark room to wind the film onto the spiral.
CAN I REALLY DEVELOP OUTDOORS?
You can carry LAB-BOX with you anywhere, so yes, you can develop while outdoors: just find somewhere in the shade to avoid direct sunlight. Also, if using a monobath, this is especially easy and time-effective.
IF I AM OUTDOORS, ONCE I DEVELOP THE FILM HOW DO I RINSE IT? AND HOW DO I DRY IT?
If you are nowhere near the appropriate equipment but you need a preview of your test shots, or if you’d like to experiment with immediate developing on the spot, you can do that with LAB-BOX! To wash out the chemicals, you can simply rinse the film with water a couple of times to get rid of most of the fixer, and then wash it again once you get home. If you keep the film onto the spiral, you can leave it in the tank and simply rinse it and dry it once you get back to somewhere more appropriate. But if you want to take it off the spiral while outdoors, you can let it dry in open air and then rinse it and dry again once you are back inside. Obviously, this “open-air effect” will show on the film, as your surroundings will affect it (the wet film will be in contact with dust and filth, depending on where you are). This can be an interesting factor to experiment with: the film will reflect not only what you have decided to shoot, but it will also absorb the environment it was shot in.
HOW MANY ROLLS CAN I DEVELOP AT A TIME?
Only one roll at a time.
WHAT FILMS FORMATS CAN BE DEVELOPED WITH LAB-BOX?
With LAB-BOX you can develop any kind of 135 and 120 films
CAN I USE THE LAB-BOX FOR THE 110 OR 127 FORMAT?
At the moment LAB-BOX can only develop 35mm or 120. But we already have future plans to expand to the 110 and 127 formats, as they are compatible with the loading system we have developed.
CAN IT BE USED WITH LARGE FORMAT SHEETS OR ARE YOU PLANNING ANY DEVELOPMENT IN THAT SENSE?
No, unfortunately large format sheets are not compatible with a daylight-loading tank. But we have a few projects in store for large format sheets…
HOW DO I GET THE FILM OUT OF THE 135 CARTRIDGE?
You can use a special Film Retriever, that we will ship together with the 135 module.
HOW DO I SEPARATE THE FILM FROM THE CARTRIDGE?
Once you have reached the end of the film, pressing the lever at the back of the module will activate a blade that will cut the film, separating it from the cartridge.
HOW DO I SEPARATE THE BLACK BACKING PAPER FROM THE 120 FILM?
By pulling the black paper through the split, the film is automatically collected in a lightproof compartment. Once all the backing paper has been pulled out and separated from the film, the compartment is sealed, leaving out only the tip of the film, which is then clipped and wound onto the spiral.
HOW DO I POUR CHEMICALS IN AND OUT OF THE TANK?
All chemicals are poured in and out through an opening on the right-hand side of the lid. The lid is lightproof but allows for liquids to get in and out of the tank.
WHAT IS THE AMOUNT OF CHEMICALS NEEDED?
You can choose to either fully submerge the film (500ml of liquid), or only partially submerge it (270ml). In the first case you can agitate intermittently, as the film is constantly submerged in the chemicals. In the latter case, you must perform the agitation throughout to obtain even development.
WHAT IS AGITATION AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Agitation is a process needed for an even development, as it allows a balanced exposure of the film to the chemicals inside the tank. You can perform the agitation by rotating the outer knob on the tank, which is connected to the inner spiral.
DO I HAVE TO CONTINUOUSLY ROTATE THE KNOB?
If you chose to develop with 270ml of chemicals, then yes: you will have to perform a continuous agitation. If you fully submerge the film with 500ml then you can turn the knob only once a minute, or experiment with different intervals of your choosing.
HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THE POSSIBILITY OF AUTOMATING THE KNOB ROTATION?
The idea of automating the knob is one of the many developments we are considering for LAB-BOX. Our design has been conceived with various possible upgrades and accessories in mind.
WHAT IS THE MONOBATH?
The monobath is a solution that develops and fixes the film at the same time: in just a few minutes the film is fully processed. The stock solution does not need any dilution and can be used multiple times. The output is that of a negative with a medium-high contrast.
WHAT IS CAFFENOL?
Caffenol is a coffe based solution that develops film with a sepia effect. It is an eco-friendly developing process, as it is based on instant coffe, washing soda and vitamin C.
Our Caffenol kit also comes with a powder fixer that can be diluted when needed
IS IT ONLY POSSIBLE TO DEVELOP IN BLACK AND WHITE?
In theory, you can use LAB-BOX with any type of developing process, because once the film is loaded LAB-BOX functions as any normal tank would. Black and white is clearly the easiest process but, for instance, you could experiment with the C-41 process, especially if you are using a home-processing kit, that allows to develop at temperatures lower than 38°.
WHAT MATERIALS IS LAB-BOX MADE OF? WILL THEY BE DAMAGED OVER TIME OR BY USING DEVELOPING CHEMICALS?
LAB-BOX is made of ABS, with some parts in stainless steel. These materials will not be damaged by the chemical agents used in photographic development in the range of temperatures required. We are working on creating a durable and sturdy piece of equipment that will stand the test of time.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE PRICE OF THE TANK
The LAB-BOX may in fact look like a simple box on the outside, but in reality it is a rather complicated piece of equipment comprising of a large number of parts in ABS and stainless steel. Tolerance and precision are really important in the development and production of each piece (up to a tenth of a millimetre), as a minor error might compromise the winding process of the film or the lightproof containers. The spiral has been drawn from scratch and is very different from the spirals you may find in other tanks. The materials we have used are extremely high-quality to ensure a durable product. In addition, we have decided to build and assemble LAB-BOX here in Italy, in order to have full quality control. The price of the tank reflects all of these aspects and is also based on a low to medium production batch.
WHY SHOULD I INVEST IN A LAB-BOX INSTEAD OF BUYING A USED DAYLIGHT-LOADING TANK? WHAT ARE ITS BEST FEATURES?
First and foremost, the reason we have started working on the project is that we wanted to make this type of product available on the market again, as it disappeared a few decades ago and was never improved or updated on until now. LAB-BOX is a new product, it comes with a full warranty and available spare parts, and is compatible with upcoming accessories that will further improve its performance and functionalities.
Also, it is not easy finding a used daylight-loading tank in good conditions, even online. The 120 ones are especially rare.
And LAB-BOX carries a number of new features, compared to the old daylight-loading tanks: LAB-BOX is the first multiformat tank of its kind, as it consists of the main tank body and interchangeable modules with which to develop different formats. And LAB-BOX allows you to chose between two different types of agitation: if you fully submerge the film you can agitate at different intervals or also experiment with stand or semi-stand developing processes, that allow the film to sit in the developing liquid with little to no agitation.