Basic but important newbie questions!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by hoakin1981, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. hoakin1981

    hoakin1981 Member

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    Apologies if covered elsewhere but please bear with me.

    Setting up my own darkroom for 35 and 120mm B&W development and I have reached the point when some important decisions need to be made in regards to...chemicals. So, in order to avoid becoming boring, my questions:


    1. Can I develop ANY B&W film (not chromogenic C-41) with ANY developer? Meaning can I develop a Tri-X with ID-11 for example?
    2. If the answer on the above is yes, were do I find the necessary dilution instructions?
    3. Do the developers come in different versions according to the film speed, or there Is just one and you play with the volume, dilution etc?
    4. Is it safe to assume that using same brand film+developer will produce the best result?
    5. Was thinking of starting out with either Tri-X 400 or T-Max 400, any good developers recommended for them?
    6. Is "stopping" using just water and not a dedicated stopper advisable?
    7. I was told I should choose 1-2 films and developer and stick with them, trying out different variations of exposures/developing, good advice?
    8. Do you recommend I should go for the 5Ltr developer or the 1Ltr will suffice for some time?


    Many many thanks In advance for all the precious help!
     
  2. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    1. Use a stop bath. 2. One or two films is a good idea. 3. XTOL & D-76/ID-11 are excellent options but you might find it easier to use a liquid concentrate to start with, suggest ILFORD DD-X or Kodak T-Max developer. It is always helpful on APUG to know which country the poster is from.

    Tom
     
  3. miha

    miha Member

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    1. Yes
    2. WWW, packagings,...
    3. you don't play with the volume
    4. No
    5. Kodak T-Max and Ilford DDX are great and easy to use; just dilute them 1+4 with water
    6. It usually is
    7. Good advice
    8. 1 litre will suffice for at least 10 films if powder, more if liquid

    See: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/page.asp?n=9

    Good luck!
     
  4. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    1. Yes.
    2. On the bottle/bag or online.
    3. No, just one kind.
    4. No.
    5. D-76 is a good starting developer. Mix up 1 gallon and you are good for a lot of film.
    6. Use an acid stop bath. Vinegar is cheap.
    7. Decent advice.
    8. 1 liter can go pretty fast. I would go with more.

    Good luck!
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Regarding #4,
    What is "best" is highly subjective, what is best for me may not be best for you. Best also depends on what is practical.

    For learning, work with materials and chemistry that you can get easily, and work with that until you understand all the variables.
    Kodak D-76 is a good starting point, as is Ilford ID-11 (they are very similar), but lots of others work well too.
     
  6. Simonh82

    Simonh82 Member

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    Q3. The same version can be used for almost all films and many developers will give different developing times for different dilutions. To begin with stick with the same dilution until you know what you are doing.
    Q4. No, you can mix and match
    Q5. You will get a million recommendations for developers but your main choices are between powders (D76, XTOL, ID11) which you mix your self and Liquid concentrates (HC-110, rodinal, TMAX, DDX), which you dilute as needed. The powders tend to produce quite a lot of stock solution, that you then dilute further for use and you may need to have space to store 5L of stock solution. As a beginner, i'd recommend HC-110. The concentrate is very economical and lasts for ages. You can dilute a small amount as needed for each development session and it takes up less room and is very reliable.
    Q6. Stop bath is good for consistency and repeatable results. Commercial one are cheap but you could also check ebay or brewing suppliers for citric acid powder. 2tsp in a litre of water makes a great stop bath that you can reuse many times before throwing away. The commercial stop baths have the added advantage of changing colour when they are no longer acidic enough.
    Q7. Yes, good advice
    Q8. See question 5.
     
  7. mfohl

    mfohl Subscriber

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    For times, temperatures, dilutions, consult the Massive Dev Chart, http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php. The values there are at least close to manufacturers' recommendations, and they are a good starting point.

    An earlier poster suggested using one film with one developer for a while and figure out if you're happy with it. That's good advice. Variations can be found on the Massive Dev Chart.
     
  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Whatever you do when you start out, since you know very little about technique, try to keep variations within your materials to an absolute minimum. This will help you develop your technique faster (and as a result you will actually be much better able to detect differences in materials once you are very proficient and decide to maybe experiment with a new film. Never change more than one parameter at a time. Ever).

    One incredibly important aspect of developing film is temperature. Get a good thermometer, or even two, and check them against each other. Make sure your developer is exactly the same temperature every time, or it will drive you crazy trying to understand what is going on.

    Other than that, follow instructions as it says on packages and/or online. Use the manufacturers' instructions - it is your very best starting point.

    And, above all, have a good time! This stuff is so much fun!
     
  9. hgraf

    hgraf Member

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    I recently went down this same road. For my journey you can check out the following 2 links:

    http://www.herbgraf.com/2014/01/02/entering-the-analog-world-developing-your-own-film-part-1/

    http://www.herbgraf.com/2014/01/08/entering-the-analog-world-developing-your-own-film-part-2/

    As for your questions:
    1. Yes
    2. On the package, or the web
    3. No, you account for different films and film speeds usually just by adjusting the developing time.
    4. No. What is best depends on your taste. Almost any developer will get you a good result with almost any film. Some developes/techniques will result in more contrast, some with more detail in shadows or shadows. Some developers will take much longer the others. Some will be too quick making consistency an issue.
    5.I started with T-Max 100, absolutely love it. Tri-X is a standard, really gives a classic b&w look, a little more grain than tmax. Both excellent choices. Which one is up too your taste. For developer lots works well with them. Kodak d76 or tmax are both great. I personally prefer liquid chems, and settled on ilfosol 3, only because that's the cheapest liquid available to me locally and it has a relatively long shelf life. Rodinol/adinol are also highly regarded.
    6. I just use water, its recommended by the fixer I use, has worked well for me.
    7. Excellent advice. This is chemistry. Developing a "feel" for how things will turn out is very useful. Consistent results are your best friend.
    8. How much do you plan to shoot? Every developer has a finite shelf life once opened/mixed. Base the amount you need on how much you plan to shoot.

    The first time you open your light tight container after fixing and you see your first image is very exciting! Enjoy!!
     
  10. hgraf

    hgraf Member

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    Oh, I forgot, get a wetting agent for drying. A few drops of liquid soap or something like that might do, do some Google searches. It prevents spotting while drying, very useful.
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Careful with that one. Some of those liquid soaps contain things you don't want on your film for long term storage. Purpose made wetting agent, such as Ilfotol, Edwal LFN, Sprint End Run, and Kodak Photoflo are very inexpensive and a bottle lasts virtually forever.
     
  12. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Ditto to this and do not use too much. A few drops of straight Photoflo are sufficient. If you see foaming, you used too much.


    While D76 is a very good standard developer, it is a powder. For a beginner, I do think it's easier to start with a liquid. They're easier to mix and handle. If you're in the US, consider Sprint chemicals - they're very general and easy to use and fairly economical. Once you get the procedure down and have an idea what you like or don't like in your images, then there are many other films and chemicals to think about. TriX or HP5+ with Sprint, D76, or Ifosol S are all good choices.Brand doesn't really matter and you don't have to use the same brand for developer, stop, and fixer either.
     
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  14. hgraf

    hgraf Member

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    I agree that you take a little risk there, that's why I recommended the OP use google to find a good choice.

    The issue with purpose made wetting agents is locally, at least for me, they are very hard to find. I personally use Ilfotol, but I got lucky that one of the local camera shops in my area had one tucked away on a dusty shelf.

    Obviously this sort of stuff is available online, if that's an option (sometimes it isn't, some countries have trouble with these sorts of chemicals being shipped to them).

    TTYL
     
  15. rubyfalls

    rubyfalls Member

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    If you have a smart phone or tablet, there is a massive dev app that is absolutely wonderful. It allows you to record your own workflow, adjust for different temp and ISO and dilution, and take notes. It also has a timer that takes you through the whole process. I've found it has almost all the info I need.
     
  16. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    I won't repeat all the good advice above, but when it comes to the last question, volume of developer, I have two suggestions.

    Either use a liquid concentrate which you can mix up as you go along.

    Or make a 5 litre batch from powder and divide it into smaller bottles with no air in them. That way you should have a good stock solution for up to six months. (5 litres is the equivalent of 20 rolls of medium format or 30 rolls of 35 mm, using 1:1 solution. Roughly that's one film per week for six months.)

    If you don't use up 5 litres of developer in less than six months, then the obvious solution is to shoot more film!
     
  17. rubyfalls

    rubyfalls Member

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    And I echo the users above who referenced ilford's site. I used their 'how to' for my first foray into the darkroom. Honestly? The hardest part for me was reeling. I would suggest a lot of practice with a junk roll. As for chemicals, my first time, I used DDX, ilford stop, and ilford rapid fixer, and I think my first roll was delta 100. Or possibly tmax.
     
  18. Jaf-Photo

    Jaf-Photo Member

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    One more thing, on film.

    It may be easier to avoid t-grain films like Delta or TMAX in the beginning. These films are far less forgiving of slip-ups in exposure or development than the classic films.

    A good start might be Tri-X, HP5 or FP4.

    That way you'll almost certainly get a usable negative each time.
     
  19. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Kodak has made a PDF available that explains everything. You can find it by following this link.

    or google for kodak tech pub AJ3
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2014
  20. hgraf

    hgraf Member

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    Which reel do you use?

    I was prepared to have lots of trouble reeling, but the Paterson plastic reels are so easy, my first practice attempt was perfect. I haven't had a SINGLE reel that didn't turn out perfectly.

    Even in 120, while it took me a little longer the first time, it went on the reel without issue. 36 exposure films go on just as easy as 24. It is an amazing system.

    TTYL
     
  21. rubyfalls

    rubyfalls Member

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    I started out using Patterson reels, practiced with both 35mm and 120. Couldn't get the feel for it. Switched to stainless, watched a YouTube, had a eureka moment, and it has been pie and cake ever since. I simply find them easier to handle. I am a fairly small human, so it could be that. Not to mention, my hands are pretty wonky due to Still's. I am pretty picky about which reels I use, though. I vastly prefer those with the big round clips to those with the paperclip type things.
     
  22. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Unless they are damp or wet. Like anything, your mileage my very.
     
  23. hgraf

    hgraf Member

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    I didn't think of that. Never have tried to load a wet reel. I can see that being a problem, considering the Paterson slides the film into the spiral, vs. the steel reels that don't.

    I'll keep that issue in mind, thanks!
     
  24. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Is this really true? Photo Flo causes of if it even thinks about going into water. I always see a lot of foam when rinsing with Photo Flo.
     
  25. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    What you want Photo Flo to achieve is to relieve the water of its surface tension. You don't need much to do that. If you use too much wetting agent, it may leave residue behind that is unwanted.

    PhotoFlo is supposed to be used at a 1:200 concentration, so if you have 500ml of water, you need 2.5ml of PhotoFlo. There used to be a very concentrated PhotoFlo 600, which was supposed to be used at 1:600. Tough to measure such small quantities.