Newbie developer recomendations

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by antielectrons, Nov 27, 2005.

  1. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    Hi there, will be returning to darkroom printing after an absence of 10 years or so. I can't remember what developers I used in the past and would like some advice as to what to use. I will be shooting 6x6 120 film - Mainly Delta 100, FP4+, HP5+, Tri-x, but also some Neopan 100 - and printing on Ilford MG RC with a Magnifax 4 and Componon-S 80/4. Stop and fix will be Ilford Ilfostop and Hypam.

    Question: what developer would you guys and gals recommend for developing the above films in a Paterson canister? Should I be looking at specific developers for specific films. Would D76/ID11 be good general purpose starting points? If so, how do I get the stock solution back up to working temperature when stored?

    Questions, questions....

    Any help much appreciated!

    Antonio
     
  2. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    There are many options for film developers. I found Ilford DDX to be a good all round developer, also Agfa Rodinal which I use most of the time. I am sure you will get many different recommendations.
    For developing prints I use Ilford Multigrade paper developer.

    In my kitchen darkroom, to get solutions back up to temperature I put the storage bottle in a warm (not hot) water bath and check the temperature frequently by stirring the solution with my thermometer.
    Welcome back to the dark side! :smile:
     
  3. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    D-76 or ID11 would be fine. If you don`t want to mix powder developers, then there are plenty of convenient liquid concentrates to choose from.
    There are probably far more film and developer combinations than there are winning combinations to win the National Lottery. I would tend to avoid rapid press type developers as they tend to provide developing times that are uncomfortably too short. Something like Ilfotec DD-X would work well with the films you have chosen. The most important thing is to get your exposure and processing up to scratch.
    Developers can be Horses for courses and you would do well to standardise on a particular film and developer combination to start with and learn how to get the best from it.
     
  4. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    Hi, thanks for the recommendations. I have no preference regarding powder or liquid developers, in as much as I don't know what the pros and cons of each are.... I presume that the powder stuff will have to be added to water to create a stock first, other than that they are both then diluted to working strength/temperature....?

    It is hard to stay with just one film at the moment as I am still learning and want to see what each does. So far I have discovered that Delta 100 is nice for architectural stuff, FP4+/Hp5 are nice for portraits, and Tri-x is great all round, but especially for people.... Perhaps I could lay off the Neopan for the time being... and just have two fast films (HP5+ and Tri-x) and two slower films (Delta 100 and FP4+).

    So far then good general purpose developers for the above films would be ID11/D76 or DDX/Rodinal... keep em coming!

    I see there is a Film Cookbook on Amazon.com - would this be recommended reading for learning more about particular film/developer combinations for when I have had some more experience...?
     
  5. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Anchell & Troop's Film Developing Cookbook is an excellent place to start for an understanding of what to expect from particular developers. It doesn't talk a lot about specific combinations in detail, but does cover the generalities of developer types and how they work with classes of film, say slower traditional emulsions vs t-grain vs faster traditional films, with some specifics thrown in. It discusses the roles of specific developer ingredients, and then covers developer formulas classified by general types: fine grain, accutance, tanning, effect on film speed, etc. People report some mistakes in it, especially on guesses about equivalents to proprietary formulas, but it's very informative and will give you a good foundation. It has an appendix with times for many developer / film combinations.

    Lee
     
  6. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Yes D76/ID11 is the old tried-and-true standard developer
    However, you can also use any of the clones that come in liquid form and can be used in 1 shot. I find that is the easiest way to control temperature.
    Otherwose you'll have to dip your bottle in water at about the same temp you want for a while. (If you have to heat use water 3 to 5 degrees warmer, and if you have to cool them use water 3 to 5 degrees cooler)

    Also consider the newer developers, such as DDX, Xtol or Paterson FX-39, but those can come later.


    5
     
  7. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Why not use Ilford DD-X for a year, shooting and making pictures.

    Also, why not settle on Ilford films, and why not pick the 'old fashioned' grain films, HP5+, FP4+ and Pan F ?

    There aren't really ANY bad choices for film and developers... for that matter, most of them are remarkably excellent. Limit what you're trying to work with, make lots of pictures, and get a lot of your pictures into frames and on the wall.

    And, limit your intake of data. Ilford has all the info you'll need. Look at this like learning to play a musical instrument and you won't go wrong. Nobody has ever learned to play a piano by reading books about building pianos.
     
  8. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    Hi, I had a look at the price of DDX... seems to be 29€ a litre over here in Spain compared to 2.70€ for D76, or 4€ for ID11. How come the big difference in price? I like the sound of DDX, but the price?

    No problem in sticking with FP4+, HP5+ and PanF+ but I do like Delta 100 and Tri-x is something that I am really looking forward to working with.... seems a shame to be using less film when doing my own darkroom work than when I sent it off to a lab.
     
  9. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    The COR will of cource always recomend Rodinal or alternatively the R09 from ADOX or Calbe which is said to be a more original formula.
    Rodinal is a one shot developer which is diluted 1:25 - 1:100 or even more, I use it diluted 1:50.
    Its cheap.
    It lasts forever a fact I find important. I would hate having my developer go off in the process of getting used to it.
    It works great with almost any slow film like Efke 25, Pan F and Delta 100 in 35mm and MF
    It works great with some faster films, I like it with Neopan 400 and 1600 in 35mm.
    Depending on subject and the effect you are after you can use it with HP5, Tri-X, Tmax and Delta3200 and get great results.
    I have used it with Tmax 3200 (35mm, great results) and HP5+ (120, wrong subjects)
    Cheers Søren
     
  10. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    I seem to remember using Rodinal in the past. 1+25 I think.

    A question about mixing powder developers (D76 or ID11), I understand that if I buy the packs for mixing 1L I will get 1L of stock solution that I can then dilute 1+1, or 1+3 etc. At 500ml a shot in my Paterons developing tank I think I will need to get the larger size however. I read somewhere that you have to mix the whole pack up though so my question is, if I buy a 5L packs of ID11 say, does it contain 5x1L packs or will I need to mix the entire 5L at once? What is the shelf life of stock solution?

    Thanks,
    Antonio
     
  11. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    No magic bullets here...

    Based upon my own experience, Mr. Cardwell's general advice is a great course. I have often looked at the final prints of other photogs, and lamented that the overall "pop" was better than mine. In the main, the description for their process included exotic treatments of the negative (odd dilutions of some pyro derivative or rodinal, etcetera; stand development, tube processing, et al) and more variations with expensive papers, developers, and processing techniques.

    And then there were the ones using old stables like D76 stock, Polymax at #2, and plain old Dektol. And surprise of surprises, there was the POP and DEPTH!!! What were they doing that I was not? Certainly there was some sort of magic bullet they had! The magic bullet I discovered is understanding through experience with a specific process. Rating the ISO of a film for maximum effectiveness. Using a film and developer combination to achieve a negative that is not too thin or dense. Finding the optimal dilutions, agitation times, and temperatures. Understanding the characteristics of paper with developer enhancers built in. Dry down compensation, the list goes on. And learning a particular combination before moving on to another variable.

    Thirty-five years ago I cut my teeth on Pan-X and Microdol. For slow speed films, Microdol is a developer than hardly gets any press anymore. Yet it was not until recently dealing with TMax films that the discovery was made that at stock solution, I needed to adjust my exposure ISO downward.... You may find that the older silver grain films provide greater latitude for "error" and experimentation. Now, I am fully exploring the characteristics of a couple different films, Ilford papers, and understanding what D76 and Dektol can or cannot do. Having done this for a year now, the exploration can go to Rodinal and different paper developers. It was important that I knew how to manipulate one successfully in order to achieve a quality and consistent result. Now I have both a process and knowledge that can be expanded on and compared. Hit and miss through a lot of different processes does not form a base build any understandings on.

    It's always better (IMHO) to pick simpler and more common grain films, forgiving papers, and well documented, pleasant to use developers and go from that point. There is no magic bullet. Well, unless we are talking about camera or darkroom equipment and its a "got to have it". There's always eBay for getting them, and getting rid of them when the knowledge dawns that they are not a replacement for consistency and knowledge. Just a thought...
     
  12. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I agree with the sentement that there are many, many options that will give great results. D76 and ID11 are probably my recommendations because most films react well with them. Also, they are economical and easy to deal with. I think having a small number of films that you use and standardizing your practice, including figuring out the correct ISO and developing time for your needs, is more important than whichever particular developer or film you choose.

    Remember, the most important thing is to have fun!
     
  13. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    HI, thanks for the continuing feedback. I am learning a lot. I think I will stick with either ID11, D76 or DDX for the time being (probably ID11 on account of cost) and take it from there. In terms of films I think I will mainly use FP4+ at the slow end (and occasionally Delta 100) and HP5+ & Tri-X at the faster end.... consistently!
     
  14. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    So much to comment upon! First, I agree that D-76/ID-11 is a good general-purpose developer. There are lots of other possibilities that would work as well (HC-110, Rodinal, XTOL, FX-39, and so on), but it's best to just pick one (preferably something fairly common, so you can get help if you run into problems) and stick with it for a while. Once you learn enough about your standard films (sticking to just two or three to start with will help you learn a lot faster), you can begin experimenting with other films or with other developers to see what they do. Trying to experiment with everything at once will leave you with no good idea of what's going on. Plus which it'll get frustrating -- you'll discover that some rolls are underdeveloped and others are overdeveloped, ruining shots that might have been very good.

    Working temperature for B&W is typically in the 20-24 degrees C (68-75 degrees F) range, so temperature control needs are pretty modest. As Andy K said, a water bath should do the trick pretty quickly.

    Correct. Some developers can be used at stock strength, but most are diluted, even when they can be used at stock strength. Most can be used at different dilutions to subtly alter their working characteristics.

    Developers do vary a lot in price. Be sure to consider dilution, though. Here in the US, B&H sells DD-X for $12.95 for 1 liter, which B&H says should be diluted 1+4. Assuming 250ml per roll, that works out to 20 rolls, or $0.65/roll. By comparison, 1 liter of ID-11 from B&H costs $4.79, but a more typical dilution for ID-11 is 1+1, so that liter will only process 8 rolls, for a cost of $0.60/roll. Thus, what looks like a huge price difference is actually pretty small. Given the prices you report, the difference for you would be bigger, but still not quite as big as you might initially think.

    500ml sounds like a lot of fluid for a single roll -- or are you quoting a two-roll capacity? My stainless steel tank requires about 250ml per roll. I've also got a plastic AP tank that takes 325ml for a single roll or something like 550ml for two rolls. When developing one roll in a two-roll tank, you don't need to fill the tank all the way, although you should use a clip or an empty reel to ensure that the reel you use for film stays at the bottom of the tank.

    I'm not familiar with ID-11 specifically (although I have bought and used D-76), but I expect you'd get a single packet to make 5 liters. (Actually, I think I heard that ID-11 ships in two packets that you mix together, but it's the same end result -- you mix it all together at once.) D-76/ID-11 typically lasts six months or so if properly stored. I've seen reports of it lasting at least twice as long as that, but to be safe, I'd count on six months. Be sure you store it in tightly sealed bottles, preferably made of glass, filled to the top. Split your 5 liters across several bottles, such as ten 500ml bottles, to minimize exposure to air. Some people use bottles sized for the precise amount they use when developing film, such as 125ml when using a 1+1 dilution and a 250ml developing tank. This practice ensures that there's never a significant amount of air in the bottle with the developer.
     
  15. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    Just remember that at both the slow and "fast" ends of the film scale you are dealing with radically different emulsion formulations. The FP4 & Tri-X Pro are traditional single layer grain films; Delta 100 is a two layer & HP5 is somehow "improved" conventional. My recommendation stands, pick a pair and grow comfortable with them. Then, a comparison can be made when experimenting with a different technology. The same goes for papers. RC or FB. I was shocked when moving from FB to RC in the development differences. Good Luck!!!
     
  16. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    SRS5694, thanks for taking time to go through my posts and provide answers. I really appreciate it. :smile:

    Its for 120 Roll film - on the bottom of my Paterson Universal tank it has amounts that each film uses: 35mm - 290ml, 120/220 - 500ml.
     
  17. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    I think I need to do some reading about different films and their properties. From you post I read that the FP4/Tri-X would be a good combination... perhaps I will stick with them and have a look at Delta 100/HP5 later on. Thanks for the heads up. I appreciate it.
     
  18. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    Perhaps the price list I looked at contained a typo. I will look and see if it is cheaper from other suppliers.... By the way, I read on the Ilford site that DD-X was developed for Delta 3200 films and that "With some fast films such as DELTA3200,DELTA400 and HP5 Plus a it gives an effective speed enhancement".... perhaps it is one to try when using HP5+ then.
     
  19. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Oops. I apologize for my 35mm-centric comment.

    I can't comment on that combination specifically, but I do feel compelled to caution against too much experimentation when you're starting out. If you don't get a good handle on what your materials can do, you won't be able to take best advantage of them. The more combinations you try, the harder it'll be to figure it all out. For instance, 3 films and 3 film developers equals nine combinations, which is quite a lot. Add 2 papers and 2 paper developers to that and you're up to 36 combinations. That's way too much to keep straight in your head, even if you shoot enough film to get several multiples of 9 rolls in a short period of time. OTOH, 2 films, 1 film developer, 2 papers, and 1 paper developer equals 4 possible combinations, which is much more manageable.
     
  20. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    SRS, HI, yes. I agree, the stuff about Detla 3200, etc. as a quote from the Ilford site. I have more or less settled on FP4+ and Tri-X 400, one film developer (most likely ID11) and one paper developer (Ilford Multigrade). I was going to stick to MG RC for paper and maybee some MG FB when I am settled in again (I remember really liking FB papers when I last had a darkroom).
     
  21. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Those sound like reasonable choices, although I confess to not knowing much about Ilford's paper developers, so I can't comment on that aspect of it.
     
  22. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Yes DDX gives a little "boost" to speed, which means gives good detail in the shadows.

    DDX is awesome with Ilford Fps,Hps and Delta films, Fuji Neopan 400 and Acros, Fomapan, Efke 100, AGFA APX100, etc. I normally shoot them at box speed.

    IIRC it was developed by Ilford from their old Dip and Dunk (hence DD) for household use (the X)

    Also the working solution can be reused in the same session, I normally develop 5 or 6 rolls of 35mm and 120 so I do 4 or 5 batches in one night.
    Adding a 10% of the time per batch is reccomended by Ilford and it works very well and may extend the umber of films you can develop with 1 bottle of DDX.
    Anyway 29 Eu seems extremely expensive, the price has increased in my local store but it is in the oder of $18/l


     
  23. antielectrons

    antielectrons Inactive

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    Thanks again to all those who have helped me with this. Today I ordered some ID-11 to start my home developing experience.... exiting times. Will stick to as few films as possible. I promise!