Diafine as a standard developer?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dali, Sep 20, 2011.

  1. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    Hello all,

    I sometimes use Diafine in case I need a speed increase (TRI-X @ 1000 ASA) and I know I face rather high contrast (indoor). I like it because it's a kind of no-brainer (same developing time for all films whatever they are, no need to be picky with temperature).

    But would you use or recommend it as a standard developer for everyday use (with a slower film like Plus-X)? What would be the main disadvantages compared to D-76 or HC-110 for instance?

    Take care.
     
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    If you like the negatives you get with Diafine there is no reason to switch unless you are looking for different image characteristics. So you should probably try it out with your slower film before deciding on a new developer. Best to only change one thing at a time and since you're trying a slower film, use the same developer. Then go from there.

    Having said that if you want to use D76 or HC-110, these are both fine general purpose developers capable of excellent results with most films. HC-110 can be a little more convenient than D76 simply because it comes in liquid concentrate form and lasts very long, so it is economical.
     
  3. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    I'm lazy, I use diafine for everything except large format. Get's me printable negs with minimum of fuss.

    I usually rate up and down different films.
     
  4. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    olleorama, this is exactly my plan. What films do you use?

    Take care.
     
  5. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I can't speak to Plus-X, but I've used Diafine with a few slower films---mainly Fomapan 100, a little bit of Efke of various speeds, Kentmere 100---and gotten results that struck me as "OK-not-great". It's not especially fine-grained, not especially sharp, of course tends to low contrast, and generally doesn't seem to give a special "look" with these films the way it does with Tri-X. But it's convenient, and if you don't mind having to print at higher contrast (or stretch the histogram if you're scanning) and the grain/acutance compromise, it might work out fine.

    Try it---you've already got the developer, so the worst that can happen is that you waste some film finding out that you don't like the results, right?

    -NT
     
  6. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    fp4+, acros, neopan 400, tmx, tmy and shanghai.
     
  7. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    With Diafine, exposure makes a big difference in the results. I can see using it as a primary developer if I worked in a studio, but for most of my picture taking I cannot rely on achieving the idea light and exposure.
     
  8. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    According to your experience, in what the sensitivity to exposure differs from a standard developer like D-76 for instance?
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Diafine does the same thing every time. You have very little control over the outcome.

    Your single control is: Exposure.

    With normal developers you can alter developing time and agitation to completely change the contrast of a negative. You don't have that luxury with Diafine. So while Diafine might be easier, you can't do every single thing with it. You can't expand the contrast of a negative, for example.

    The developer is good at taking a high contrast scenario and compressing the tonal range such that it's printable. It may be one of the very few truly compensating developers out there.
    In normal contrast lighting you have a developer that doesn't really add anything that's exceptional to your work flow, and in low contrast lighting you have a developer that is pretty helpless.

    But, it is easy to do it in a simple manner every time. 4 minutes in part A and 4 minutes in part B. Call it good. It's just a matter of whether you can live with the compromise in picture quality or not.

    And don't let my comments discourage you. There are photographers that have produced exceptional work using Diafine. You really need to try it for yourself to see how you like it. Nobody else is going to tell you that.

    Good luck,

    - Thomas
     
  10. Dave Martiny

    Dave Martiny Member

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    I have found that FP4+ rated at 250 gives very fine negatives in Diafine.
     
  11. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    If you prefer the negatives produced by Diafine, by all means use it.
     
  12. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    I usually shoot FP4+ at 100 with diafine. It's my preferred portrait film/dev combo.
     
  13. Obscura26

    Obscura26 Member

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    Not to stray too far from the OP but any chance does anyone know the shelf life of Diafine once it is mixed up? I have some that is about 3 years old that is looking a little cloudy and has what appears to be particulate in the bottle of Sol B.
     
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  15. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    My last batch was 2 years old and had had 200+ rolls run thru it. I accidentally poured part A in the part B container and had to throw it out. But cloudiness and precipitations should not be a problem according to instructions and internet hearsay. I think it'll be fine.
     
  16. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Mine is at least 2 years old and has tons of junk in the bottom. I try to use it gently so I disturb it as little as possible when I use it.
     
  17. pschauss

    pschauss Member

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    My current batch is also at least 2 years old. Solution A has turned green from using it on Foma 400, but that does not effect the other films that I use it on. My favorite film in Diafine is Eastman Double-X shot at 650. I get decent contrast with it even in low contrast lighting situations.
     
  18. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    I've used it in the past... And I've resurrected a batch that was nearly 6 years old or so by filtering both part A and B... It works well up unto a point. It's great until you start to want more from your film, and when your printing steps require you wanting more than the paper can give, or your enlarger or under the lens filters can deliver with the mediocre negs Diafine will give you. Sometimes, you will get great prints, others will frustrate you, and have you wondering why you did not learn an individual film/developer combination that you knew inside out, and that could be manipulated to deliver the negs you want for the way you want to print. Diafine is a compromise, and akin to rolling the dice. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it won't.

    My advice would be to stick with one film, one developer for at least a year, and learn ALL that there is about the various ways of exposure/development. I've been where most people have regarding Diafine. I used it for a while, tried it again, but found better ways in the end. If it works for you, then have at it.
     
  19. Usagi

    Usagi Member

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    a bit offtopic. Has anyone compared diafine to divided D-23 or it's variants like stoeckler?
     
  20. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

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    Good question.

    I would also ask if someone compared Diafine to divided D-76? I used briefly the Vestal variant years (decades?) ago and was surprised by the good results I had with FP4 @ 200 ASA...
     
  21. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Some one at Freestyle tod me to pitch it after 1.5 years but it will still work for twice that. Filter A and B every once and a while helps.

    I love the stuff. #1 goto developer for years.

    Lee
     
  22. Obscura26

    Obscura26 Member

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    Well I took a shot last night and souped two rolls of Tri-X in my 3 year old diafine and wow, I am amazed at the results.
     
  23. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Can you develop Tri-X that was shot at 400 in Diafine? What results should one expect?

    Thanks, Bill
     
  24. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Yes, the negatives will be somewhat grainy and have great shadow detail. If the light was contrasty, the results will be better than if the light was flat.
     
  25. wblynch

    wblynch Member

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    Thanks.

    By circumstance rather than intention, I often end up using Tri-X on bright-sunny Southern California days with strong contrast so this is good to know.

    I think I'll get some and mix it up just to have on hand.
     
  26. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Agree, but I like Plus-X in it even better, mainly because it's almost a stop faster in apparent speed. Box says EI 400 and that seems spot on.

    I started to say I used tons of Diafine in the old days but that's not true. I used maybe three quart sizes, but did tons of film in it! It was my standard developer for years when I was a high school yearbook photographer and later in college, because it was very cheap to use, gave increased apparent speed when I needed it (with Tri-X, I used to rate at 1600, now I use 1200, not sure if the film changed some, my tastes changed or my meters are different) and was stone simple all the time. Like others said, it's not really controllable. It does what it does. For most light and subjects it does fine.

    There are arguments all over the place about whether the speed gain is real, but the bottom line is the negatives don't look right and are grainy if exposed at box film speed, and they look good, have finer grain, print easily (mostly, unless the light was flat to start with) and have adequate shadow detail when uprated a bit, so that's what I do.

    I no longer use it as my standard - that's now T-Max RS, but I do keep it on hand and use it for when I need 1200 speed with Tri-X but don't need higher speeds. Dimmer light calls for TMZ or Delta 3200 in 35mm and 120 respectively, with good results but if light allows I prefer the Tri-X in Diafine. It's also good for taming contrasty scenes.

    Bottom line like many said, if it works for you there's no reason not to use it as your standard. I need more versatility now, for + and - development of 4x5 in particular, but still find it very handy at times.