D76, Xtol, or Illford Developer?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by TheSohnly, Dec 27, 2009.

  1. TheSohnly

    TheSohnly Member

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    (I did a few searches through the forums and I couldn't find anything on this, so I thought I'd ask)
    I'm looking to see what developer to use based on this story and to quell my fears about 'getting it right the first time'. (the question is at the bottom of the post if you don't feel like reading my explanation and worries)

    Recently, I found an AMAZING deal on a lot of frozen, expired Illford HP5+ and Delta 3200 on my local craigslist (about 40 rolls or so, if you must know).
    I picked it up with the purpose of 'getting into' developing my own black and white film (something I've wanted to do, but just never acted upon).

    I've done lots of research (places like Chromogenic and DigitalTruth and places of that nature), and I've picked up a Patterson tank with two reels, a blackbag, tanks for holding chemicals, and pretty much everything I need to develop film but the chemicals. I won't be making a darkroom.

    I've found the 'normal develop-everything' d76 in stores around here, but the Chromogenic developing website I'll be using to develop film for the first time uses Illford developer, not to mention that I've got ONLY Illford film. (minus three rolls of Plus-X, Tri-X, and Neopan 1600 I was given for free). A few other friends I trust online recommend the Xtol.

    I also know that there are many, many more developers and chemicals than I ever hope to care about at this point in time. I'll also ONLY be developing and scanning and not printing.

    I don't want to get the normal "it's all up to experimentation and how you like things and everything is different" schpiel. I just want something that will make me happy for a good long time so I don't have to change/experiment and waste money and, when pressured for a gift idea for myself (or a similarly funny situation), I'll be able to point said plebeian to "THIS".

    Thats the other point. I want to 'get it right' the first time because I don't have infinite cash.

    My question is: Will I see a huge difference from choosing between Illford developer, D76 developer, or Xtol developer? Should I choose anything other than these three for my purpose?

    Help me 'get it right the first time'. I probably wont be changing the stuff I buy for a very long time, if ever.
     
  2. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    My results:

    HP5+, esposed at ISO 250, Xtol 1:3. My time is 10 minutes. everyone is different. Find your personal developing time. A lovely combination. You will get as many answers as there are people responding. These threads are long and plentiful.
    Tmax 3200, E.I. 1600, Xtol 1:3, 19 1/2 minutes. Nice.
     
  3. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    ps: Personal experimentation is half the battle and half the fun. equipment varies. People vary. You have to tailor your methods to your way of doing things. Box speed and box time to start. Vary to taste. Kodak lists Ilford film in their directions.
     
  4. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    OK then, buy the D76 and follow the directions. Or, ID-11 if you must have Ilford.
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I think your expectation is unreasonable to "get it right" the first time. A bag of developer will cost you anywhere from 3 to 10 dollars. With amount of money you've spent on everything else, this is nothing. Also, your taste will change over time. I am actually not sure, if this is your first time, you can actually tell the difference between developers.

    I've been struggling with my process for a while now and this isn't even my first time. I am now questioning "what is RIGHT?"

    With that said, if you follow the instructions exactly, you can get a reasonably usable image that will print OK with every developer. No, there isn't a HUGE difference, but there is a difference. If you don't want to do a lot of experiment, my recommendation will be D-76. Every manufacturer has something that is basically a copy of D-76. It's been around forever and it is arguably the most popular one all over the world. It will develop just about everything. It's cheap. It's available in 1 liter bag.

    Good luck, and remember, this is a hobby. Enjoy the process as well as the finished product.
     
  6. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    tkamiya has given you the best advice.

    TMY plus D-76 is unbeatable. Stick with this combo until you know it like the back of your hand.

    Following Kodak's directions, you'll get in the ballpark in the first roll or two; change one variable at a time when you experiment with things like different EI's, dev times, etc, and keep good notes, and you'll have it fine-tuned pretty soon. If you really want to do beautiful, consistent work, this kind of experimentation is unavoidable. But you'll get something usable just by listening to the Great Yellow Father.

    If you're scanning (off topic here) you'll want a "thinner" negative than you would if optically printing.
     
  7. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    One more thing: Both Ilford & Kodak have volumes of information on their web pages listing information for all of their products and the "other guy's stuff."

    Kodak developer and Ilford film or the reverse. If "good enough" is all you are after, box speed and maker's time & temp. will do fine. Getting dry clean blemish free negatives will be enough of a challenge for now. When you master that, move on to more esoteric trivia.
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

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    You cannot go wrong with D76.
     
  9. doit

    doit Member

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    Try Ilford's DD-X. It's simple to use and gives good shadow and highlight separation with most films in most situations without having to change your ISO rating or change the dilution. If you are looking for a simple approach, this might be the one. Unfortunately it's a bit expensive.
     
  10. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    Pick something that is easy to get whenever you need it.

    Don't fret. There are no bad films or developers on the market.
     
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    No, until you have significant experience and a solid routine you won't be able to tell, there are too many other variables that will mess you up.

    No, these are very dependable and with experience you can make any of them work well.

    Ilford ID-11 and Kodak D-76 are in fact interchangeable, if the store was out of one, you could buy the other and never see a difference.

    I started with ID-11/D-76 then switched to Xtol because it can be replenished so easily and it has a slight film speed advantage.

    Replenishment is the easiest and cheapest way to use Xtol and is very consistent once established.
     
  12. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    Both D76 and Xtol are great general purpose developers. Of the two, Xtol gives slightly better speed and slightly finer grain, but D76 would be fine, too. You'll just have to pick one. When you ask a question like this on APUG, dozens of people are going to tell you their favorite developer, and you might wind up getting confused.

    If you go with Xtol, I would suggest mixing the stock solution and making the final dilution, if any, with distilled water. Xtol doesn't like iron in the water, and distilled water is cheap.

    Whatever developer you choose, I would recommend mixing the stock solution in a big container, and then decanting into 1 liter/quart bottles. Full bottles keep better than opened bottles, so it is better to expose only one smaller bottle to the air.
     
  13. Aurum

    Aurum Member

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    Right first time, flexible and loads of information comes with D76/ID11. Its a standard and is a standard as it does the job easy with no fuss.
    Xtol is also good, but prehaps less available from every single supplier.

    I tend to use R09 (Rodinal) as its economical and lasts a long time if you want to use it one shot, same with Ilfosol3 which is the replacement for the Ilfosol S mentioned on the Chromagenic website.

    To start with I would recommend using developer one shot. (D76 can be used replenished, but its an extra complication)

    Go for something you can pick up anywhere, and have a good practice
     
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  15. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Don't worry. My experience on a night school course was that I and about 22 others( the whole of the class) got it right enough to be able to produce reasonable prints from our first attempt at developing the film. It was ID11 but I am sure it could have been other developers and we simply stuck to Ilford times. Quite frankly if most students got their first attempts so wrong that they couldn't produce prints from the negs then most nightschool courses would fold and not be subscribed to in the future. So no revenue for the college, no passes on the course earning the students their certificates.

    These courses are popular because they work. None of us were photographic geniuses.

    pentaxuser
     
  16. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Neither of the films you mentioned is a chromogenic film. That is a special kind of B&W film designed to be used in developers designed for color negative film. It may be that the lab you intend to use is equipped to do both chromogenic and B&W film. In any case, check with them before you send them your film.
     
  17. Alessandro Serrao

    Alessandro Serrao Member

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    Pick up whatever developer you can also find in the future. At this stage consistency is much more important than subtleties, imho, and I'm stuck to this stage :smile:)
    I'd suggest either D76 or Xtol, whatever you find first and cheaper.
     
  18. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear TheSohnly,

    "Will I see a huge difference from choosing between Illford developer, D76 developer, or Xtol developer? Should I choose anything other than these three for my purpose?"

    No and no. No developer will make a bad photo good or a good photo great. They all have a "look", but you're really starting to pick the fly poop out of the pepper. Learning to print is the best way to improve your photos, in comparison the developer choice is irrelevant.

    The best reason I can give for your choice of developer is that Kodak supplies detailed development times for Xtol. Lots of films, lots of temperatures.

    Enjoy,

    Neal Wydra
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I selected XTOL to start with because it produces the finest grain of the Kodak chemicals. All three that you listed are good general purpose developers and all are forgiving.

    I use XTOL straight [undiluted] and I like the results. I add 70ml of fresh XTOL developer into the same developer that I just used. This is called replenishment.

    One other recomendation though, is to get a large plastic paint bucket from a paint store and mark the levels of one gallon, and one to five liters with a wide marking pen. The bucket will be easier to mix the chemicals in especially if you have to use hot water, as opposed to mixing in smaller containers. When the chemicals are mixed, add water to the proper level. Using the bucket to mix and then pouring into smaller containers is much easier than mixing in a four liter or one gallon container.

    Steve
     
  20. All very good suggestions, here.

    You really won't go wrong for selecting either D76/ID-11 or XTOL. All three developers are excellent at bringing out the most of your film. It's truly what YOU bring to the development process that makes a "look" -- be it dilution, temperature, agitation, time, etc. It's not a "spiel", but you WILL have to experiment with what film/development combination works best, for YOU.

    If you want useable (in-the-ballpark) results the first time, start off with D-76 or ID-11, and follow the respective manufacturer's development suggestions per film, at box speed -- easy to mix and use. After that, the process is all about personal tweaking (and often, depending with whom you speak, it can get quite quirky).

    FYI, the vast majority of the time, I use Tri-X and XTOL 1:1 (one-shot). Note: As suggested above, mix XTOL with distilled water, and subsequently, dilute in distilled water, as well.

    Keep it simple... and, most importantly, enjoy.
     
  21. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    Because I use substantially less Xtol per roll or sheet of film, Xtol is more economical than D-76. Don't go by the price per bag alone.
     
  22. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    There's not a B&W film made (except for the ones designed to be processed in C-41) that won't do well in D-76. If Ilford's chemistry is preferrable, then ID-11 works exactly the same. There is also not a film made that doesn't have lots of good data published for development in D-76. In short, it's probably the BEST option for the beginner. Follow the directions and you will get something that will print well if everything else was done right. Will it be the absolute best that can be wrung out of a piece of film? Probably not, but you shouldn't concern yourself too much with that right now. I've been processing film for a very long time, and I still like D-76 for most tasks. There is very little that can best it, and many that don't work as well.
     
  23. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    D-76, ID-11 and Xtol are very similar. As stated, just pick one most available to you. I personally use Xtol diluted 1:1 with distilled water and use it one-shot. Once you pick a developer and a film, you can run tests (there is tons of information in the archives here) to find your personal EI and development times. I think it is possible to get a combination pretty good after you run a few tests and burn some film on scenes. Also if you keep notes, and pay attention to your results you can modify your EI and development time ever so slightly as you shoot more and more film and learn your combo better. I've done this over the past few years with my combo.
     
  24. moouers

    moouers Member

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    The only problem with D-76 is that it's a PITA to mix. The mixing temperature is pretty high (120+ F IIRC), so waiting for it to cool means you must possess some form of patience. If you can wait a day after mixing (or hours if changing cooling baths), by all means go for the D-76. You can buy it locally (wish I could), so it's convenient. And you'll probably be perfectly happy with the results for many years to come. Also, both Ilford and Kodak have development times for their films using many developers on their websites.
     
  25. Brandon D.

    Brandon D. Member

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    I'd even take it a step further and say: Pick up a developer that you yourself can make from published ingredients/recipes (for the future of course), :D.
     
  26. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Wow! D-76 a PITA to mix? It should rest for a day before you use it anyway. I mix it up a gallon at a time. When I crack open the last quart, I mix a new batch so it's always there.