Why mix your own developer

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by cliveh, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Picking up on a post from Photo Jim about D76, why would you want to mix your own developer when there are plenty excellent ready formula ready made like D76, Rodinal, and Xtol etc.?
     
  2. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    It's fun, it's educational, and it can save money in the long run.
     
  3. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I can understand the fun and perhaps educational, but not to save money.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Because it's quick, saves money, I can make up developers not commercially available, as well as toners, fixers, HCA etc.

    Ian
     
  5. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi clive

    i don't use any of the ready made formulas for prints or film ..
    pretty much the only print developer i have used for nearly 12 years has been ansco 130
    it comes as a kit that i have to mix myself ... and i buy about 6 gallons which lasts me about a year.
    i use ansco 130 for film as well dilute a bit, and have for about 12 years as well ....
    about 6 years ago whiteymorange, here on apug, got me hooked on caffenol-c, and THAT doesn't come ready made either ...
    my formula for that is a bit more haphazard ... i used to use instant coffee but started to use whole beans that i either roast or leave green
    brew into coffee, and then mix in random amounts of sodium carbonate and vit c and a 1/2 jigger of ansco 130 just for fun ...

    if either 130 or caffenol 130 ( or sumatronal 130 ) were ready-made i'd use them in a heartbeat ! but they aren't ...
    ansco130 or one of its variants used to be available ready-made, it was GAF universal, and it came in a big red can
    but that was 30-40 years ago ... if gaf universal was still available, i'd use that ...

    i mix them, not so much because i like to mix them, but because it is what i am using, and what i am used to using ...
     
  6. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    John, but why? Is it just a fun thing, or do you feel any ready mix wont give you the results you want?
     
  7. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    Because it is fun.
    And, I can mix the amounts I need.
    I mix up just 100ml of Pyrocat HD or 1 liter of Thornton's Two Bath and I find I can those amounts without having to worry about it going off before it all gone.
     
  8. fotoroberto

    fotoroberto Member

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    Why not! That way you can also tweak commercial formulas, adapt developer to suit your taste and so on. Not to mention benefits for large format film users. They need to adapt developing of each negative to the way they exposed them. It is harder and maybe inconvenient for regular leica and MF shooter, but it is how it is done, the right way.
    One more thing, who knows what to expect of foto chem and materials market in the future, better to be on your own...
     
  9. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    To make an analogy, isn't that like trying to make your own malt whisky?
     
  10. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Not a good analogy as Malt whisky is harder to make and needs a ver high level of skill and knowledge, we are talking relatively simple easy chemistry.

    Ian
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    But are you?
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Yes.
     
  13. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    Why not just send your film to Walmart? I want better control so I mix my own..
     
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  15. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    You can save money if you know where to buy your chemicals.
     
  16. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    It's like the chemistry sets that we had as children, just never grew up that's all. I did try to make brandy but my still exploded so I stick to just mixing chems.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi clive

    for me the store bought ready made chemicals don't give me the results i want.
    to be honest, i don't think it is fun to mix up ansco 130, it takes time .. but once mixed
    the stock solution is good for about a year, even longer... and the caffenol/sumatranol
    i don't mix all the time either, i use it for 4-6 months, remove 1L then make another L,
    to replace it.
    i never mix anything from scratch each time i process film or make prints ...

    i can see how some people enjoy making these things from scratch ...
    for years i made my own dough + sauce + pizza, and once in a while i make my own pasta ..
    its about the same level of difficulty as mixing photo chemistry from scratch ...

    YMMV
    john
     
  18. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I'm about to start doing this.

    My motivation is not really to save money - although it's going to be quite economical in the long run. I can make small batch at a time for say 2 months worth. Doing this with read-made developer requires buying those 1 liter packs which are quite costly. Perfect for small time operation like mine. Also, there are a lot of common components various chemicals. It doesn't require as many chems as one might initially think.

    Ultimately, it's an individual decision. You aren't going to get consensus over this.
     
  19. yeknom02

    yeknom02 Member

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    I could be mistaken, but I calculated the costs of mixing up my own D-72 (similar to Dektol print developer) and found it would be a few dollars per liter (of stock solution) more expensive than just buying the 1-gallon packet of Dektol. I wonder how many chemical formulae you really save money by mixing at home.
     
  20. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    I would say generally home-mixing is probably more useful for print developers than for film developers. Using the many published formulas for print developers no longer commercially available (Ansco etc), you can achieve a wide variety of tones/colors. They are all easy to mix using varying proportions of a relatively modest array of ingredients.
     
  21. bblhed

    bblhed Member

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    As close as I come to mixing my own is adding water to D-76, I wish that I could mix my own for so many reasons, but the main thing that holds me back is the ability to get chemicals in reasonable size packs.

    As for saving money, if you know how to mix your own you can also adjust your own to get a result you want without a ton of work in some other part of the process. And as you know T=$.
     
  22. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Raw hemicals come down in price when you buy larger quantities, actually by very significant amouints. I've bought photo-chemicals in sizes from a few grams to a few metric tonnes. The price differential is startling.

    Ian
     
  23. trojancast

    trojancast Member

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    I'm not sure it's about saving money. More to it than that.
     
  24. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I mix my own toners and alt process stuff, but I am quite happy with Eco-Pro for prints and Rodinal for paper and film. Mixing up stuff you don't use often makes sense simply because you can mix small quantities up fresh or at least keep solutions separate to maximize shelf life. I do that with Clerc's Gold Toner and thiocarbimide. There are lots of good commercial products out there especially for film and print developers, stop, fixer, selenium toner etc. Unless they don't do what you want or it isn't available otherwise, I wouldn't bother mixing up your own. If you enjoy the idea of mixing up your own, it certainly isn't all that difficult. It is really hard to save money doing it......if you saw my stock of raw chemicals that only have a little used, you'd know what I mean!
     
  25. Kav

    Kav Member

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    I mix my own because I tend to travel alot and develop film on the road. Powder packs easier then liquids. And is much easier to take/ship overseas.
     
  26. dpurdy

    dpurdy Subscriber

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    It isn't fun, it is just the best way. Especially if you do a lot of darkroom work. You not only save a lot of money but you can mix things that aren't available premixed.
    I use shell loading scales for paper developer and a nicer set of scales for film and platinum.
    You can, as I do, buy sodium sulfite from swimming pool supply places as well as sodium carbonate (soda Ash) in 50 or 60 pound bags for a fraction of what you pay for that stuff in a photo supply store. Mix your own hypo clear as well.
    For printing I always have absolutely fresh developer and as I did today when I only needed to print 3 RC prints, I can mix a very small amount of developer at a time.
    You can also mix your own formulas or augment published formulas. I have set variations I make depending on the paper I use.
    Mixing isn't difficult, but if you are a once a month printer, it isn't necessary either. It is part of mastering your craft, but only if you have the time for it.
    Dennis