SUPPORT

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

HOW IT WORKS

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. Only 120 films with PET base can't be correctly loaded.




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 to recover the film end from the cartridge.




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 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 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 reel.




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, we suggest to use the additional crank which is more comfortable for continuous agitation. If you instead fully submerge the film with 500ml then you can turn the knob every 30 seconds, 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 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.




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.





CHEMICALS AND PROCESSES

WHAT IS THE AMOUNT OF CHEMICALS NEEDED?


You can choose to either fully submerge the film (490ml 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 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 can do the C-41 color negative process, especially if you are using a home-processing simplified kit.





TROUBLESHOOTING

LOADING 35mm: the film was wrongly wound into the reel and/or is stuck or suned


Cause: Incorrect-assembled reels - Solution: Make sure that the reels were correctly assembled in correct position and aligned Cause: Incorrectly-positioned Film Guidie - Solution: Check the position of the film guide for 35mm as mentioned in the film loading checklist Cause: Incorrectly-clipped film - Solution: Clip the film as much as possible perfectly in the center




LOADING 35mm: the film does not lock at the end and, even
pushing the lever, it won’t get cut


Cause: The film was not slidden under the two metal pipes - Solution: Open the tank in the dark or inside a changing bag and manually cut the film Cause: Pet Film Base - Solution: Pet base films sometimes are very hard to cut: try to firmly push the blade more times and simoultanesly pull the film rotating the knob. If it doesn’t work, cut the film manually inside a changing bag and then check if the blade is defected. Cause: Damaged blade - Solution: Check the blade and write to support@lab-box.it




LOADING 35mm: the film releases from the clip as soon as I try to load it.


Cause: The film was not clipped by sufficiently pressing the clip. - Solution: Press the clip between the thumb and forefinger until you hear a “click”.




DEVELOPING 35mm: film borders are white and undeveloped or unfixed


Cause: Film borders touching the reel - Solution: It does not cause any problems and does not affect the results.




DEVELOPING 35mm: scratched film


Cause: Blade tip edging out - Solution: Make sure the blade is not visible before loading the film, if so push the lever on the back of the module downwards. Cause: Dust or residues on the roll gasket - Solution: Clean the roll cartridge gaskets.




DEVELOPING 35mm: unevenness in developing, dark spots and side halos


Cause: Little or scarce agitation or ineffective intermittent agitation - Solution: Agitate for longer time and more vigorously or perform development with continuous agitation and half-filled tank (highly suggested).




DEVELOPING 35mm: chemicals leaking from the sides and/or from the back of tank


Cause: Tank filled with more than 490-500ml - Solution: Do not fill the tank with more than 490ml. Cause: Tank tipped and moved during the process - Solution: During the process, keep the tank steady on a flat surface.




DEVELOPING 120: first frame partially burned


Cause: First chunk of film gets light when opening the lid to hook the clip - Solution: When loading the roll into the machine, advance the film a few centimetres from the standard position before closing the back.




DEVELOPING 120: unevenness in developing, dark spots and side halos


Cause: Little or scarce agitation or ineffective intermittent agitation - Solution: Agitate for longer time and more vigorously or perform development with continuous agitation and half-filled tank (highly suggested).




DEVELOPING 120: chemicals leaking from the sides and/or from the back of tank


Cause: Tank filled with more than 490-500ml - Solution: Do not fill the tank with more than 490ml. Cause: Tank tipped and moved during the process - Solution: During the process, keep the tank steady on a flat surface.




LOADING 120: the film is incorrectly loaded in the spiral and / or jammed and ruined


Cause: Incorrectly-assembled reels - Solution: Make sure that the reels were correctly assembled, in correct position, and aligned.
Cause: Incorrectly-positioned Film Guide - Solution: Check the position of the film guide for 120 film as mentioned in the checklist.
Cause: Incorrectly-clipped film - Solution: Clip the film perfectly in the center.




LOADING 120: the film got stuck while the backing paper was being pulled away and did not wrap properly in the inner slot


Cause: Film Chamber left in closed position - Solution: Make sure the film chamber is in the open position (triangle).
Cause: Film left in camera for several days and left unrested - Solution: Films which are in the camera for more than one week lose their curling quality. To film this quality which is necessary for threading, the film must be rolled up tightly for at least one day.
Cause: Film with PET support - Solution: 120 films with PET support cannot be used with Lab-Box.




LOADING 120: after clipping the film and opening the film chamber, the film gets stuck and the knob does not rotate


Cause: Clip accidentally stuck with the 120 block spring. - Solution: Close and slowly open the 120 Film chamber while at the same time turning the knob until it unlocks. Then reopen the film chamber completely (triangle).




LOADING 120: The film releases from the clip as soon as I try to load it.


Cause: The film was not clipped by sufficiently pressing the clip. - Solution: Press the clip between the thumb and forefinger until you hear a “click”.





PET BASE FILMS

LIST OF FILM WITH PET BASE


These films can't be loaded in Lab-Box 120 Module and can be hard to clip in Lab-Box 135 Module: JCH 400 Rollei Infrared Rollei 80s Rollei Superpan 200 Rollei 400s Fomapan 100 Fomapan 200 Fomapan 400 Bergger 400 120 CatLABS X FILM ISO 80 120 Arista film Astrum film Lomography Earl Grey B&W 100