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Washing sheet film well is essential. It’s also terrible dreary to do manually: fill the tray with water, agitate through the pile, dump, and repeat - for 15 minutes. Ugh! Sessui is Japanese for "saving water." This sheet film washer washes film easily and thoroughly.


This Sessui (Cess-swee) washer eliminates that drudgery. It works beautifully, is rugged and durable, and has no bad habits. It does what I consider essential: it speeds up the routine tasks and allows more time and energy for the creative ones.


I enjoy using it. Why? Because I don’t have to do much. Fill it, put the sheet film in, run it. While the film washes I tidy up the darkroom; then photo-flo, and hang up the film. Done. Drain the washer and put in on the shelf under the sink.


The original concept for this washer was hatched over 40 years ago. David Vestal gave me the idea. He disliked the Zone VI print washers. He told me, "Well, for one thing they’re too big. I need some room in there for me too." Zone VI made an ungainly 2’ long "washing machine," which was really just an immense deep tray. With a separate sheet film rack you could wash sheet film in it. It worked, but in my present darkroom, that washer wouldn't fit in the sink, and my sink isn’t small - six-feet long and 24” wide. I use 4x5 and 5x7 film regularly. I wanted a sheet film washer with 3 features: (1) enough capacity, (2) efficiency, and (3) workable size. Finally I had one manufactured and this is it.




This washer can wash up to (28) 4x5 negatives - though you'll never do that many in one batch. (I can agitate (16) 4x5s in a tray every 30 seconds.) It also washes up to (14) 5x7s. In a tray, that's as many 5x7 negatives as I can safely agitate in 30 seconds. It holds 7 liters of water (less than 2 gallons). You’ll probably use a little more than twice that to wash a batch of film.




This washer takes up about as much room as an 8x10 tray – 8-3/8” x 11” x 5-7/8.” You don't have to leave it in the sink when you don't need it. After washing, unscrew the plug and drain the water. I store my washer on a shelf under the sink.


Construction is of chemically bonded acrylic with styrene separators. The separators are slotted so you can easily load and unload the washer. It’s also very easy to clean.





This washer feeds from the a panel of flow ports on one side and drains from the bottom on the other side. That allows the most effective water exchange (it isn’t because hypo is heavier than water). Bottom feeding washers take twice as long to exchange the water. Also, hoses can pop off a bottom-feeding washer, drain the tank, and ruin your negatives. Each compartment has ­5 fill ports. Like the Eclipse, this washer conserves water. A steady trickle is all you need. And this film washer uses slotted styrene separators – not plexiglas. Negatives won’t stick against the slotted separators, like they can with Plexiglas.


For acid hardening fixer, this washer operates on the same principle as the Eclipse washer: fill with water, insert sheet film; still wash for 3 minutes; run the water for 3 minutes. Repeat. After 12 minutes, the films are washed. For alkaline fixers used with pre-hardened films, hypo clear, then agitate through the pile twice in a tray of clean water. After loading, run the washer for 6 minutes and the films are washed.[1]



[1] 4 to 5 minutes is probably enough but I use 6

Sessui Sheet Film Washer

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