Reliable/ consistent BW developer/fixer Combo?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by analoguey, Jul 30, 2013.

  1. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    I know there are a lot of discussions on development, but I would like to know if there is a reliable developer/fixer combo (Ed- emphasis on supply and consistency of supply)

    I am mainly looking for them to be powders and not concentrates(as apparently they arent really allowed to be shipped - or so I got told!). I am also looking to get consistent results - and most crucially, availability.

    I would mostly be trying to get them shipped to India after ordering online - and would like one reliable/fall -back set. I would try other developer/fixer combos but these would be mainstays.

    (Ed) My Current issue is that I am depending on individual stores or Ebay suppliers (and response times are nothing to write home about)

    Problem so far has been in getting either reliable or quick supplies. I would prefer either ilford or kodak chemistry I suppose but ilford is not very widely available for shipment to India (or costs too much) and D-76(on ebay) is where the dates vary wildly - I could very well be trying to use stuff older than my camera. :|

    What would the recommendation be?


    (Updated/rephrased for more emphasis on the supply bit - not doubting manufacturing of any of the biggies!)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2013
  2. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Every developer and fixer from Ilford, Kodak and Adox is 100% reliable and consistent. I tried them almost all - never had any problem with fresh chemicals from well known companies.
     
  3. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    It doesn't get any more proven than D-76 and Professional Fixer from Kodak. For decades, photographers have relied on these two. Unless damaged, the foiled bag these products come in will keep them fresh well beyond the stamped date.

    Can you not buy them in stores other than eBay? For you, what's most reliable may be, the stuff you can actually buy locally, regardless of what it might be.
     
  4. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    If you have to get them shipped from a western country, it would be hard to go past these two, unless you could get developer in tins (as Acufine was, and may still be).

    I notice that there is a photo club in Bangalore. Perhaps there are some black and white photographers there who could help.
     
  5. dorff

    dorff Member

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    Are you looking at film or paper development? If film, which film? Certain developer/film combinations work better than others.

    If you are just looking for any good developer, the easiest is probably to make some for yourself. You can make parodinal from paracetamol (pain killer) capsules, sodium sulphite and potassium hydroxide. It stretches very far, and lasts a long time. One can use the chemicals one buys in the supermarket or hardware stores too, but lab grade is more reliable. Another alternative, using instant coffee, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and washing soda, is Caffenol. If you can get hold of metol or phenidone, there are a host of yet other possibilities. The internet (and APUG) is awash with developer formulas, you just have to look.

    For fixer, it is slightly more difficult, but still entirely possible to make your own. If I am correct, some of my chemicals come from Alfa Aesar, made in India. If so, I'll see if I can find contact details on the packaging. A basic formula uses ammonium thiosulphate, sodium sulphite, acetic acid, boric acid and potassium alum. All of those are cheap and readily available, as they aren't only used for photography. Some are even available in supermarkets. Sodium thiosulphate is mentioned in older formulas, but is not the best choice for modern films. It is best to make as much as you will use up in say three to four months. The dry chemicals can be stored indefinitely.

    Alternatively you could find out whether Ilford or Kodak have local agents. You may also order via mail from Maco Direct, Ag Photographic etc. Liquids may be sent as long as the packaging does not exceed 1 liter. For powders, things are more complicated, and you may find some of the more useful chemicals on the restricted list. Dimezone S is a prime example. Even getting 10 g from overseas is a daunting task. Crazy if you ask me.

    I hope this doesn't seem overwhelming. It is best to start out with commercial products, but if they are unavailable or very expensive, then home-mixing is a very viable alternative. In addition, it is rewarding and adds to the fun.
     
  6. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Reliable/ consistent
    The OP states reliable/consistent! With that criteria in mind the best of the best for the developer side has to be Diafine developer. So simple even a Chimpanzee(close cousin of mine) could use it, lasts until the cows come home, usually increases film speed slightly(works good for long exposure night shots), comes in powder form(should ship no problem), works with most films out there, works over a wide range of temperatures, can develop hundreds of rolls? and gives very nice consistent results with little trouble for printing or scanning. Diafine is a very good developer for somebody that doesn't shoot much since it lasts forever. It might not be for everybody, but it could be.
    Fixer would be less trouble picking and Kodak, Ilford, Sprint in that order along with many others should be just fine.

    Oh, I forgot to add, Diafine comes in powder-form sealed in two separate tins(cans). I just checked on eBay and it goes for $35.00 a gallon. Sounds like a lot, but it will do so many rolls you'll lose count and it last nearly forever.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2013
  7. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I also like D-76 and sometimes T-max developer.

    Jeff
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    For fixer, if you are able to find someone who supplies chemicals to labs that process colour films (C-41) and colour photographic prints (RA-4) you can use that fixer for black and white as well.
     
  9. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I just performed an experiment.

    Freestyle Photographic charges $111.00 for insured SIMS shipping of 4 one gallon packets of each of Kodak D-76, Dektol and Fixer plus an 8 ounce bottle of Photo-flo.

    The total cost of your order would be just under $200.00 USD.

    The shipping is expensive, but that would last you a long time.

    If you add a selection of their Arista EDU Ultra VC RC paper the shipping price would go up, but 225 sheets spread between 5x7 (100), 8x10 (100) and 11x14 (25) would only add $30 in shipping and $103 for the paper itself (shipped Priority Mail International).
     
  10. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Thank you, I shall try looking for that. Ilford doesnt have a powder fixer does it? (I generally run with ilford films, so would prefer their chemistry). And especially the ease of usage bit! :smile:
     
  11. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Film development. Not yet into printing!:D
    Have thought of making caffenol (more so cos I just love coffee and supply at home is abundant! :D) but want to get my traditional developer/fixer combination sorted first. :smile:
    Alfa Aesar? I'll check what google has to say on them.

    Actually tried ordering from AG - never heard back from them, and online ordering wouldn't let me ship the items to India. Havent ordered from Maco, will try them.
    Kodak India existed until they shut shop, i think in 2011(?)
    Ordered from another German shop (forget the name) but my chemicals were struck in customs and never reached me - ilfords, both liquid concentrates; so I am wary of shipping.

    Is Dimezone a developer chemical?
     
  12. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Tried a couple of non-ebay stores, experience was mixed to say the least. :smile:

    Am part of one, and I have had mixed results from the chemicals recommended, so! :smile:

    Not really. Its mostly chemical supplies for X-rays labs. In fact one of the fixer/developer combos I have is just that, manufactured locally. :smile:
     
  13. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Thanks, Looked through them - the returns and refund policy seems good too.
    I will try ordering a test batch from them! :smile:
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    And they are a major supporter of APUG too!
     
  16. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    With powder fixer your best bet is Kodak, but you should have a distributor for Ilford in India I would think? You can even watch eBay for somebody cleaning out their darkroom and selling unopened Diafine, which should be excellent since they are in tins(cans). Last ones went for 19.95 and that's lot of developer for the money. I still believe it to be one of the best developers for Kodak Tri-X ever made and I used ISO 1000 or ISO 1250 all the time with near perfect results.
    Now I use mainly Pyrocat-HD, Rodinal and home-brewed Microdol-X, but still have my Diafine in the darkroom and if I fine any Tri-xkthat's what I'll use. Oh, I thing D76 can still be found in cans to make 5L.
     
  17. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The Ilford website lists distributors for many parts of the world, but lists nothing for India.
     
  18. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Wow! A country the size of India, with its huge population and growing economy................... sounds like a good place to open a distributorship! Amazing that England once flew her flag on Indian soil and now you can't even buy her film there. If Ilford wants to send me there to open one up, I'm game! Ah, the photo opportunities there are endless. JohnW
     
  19. dorff

    dorff Member

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    Yes, Dimezone S is a derivative of phenidone, and can be substituted for phenidone in all formulas that require it. Those will include PQ (phenidone / hydroquinone) and PC (phenidone / ascorbic acid) formulas. Dimezone S is more stable in solution and is slightly better for film development apparently.

    You can look up Patrick Gainer's vitamin C formulas on unblinkingeye.com. I believe they have been extensively repeated here on APUG and elsewhere. They give results similar to Xtol, which is an excellent developer, perhaps the best generally speaking.

    If you want to make parodinal, which is a really useful and versatile developer (and cheap!), you can use my calculator. If you use proper chemicals and follow the instructions, I guarantee that you will not be able to mess it up.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/110084-pa-rodinal-calculator.html
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/...odinal-but-would-appreciate-more-insight.html

    If you are looking for fun, then check this out:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/109918-rosmarinol-rosemary-ascorbate-film-developer.html

    The secret with ascorbic acid developers is that the cheap vitamin C does all the heavy lifting, while the co-developer is only required in tiny quantities. In Xtol, it is Dimezone S. In Caffenol, it is caffeic acid. In my Rosmarinol, it is rosmarinic acid. Typically, one needs 0.1 to 0.2 g per liter of stock, to get a fully active developer. The upshot is that the developer is more friendly to your health, and to the environment.

    If you like coffee, then Caffenol sounds like something you should try. jnanian is the APUG user with most knowledge on that developer, AFAIK.

    You still haven't told us what film you want to use, and what subject matter you are after. Those things are sort of important in selecting a developer.
     
  20. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Thank you for that very informative post, I shall check up on that pa-rodinal seems very interesting indeed. As does caffenol. I would first like to use regular stuff a little more though.

    Btw, are there any home-grown stuff for fixers? Or would that be regular photographic chemicals only?

    - via tapatalk.
     
  21. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Hahaha. You cant buy any film here barring few pockets of Kodak leftovers n some Fuji film. One chap does sell a bit of foma. :smile:

    - via tapatalk.
     
  22. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The fixer used with X-ray film would work fine for photographic film, once you adjusted the dilution.

    Sodium thiosulfate (formerly known as sodium hyposulfate or hypo for short) is the traditional fixer, so if you can find it in bulk that will work well.

    It used to be used in some swimming pools.
     
  23. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Anything more benign? Like the caffenol stuff?

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  24. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Not really, although sodium thiosulfate is pretty benign.

    If you do any research into the history of photography you will discover that, arguably, the discovery of sodium thiosulfate's fixing properties was the most important discovery in the invention of modern photography.
     
  25. analoguey

    analoguey Member

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    Hmm I see! That's interesting, I didn't know it was that important. The x-ray fixer is a smelly thing,would rather use a more benign smelling thing. Or one where I won't need gloves!



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  26. dorff

    dorff Member

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    Sodium thiosulphate is sold as cattle food additive. You can probably find some in a farmer's co-op or supply store (whatever you call that in India). That is where I have seen it cheapest locally.

    If it is benign enough for cows to eat, it is probably benign enough to handle without gloves.