DK-50 developer??

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by bartnav, May 8, 2010.

  1. bartnav

    bartnav Member

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    I have an 88 year old uncle who was a photographer back in the '40's and '50's. A few months ago, he gave me a large box from his old darkroom. In it was a number of canisters marked DK-50, negative developer. Each canister is divided, top and bottom, (two part mix). The canisters are like soup cans. still powder inside, (can shake). Anyone have any knowledge about how to use it? Have plenty of Plus-x pan and Tri-x to try it out with..
    Thanks,:D
    Bart
     
  2. Darkroom317

    Darkroom317 Member

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  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi bart

    dk-50 was a staple for portrait photographers back in the day.
    often times people who don't know exactly how it was used, suggest
    that it is VERY contrasty, well ... it is at first :wink:
    find / make dk-50r which is the replenisher for it.

    when i used it, it was in DEEP tanks, and i processed armloads of 5x7 sheet film in hangers with it.
    it was never straight, but mixed with a partial tank of mellowed developer ( dk-50 ) to tame the contrast.
    if you don't use it in deep tanks, mix it, and don't dump it after you use it, but mix it back into the batch.
    after a bunch of film you will notice that it works "better" ... and then start to replenish with the dk50r ...

    it was in the 1980s so i don't remember what the times were that i used to processed tri-x .
    if you have a dark green safe light filter, you can develop by inspection ...

    have fun, its great-stuff!
    john
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    DK50 is the Metaborate version of an earlier formula which itself was Kodak's version of the Wellington & Ward Buffered Borax developer. It was tweaked further and eventually led to D76.

    Ian
     
  5. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I'm willing to admit that I've never heard of it. How does it differ from D-76 in use?
     
  6. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    **********
    We used that back when I was in college as a tank developer. It's best used as a sheet film developer.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Not as fine grained as D76, but with modern films the difference would be less apparent. It's very similar to D76b but with Kodalk/Sodium Metaborate instead of Borax and only 30% of the Sodium Sulphite.

    It's been recommended by Geoffrey Crawley used as a dilute developer giving quite high definition.

    Just looking at the datasheet in one of 3 pack I have it's stated to be for "Sheet film" and used when shorter dev times than D76 are required. Kodak did not recommend it for 35mm or 120 films.

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2010
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    you can say that again !


    whatever it was based on, or turned into ... it was some good stuff ...

    tri x 5x7 + split 5x7 and dk 50 hand retouched enlarged to 16x20 / 20x24 ...
    there was nothing like it ...
     
  9. bartnav

    bartnav Member

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    Great info guys,
    Thanks a lot. I will try some experimenting and repost at a later date.
    Bart
     
  10. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    DK50 and DK50-R Replenisher

    For those interested; from the Amphoto B&W Processing Databook. . .

    DK50
    Popular tank developer for commercial and portrait photography.

    Water (52C or 125F)
    500.0 cc
    Kodak Elon Dev Agent (Metol)
    2.5 grams
    Sodium Slfite, dessicated
    30.0 grams
    Hydroquinone
    2.5 grams
    Kodalk (Sodium Metaborate)
    10.0 grams
    Potassium Bromide
    0.5 grams
    Add cold water to make 1 litre

    Dissolve chemicals in the order given.
    Do not dilute for tank development. Develop for 5-10 minutes at 20C (68F). (Note: time scale indicates 5'00" at 75F/ 6'15" at 70F/ 7'00" at 68F/ 8'00" at 65F/ 10'00" at 60F) Decrease time by 1/5th for tray development.


    DK50-R Replenisher

    Water (52C or 125F)
    750.0 cc
    Kodak Elon Dev Agent (Metol)
    5.0 grams
    Sodium Sulfite
    30.0 grams
    Hydroquinone
    10.0 grams
    Kodalk (Sodium Metaborate)
    40.0 grams
    Add cold water to make 1.0 litre.

    Dissolve chemicals in the order given.
    The replenisher should be diluted to the same ratio as the developer it replenishes. Add to developer as needed to maintain the level of the developer. If the density of the negative is not maintained, discard some of the developer from the tank at intervals and replace with replenisher.




    I will add this to the recipe section if it is not already there.
     
  11. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    DK-50 was quite commonly used by sheet film photographers through the 60s. It is a rather nice developer. I found it to have only moderate contrast, somewhat more than D-76 but decidedly less than DK-60a, which was often used for press work. It is not a fine-grain formulation, but is a quite good general purpose developer. It does not give the speed increase seen with D-76, so you need to give full exposure. DK-50 was used undiluted for the older sheet films, but dilution 1+1 was recommended for the more modern types, like Plus-X Pan. (This is similar to the recommendations for D-76, but I've noticed that some of the latest films recommend using D-76 undiluted.) Some recommended developing times from 1969:

    TXP 5 minutes (1+1)
    Tri-X Pan 4.5 (1+1)
    Super-XX 5
    Super-XX 8 (1+1)
    Plus-X Pan 4.5 (1+1) (sheet)
    Plus-X Pan 4 (1+1) (roll)

    The packaging you mention was used for M-Q type developers through the late 40s or early 50s. One part holds the metol and the other everything else. Mixing order is important, so follow the instructions on the can. The stuff may very well still be good.

    Of note is a derivative that was published in the BJP many years ago. It was supposed to give high sharpness with miniature films, and it had quite a following for a while.

    BJ Dilute DK-50 high sharpness developer

    Solution A
    Metol 2.5 g
    Hydroquinone 2.5 g
    Sodium sulfite, anh. 30 g
    Potassium bromide 0.5 g
    WTM 1 l

    Solution B
    Sodium metaborate 50 g
    WTM 1 l

    Use as one-shot.
    Dilute 1:1:3 (A:B:water) for use (1:1:6 for tabular grain films)

    Variations
    Replace potassium bromide with 100 mg of potassium iodide.
    Replace sodium metaborate with carbonate - bicarbonate buffer (40 g sodium carbonate, 10 g sodium bicarbonate)
     
  12. bartnav

    bartnav Member

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    Chris, Is the formula you've given...How to make DK-50? I guess I don't understand :-( I've got the powder, 2 part stuff. I'm looking for time temp stats.
    Thanks,
    Bart
     
  13. bartnav

    bartnav Member

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    Thanks, NWORTH. I will give it a shot.
    Bart
     
  14. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    DK-50 diluted 1:1 and used as a one-shot tray developer (start with about 5.5 minutes @ 20C) produces nice negatives on Efke 50 sheet film. As mentioned above it is an old formula that still works well for general pictorial work on sheet films giving slightly higher contrast than D-76. Press photographers favored DK-50 because it produced "punchy" negatives that reproduced well in newsprint.

    In the thread titled "I want to blow up the Moon" I posted an example of Arista 100/DK-50 with an enlarged scan that shows lunar maria. For general pictorial work there is nothing wrong at all with DK-50, in my opinion. You will likely find the old cans still good. I am slowly using up my own stock of a similar vintage with no problems. The Kodak double-can packaging was some of the best ever made.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2010
  15. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    My recipe is to batch it from scratch. And the times are good starting points when you cannot find documrntation on the films you wish to use with DK50 film developer.
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Looking at an old thread, I know...

    I was given six gallon kits by a fellow photographer, and found out via a darkroom guru that DK-50 at 1+1 dilution is basically the same as HC-110 Dilution B. I also found the times are very similar. Tri-X 400 shot at EI 320 or so is great at 5 minutes with both developers, for normal contrast lighting.

    Attached shot proves that it's just as fine with roll film as it is with sheet film... The negative is nicely sharp and with tight grain. Plus-X in 645 format.

    - Thomas
     

    Attached Files:

  17. archer

    archer Member

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    When I got my first job in a studio in 1964, it was my job to mix all the chemistry each morning for the film room and the print room and all we ever used in the film tanks, was DK50. All weddings were shot in 4x5 and most studio portraits were 5x7 or 8x0 and the film was mostly Tri X Pro 320 or Super Hypan 500 in 120 which was only used for available light candids at weddings when the situation required. I remember DK50 as a pretty reliable developer but a bit contrasty when fresh. When I had important roll film negatives to develop, I would take them home and develop them in Mic X, trying to tame the grain of Super Hypan and it did help but I never told my boss.
    Denise Libby
     
  18. mts

    mts Subscriber

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    DK-50 is an excellent pictorial developer for large format, especially so for older films that tend to have lower gamma and longer range. It is a good choice for Efke films. It's by no means bad but not the best choice for 35mm or medium format films.

    Use if for low to medium contrast lighting, because it tends to give higher gamma than you will like for brightly lit outdoor scenes. It is excellent for portraiture done in open shade. This was a favorite for news photography for which higher contrast "snappy" negatives were favored for newspaper reproduction. I often used DK-50 in 1:1 dilution which tends to soften the contrast just a bit. As stated above, D-76 largely replaced it for general use, and also favored by many people in 1:1 dilution.
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i have processed everything from 35mm to 5x7 sheets in it ..
    i used a deep tank and coathangers with a replenished system ...
    the less than 5x7 was my stuff the sheet film was at the portrait studio i worked for.
    like a lot of these developers you need to run a bunch of film through it
    to get it a bit used and it will be perfect after that ...
    we used to mix a new batch after a certain amount of films went through it ( 1000 sheets ? )
    and cut the new developer with 1/4 tank of the seasoned developer ...


    john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2011