Beginner Film Developer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by lightstalker, Feb 8, 2012.

what is the easiest BW film to develop for a beginner?

  1. Arista Premium

    64.9%
  2. Lucky BW

    2.7%
  3. Fuji Acros

    21.6%
  4. T-Max

    21.6%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. lightstalker

    lightstalker Member

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    Hi,

    I've been shooting film for years, but never developed the films by myself.
    but now I'm eager to learn how to do it :smile:
    I need to ask some questions here, regarding the chemicals needed.

    1. what chemicals are the most important beside the developer itself (stop bath, fixer, hypo?). do I have to buy all of them at the beginning?
    2. what are the best value for money chemicals (the brand, the type, etc) for beginner like me.

    and for color films, can I use the same equipments as for BW ones?
    I usually use Arista Premium 400, Acros 100, Lucky BW 100, Fuji Superia 400, and Kodak Gold 400.

    I can't wait to experience the joy of film development :smile:

    thanks before,
    Toha
     
  2. trevis_o

    trevis_o Member

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    I'm interested in this as well. I'm starting serious film shooting and would like to develop my own negatives as well.
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I'll start....

    Tri-X, aka Arista Premium 400 is pretty forgiving to shoot and process. Tmax can be tricky at times but not too bad once you get a hang of it. But, asking which film and which developer is best is like asking which fruit or car is the best. It really depends on your preference and opinion.

    Other than developers, nothing else is all that critical but you need to make sure they are fresh and active. In that sense, fixer is important. Using expired or bad fixer will leave you with film that'll stain badly in weeks or months. Really bad one will give you milky results.

    You can do the materialistic processing with developer, fixer, and wash if you wish. But might as well start with the full process. It's not that much more.

    My advise to you on economy is to forget economy. Chemicals are the least expensive part of this whole thing. You don't use all that much and the price difference in small quantity like this is minimal. I like Kodak. Ilford products are also excellent. I'd chose one based on availability and properties. For developers, I like D-76. Very standard. Very forgiving. Very good results. For fixer, I use Ilford Rapid Fixer. Quick and available.

    I know nothing about Color or other films. I use Tri-X, Plus-X, Tmax 100 and Tmax 400. Tmax 400 is pretty much my standard film. Tri-X is another standard of mine. I use one or the other unless I have reasons to use anything else. (which is rare)

    Most importantly, have fun. It's a very rewarding process.
     
  4. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have used T-max developer with no problems.

    Jeff
     
  5. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    The only two chemicals you *must* have for b&w film developing are developer and fixer. I've processed film with just D-76 and Kodak fixer when in a hurry or if that was all I had, but I prefer to do the complete process. Hypo-clear especially is useful as it will shorten your film washing time. I've processed color film (E-6 and C-41) using the same metal tanks and reels I use for black and white, I just washed them off afterwards, didn't notice any issues later.

    EDIT: And to answer the question about film - I voted for Tri-X (Arista Premium 400).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2012
  6. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Member

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    Developer, fixer and water wash are essential. Stop, hypo and wetting/washing agents are optional.

    I recently developed my first roll of Delta 100. I used Ilford chemicals (ID-11 developer, Ilfostop, Rapid Fixer, but no hypo) at the temperatures, times, agitations and dilutions recommended in the data sheets (ID-11 at 1:1 dilution from stock for one-shot use). I used the Ilford wash sequence (three changes of water with 5 inversions, 10 inversions and 20 inversions). I didn't use any wetting agent in the final wash but hung the negative at a 45 degree angle to dry, so the water would run along the bottom (non-image) area of the strip - thanks to Roger Hicks for this suggestion. I don't see any streaking or drying marks on the neg.

    It was simple, and I was very happy with the results. I just made sure that my temperatures, timings and dilutions were accurate, and used different measuring cylinders for the different chemicals to avoid cross-contamination. Like you I live in a tropical climate and found I needed to put the chemicals in the fridge for a while (stirring from time to time with the thermometer) to get them to 20C.

    I'm not saying this is the ultimate process. I'm sure subtle improvements can be obtained from the different timings and more complex schemes that are discussed here on APUG. But as a baseline, the datasheet values certainly produced very usable results.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. eSPhotos

    eSPhotos Member

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    Lucky has very thin anti-halation layer so it's tricky to tame. Highlights are easily blown out. Not an easy film.
    In my experience, Ilford FP4+ is the most foregiving film. Very hard to get it wrong.
    But from the list, Arista Premiun.
     
  8. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    I started with T-Max 100 film in Kodak TMax developer and fixer, very easy to get photos and just follow the directions on the pack.
    The film is pretty forgiving as well (can be pushed to 200 without changing anything really), fine grained and so on, imo a very good place to start if you have never done it before.

    The most economical developers are imo Rodinal, HC-110 and Tetenal Ultrafin, they are long lasting concentrates which are usually used in a very diluted state, but they can require a little more research and care.
    I always use water as stop bath, but if you want to be absolutely sure, you can use a dedicated stop bath chemical. (I believe Ilford paper stop bath can also be used with film, this stuff will last for a good while)

    My two €'s ^^
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 9, 2012
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Well Ilford FP4 is the main film used in teaching dilm photography throughout the world. Go to any city or town where the Colleges and/or Uniniversities have darkrooms and you'll filnd Ilford films stocked nearby.

    Ian
     
  10. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    If you are hand processing in a small tank with inversion agitation, stop bath is way overrated. Use water.
    Washing aid is unnecessary for film. You just need film developer, fixer and wetting agent.
     
  11. kb3lms

    kb3lms Subscriber

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    Tri-X aka Arista Premium or FP4. Besides being beginner friendly, there is information all over the place about processing these films.

    To respond to the other part of your question, you can defintely use the same equipment for color film as for B/W. You need different chemistry, obviously, but just start with a Rollei/digibase kit (if you can get that in Indonesia) and you will be good to go. C-41 color is not really any harder than B/W except you need to maintain a higher temperature and keep it failrly well controlled.

    Start with B/W and once you feel comfortable with that, try color.
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    use whatever chemistry is available locally ...
     
  13. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Of the films you already have, I would go with the Arista 400.
     
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  15. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Member

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    Tri-X aka Arista Premium 400

    Barry Thornton's 2-bath developer - Dirt cheap and absolutely fool proof in practice and outstanding results up to 400asa.

    http://www.photosensitive.ca/wp/archives/115


    Bath A
    80 g sodium sulfite
    6.5 g metol
    Make up to 1 L with water

    Bath B
    12 g sodium metaborate (Kodalk)
    Make up to 1 L with water
     
  16. wilfbiffherb

    wilfbiffherb Member

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  17. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    All of them. Really.
    Before starting, check which film and developer combination gives you about 7 minutes or so developing time. This is short enough so that you won't get bored, and long enough that you won't get uneven development from pouring the chemicals into a tank with a narrow light trap.

    An anti-halation layer prevents halation, i.e., those halos you see around bright objects. Kodak HIE had no anti-halation layer, so that's why you see big blooms in the IR photos from overexposing it. (And also why it had to be loaded in a dark bag) The most important thing about photography is being there for the photograph.

    Everything has a sweet spot for exposure and development. Find what works for the film you use. This will take a bit of experimentation, but don't worry about that for now. Just pick something, use it, and process it. Enjoy!
     
  18. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Easiest to develop for beginners -- Tri-X (Arista premium 400).

    T-Max is a great film -- it just does not have the developing latitude as the others. In other words, small changes in dilution, temp, and agitation will have a greater effect on T-Max than the other films. But it has a greater exposure latitude than the others, so it is a trade-off.

    But the difference in development latitude is not all that significant if some care is given to one's technique.

    Vaughn
     
  19. lightstalker

    lightstalker Member

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    thanks for all the responses :smile:

    I just found out that there are only (actually, the only locally available developer) very limited stock D-76 and ID-11 at A local seller. can you believe it? there is only one shop here in Jakarta (which I believe that is also the only one in Indonesia) that sells film developer. as for the fixer and bath stop, they don't have any in stock currently. need to wait several weeks to restock. but later someone told me there's a guy who sells unbranded homemade developer and fixer. but I think I'll go with ID-11 for the moment and wait for the Ilford fixer back in stock.

    and another bad news is I can't use arista premium anymore since the seller is not interested to restock. so my only choice is go for kodak tx, which costs almost double than arista.

    thanks again!
     
  20. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    One other option is to buy (dry) chemicals from freestyle and/or bhphotovideo, not sure how it is with wet chemicals, but if UPS have their own planes, they might even be able to ship that too.

    I order over the net all the time, no local shops here sells much of what I need.
     
  21. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    I suggest buying chemistry from the USA; it's usually cheaper for us in Australia than buying locally and I suspect the situation is similar or worse in Indonesia.

    If you're just starting out developing, I would suggest avoiding a T-grain film (T-Max, Delta, Acros) because they are more sensitive to processing adjustments/errors. Some Fomapan (Arista), Tri-X, FP4 or HP5 would be the most-bulletproof place to start.

    Have a read of the FAQs in my signature.
     
  22. lightstalker

    lightstalker Member

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    I visited freestyle website, but the shipping cost is way expensive. and to my surprise, the film price is higher than here in Jakarta. around $2 higher than I usually pay. for example, I can get tmax 400 or delta 400 (36 exp) for $5 here.
     
  23. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    No disrespect intended, but this just made me smile!

    "Bullet-proof" is not usually a good thing when referring to negatives, as it usually refers to totally blocked up highlights! I know you did not mean it that way and it does not even really read that way...but it still made me chuckle! Thanks!

    Vaughn
     
  24. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I'm puzzled by your film choices in the poll. A Chinese film of dubious quality, a rebranded film, and two high-tech films that are a bit much for a beginner to control. I'd pick Ilford PanF+ or Tri-X. Both are traditional films that are more tolerant of small errors.

    Peter Gomena
     
  25. Elvis-isintheroom

    Elvis-isintheroom Member

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    Oh freestyle in LA the US. There is nobody here in Bali selling chemicals or a (reliable) source of anything photographic.
     
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  26. lightstalker

    lightstalker Member

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    because those are the films that are easy to get here, unlike Tri-X or any Ilford films :smile: