Recently I ordered the SP-445 film processing system from Stearman Press. What attracted me to this product was the method of loading the film. The system comes with film holders that are loaded similarly to how the film is loaded in a film holder. You simply slide the emulsion side up on each side of the film holders and put the entire holder into the tank. There are two film holders so a total of 4 sheets can be developed simultaneously while only using 475ml of chemicals.
Overall the design is very nice, all liquids are poured into the Fill/Drain opening while there is a separate Vent opening to make the filling and emptying very easy. One trick is to squeeze the tank as you tighten the fill and vent caps to add extra suction to the tank. I did have some liquid leak before I found this trick but just a few drops. The O-Ring could be a bit larger but since I have been squeezing the tank before closing it I haven’t had any more issues.
After more use, I have found that I was squeezing the tank while agitating the liquid and that pressure was causing the leaking. If you avoid putting any pressure on the sides of the tank during agitation and you squeeze the sides as you are putting on the vent cap which should be the last cap you shouldn’t experience any leaking. I have used this method the last few times I developed film and had no issues.
One small complaint about the design of the film holders is that the top tabs are not even. On one side the tab is up and the other it is down so you have to push the film down to the second tab before it is held by both sides. This makes loading the film a bit more difficult to load but still easier than other designs.
I have been experiencing another issue with the film holders. After development, I am getting rather large spots where the tabs hold the film in the tank. With this issue and the limitation of only being able to develop 4 sheets at a time has caused me to search for another tank style to develop my 4×5 sheets.
This is the 4×5 version but Stearman Press is working on solutions for 5×7 and 8×10, check out their page for more information.