Advantages of using dilute (1:1) film developer?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Marco B, Dec 20, 2007.

  1. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    I was taught to use D-76 at 1:1 dilution from stock to develop film, instead of using full strength stock. This is also mentioned on the D-76 developer package as an option. However, what are actually the advantages of using diluted (1:1) stock instead of full strength, besides saving the planet by using less developer :confused:
     
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  2. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Well, OK, I just remembered one, controlling temperature, but are there others, e.g. finer grain?
     
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  3. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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    I rarely use D76 nowadays. But I prefer the tonality 1+1 gives with efke films compared to using straight developer. Some users report that they get sharper grain when diluting D76, but I find very little, if any, difference myself.

    However, after reading “Black and white photography” by Les McLean I did try D76 1+30 - a process that results in very sharp grain indeed...
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    One is economy, particularly if you prefer one-shot development, which brings about the advantage of consistency, though one could also make the case that a seasoned replenished developer also produces consistent results and is more economical, if you process a sufficient volume of film on a regular basis.

    With developers that have a lot of sulfite, like D-76, you'll get higher acutance and sharper grain at higher dilutions. It's not as noticable at 1+1, but if you like that effect, try 1+3. Some people add sodium sulfite to developers like Rodinal to soften the grain a bit.
     
  5. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    While you can use D-76, and many other devs, at 1+0, there are advantages to working with 1+1: you can reach a working temp solution faster with 1+1, you always know how many rolls have gone through 1+1 as with 1+0 and pouring back into the bottle, it's easy to forget, especially in a classroom situation.

    What I like best about 1+1, or greater, is highlight control. The more you dilute a developer, the less chance you have of "burning-out" the highlights of the photo.

    Diluting developer gives you courser grain, not finer. However, this can make a photo look sharper.
     
  6. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Thanks for these first useful replies. Interesting to read that using diluted developer actually gives coarser, instead of finer grain, maybe due to the longer development time needed?
     
  7. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    The time spent in the dev may have something to do with coarser/finer grain, but I believe most of has to with dilution. When diluting a dev like D-76, you are cutting the amount of sodium sulfite that reaches the film. Sulfite acts as a preservative for the film, as a alkaline agent which allows the dev to work, but sulfite also "eats" silver halide molecules and when diluted, there just isn't the amount of sulfite there to "eat away" the grains of silver, thus a sharper image.

    This is, or course, a very simple explanation. I'm sure you can read whole books on the subject.
     
  8. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    The 1+1 dilution produces "sharper" grain, not coarser grain. The concentration of sulfite in undiluted D-76 dissolves the edges of the grain clumps, thus rendering them "fuzzy".
     
  9. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Diluted 1:30? An hour in 2 liters? I use developers very
    dilute but wouldn't suggest a D-76 dilution greater than
    1:7 and 16 to 20 minutes; 1/2 liter one roll. Dan
     
  10. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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    Use plenty of solution, agitate for 5 minutes and let it stand for 6 hours at 24 degrees C.

    Apparently it’s called DD/FF (dilute developer/fast film) and was used by some press photographers when they found themselves in low light situations without a flash. McLean was told to expose Tri-X at EI 400, 800 and 1600 on the same roll of film and use this technique.

    When I tried it I got rather strange but usable and sharp negatives from EI 400 – and a very dirty Paterson reel.
     
  11. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I've never known a press photographer who had 6 hours to spend developing film. I would have loved to see the look on an editor's face when I told him I couldn't make deadline because my film had to soak until morning.
     
  12. Uhner

    Uhner Member

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    Yes, deadlines and six hours of development are at odds. But then again, the local newspaper out in the countryside where I grew up only had four issues every week:wink:
     
  13. DarkroomExperimente

    DarkroomExperimente Member

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    speaking of press guys using tricks to get the shot...

    I heard of a photographer at the scene of a fire...he took a few shots outside, then as he got closer to the building hew saw two firemen bringing an elderly man out of billowing smoke --- a perfect shot of a rescue

    except his camera was still set for the daylight exposure...and his film was many stops underexposed...so after pushing the film as far as he could, he took the film out of the fixer prematurely & made the print...it worked, but the film was ruined after the exposure to light from the enlarger
     
  14. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    When I knew I had underexposed my film despite pushing it to the limit with the developer I had on hand, I would take it from the developer and put it in a can of plain water for a few minutes to sit undisturbed before fixing. It seemed to bring up the darker areas in the negative a little bit while not burning out the highlights. It wasn't a perfect solution but nothing was ever perfect when working under deadline.
     
  15. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I had completely forgotten about this little gem in his book. In fact I had to get it of the shelf just to be sure it was there. I apologize for having any doubts.

    It would appear that DD/FF is the trad B&W film's answer to Ilford's chromogenic XP2+ where the film can be exposed at anything between EI 50 and EI 800 and still have usable negs with a common dev time.

    It seems so incredible that I'd have like to have seen Les' prints from just such an experiment. Even if the neg isn't perfect, it would be worth a try if you could only get the "never to be repeated shot of a lifetime" at EI 1600 but didn't want to sacrifice the rest of the roll. all of which were shot at EI 400.

    Les only mentions Tri-X. I wonder if the process is equally successful with HP5+ which is a similar trad film and finally what about the newer films like D400?

    pentaxuser