Wow! D-76 Is Actually Pretty Good.

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Snapshot, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

    Messages:
    914
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Ont
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi All,

    I been using or experimenting with several developers for B&W development, such as XTOL, Rodinal, FX-37, PC-TEA as well as a couple of pyro forumulas. However, I've never had an opportunity to use D-76 so I whipped up a homebrew batch and developed some film undiluted. Well, I was surprised at the quality and it certainly gave XTOL a run for its money at the same dilution level. I found the tones and gradation to be quite good and sharpness acceptable. I've also tried D-96A and found it to be the equal of XTOL in my unscientific observations and measurements.

    I guess exotic formulas aren't necessary to get decent results for B&W. Also, it demonstrates that the actual differences in developers are fairly small when compared to the intrinsic grain and tonal qualities of the film being developed.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,938
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well most companies used to make a D76 equivalent because it was the standard fine grain motion picture developer. It's what most commercial photographers used for many years, usually in deep tanks, and is a good all round developer

    Ian
     
  3. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,204
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Developer choice is a matter of film, physics, chemical engineering, taste, Old Wives tales, experimentation and a bunch of personal bias tossed in.

    D-76 is a darn good developer.

    vaughn
     
  4. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,577
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2004
    Location:
    DFW, Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    :smile:
     
  5. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,380
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Oakville and
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I switched to D-76 as my main developer after getting tired of HC110, messing around with something the consistancy of honey wore a little thin. I don't mind mixing up the powder. I also have a five litre packet of ID-11 which is the same stuff which I will get to at some point.
     
  6. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,351
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    You can say that again! I've been developing for about four years, and I'm just starting to understand which developers behave better in which situation!
     
  7. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

    Messages:
    2,936
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    Misissauaga
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The one challenge is its aging

    If you home brew, be aware that how the d76 works new versus once it is a few months old is the issue. That said, I until the pyro bug bit used to develop all of my traditional silver in d76, 1+1 and tabular in fx-37.

    If I am unsure of how to process a new to me one off film, then D-76 is still my go-to developer.

    If there are a ream of films to be processed, then HC-110B or twice as weak, and a syringe to deal with it can be awfully handy though, and to my eye the results are not a mile off of D-76 1+1
     
  8. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

    Messages:
    914
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Ont
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Unfortunately, it seems I have too much time today. I've now used D-76 undiluted and at 1+1 dilution. I must be blind because I can't see much of a difference. It must be noted, however, the subject matter is different and it may contribute to my difficulty in discerning differentials. Has anyone else experienced similar observations? I'm also wondering if replenishment is a serous option or is there too much compromise.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2008
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,938
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    D76 was designed to be used in deep tanks or processing machines and when used with replenishment gives superb results. I've always used developers like ID-11/D76 and now Xtol this way and it's very easy even on a relatively small scale. The developers ripen with use and settle to an equilibrium as they are replenished, the quality improves giving slightly better results compared to using as a one shot.

    Ian
     
  10. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

    Messages:
    2,131
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    D-76 and Rodinal are the devs I keep coming back too. Other devs are excellent as well, but D-76 and Rodinal are just simple and time-honored.
     
  11. Alden

    Alden Member

    Messages:
    313
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2007
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would like to understand the reasons for other developers. I've been thru a mess of them, including two years with pyro, and am back with D76H 1:1.
    Why use anything else, and I am really asking. To shape the curve differently?

    Pyro wise, I found that I could match my pyro's with 76. Tried to get better grain with Xtol, no, not really. So what are the reasons for all the other developers?

    The only thing I can think of is Microdol for that "look".
     
  12. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,109
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think all of them exist because many b&w photographers are interested in the science of photography as well, much the same as golfers are interested in which clubs they use. I firmly believe that the people that bring forward new types of chemistry do so believing they can offer something better to photographers.
    On some level there must be some very minor differences, but in my opinion I think consistency pays off. I've used Pyrocat exclusively for roll film and almost exclusively for sheet film for some time, and I must say my results are much better. But I'm convinced that is not due to the formula of the developer, I believe it's because I spent enough time with it to learn how to use it to my best advantage. No more no less.
    That's my two cents, anyway. I don't want to trade my Pyrocat for anything because I'm getting good repeatable results with it that I know how to print.

    Not to disregard the original poster - D76 is as good as anything else out there. I don't think switching developer from one formula to another is going to make you a better photographer and printer.

    - Thomas
     
  13. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

    Messages:
    1,325
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Location:
    Louisiana, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Many years ago, an older and more experienced photographer than myself recommended that I use D76 1:1 with Tri-X. He said it was "the standard" and, although there were a lot of good developers, D76 was the best compromise for grain, speed and tonality. I ignored him. Old guys don't know nuthin' when you're young and full of hypo and vinegar. Cut to modern times...I finally tried D76 1:1 with Tri-X. And HP5 and FP4 and Plus-X and Pan F and whatever else I was shooting at the time. Old guys sometimes do know a few things after all.

    The only developers I use now are D76 and Rodinal. Rodinal is another developer that's been around forever and is considered "the standard".
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,380
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Oakville and
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use D76 1+1 most of the time and I am happy with the results. I have not tried Xtol yet, might do that in the spring.
     
  16. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

    Messages:
    1,117
    Joined:
    May 22, 2007
    Location:
    Boston
    Shooter:
    Sub 35mm
    I see D-76 as a reliable old friend.
     
  17. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

    Messages:
    2,131
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think you answered your own question with the "look". D-76, FG-7, HC-110, D-23, et al belong to a "family" of devs. Rodinal belongs to another. Pyro, yet another. You (I do) may see a change from family to family, but not much, if any, within the family. I don't think I could see a difference in a D-76 neg compared to an FG-7 neg, but I can between D-76 and Rodinal.

    I like the Pyro's for their ability to keep highlights in check a bit better than other devs and for the punch midtones they give me.

    Another thing to keep in mind is availability. D-76 is still mostly available worldwide. My localmom & pop pharmacy can order D-76, even tho' it isn't on the shelf. Some chemisty just isn't available in some areas. Germans tend to use German chemistry, the English use chemistry made in England...

    Some folks simply started using D-76 or whatever the high school photo teacher used and never switched. If it ain't broke...
     
  18. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

    Messages:
    914
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Ont
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hmm... I didn't realize that D-76 can ripen like PPD developers. I'll try to replenish D-76 and see what happens.
     
  19. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Westminster,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Whoever said D-76 wasn't?

    Used it for years.
     
  20. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Think about it. D-76 has been around since what, the mid 1920's? If the formula was no good, do you think it would have survived with the popularity it currently enjoys for nearly 80 years?
     
  21. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Member

    Messages:
    475
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    D76 and Tri-X is a real classic combo. Looks gorgeous and it's cheap.

    A friend of mine used Divided D76 and I always used to marvel at the longscale negs it produced.
    I think the highlights look better with DD-76, than in standard D-76 (sometimes they plug up)
     
  22. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

    Messages:
    575
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2004
    Location:
    Ohio River V
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Do you adjust your development times as time goes on?

    Ed
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2008
  23. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

    Messages:
    914
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    Location:
    Toronto, Ont
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If my understanding is correct, replenishment does the following:

    - Maintain consistent developer solution activity
    - Maintain a constant volume of developer
    - Provide some economy of use

    So, the simple answer is that no adjustment of times are required.
     
  24. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    2,606
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Brooklyn, N.Y.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm not familiar with DD-76 could you explain the DD part? There is an FDD-76 which I believe is Photographers Formulary version.

    Thanks,
     
  25. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

    Messages:
    1,062
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2005
    Location:
    Prospect (Lo
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Great thread. I'm an inveterate tinkerer; despite stellar results with Xtol, I have an unrelenting urge to fool with other developers. Partly this has been prompted by the declining amount of B&W film I am shooting these days, and the longer intervals between processing sessions. So I need a developer that does the job and lasts on the shelf--or one I can quickly mix from constituent chemicals--and requires no fuss to use. This odyssey has become expensive and tiresome, as I now have mostly-full bottles of DD-X (yuck), HC-110 (yawn), Xtol (hurry, hurry, might go bad), and others mouldering on my darkroom shelves.

    Finally out of sheer exhaustion, I mixed up some D76H, which is D76 without the HQ and with bit more alkali (if I recall correctly). Dropping the HQ means no activity/pH change after a month of age so it's more predictable. I had not used D76 of any stripe in decades.

    The results stunned me. Every film I've developed in it has been beautiful. The others are going into the waste bin--except maybe the Xtol--it's pretty darn good; and, well, maybe the HC-110 since it lasts longer than pharoah's mummy, and well.... :smile:

    Seriously, I've had my flings, sown my wild oats. Time to settle down with a nice girl who still has a few alluring tricks up her, ah, sleeve. (With apologies to the distaff frequenters of this forum. :smile: )
     
  26. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,938
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The short answers is yes and no.

    If you start with totally fresh stock solution then yes you need to increase the times slightly as you begin to put more films through it, I add replenisher every few rolls of film.

    But as it matures and stabilises the time become constant, I keep a little notebook with times, replenishment and comments so I can monitor the results.

    When I make up a fresh batch of developer I season it with some of the previous batch. I started doing this firstb while at school with Microphen, and have continued ever since with ID-11(D76), Adox Borax MQ and now finally Xtol. Now I keep my working solution in a 2.5 litre Plastic bottle using the other 2.5 litres as the replenisher, in the past with a commercial darkroom I used deep tanks.

    This way of working is extremely economical, very quick as there's no solutions to make up each time and gives excellent results.

    Ian