I used it a lot and like it, but I didn't like the way it would change in activity as it ages. I much prefer one shot developers like HC-110, Rodinal and Pyrocat HD. Pyrocat is my current go to. It fits better for the way I work now: large batches for an intensive period, then on to other things.
I moved from D76 to Microdol-X believe it or not as push developer (used to be recommend by Bob Shell as developer for inky film noire type blacks tri-x at E.I. 640) from there I moved to Rodinal and Jay De Fehr's Hypercat the first because of grain I like grain and some accutance I used the later developer because I needed dual use negs for classic silver and some alt processes as well as a hardening developer (Efke user at that time). Sometimes I still use ID11 or D76 and I still think that it is the best general purpose developer. The best midtones are going to D-23 though
I moved from ID-11 (D76) to Adox Borax MQ in the early 1980's because it was similar but gave finer grain, better sharpness and about a 1/3rd of a stop better film speed, also better tonality. I used to supply it to a few commercial photographers and we all used it replenished in deep tanks.
Later I switched to Xtol for my commercial work and Rodinal for personal work but I switched to Pyrocat HD 7 or 8 years ago and it's now my sole film developer.
I find this hard to believe. Could this have more to do with the film/development and exposure you were using?
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
Although I still use D76 on occasion, I mostly have switched to Pyro-Cat HD for all my films. Pyrocat is very economical, lasts really well and gives a really nice combination of fine grain with good acutance. That said, if you just stuck to ID11 or D76 you wouldn't go wrong.
There are many here that will say to stick to one developer and really get to know it...that is not a bad philosophy...but I will always just give something new a go on occasion.
i haver never used id11 or d76 but i was weened on sprint film developer
which is similar bit a tiny bit different. you can over develop a lot in sprint and not
blow out your highlights .. that said, i moved on when i ran out of $$ in about 1993
and i ended up using a 20 year old 10 gallon can of gaf universal developer that was holding a window open where i was living.
after i used it up, i searched for the recipe and was told it was ansco 130, which i used religiously for years ...
i was set a mysterious email from whiteymorange with the recipe for caffenol c about 7 years ago, and have been using that
with a smidgen of ansco130 in it ever since ... i used other stuff between 1988 and 95 ... xtol, and tmax developer
but didn't like'em ... i don't really think i am going to switch to anything else for a while .. if i get sick of roasting and brewing
the coffee ( for sumatranol 130 ) i'll just use the ansco 130 instead ... it works better than any other developer i've used
and doesn't small as bad as 2month old caffenol ...
Switched to HC-110 for reasons already stated...16x20's from Tmax100 4x5 negs looked great. Now I use a developer that packs more punch for higher DR for alt printing (Ilford Universal PQ).
D76 was the first developer I used. I mixed it from raw chemicals as in those days it was easy to buy them and it cost less than buying the Kodak product. I was an impecunious schoolboy of 11 years, who had recently swapped a rear derailleur mechanism for an Eastman Kodak Auto Graflex Junior single lens reflex camera with a 120 film back adapted to fit. D76 and later on HC110 were part of the journey that, with some interruptions has been going on ever since. It was only when the Zone system was learnt that, stimulated by the acquisition of a Kodak Model B whole plate field camera, more thought and scrutiny went into the development process. D76 and the more convenient and long lasting HC110 were okay for the Zone System when processing single sheets of film at a time. Easy adjustments could be made to suit the subjects and the exposures. After returning to film a few years ago, using rolls of film with several exposures and several subjects on each roll, the limitations of D76 and HC110 became apparent. My best friend suggested I try a compensating developer and recommended DiXactol. This proved to be quite wonderful at preserving highlights and maintaining a nice spread of tones. DiXactol is expensive, but I really wanted to continue with the compensating developer regime and so tried the quite economical 510-PYRO. This proved to be about the best developer I'd ever used. The results are a delight, especially when the contrast range of a subject is extreme. I still use 510-PYRO for roll film but now have added the incredibly low cost OBSIDIAN AQUA to the arsenal, this has proved to be very useful with sheet film, although it is also a compensating developer and perfectly good for roll film, especially if fine grain and extra sharpness is required. I still prefer the tonal range that 510-PYRO can deliver so now the developing of each film is subject to a decision process. Fifty three years ago there was no decision to make. It was going to be D76 and that was that.
Switched from full strength replenished D76 to replenished D23 a year ago. Not a vast difference as far as I can see, except fewer ingredients. Both are very solid developers. I currently use a hybrid workflow, so I might change my mind when I get around to wet printing again (after a 25 year break).
I started on d76 as well. Still have a packet of it somewhere and a few bottles of stock solution I mixed up from a pack that I saw had just expired. I have tons of xtol, that's usually my favorite, but recently I have been shooting a number of older expired film stocks and hc110 dilution b helps with and fogging they might have.