Different brands of chemicals

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Reticenti, Mar 25, 2007.

  1. Reticenti

    Reticenti Member

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    I'm brand new to all things darkroom (I've just had one experience, and loved it), So my question is, what's the best brand of chemicals to use? I want to use Ilford VC paper, so should I stick with Ilford chemicals for best results?
    Also, can I mix brands for different things, for instance, could I use Kodak developer and Ilford fixer?
    And one more question, since the stop bath is basically just vinegar, (Acetic Acid), could I just go down to the store and buy some vinegar and add a base indicator to it?

    thanks for the help
     
  2. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    You can pretty much mix and match any brands you want.

    The only thing that you should stick to is using film developers for film and print developers for prints.

    PE
     
  3. reub2000

    reub2000 Member

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    Many people mix their own stop bath from white (distilled) vinegar. Indicator is not really something that you need. I usually use the stop bath one shot which means that it's always fresh. See this. You can also rinse your film using water.
     
  4. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The only thing I'd add is that you may want to pick a brand that is easy for you to get and stick with that until you get some experience. There are a lot of discussions in here on various combinations of developers, films and papers. Sometimes the differences are quite subtle. If you do too much switching without learning the basics it could be difficult to find the combination that suites you best.
     
  5. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    The only actual incompatibilities involve such things as the use of an alkali work-flow, for example where you would not use an acid stop bath between a developer and an alkali fixer. If you're heading down that path you'd know it because you'd have chosen that type of fixer on purpose.

    Other than that, it's all about preferences.
     
  6. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Additionally, I've seen recommendations to the effect that using the same fixer for film and paper is not a good thing if you want to have archival processing. It has to do with the silver iodide in the film that contaminates the paper, IIRC.
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    mhv;

    You are correct. You should not use fixer that has been previously used for film when processing paper. Actually you can, but you have to use a longer fixing time to compensate for the iodide buildup which depends on how much film you have run through the fixer. That gets complicated.

    PE
     
  8. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    As already noted the question is what is avilable in your area? Is there a full service camera shop in your area or do you need to mail order? If you need to mail order shipping dry chemicals is much cheaper than liquid. What do think your volume will be? Number of rolls and prints you intend to process each month also has some bearing. If you live near a city that has full service camera shop I recommend liquid to start, just lot quicker, developer is usally one shot, no need to store, and you can mix fixer for both film and prints. If you plan on printing fiber dont forget a hypo clearning agent.
     
  9. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    As a "beginner" you can't go wrong with the Ilford chemicals. Some people feel more comfortable with using all liquid concentrates instead of mixing from powders or scratch.

    As for stop bath, don't use straight vinegar. Bad idea. Google around and I think you'll find the recomentation is 1+4 and 1+3 (vinegar+water) for the average store-bought white vinegar. I'd err on the side of a little weaker than stronger concentration. You'll use it one-shot for film and mix fresh for paper, discard as soon as you notice the paper doesn't loose the slick feeling it gets after the developer (alkali).

    Get what is handy and somewhat universal. Use it for a while, keep notes. Then decide what you would like to try next. Try to change only one thing at a time.

    Google for "massive developing chart" and you can see a mind boggling combination of starting points for developers and films. Read lots, take good notes and be patient.
     
  10. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The best brand of chemistry you can use is the kind that's easy for you to source. For me that's Kodak chemistry and I use it on many different brands of film and paper with better than good results. I've used Ilford's chemistry in conjunction with many other manufacturers' brands of film and paper as well, with the same sort of results. In short, there is no reason not to use say a Kodak developer and one of Ilford's fixers.

    One important thing to remember is that while it is perfectly ok to use the same kind of fixer for both film and paper, one should not use the same working batch for both. A rapid fixer will be used at a certain dilution, typically 1+4 from concentrate, for film. The same product will be diluted 1+9 for paper, simply because papers are less tolerant of fixing byproducts. At the higher dilution rate, the fixer will exhaust before the concentration of fixing byproducts reaches a level grossly inconsistent with archival paper processing. Fixers used in open trays for prints pick up an awful lot of crud very quickly and you don't want that anywhere near your film.

    Stop baths are a sore subject with me. There are a lot of folks out there who believe that acid stop baths are the devil's own work, responsible for every foul thing that can happen to your film and prints. Well, that's just a load of c**p! I've been using acid stop baths and acid fixers since the late 1960's. I have negatives and prints that old and they still look good. Don't use an acid stop bath if there is a specific reason not to, but in general use they do no harm and a whole lot of good. And the vinegar solution? Yes, it works. Distilled white vinegar is nothing more than acetic acid. Dilute it down to about 2% acid and you have a stop bath. It is not cheaper to use than a proper indicating stop bath.
     
  11. Reticenti

    Reticenti Member

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    Thank you for your time and consideration. The level of knowledge and patience is a great help, and I feel like I can come back here when I need help.

    I just put in my first darkroom chemical order through http://www.adorama.com. I went with all Ilford stuff because it's the only name that I know of (besides Kodak of course) The reason I went with an online vendor is because the closest camera shop is nearly a 3 hour drive from where I live.
    I did get the powder solutions mainly because they are the cheapest, and I don't think I'll have any trouble mixing them as I'll be majoring in a Chemistry field, so I have a lot of experience with mixing chemicals that are a tad more dangerous than metol and the other darkroom chemicals.
    And as for a stop bath, taking into your thoughts, vinegar shouold be fine since this will be my second development, but I will keep your considerations in mind as I progress to more advanced techniques.

    Again, thank you for your huge help
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If like me you don't like the smell of vinegar, citric acid is a good substitute. Something like one heaped teaspoon in one liter of water is a good stop bath, and (to me at least) smells a lot better than the more common 2% acetic acid. :smile:
     
  13. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    Another fan of citric acid here: it is essentially odourless. Vinegar is for putting on fish and chips, not for stinking out the darkroom... If you want to support Ilford, Ilfostop is citric acid based, but there are others, some with indicator included.

    I'd also suggest a low-odour fixer for processing paper: Tetenal, Fotospeed, and others, make them (but not Ilford unfortunately).

    As you are just starting, you probably don't want to mess about mixing developer from powders (yet!) so go for something like Ilford Multicontrast or PQ Universal developers which come as a liquid that you dilute with water just before use. No need to stick with Ilford though as others have said: any general purpose paper developer will do fine.

    It's important to read the instructions: especially as regards dilution levels and how long the developer will last in the opened bottle.

    Have fun, Bob.
     
  14. Photo Engineer

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    Malt vinegar is best on fish and chips, but distilled white vinegar is best when you need a stop bath. :wink:

    It is important how long the mixed developer stock solution will last, how long the working solution will last, and what the capacity of the working solution is. These are all important factors.

    Dektol is the best developer out of many commercial print developers that I have tested so far for all of these. I have a bunch more to test.

    PE