Just be careful what you read...
Originally Posted by noacronym
Rodinal for slow and medium speed films (50-100), specifically PanF+, Acros and TMax 100. Parodinal is a clone made from paracetamol (acetaminophen), and works just the same.
HC-110 for ISO 400 films. No clone available, and chemicals are rather difficult to obtain. The exact formula is also a trade secret.
Some swear by Ilford DD-X. It is expensive compared to the above alternatives. I think it is a PQ developer, and could be replicated if you can get hold of Dimezone S and hydroquinone. But don't hold me to that one.
There are a few "open-source" options, e.g. PC-TEA, but only if you know what you are doing when working with chemicals, and can source the raw materials.
If I had to settle on only one, it would be HC-110, used as single-shot dilution H (1:64). However, it seems to be going up and down in availability. B&H currently lists it as discontinued, don't know if that is permanent or not. A 500 ml bottle will develop a hoard of film, so it may be all you need for three or more years. I am also using TMax Developer quite often, and it is a rather easy and excellent developer overall. It is great at shadow detail, and worth having for that reason alone. I tend to think that it is not possible to combine fine grain with high acutance and good shadow detail. If you pick two, the other one will suffer. For slow and fine-grained medium speed films such as Acros, no matter which developer you use the grain will be fine enough. So it makes sense to choose the developer that gives you the best tone curve for what you typically want to photograph, according to your taste.
As you are in Europe, you could maybe find what you are looking for at Maco Direct or one of the other web-based suppliers. We have ordered from Maco to South Africa, and the shipping was quite reasonable.
Kodak has changed the packaging. If I understand what I read, HC-110 will now be the same syrup around the world. Up to now, the North American concentrate has been much denser and was designed for US measure dilution (e.g. 1:15, 1:31, etc.). The "overseas" version was designed for metric dilution (1:9 etc.). Now there will just be one version.
Originally Posted by dorff
The general consesus seems to be HC-110. I'm however a little worried how it will fare with faster films (specifically Delta 3200) and with push processing, considering the slower speed it'll give you.
Also, has anyone got experience with similar Ilford chemistry? Or (as I mentioned in the OP) "Studional"/R09 Special?
Rodinal and its variants are a poor choice for push processing and for maintaining deep shadow detail. The developer shines for medium format work with a slight speed derating. The grain can be a bit much for 35mm. Though I am sure there are those who swear by it for 35mm Tri-X pushed 3 stops: it depends on what look you are after.
Originally Posted by Cybertrash
HC110 is probably the best choice if you insist on a long-lived liquid concentrate.
If you are willing to live with a bit of inconvenience then do-it-yourself D-76 will be superior. It keeps well in a glass bottle for 6 months, 3 months in Nalgene. You can mix up a pint, put it in 8 2-ounce bottles and do 8 rolls of 35mm 1-shot using it 1:3. For extra life, keep the bottles in the 'fridge. The raw chemicals that go into making D-76 will probably outlive you.
Cybertrash, you will have to test HC-110 with fast films and see for yourself. But before you worry about its speed, please re-read Gerald's post in connection with the Kodak chart and note the word "slightly". The Kodak chart does not have any sort of scale on those sliding diamonds, so the tendency might be for people to assume HC-110 gives way less speed than XTOL. In practice, the differences in speed are quite small when it comes to general purpose solvent developers. It also depends on the film.
Another thing to consider, specifically concerning pushing, is that generally speaking the speed differences observed between general purpose PQ/MQ solvent developers under normal development conditions are minimized once you get into pushing territory. The key to pushing is contrast control since you are overdeveloping.
As a few people have mentioned Ilford's DDX is an excellent developer. In the shadow detail/speed category it would be most comparable to XTOL and TMax on the Kodak chart. Graininess would be similar to D-76 on the Kodak chart, and sharpness comparable to HC-110/TMax on the Kodak chart. It is a flexible, easy to use, and extremely consistent developer. It won't last as long as HC-110. A more comparable long-lasting formula is Ilford's Ilfotec HC - which is indicated by Ilford to be an approximate equivalent to HC-110. You can view Ilford's suggested equivalents here:
The following link (page 3) contains some descriptions and a small chart analogous to Kodak's chart in terms of rough working characteristics, and also includes shelf life.
Hi Cybertrash; you don't say whether you have any experience mixing your own developers or not. If you don't have this experience then stick with a commercial product such as HC-110.
HC-110 is all the developer you might ever need. Very capable indeed.
Tri-X in HC-110 dilution H.