New developing reels: 4×5 and paper reel!

While making AGO a reality I have always looked for ways to widen its capabilities. Not only including different chemical processes but also looking into different formats and hardware needed for it. Most eminent of these are the development of paper and large-format film.


4×5 developing reel

Speaking of large format, there are not many possibilities to develop sheet film in Paterson tank which would also be compatible with rotary processing. Currently, on the market, there are only a few 4×5 holders and for 5×7, 8×10, and all other formats between these, there is no solution to do it in a Paterson tank. In the process of developing my own 4×5 film in Paterson tank, I have been looking for the ideal reel. So far I have tried 3 different and all have had some problems. Let’s look closer into it:

For 4×5 most well-known is Mod45, but as also the maker of it says that it is not for rotary processing as film can fall off from the reel when rapidly submerging into the chemistry. So far I have suggested getting a French-made RealFilmReel 4×5 holder, otherwise a great reel, but I have seen it leaves undeveloped edges on a film where the emulsion side is in contact with the reel. The undeveloped area is rather minuscule but still for some it is a deal breaker. Lately, I got one Chinese-made E Tones,(actually it doesn’t fit to the Paterson tank as the central column diameter is smaller- I 3D printed a new one) which is essentially a copy of 20th century design. It is an elegant design, but for AGO it creates a problem: as the sheets are curved towards the center it tends to lift liquids upwards during rotation in one way, inverting the rotation everything is good. But as AGO inverts its rotation during rotary processing it is a problem as it slows down the rotation in one way. I got perfectly developed negatives out of it but to be fair I didn’t like the sound of it.

Testing different 4×5 reels

To conclude, I was not happy and decided to make our own. Introducing REEL- 4×5. It is compatible with Paterson 3 tank and fits 4 sheets of 4×5 film. During the design process, I got inspiration from 20th century design, especially on how easy it was to load it, but also how the sheets are held firmly in place. Using this reel the sheets are not curved towards the center, which means it doesn’t lift the liquids up but rather just slides through the chemistry. In addition, it is really easy to load in the dark and produces evenly developed negatives.


4x5 developing reel for Paterson tank, film developing reel, 4x5 film developing4x5 film developing reel, 4x5 film developing reel for Paterson tank


Paper and 8×10 film reel

Here’s a question that arose for us: Why not do the RA-4 process with AGO? Like a widely used rotary tube but a reel inside a Paterson tank? As RA-4 is also quite temperature-critical, the time compensation could work on it perfectly. So far implementing the graph to AGO which would imitate RA-4 chemistry is in progress, but the reel design is ready. Introducing REEL- Paper 5, it is compatible with Paterson 5 tank and fits up to 8×10 inch paper or film. To be fair, this got even my ears moving as it is quite a versatile tool in an AGO toolkit. You can develop B&W paper- if you lack the room for trays, you can develop RA-4 and you can develop large format film like 8×10 with it.


Paper developing reel, 8x10 film developing reel, Reel - paper 5, Paper developing in Paterson tankPaper developing reel, 8x10 film developing reel, Reel - paper 5, Paper developing in Paterson tank



So far we are setting up a production for making these reels, as most other producers we chose the 3D printing method to make these and PETG plastic which is easily printable and has good chemical resistance. We are hoping to get these ready before we start shipping IndieGoGo AGOs in May, so if someone is interested they can get it together with their AGO shipment.




Check out the REEL – 4×5 and REEL – Paper 5 here. We opened a pre-order and you can get your reel delivered to you with your IndieGoGo order you’ve already made in May.






4 thoughts on “New developing reels: 4×5 and paper reel!”

  1. Stefan Joseph

    I recently purchased a AGO + Paterson tank from your company for 120 dim development but I am also interested in purchasing the 5×4 developing tank could it be sent along with my order if I pay for it now?

    Yours gratefully
    Stefan Joseph

    1. Joonas Kurrikoff

      Hello Stefan,

      You can right now purchase the 4×5 reel and select IndieGoGo shipping in the Cart. When in Checkout, make sure you fill the field “IndieGoGo Contribution ID” with your contribution ID so we can send you the 4×5 reel with your AGO.

      If you’re missing the Paterson 3 tank needed to use 4×5 reel, we will begin selling these in a few weeks. You will be able to purchase one then from us. We will inform all backers by update or newsletter.

      Kind regards
      Joonas from Vintage Visual

    1. Joonas Kurrikoff

      Hi Stanley,

      You’re welcome to subscribing to our newsletter to stay updated with our news. You can subscribe at the bottom of our webpage by filling in your information.

      Joonas from Vintage Visual

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Social media

Contact us


+372 5674 0835

Join our communities!

Join the newsletter!