Ascorbic acid (only) developer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by michael_r, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Has anyone ever put together a fine grain developer based on ascorbic acid alone? Think something like XTOL but with more isoascorbate, no Phenidone, and a stronger alkali like maybe sodium carbonate instead of Sodium metaborate. Presumably it would require long development times, but I've never seen that as a drawback if image quality can be improved. I guess film speed would be reduced. Would a long development time necessarily mean higher fog?

    Anyhow just thinking out loud. Actually as I write this I'm realizing an ascorbic acid-carbonate developer might essentially be a Caffenol-type developer (since my understanding is ascorbic acid is likely responsible for most of the reducing action in caffenol anyway). But caffenol doesn't have sulfite, or a restrainer.
     
  2. desertrat

    desertrat Subscriber

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    My understanding is, ascorbic acid by itself will work if you use lots of sodium carbonate, but the developing time is very long, about half an hour, and the negatives are very grainy and have developer fog.

    When I started making home brew developers about 10 years ago, I found a website that had a reprint of an old magazine article with directions for making this developer with vitamin C tablets and washing soda. It was presented mainly as a home experiment in using household ingredients to develop film.

    I followed the instructions, developed a roll of film for half an hour, and got the results mentioned above. The article warned the negatives would be grainy and fogged.
     
  3. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Yeah I guess that makes sense based on what I've read. I'm not a home-brew kind of guy anyway, but enjoy thinking about this stuff. Another idea I had was a Metol-Ascorbic acid-Metaborate developer that had a relatively low amount of sodium sulfite (just for preservative purposes) and sodium chloride for solvent effects.
     
  4. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Look at Ryugi Suzuki's DS-12 developer formula.
     
  5. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    Why not try making some PC-TEA?
     
  6. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    Re DS-12, I think that's a more active (carbonate) high acutance developer though. I'm thinking of a softer working formula that would also be a solvent developer, but using sodium chloride for solvent effects.

    Re PC-TEA, I've never been clear on its working properties. It has no sulfite, yet Gainer claimed it to be extremely fine grained.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 13, 2011
  7. ruilourosa

    ruilourosa Member

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    i Think you need to read stephen anchell books!

    Ascorbic acid will work like hidroquinone (more or less) and will not be a decent developer for transparencies, although you could get away developing paper, specially for special effects.

    sodium chloride could function as a silver solvent, Microdol, i think, was based on this

    some time ago i saw a d-76 variant tha added 50gr of table salt to a liter of stock solution with 50% more time.
    i think fog will get in the way

    if you want soft images try parafenilenodiamine, the colour developer, try geoffrey crawley fx series, he made one for modern emulsions
     
  8. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I've read Anchell/Troop to death. :smile: It's a good overview. There are plenty of developers, including pre-mixed commercial developers that do what I need. I was just thinking out loud about some things which, as pointed out in Anchell/Troop, have not been explored to any great extent because research stopped, like sodium chloride. It's in Microdol and Perceptol.
     
  9. Athiril

    Athiril Subscriber

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    Ascorbic Acid isn't slow.. it depends on a lot of thing.

    I've used Asorbic Acid to make a contrast-stretching developer.

    I took 15 year old 500T film, which at normal processing, even pull processing gave very small dMax-dMin of even outdoor high contrast scenes, the developer I formulated gave huge dMax-dMin separation of even scenes that only had a 3 stop range (such as well lit indoors).
     
  10. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Michael, here's a formula you might be interested in.

    Isoascorbic Acid Developer

    Metol 2.5 g
    Isoascorbic acid 10.0
    Sodium metaborate 35.0 g
    Potassium bromide 1.0
    Distilled water to make 1.0 l

    Isoascorbic acid is also called erythorbic acid and is used extensively in food products.
    Ascorbic acid can probably be substituted.

    James, Vaneslow and Quirk: Phot. Soc. Amer. J1., 1953, 170-2
     
  11. Relayer

    Relayer Member

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    some time ago I found true ascorbic acid developers in book related to holography
     
  12. MichaelMadio

    MichaelMadio Member

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    Based on what I've read (no personal experience) ascorbate needs a relatively high pH to be in the range of a "normal" developer and you most likely need sodium hydroxide for it. The problem is that once you get high enough pH to get decent activity you get quite a bit of grain. Perhaps adding sulfite would help the grain situation.

    From a practical perspective it may not be worth using ascorbate alone as you can get much more activity at a lower pH (finer grain) by adding something like Phenidone or Metol. For example 20g borax + 6g ascorbic acid + 0.15g phenidone in 1L makes a good relatively fine grain re-usable developer.
     
  13. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    It certainly is - I liken it to the good off-spring of a marriage between Rodinal and Xtol. Fine grain, long life, excellent sharpness, economical.
     
  14. mrosenlof

    mrosenlof Member

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    I'm regularly using PC-Glycol. I use antifreeze for the glycol, the Sierra green stuff. Yes it has more than just Propylene Glycol, but my film doesn't seem to care. Works great for me, negs look good, the concentrate lasts as long as I need it to. I can't really comment on its graininess or lack thereof. I tried it as a paper developer once, double strength, added some potassium bromide. All good.
     
  15. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Ascorbic acid only developers tend not only to be somewhat slow but also quite contrasty and generally ugly. You can always try, of course. Try modifying an hydroquinone only formula. Phenidone and metol both work well in combination with ascorbic acid, however.