Paper Developer Exhaustion During Use?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by brianmichel, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. brianmichel

    brianmichel Member

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    Hey All,
    So I'm jumping into printing myself at home, I got an enlarger and trays/chemicals for processing are on the way. I just had a question about if there is a rule of thumb when processing exposed paper in chemicals and about how many pieces I can develop with the same tray of developer. Is this the kind of thing where the first piece will be developed the best, and you will need to extend time for any additional pieces, or will it hold up through a small session (about 4-5 8x10 pieces). Just curious about how to gauge my chemistry for this. Any information is helpful, thanks!
     
  2. Rob Archer

    Rob Archer Member

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    Hi There

    You'll probably get about 20 8X10s through a litre of normal working strength print developer. Prints are normally developed to completion (at your stage of the game, anyway!), so just follow the manufacturors instructions! If your prints start to take more than about 2 minutes to fully debelop, or you notice the blacks aren't quite black enough, it's time to mix some more!

    Fixer is more of a problem, as there's no visible changes unless the print is insufficiently fixed. You won't know this for days or even months (by which time it's too late!).

    I think the best advice is to follow the instructions on the box (although you can usually go a bit longer as manufacturors obviously do not have an interest in you getting as much out of a chemical as possible!).

    Experiment, but most importantly - enjoy yourself. There are few pleasures equal to that of seeing your first 'good' print coming up in the dev tray in the dim, red light!

    Rob
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Brian:

    Most of the suppliers of chemistry will give capacity information for their developers. They will generally be expressed in terms of how many 8x10 sheets can be developed in one liter of working strength developer before it should be discarded. In the case of Ilford, they include that information on their website here (see page 3):

    http://www.ilfordphoto.com/Webfiles/20061302049381676.pdf

    Note that the capacity information usually is associated with the developer, not the paper.

    Kodak's website has similar information as well. Here is a link to the information on the developer I use most, Kodak Polymax T:

    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/j5/j5.pdf

    There are also techniques for evaluating developer exhaustion based on how long it takes for an image to begin to appear. .

    In addition, some developers can be usefully replenished as one uses them.

    I just use the manufacturer's capacity guidelines and then discard when they are reached. Others here use and prefer the other two techniques, and will most likely chime in shortly.

    Welcome to the fun!

    Matt
     
  4. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    With an 11X14 tray 2/3 full of developer, I can print all afternoon and it seems OK. Papers are fully developed, so you can leave the paper in the tray as long as need be. It works best to use a tray a size larger than the paper - it makes it a lot easier to insert the paper and to get a hold of it with the tongs.
    Enjoy!
     
  5. brianmichel

    brianmichel Member

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    Great answers all around! I've been trolling Ilford and Kodak's website all day reading up on various developers, it's going to be an interesting time playing with this enlarger.
     
  6. andres

    andres Member

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    Hi!

    The amount of paper (square metres or feet) you can develop in a specified volume of developer, is usually written on the developer package or on some papers that come with it. Anyway, as you see the picture appear during developing you probably are able to adjust the developing time as you develop, so even if the developing time increases during developer exhaustion, there is nothing to worry about, as you can adjust the process in real time. Compared to developing negatives, it's a piece of cake.
     
  7. CBG

    CBG Member

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    Hypo Chek can help you test for fixer exhaustion - a more insidious danger than developer getting tired.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2009
  8. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    If your volume of prints is low, a few 8x10s or their
    equivalence your chemistry will go farther if you use
    it at a greater dilution than usual; for example,
    Dektol at 1:3 or even 1:5.

    With a working solution volume of one liter you'll have
    enough chemistry present for those few prints. Print
    quality will not suffer. Extend times a minute or so
    in each of the solutions. I know ahead the number
    of prints I will make and prepare the chemistry
    accordingly. Dump when done. No used any
    thing aging away on the shelf. Dan
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Papers aren't fully developed, they will continue to develop after the recommended time and gain density particularly in the highlights and mid tones.

    Ian
     
  10. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Well, it they are still developing then they aren't fully developed. I always learned to leave them in the developer until all action is complete. Now it could be that they will slowly gain density for a long time after I can't see any change. Maybe just a definition.
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    It depends on the developer, and it will say on the chemistry package.

    I use Ethol LPD replenished, and I have to replenish with about 300ml of replenisher (which is stock solution diluted at 2parts stock to 1part water) every 30 8x10 prints.

    It is awesome developer that really gives a lot of capacity per liter of solution.
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    With some papers this will be less critical, and with bromide papers you might well get away with working like that. However with Warm-tone papers the length of development has a very significant effect on image colour and tone, the shorter the dev time the warmer the image, extend the dev time and it gets colder, it also effects the contrast too.

    For critical work it's best to use a timer. But the important part is developing consistently and I guess your technique works for you.

    Ian
     
  13. wogster

    wogster Member

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    The problem with this is that you end up using development to compensate for poor exposures. There reallly is no difference between developing film to inspection and paper to inspection, in both cases, if your exposure is slightly under your effectively pushing the print, if your exposure is slightly under your effectively pulling the print. Where this gets to be a real problem is that when you make a series of prints, you see they are all different contrast and density. If you use time and temperature, then you are forced to get the exposure right and your prints will come out more uniform..
     
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  15. brianmichel

    brianmichel Member

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    I could definitely see where this 'guess and check' method could get you in trouble when printing a series of the same print in order to keep consistency on par throughout the series.
     
  16. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Amidol will never exhaust in the tray. It will be gone from carryover loss before that happens.
     
  17. wogster

    wogster Member

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    Well, say you have 10 photographs from your series on collapsing barns, you want a certain level of consistency there as well, and as soon as you start pushing and pulling paper you will lose that. I think that was one of the motivators behind the zone system, if all of the negatives are a uniform density and contrast, then the prints will be easier to make, because the same exposure can be used and development time can be used.
     
  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I believe both Kodak and Ilford publish how many prints a certain amount of developer can handle before you lose quality.
    With my developer I always use the same time, 2 minutes. I never change either that, or the temperature, and I religiously replenish it according to Ethol's instructions. I just have to make sure that my film exposure, film processing, and paper exposure is good enough. There are so many variables taking place during the paper exposure with contrast adjustments, dodging, burning, preflashing, cropping, lens settings, column height, etc, that changing development time would make all the work you do prior to souping the paper confusing. Keep that a constant (unless you use something like Amidol and Azo, where water bath is used to control contrast, or some glycin developers, where up to six minutes development time can and will drastically change how your print looks, and is a powerful tool).

    Keep the developer fresh. Use it according to the manufacturer's recommendations, and you should be trouble free.
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    Ian is correct. RC and FB-papers will continue to increase density in the developer way beyond their optimal development times. There really is no such thing as 'fully developed'. Paper continues to develop even after it has already started to fog. For FB paper, factorial development is the best approach to get to the optimal development time. RC development should be stopped after 90 to 120 seconds.
     
  20. Martin Reed

    Martin Reed Advertiser

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    .....if there is a rule of thumb when processing exposed paper in chemicals and about how many pieces I can develop with the same tray of developer......

    When I was at college, which is going back a bit, I did an assignment to evaluate this. Using Ilfobrom paper (long discontinued) used an 'average' subject (ie not high or low key), & included a step wedge. Then exposed a good number of identical 8x10" prints & ploughed them through 1 litre of Ilford Bromophen at recommended dilution 1 + 3, completely processing one before the next & using normal dev. time, finished them & plotted the density of the wedges. It was actually almost exactly 40 8x10"s before the developer was truly finished, but the fall-off when it happened was quite abrupt over only a few prints, loss of density & increase in warmth.

    So 20 prints through a litre should be quite safe, there was no significant difference with the above test until maybe print 35.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 11, 2009
  21. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I made the same experience with modern papers. That's why I use factorial development. It will compensate for the gradual loss developer intensity at the beginning. However, once the developer fails to produce Dmax, it's time for fresh developer.
     
  22. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The type of developer is significant too, a PQ developer (or Dimezone) is a significantly better than an a comparative MQ developer, the fall off is slower, and greater throughput.

    Bromophen is of course Bromide paper Phenidone/Hydroquinone based :D

    Ian
     
  23. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    I tend to use factorial development (usually 5-6 times initial appearance of the shadows) - I suspect the story is more complex as bromides and other chemicals build up in the brew as more and more paper is developed, but it seems a good approach in practice.

    A simple test for fixer exhaustion, which others have pointed out is more critical, is to do a film clearing time test. Again, I'm sure it has its technical faults but the method seems to work well in practice.

    Drop a piece of undeveloped film leader in some fixer and swirl it around gently (I actually sacrifice a roll of FP4+ for this job - you only need a small piece each time so it lasts months). Time how long it takes the piece of film to go clear (it will probably still have a slight purple tint - ignore that). This is your base time. Every ten 8x10" or equivalent prints do the test again. If the time for the piece of film to clear doubles, dump the fixer. To be safe, I dump after around 50% longer than the base time by which time I find the silver content of the fixer has started to approach the 1g/l level (you can buy test-strips to measure silver content but they are a bit coarse, indication starting at 1g/l) and as Ilford recommend 0.5g/l for "archival" fixing and 2g/l for "commercial" use, I figure that's sufficient. I guess this early dumping also prevents other by-products from building up too, but it needs someone more knowledgeable than I to say what they may be - the important point is that they (hopefully) do get the chance...

    If in doubt, follow the manufacturer's recommendations: you will probably spend a little more on the chemicals than is strictly necessary but you will not go far wrong. I'm a control-freak so I measure and test as best I can (not being a chemist) but if that is not your style, there is nothing wrong in just following the instructions!
     
  24. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Why test with film, when you are fixing paper?

    I only use RC paper. I just drop a fresh test strip in the fixer and wait 10-30 seconds. I then rinse the strip off and throw it in the developer. Next time I turn the lights on, I find out if my fixer is still working, because the test strip will either stay white or go grey. If a test strip clears and stays white with 15s, in the fixer, I know I'd doing fine as long as I fix a minute or more. In reality prints often sit in the fixer for several minutes until I get around to moving them.
     
  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    How did you manage to quote a fixer test in a developer thread ?

    Time to change yiour name to NonSense :D

    Ian
     
  26. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    My fault Ian - I went slightly OT...