What's your developer of choice?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by thisispants, Jul 31, 2009.

  1. thisispants

    thisispants Member

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    I'm organising to develop my first roll of film and I'm not sure which developer I should get. Ive downloaded the ilford pdf which explains the steps really clearly, but Im unsure which developer would suit my needs. I guess because I'm starting upm I'll need a very general but good developer.... liquid of powder? Is the Ilford Ilfotec HC any good for most situations? OR should I go the powder Ilford ID-11.....which is explained as the "standard pwder".

    Any advice would be cool. thanks
     
  2. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    It depends on where you are at. Since this is your first roll and I'm assuming you don't yet do a lot of developing, you should aim towards something that is reliable rather than the highest possible quality. Therefore, get a liquid-concentrate one-shot developer that will not go off in the bottle. LC-29 is the one usually recommended for this purpose; Rodinal also lasts forever but it's pretty grainy on high speed films and most people prefer only to use it on slow, fine films. Just buy a small (250mL) bottle of LC-29, get good at it and when it's all gone you will know a lot more about how developers work and can then make a better-informed decision as to which you will move to.

    Ilford HC is the same as LC-29 but more concentrated. Kodak HC-110 is basically the same as HC or LC-29, I'm not sure which concentration it is.

    There are many many threads here on "which is your favourite developer" and the answers people give will be their answer, not your answer, because their circumstances, aims and experience levels differ.

    Edit: If you already shoot a lot of film and are moving from having a pro lab do your development to doing it yourself, D-76 would probably be a logical choice. It is very cheap, the quality is very good and it's about as general-purpose as it's possible for a developer to be (it's flexible in terms of solvent effects, contrast, etc). I think it's the most popular developer. You do need to be able to tightly bottle 3.8L of the stuff, preferably in glass, to prevent it going off. It will keep a few months in full bottles without refrigeration, so if you're doing a roll a week or more, it's good. If you're doing less than a roll a week, a long-lived concentrate is probably a safer option. I believe it keeps for more than a year bottled in a fridge but the power you pay running the fridge probably makes that not worth it.
     
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  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Both Ilfotec & ID-11 are excellent developers, and have directly interchangeable Kodak equivalents (HC110 & D76) these are the standard benchmark developers.

    Ilfotec will be the most economic in the long term, and it's far more important to just choose 1 developer and 1 film to begin with while you master basic techniques. A good combination to start with is FP4/Ilfotec/Hpam (fixer).

    Ilfotec HC is highly concentrated, there's also LC which is just a lower concentrate version, once made up they are identical.

    Ian
     
  4. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Subscriber

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    I would go with a liquid that is easy to get, will last a long time in the bottle, and works well for general use. Depending on where you are, probably either Ilfotec HC or Kodak HC-110 will do the trick. Most of us around here will recommend that you not make the stock solution of either but use a small syringe, such as a baby medication syringe or one of these from Photographers Formulary to accurately measure the concentrate. You will find that if kept concentrated, these developers will stay good for a long time.

    The reason for these recommendations is the convenience factor when starting out, also these developers will work well with most films. I agree also that you should use just one film at first, either a 100 or 400 type film would work fine, depending on which speed you prefer. Once you have the process down and feel like you are getting regular predictable results which print well, you can start thinking of changing developers and or films.
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    XTOL to get the finest grain in Tri-X and soon to start with Pyro Rollo for fine grain and keeping the highlights from being blown out.

    Steve
     
  6. rphenning

    rphenning Member

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    ID11 and Perceptol so far. I have some Microphen but I don't really push film that much so I have yet to mix it.
     
  7. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    For your first developer, I wouldn't try to think too hard or try to be imaginative. If you must get Ilford, I'd just go with ID-11, which is functionally identical as I understand it to Kodak D-76, which is an old reliable standard. Very tolerant. I'm personally still exclusively using D-76.

    While it's true that D-76/ID-11 doesn't have the greatest longevity in stock solution form, I wouldn't worry about that either. It's only a few bucks. Get yourself shooting a few rolls and you'll go through most of it. It's not a huge loss if you end up not quite getting through it all before it goes off. You'll have at least two months, six or more if you can store your stock with all the air out of the bottles.
     
  8. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    D-76 or ID-11 are good developers to start with. When you get comfortable with one developer and film then experiment with others. I'm still using D-76 or an equivalent either stock or 1:1 and still having fun in the darkroom after 40 years.
     
  9. Denis K

    Denis K Member

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    If you're just starting out then you will soon learn that consistency is one of the keys to success. Considering that, it is often a good idea to start with a developer that doesn't have an overly short development time for the film you are using. This can sometimes be a problem with some developers unless you take the extra time to learn about different dilutions. Most developers can be used with different quantities of the developer stock solution and water. Look at the developer data sheets and start out with one that will give you development times well above 5 minutes as times below this are sensitive to variations in your technique. You may need to use a higher dilution to get the time into a comfortable range. D-76 and ID-11 are probable the most common developers people learn on because so many schools use this developer. Both are often diluted 1+1 (one part stock solution and one part water). If you think you might want to take a class somewhere, perhaps to take advantage of their darkroom facilities, you might want to start with ID-11 of D-76 because that is likely what they will be using. By the way ID-11 and D-76 are based on identical ur-formulas and differ mostly in packaging. ID-11 comes as a two part package and Kodak obviously adds some extra chemical to make it possible to put all the chemicals in a one part package. Most folks think the mixed solutions perform almost identically. Picking a favorite between these two is often one of the first pleasures of starting out in the darkroom even if your final selection is more religious that scientific.
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    My standard developers are:

    ID11 (D76) (all round great results)
    perceptol and xtol (for generally higher edge detail)
    POTA (for extreme compensation)
    wd2d+ (for staining amusements and when I am sure I will need to scan and when the neg is somewhat fragile, like the Efke stuff)

    ...and I have a lot of tmax developer that I inherited and use for various things.

    Oh I also use PQ sometimes with ortho films, in a pinch.
     
  11. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Just get one developer (exactly which one does not matter really) and keep at it until you know it backwards and forwards. I started out with Tmax RS. Nowadays I use R09 (Rodinal clone) 1:50 mostly. The developer is only a small part of the whole chain in making a good print. Flailing about between different films, papers, chemicals does no good when you want to learn. Keep the variables to a minimum. I speak from experience here. :smile:
     
  12. WGibsonPhotography

    WGibsonPhotography Member

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    When I started taking photography classes in college, the bookstore sold only Arista chemicals and film (all B&W). I started out using Arista EDU 200 and 400 film developed in http://www.freestylephoto.biz/1641-Arista-Liquid-Film-Developer-to-Make-1-Gallon?cat_id=301 .

    After a short wandering off in to the realm of digital, I started shooting HP5+ and FP4+, both developed in Rodinal 1:50 (by the way, I dont think the high speed film and rodinal combo is as grainy as it's made out to be, but that's my subjective opinion). I'd say go with ID-11 or D-76 because it's an easy to get developer, and lots of people like it. I cant comment on it, though, because I've never used it.

    Good luck with your venture in to film :D
     
  13. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    D-76 is probably the best general purpose developer - nobody has found much better in the past 80 years. You could stick to this developer for the rest of your life and never lack. It isn't uncommon to find comments like "I haven't used D-76 for 20 years, having used pyrodneocrawfine. I just put a few rolls through a tank of D-76: wow, what a great developer, I'm going back..." XTOL is another good choice, but it has a problem in that it doesn't turn brown and stinky when it goes bad; you have to test it before each use. Xtol doesn't fail any more often than other developers - it's just that you don't know it until it is too late.

    D-76 and Xtol are best used 1-shot at a dilution of 1:1.

    You don't say what size film you are using. If it's 120 or large format you might find HC-110 to be a good choice. It isn't that great with 35mm as it has poor grain structure at high enlargement ratios and is a bit too contrasty for very small negatives.

    If you are shooting 35mm another good choice is Microdol-X, it works exceptionally well with TMax-100 when diluted 1:3. Microdol used to be available in liquid form, but it was a bit pricey when purchased this way.

    Ilford makes equivalents to these developers: ID-11 for D-76; Perceptol for Microdol-X; Ilfotec-HC for HC-110; DDX for Xtol.
     
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  15. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    My go to developers are Xtol and D76 (ID-11), I get great results from both and they are easy to mix up.
     
  16. Alessandro Serrao

    Alessandro Serrao Member

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    XTOL and D76 used both straight.
     
  17. AlanC

    AlanC Member

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    Your choice of developer depends a lot on what film format you are using. Until we know this any advice has to be very generalised.

    Alan Clark
     
  18. wogster

    wogster Member

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    There are 2 schools of thought, first is that going with a standard developer like ID11 (or it's Kodak twin D76) when you start is most meaningful, because that developer is so well known with so many films, that most darkroom rats have seen just about anything that can happen with it.

    The second school, pick a developer, any developer and one film, and use that combination until you know it so well, you can look at a set of negatives straight out of the wash and know how well they will print. Then you can move on to other developers and films. Although many people end up very happy with the combination they have, they never really do move on.

    The first school is probably better if you have a vibrant darkroom community or club locally, so that you can take your negatives to the darkroom rats that know that developer so well. I learned in high school, and I think they went through a gallon of D76 replenisher in under a week. I switched to ID11 for home, I think because Ilford had gone metric and I found ml easier to figure out because Kodak only sold their stuff in those weird US gallons, which wasn't even a real (Imperial) gallon. Now of course you can get D76 in 1L bags, and it was $2 cheaper, so I am using D76 again, not bothering with the replenisher though. The developer is an old familiar friend though, never really saw a reason to use anything else. With the second school ID11/D76 is a perfectly good developer anyway and it's usually cheap.
     
  19. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Subscriber

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    Xtol 1:1 and Rodinal cover everything I need out of a film developer.
     
  20. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    I'm very happy with ID-11. I shoot Delta 100 and Delta 400 mostly. I use the 1:3 dilution.

    -rob
     
  21. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Rob, what differences could one expect with D400 using the 1+3 dilution compared to 1+1? Do you find the Ilford times for 1+3 about right?
     
  22. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    XTOL.
     
  23. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    *******
    D76/Id-11 be the standard against which all film developers are compared. Use it until you know it.
     
  24. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    With reference to wogster's post too, when I came back to darkroom work after many decades I choose Kodak XTOL undiluted because it produces the finest grain over most of the black & white films. I have used it for several Kodak and Fuji films both 35mm and 120. I have been very happy with the results and the graininess. As I posted previous I am planning to try Pyro Rollo and depending on the results make a choice.

    So choose in developer, find the film you like the best and learn that real well. Only then shart making changes.

    Steve
     
  25. I used D-76, primarily, for years, with 35mm films; a great developer that can be used successfully with just about any film. Currently, after a long hiatus from developing, I'm using XTOL (1:1), and sometimes Rodinal (1:50) — both with very satisfying results, still with 35mm (mostly Tri-X and Neopan 400).

    Note: XTOL developer stock and subsequent dilution is mixed with distilled water; same with Rodinal.
     
  26. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Member

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    This statement is important enough to be repeated every day.