Why I gave up on Diafine

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Thomas Bertilsson, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I developed five rolls of 35mm in Diafine after a trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the Experimental Aircraft Association there. I had spent two days photographing and fortunately I had a bunch of Holga 120 shots as well that saved the day, but all those five rolls of FP4 were ruined due to this streaking.
    For the heck of it, I developed another couple of rolls of film, one Pan-F+ and one Tri-X. Same thing. This was in 2005, and I dumped the developer right away.
    Next time I developed film I used Pyrocat-HD and the problems were gone.

    Do you think there is a risk to using the same chemistry over and over again, with contamination from one mix to the other? My batch had worked OK on about ten rolls prior to this, so it was hardly old, probably not even seasoned.

    What are your opinions? Has anybody else seen problems like this?

    - Thomas
     

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  2. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I've been using Diafine since 2001 without problems.
     
  3. DannL

    DannL Member

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    This looks very similar to uneven development I experienced several weeks ago with 9x12cm sheet film in a square tank (semi-stand). I simply could not get the developer to circulate evenly, and thus it left these flow marks on my film. I went back using the old trusty drum and roller. Problems gone.

    Example . . .
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2336/2269300121_b00381355a_o.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2008
  4. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I never had a problem with Diafine with 35mm. I usually use it with TRI-X at 1600 ISO, looks great.
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I agree that Diafine gives a great look with certain films, but the weird thing is how incredibly uneven the development is. It's entirely across all five rolls of film. I also agitated normally (five seconds every 30 seconds by gently inverting the tank). I'm still puzzled by this one.

    Previous to doing this, I shot some Tri-X at EI 1000 and got fantastic negs. Great speed, looked awesome in printing, the grain was really beautiful. I thought I had found my dream developer, especially since I love working with Tri-X, the speed bump was very welcome.

    Oh well, I think I'll just have to stop being ticked off about all the effort that went into exposing the film and move on.

    - Thomas
     
  6. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I would think this is one developer that would do well to avoid gentle agitation. You might try a sacrificial roll in it and give it good agitation, especially at the start, so the chemicals can get distributed evenly as it diffuses into the emulsion.
     
  7. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    It's definitely an agitation issue - bromide drag. Goes away with increased agitation. I start with 15 secs gentle, the 5 every 30. Same for A & B. I've had my batch of Diafine for 1 year & it has done hundreds of rolls, no problems.
     
  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    It certainly looks like an agitation problem, doesn't it? But... how can you agitate more than 5s every 30s? I also did initial agitation of 30s. I developed 4 minute part A and 4 minutes part B.
    Prior to these five rolls I had ten that were fine with Diafine, and hundreds that were fine with Rodinal or Pyrocat. After this incident I've only ever had a few rolls that were bad, and they were film defects from one specific batch.
    Since I got the same problem with a roll after these five, with the same chemistry - is it possible that it was a chemistry problem? I'm really curious. Or else I agitated poorly for two film development sessions and never before or after that again, and that is just too much of a coincidence. Or it was one of those once in a million occurrences. I don't know. It doesn't matter now, I guess.

    Thanks for playing, I think I had best just forget about this episode and look ahead instead.

    - Thomas
     
  9. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    I agitate way less than that with Diafine, and never have uneven development. My first batch lasted two years and a trip from the northern hemisphere to the southern before dying suddenly.

    I follow what it says on the box. Pour the developer in, invert and set down. At the start of each minute, invert (gently) and set down. Same for A and B solutions, and I do 5 minutes in each at room temperature.
     
  10. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I use to agitate 5 sec's at the start and 5 sec's out of every minute. I've given up on the beginning agitation and only agitate 5 sec's the end of the minute and thereafter and I do not invert the tank. I roll it in an arc with the top up. All you are trying to do is replace spent developer with fresh so the 1 minute agitation is fine and as recommended. I also develop to 4 minutes. I flood my bottles with nitrogen and keep the solutions in glass bottles, never plastic. Never a problem. Not that you would go back to the developer, but if you do leave it in the "A" solution longer and let it soak up. I have also found that much stronger agitation increases contrast some. This was a mistake I made when I forgot the agitation regime after a year using other developers and agitated like I was using Xtol.
     
  11. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Apart from the chemical distribution factor discussed above, increased agitation, as a general rule, will normally increase contrast. I've never used Diafine, hence the caveat, but always give an initial 10 / 15 second vigorous agitation at the start of the period with gentle inversions thereafter.
     
  12. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Yes normally but being a two bath developer the active developing agent is absorbed by film emulsion in bath A and activated in bath B. More agitation in A will not matter and more agitation in B will only dilute (if anything) the A absorbed by the film thus reducing contrast.
    Kind regards
     
  13. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    That's interesting you've had problems with seemingly the same agitation as I do. I just did some negs in Diafine last night and it's the only developer I know I absolutely have to do 3 inversions every 30seconds for (the rest I normally do 3 inversions every minute). I used to get streaky negatives if I did 3inversions/1minute. I've run a lot of rolls through my Diafine including c-22 negatives and never had a problem with contamination. I always do 3minutes in each solution. I've never done that inversions for the first 30seconds stuff for any film so I just consistently invert 3 times at 15seconds (about the time it takes to put the top on) and 45seconds, etc.
    Maybe I am a bit more rough with my inverting than the average person.
     
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  15. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    You are quite right, I had forgotten that it was a two stage process.:sad:
     
  16. skahde

    skahde Member

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    One aspect is how often you agitate but another is how hard you shake. If you encounter such streaking one possible way out is what Kodak proposed for Technidol and Techpan to get rid of the unevenness this combination was famous for: When you shake, shake the hell out of it and let it sit in between. With diafine I practise short, hard inversions, causing maximum turbulence in solution A and switch to gentle inversions in B.

    Stefan
     
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    So when I get uneven development with Diafine it is usually because the film has absorbed part A unevenly? If so, Stefan's suggestion sounds good. I have always used gentle agitation...

    Interesting. I'm actually thinking about getting some Diafine again. The ability to process color film in it is something that sounds pretty cool (for b&w printing).

    Thanks to you all for your time and effort in helping out.

    - Thomas
     
  18. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    You can process any colour film in B&W chemicals but you may not be able to get a decent print out of it because all the dye layers are still in the film making the masking very dark. I've only used it on c-22 because I'm too cheap to get rolls of c-22 that have no significant meaning developed properly at a high cost and long waiting time. Also because of Diafine's ability to develop "to completion" I've used it for unidentified rolls of old film for that reason. It means I don't have to guess at a time using another developer like Rodinal, for example, what's there will be there when diafine is done with it. End of story, in my mind.
     
  19. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    It is not agitation in the developer.

    I am going to go out on a limb and ask:

    Did you mix up a fresh batch of fixer?

    Because I'm thinking you didn't stir
    it enough and you're seeing the effects
    of fixer hitting the negative in different
    concentrations.

    Blame the fixer, not the developer.

    RFXB
     
  20. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Before you try more aggressive agitation can I suggest you try stirring solution a and solution b for 30"-1' prior to using? The problem could be that the chemistry has settled between batches and needs be brought back into solution. Just a thought.
     
  21. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    I would think that in solution A you can agitate a lot to get it into the emulsion
    Probably agitating the 1st 30 secs and then at least once every 30s may help

    Solution B is a different story, and IIRC agitation was only recommended at the beginning and then nothing


     
  22. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    The developing procedures for Diafine (off the box) call for at least 3 minutes in each solution and 5 sec's very gentle agitation in both solutions at the beginning and once every minute. Since it takes 5 sec's to fill my daylight tank I skip the first agitation schedule. You might want to filter the solutions with a coffee filter to get the residue's out and I like the idea of mixing the solutions. I suggested a longer "A" solution soak as I remember some film I used once having the same problem as you notice.
     
  23. skahde

    skahde Member

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    That's fine as long as following the procedure works. But as Thomas encounters a certain problem which possibly can (can: to take in account that YMMV :smile: ) be cured by changing the agitation-scheme, I'd not take that word for gospel. The proof is in the pudding.

    Stefan
     
  24. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    Here's another possibility: some users may believe that no development occurs in Part A, but my understanding is that if Part A is alkaline enough, development will occur. Adding Part B kicks the development into a higher level of activity. So if the film is not fully agitated when in Part A because it's "only" soaking up solution, then perhaps that's why you see uneven development once you've completed the A/B cycle. Just a thought!
     
  25. bcostin

    bcostin Member

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    I've found that with Diafine less agitation is always better. If I do a couple rolls in another developer and then come back to Diafine, I have to constantly tell myself to just sit the tank down and leave it alone.
     
  26. Paul Verizzo

    Paul Verizzo Member

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    So many misperceptions.....

    I've been putzing with divided development for years. I like the "Zone System for roll film" ability, so to speak. I never got the negative density with Diafine that I want, and have moved on to other formulations. But here are some facts about Diafine and its use. Except as noted below, agitation really has no place or bearing in divided development in either solution.

    1. The Darkroom Cookbook has a Diafine copy; it is a P-Q formula. I have no knowledge if it is indeed a copy or just gives similar results.

    2. The pH of Diafine Bath A is 8.25. This is WAY below what will give any development, even with Phenidone, unless you left it in there for hours.

    3. The Bath B is about 10.5. The MSDS show that sodium carbonat is a component, I'm guessing probably the only one. Five grams per liter will give you 10.5 pH.

    4. As some here have said, "no" development takes place in Bath A. All we are doing is getting the emulsion to accept developer. Agitation means nothing in this step, overlooking possible air bubbles. Agitate continuously if you want, or just let it sit. Or as I do as a CYA, every minute or so just to make sure there are no bubbles preventing absorption. The warmer the developer, the faster this will happen.

    5. If Diafine is a PQ developer, or even MQ with highly active ratios (1:9 and 1:4 respectively), the Hydroquinone is more active at the higher temperatures. This means more contrast as the temperature goes up. It is not a true panthermic developer, although much more so than traditional developers.

    6. Agitation in Bath B should be minimal to none. Agitating undoes the very characteristics we are looking for in a two bath developer. As someone pointed out, at the least, it will wash Bath A out of the emulsion. Also, it will bring fresh developer action to the highlights, which will cause less shoulder. While certainly the box suggestions are a starting point, try using less to none at all.

    7. Time in baths is of minimal consequence. If you want some control, try using different temperatures (both baths the same!) If the developer is cool, there will be less swelling of the emulsion and hence less developer to work with in Bath B. If your negatives are thin, try developing at 75 or 80 degrees. More time in Bath B pretty much just causes more grain; more time for the silver filaments to grow without any corresponding increase in density. Someday I'm going to do some experiments on this matter but I would wager that 95% of the development is done by a minute in Bath B.

    In my two bath work, I pour in the Bath B, rap the tank onto the counter a few times, then let it go to work. Never a bromide drag problem with my current formula, which has a lot of potassium bromide in it. If you can get away with this with Diafine, by all means do it.

    Of late I've used a two bath by that old school photographer-journalist, Otha C. Spencer. (Does anyone know if he is still alive?) I kept an article by him from 1992 where he tells about his formulation. Since I've not been able to enlarge my negs, I can't yet say anything about grain, but he claims 11x17's "without grain." (Film speen unstated.) But I do get very printable negs from two stops under to two stops over the native ISO! Two minutes in each bath and it's done.

    Mi tres centavos....