if you mix your own chemistry from raw chemicals

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by RalphLambrecht, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    why do you do that(benefits)and what is your favorite formula?
     
  2. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Its the only way I know how to get D23.
    Also, I mix D76 and Dektol (D72) from scratch simply because I enjoy doing it that way....even though home brew D76 is more expensive than store bought.
     
  3. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    how can that be?
     
  4. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    I want to be in total control of my process and don't want to be left in the lurch when a product disappears. None of the developers I favor are sold as commercial products..
     
  5. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Apart from alternative processes, where I make up from raw chemicals, I buy chemicals ready made, such as D76, Amfix etc. in the same way as I would not try an construct my own Leica.
     
  6. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    It has been a couple of years since I've done the cost analysis (and prices for raw chems have only increased) but, here in the US, commercially packaged D76 is definitely cheaper than mixing it yourself (comparing the gallon size package). If you buy the smaller quart sized bags (are these even available anymore?) then, the commercial package is way more expensive.

    Essentially, the cost difference comes down to the cost of Sodium Sulfite, distilled water and shipping. Here are a few assumptions:

    1) The gallon size package of D76 is available locally (no shipping costs).
    2) use tap water with commercially packaged D76, there is no need for distilled in this case.
    3) mix home brew in distilled water (adds $1.29 per gallon)
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi ralph

    i do that for ansco 130 ( formulary 130 ) paper developer because the formulary is
    the only place to get glycin, and they sell it in a kit form ( the developer ). the mix, in stock solution
    lasts for over a year, so i buy about 5 or 6 gallons at once and process film and paper in it.
    its a great developer, and if it was sold in a can i would buy it in a heartbeat.
    i originally bought it because i was told it was the same as gaf universal developer, something i used
    years ago, that was left in a studio i rented. it was in the darkroom for 20 years before i got to it, and had
    seen 20 harsh and no so harsh new england winters and summers ( was on the windowsill of a semi-open window )
    i mixed it and used it full force one summer processed film and paper with it, and LOVED IT.
    unfortunately gaf universal and ansco130 aren't the same thing but it didn't stop me from using it :smile:
    i later learned the actual recipe for gaf universal, which is very similar to ansco130 just a teensy weensy bit different

    i also mix raw chemicals for caffenol ( sumatranol ) c .. only cause it is easy to mix and things are at the local grocery store.
    i took a leap of faith and bought a bunch of green coffee beans and now sell kits for sumatranol c, so if someone doesn't want to
    deal with searching for the ingredients i can supply them :smile:

    why do i use it? when mixed with a shake of ansco 130, i like it better than any other film developer i have tried .. beautiful grain, and tonality.
    can't be beat, well it can be beat if you don't like that sort of thing :wink:

    john
     
  8. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I used to mix my own Pyro because it was pretty cheap to mix from raw and I could just make as much as a needed. Shipping from the USA of the liquid form of this stuff put me over the edge for price, so this was the best. Also, I used it to make some D23 because many of the chemicals were the same and I always wanted to try that developer. But I haven't used these developers in a few years, so I stopped doing it. I would love to know what chemicals make a HC-110 replenisher for my 8x10 tank, but have yet to do the research. I found a formula for LPD paper developer and I was so excited that I could get the chemicals here in Canada, but when I got a quote for the equivalent of 3 cans, it was $42 as opposed to $24 at B&H, so I said forget it. Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss.
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I like the added control of mixing my own chemistry, the greater choice of formulas, and the ability to mix the amount that I need when I need it, so there's less waste and my developers are fresh. In general I find it less expensive to mix from bulk chemicals for the quantities that I use, and some of the formulas I use aren't available commercially.

    Film and print developers that I use regularly are ABC pyro, Michael A. Smith's amidol formulas for Azo/Lodima and for enlarging papers, Ansco 130, and Paul Farber's Acufine-like formula.

    Occasionally I experiment with others, just to see what they do, and sometimes I make albumen prints. I've also gone through the occasional monobath phase when I've been particularly limited for working space.

    It's not as interesting to experiment with stop baths or fixers, though for some processes I use plain hypo, or I'll use a 1% sodium metabisulfite stop with an alkaline fix.
     
  10. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    It makes me feel like a mad scientist.
    Cheaper to ship raw chemicals (except formulary) than liquids.
    I don't get in the darkroom that often so pre mixed stuff could go bad before i get to use it.
    It's fun having control over every step of the process.
     
  11. WHof

    WHof Subscriber

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    For lith developers it is quite a bit cheaper and I'm darn sure it makes me sound interesting when I tell a caller I can't talk now because I just added sodium hydroxide and I have to keep an eye on the exothermic reaction.
     
  12. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    Happen to have that GAF universal developer formula? I have about 150 feet of 70mm GAF film and a pack of 4x5 GAF I would love to use their product on. I would also consider just buying it from you already made :wink: haha


    ~Stone

    Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1, 5DmkII / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic | Sent w/ iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  13. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    One advantage is that you can have fresh stock in just the quantity you need at any time. Another major advantage is that you can mix up things that are not on the market commercially or are hard to find. The disadvantage is that there are many excellent proprietary formulas that are not available. A minor (or maybe major) advantage is that you can experiment.

    I don't do that much black and white work any longer, so I value being able to make D-76 as I need it. I also make Defender 54-D for prints, which I prefer to Dektol (D-72, which you can also mix). I also mix up F-34 as a cheap, near neutral, non-hardening fixer. Stop bath is trivial and very cheap. From time to time I experiment with other things - a lot of other things, including alternative processing. There are a huge number of formulas available out there, and you can find something appropriate to any of your black and white needs.
     
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  15. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Making chems is a fair bit less complicated than making a Leica!!
     
  16. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Amen! I think that's my real reason. I do like PC-TEA and Caffenol C, which are the main things I mix from scratch, but if I'm really honest with myself, I have to admit I'm doing it because I like the mad-scientist vibe.

    PC-TEA is a winner of a developer, though, and seems to have declined in popularity here as compared to a couple of years ago. We need a new round of people taking it up. It's only slightly more complicated than D-23: (P)henidone 0.225 g, vitamin (C) 9 g, and (T)ri(E)ethanol(A)mine 100 ml. You need to heat up the TEA for the ascorbic acid to dissolve; I use a baby-bottle warmer (retired from its original use!). Use at 1+50, with starting dev times the same as for Xtol 1+2.

    -NT
     
  17. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    I have an extremely complete formulary with a little over 100 photography chemicals. When I see a reference to a developer, instead of speculating about it, I can make it myself and gain some real knowledge. It all depends on how much you really want to know about the process!
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Another factor that I've thought about is that if you're the kind of person who likes to experiment, experimenting with chemistry is a lot less expensive than experimenting with, say, lenses or camera systems, and is just as important in the effect on the final image.
     
  19. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Agree with that for sure! PC-TEA to my eye gives all of the benefits of xtol without the issues with keeping properties.
    I've long enjoyed mixing my own: film and paper developers, toners, it puts me closer to the process, science guy style.
     
  20. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    My favorite film developer is a substitute for Rodinal which was developed during WWI when this developer was not available. It uses Metol and hydroquinone in place of paraminophenol.

    There are a lot of developers which are useful but not made commercially. You have to mix your own.
     
  21. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    Like others here, I enjoy the ability to make developers that aren't available on the market -- maybe it's my personal Grail quest, seeing if I can bring something unique to my photographs that can't be bought off the shelf. And yeah, the mad scientist thing, too!
     
  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hey stone

    it is pretty much the same as ansco 130 .. but i think it looses the hydroquinone i'll try to figure out where i stashed it.
    to be honest, i never used it, since the 130 does such a nice job ...
    if i can't find it, try mixing some 130, dilute it 1:10 use at 72ºF and process your film for about 6-7mins
    its sort of contrasty so you might have to adjust your agitation scheme accordingly, so instead of 10sec/ 1 mins, you might do it every other min ..
    but seeing the film is 20+ years old it might be a match made in heaven at normal agitation, the glycin, HQ and metol combination might help with your fog too :smile:
    good luck !

    john
     
  23. ulysses

    ulysses Subscriber

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    +1 on the mad scientist thing. But seriously, I've gathered a collection of chemicals (mostly from Artcraft, some from Formulary, a few from "odd" places) and I can now mix up pretty much any B&W developer I might want from Anchell's Cookbook (at least when I have fresh glycin) or Jacobsen's Developing, not to mention more than a few color processes, and B&W reversal. Once the initial outlay has been made, the cost of mixing a liter of a new developer to see what it can do is minimal, and keeping the few that I regularly use (D-76, ID-68, Ansco 47, Mytol, Parodinal) along with their respective replenishers (if I want to replenish) couldn't be easier. I consider the cost nominal, definitely less than packaged developers, and I can mix exactly the quantity I want. Sulfite is the only thing I need to reorder regularly, but that's an opportunity to add a new chemical or two to my arsenal. I mostly use Hypam fixer for everything (even color) and I wouldn't have a clue how to even start to build a Leica, but I can damn sure mix up some developers.

    Ulysses
     
  24. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    When Agfa went belly up in 2005, I got religion. Everything I used at that point was Agfa. Paper, film, developer. As a result I started studying chemistry. Years later, I prefer to mix my own to simply avoid a repeat of the past. My favorite film developers are Rodinal (which I have replicated on my own at this point, will post when assured it is good enough over years), Pyrocat-PC, Edwal 12 and 10, and Beutler's. The knowledge gained during the intervening years though is priceless.

    I make my own paper developer as well, Ascorbic Acid and Phenidone/dimezone. Life is just that much more simpler. I no longer have to be tied to availability of some manufacturer's chemistry. As long as film and paper are made, I will be fine.
     
  25. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    I do it for the enhanced sense of ownership of the process it gives me.

    Ken
     
  26. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    A well known supplier made a goof with an order and sent me a box of chemicals by mistake. since it was a BIG box - the shipping cost was high so they said to keep it. The chemicals were a lifetimes supply of Sulphite and Carbonate with some hydroquinone.

    Up to that point I had resisted mixing my own as I was worried about getting distracted -I sidetrack easily... :whistling:

    After that point I was away. I had to buy some metol and bromide - but after that I was able to mix hundreds of developers. Best for me is being able to mix that which is no longer available (at least where I live). DK50, D23 and Geoffrey Cawley's FX acutance developers are favourites.

    I was right, though. I love the mad scientist aspect and sometimes get so involved in the chemistry and camera side of things I completely forget about actually doing any photography for months on end...