Choosing developer(s)

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Joshua_G, Jul 14, 2007.

  1. Joshua_G

    Joshua_G Member

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    Coming back to developing B&W negative after many years, availability of developers in professional photography shops in my country (2 of them) is meager: -- Kodak D-76, Kodak HC-110 and Tetenal Ultrafin Liquid. However, chemicals for mixing developers are available at chemicals stores. So, reluctantly, I will mix my own developer(s) out of individual chemicals.

    Though I shoot with various films, since I don't shoot very much and I intend to mix 1 liter of developer at a time, I should constrain myself to 2 or 3 developers to work with.

    My first choice is Mytol (Xtol substitute), for general use. Second developer will probably be FX37, for better acutance, at the price of coarser grain (for slow and medium speed films).

    Any recommendations for 1, 2 or at most 3 developers to mix?
    Please mention benefits of each recommended developer over D-76 or Xtol (Mytol).
     
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  2. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    D19. Punchy, keeps well, ideal for deep tanks with replenishment where it lasts half way to forever.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  3. Joshua_G

    Joshua_G Member

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    Thanks.

    I use small tanks, one shot, no replenishment.

    I'm looking for the best balance between "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)" and pushing ability – for both conventional films and T-Grains, for medium speed and high speed films. Ideally 1 developer, okay with 2 developers, possibly 3.
     
  4. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Why not use HC-110 as one of the choices? I don't use it myself but I understand that it lasts forever, there is a wealth of information about it, and it is easily available where you live. Then mix your own brew for the other two choices so you can compare them to a standard baseline such as HC-110.
     
  5. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    Also, you might experiment with some of the developers from Photographer's Formulary until you find what you like and then mix it yourself.
     
  6. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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  7. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Another choice, retaining many of the virtues of Xtol as well as the shelf life of HC-110, is PC-TEA. It's an ascorbic acid-phenidone developer mixed in TEA, a commonly available organic solvent.

    Like you, I love Xtol and Mytol, but my film developing sessions are (painfully) so intermittent that my chems tend to go bad before I use them. Mixing mytol each session, or PC-TEA, would be good choices.

    Google PC-TEA and "Gainer" and you should get the formula easily.
     
  8. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    2 part devs always keep longer because the dev agents and alkali doohickies are separate. PCAT is cheap to mix, gives lovely tones and keeps for at least a year (not a true finegrain dev though). Mytol has worked well for me too.
     
  9. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    An interesting choice, but for which films and applications etc?
    Kodak D-19 is very robust and clean working, although I consider it to be more of a special pupose developer than one for general use, particularly for films such as Kodak Technical Pan.
     
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Keith,

    Yup. Probably a nightmare with Tech Pan. Surprisingly good with most general application films, though. Personally I'd prefer to pay for DD-X. Ain't gonna bankrupt even me.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  11. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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    Another vote for HC-110 here, also you could mix your own D76. It is versatile and keeps well.

    Regards, John.
     
  12. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I'll stick with the Pyrocats, the Stock A solution of which I mix in Propylene Glycol. I use the working developer as a 1 shot and the stock concentrates last for years.

    D-19 is easy to mix from scratch. It is my developer of choice with Tech Pan for high resolution and high contrast work (electron microscopy and astronomical photography).
     
  13. Joshua_G

    Joshua_G Member

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    Thanks for all the replies.

    My quest was not stated clearly enough by me.

    I'm looking for neither a cheap developer, nor for a long lasting one.

    I'm looking for a developer, or developers, I can mix. Developer(s) with the best balance between "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation" and pushing ability.

    Recommending a developer like PC-TEA without a link to its formula is unusable for me. So are any developers sold in the USA, whether sold at Photographer's Formulary, or elsewhere. I live in Israel, and shipping chemicals from abroad will cost me a fortune.

    Mytol seems to me to be a good choice.

    So, my specific questions are:

    1. My view about Mytol being a good choice – is it correct?

    2. Are there any other developers I can mix which may have any benefit over Mytol in "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"?

    Note:
    It is okay with me to have one general purpose developer and one or two special use developer(s).
     
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  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Joshua, I'll have to add to Tom and others suggestion of Pyrocat HD.

    I really like Xtol, so Mytol's a good substitute, Xtol is probably the best developer of the D76/ID11, Microphen variety good in deep tanks and replenishable. I use it replenished.

    But Pyrocat has a quality which lifts the negatives and prints, acutance and tonality are outstanding and still excellent fine-grain. So I'm switching, even for 35mm which I just started using again. It really is an outstanding developer, and all credit to Sandy King.

    Ian
     
  16. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Technical Pan was a good choice for making copy negatives of old, faded B&W prints with the film rated at EI/ISO 100 and processed in D-19. I much preferred the look of conventional slow films like Agfa APX 25 and Ilford Pan F Plus for `normal` photography where high resolution of detail was required.
    DD-X is a very suitable general use developer.
     
  17. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    If you can, grab copies of Anchell's "The Darkroom Cookbook" and Anchell/Troop's "Film Developing Cookbook". Lots of recipes in their, cheap too!

    Also try the chemistry section here on APUG.
     
  18. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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  19. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    As Jim says UnblinkingEye is a great resource.

    You'll find plenty about Pyrocat there . . . . . . too.
     
  20. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Pyrocat:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/24806-pyrocat-hd-notes.html

    Instant Mytol:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum223/33880-instant-mytol.html

    Vitamin C Developers on Unblinking Eye:
    http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/VitC/vitc.html

    Lots of Developer Recipes:

    http://www.digitaltruth.com/data.html
     
  21. aldevo

    aldevo Member

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    I would recommend Gainer's PC-TEA over Mytol. Far superior shelf life and, essentially, the same resutls. Also, it's MUCH easier to mix than Mytol.

    Similarly, I would recommend King/Gainer Pyrocat-MC over FX37. Although the formula for Pyrocat-MC has been published, this developer is readily available through the Photographer's Formulary.

    In your case, the ultimate in convenience is probably Kodak HC-110.
     
  22. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    If you can get phenidone, ascorbic acid and borax, you can make a developer that may suit your requirements. Mix 1/4 teaspoon (a teaspoon is 5 ml volume) phenidone, 2 teaspoons ascorbic acid and 2 tablespoons borax to make a liter of developer.
     
  23. Joshua_G

    Joshua_G Member

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    Thank you. I have no objection to HC-110, as much as I have no objection to any other developer.

    Since I don't mind mixing my own, availability isn't an issue for me, not anymore.

    I'd like to know the qualities of each recommended developer, since I don't have the time to research them all. So, please specify why do you recommend HC-110 (other than availability and durability).

    Thank you. Living in Israel, Importing chemicals from the USA is too expansive for me.

    Furthermore, since I don't have the time to experiment all developers, I'm asking others about the results of their experiments.

    Thank you. How about its other qualities, concerning "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"?

    Thank you. What are its other qualities, concerning "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"?

    Thank you. What are their qualities, concerning "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"?

    Thank you. What are its qualities, concerning "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"?

    Thank you. I use neither deep tanks nor replenisher.

    Thank you. At last, a description of pictorial qualities.
    How is its grain compared to Xtol/Mytol?
    Does it maintain the negative written ISO srnsitivity?

    Thank you, I have both of them. My predicament is that they contain very many formulas, or recipes. I have neither the time nor the money to research and try all recipes, so I'm asking others about the results of their own experience.

    Thank you. I have more formulas at hand than time and money to try them all. I'm asking others about the results of their own experience.

    Thank you. Does both Mytol and PC-TEA share the same qualities concerning "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"? Or, where do they defer?

    Thank you. Living in Israel, Importing chemicals from the USA is too expansive for me. What are the specific qualities of Pyrocat-MC?

    Thank you. How about its other qualities, concerning "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"?

    Thank you. I can get all those chemicals and many other. What are its qualities, concerning "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"?
     
  24. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    Joshua,
    For one shots, the advice about HC110 is very good. I mix my own developer; use it for practically everything because I like the "look" of the shadows and midtones. I use Eastman D-23 for practically everything, and rather than depend upon the vagaries of my water supply, I replenish it the stock with DK-25R. It lasts "forever" when mixed with decent water.
    You can use stock D23 1:1 and 1:3. You can use stock replenisher as a substitute for Beutler's acutance developer with an alkali solution of borax, kodalk, or sodium carbonate.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA
     
  25. Joshua_G

    Joshua_G Member

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    Thank you. What are its qualities, concerning "film speed/grain/sharpness (acutance)/gradation"? How does it defer in those qualities from D-23?
     
  26. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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    Hi, Joshua. I have used HC-110 for a long time now as my standard developer. It simply does everything I want or need. Grain with Tri-X or Neopan, my two standard films, is fine and crisp, with all round excellent tonality.(see my gallery for examples). Mixed one shot from the syrup, it is 100% dependable. I also reccomended D76 as it is so easy to mix your own, and is the industry standard developer,very sharp in 1:1 or 1:3 dilution, and easy to use.

    Regards, John.