I am in the process of setting up my darkroom...I have purchased the lauder chemicals to start but have also noticed discussions of mixing your own. what is the opinion of dektol over lauder? then I also see the topic of adding a softer developer (i.e. selectol). side note, I am not looking for a process that takes a degree in chemistry to accomplish :)
(p.s., I also bought lauder chemistries for the other steps as well)
Shelly, the Lauder chemicals are OK. You used them for both film and print development. The film developer is generic D76 and the Lauder print developer is very similar to Dektol. I say similar to Dektol as I think Lauder has changed the chemistry, the developer has a definite green tint and leaves a strange residue. (Ask Aggie she developed some Ortho film in the print waste water - and they turned out great).
If you are using VC paper then a soft developer (Selectol) is not really needed. If you are using Graded paper then you can use Selectol to go down like half a grade (some people will mix selectol and dektol to get better control using graded paper).
Personally I buy the packaged Kodak Dektol and D76 which are both in powder form.
Depends on your preferences.
If you like warmtone prints I can strongly recommend Alta ZonalPro HQ Warmtone developer. Great stuff, affordable, liquid concentrate, very long lasting once mixed for use.
Combined with warmtone paper and selenium toning it's eliminated any desire I might have had for going back to sepia or other warm toning methods.
OTOH, if you prefer neutral or cold tones this definitely ain't the developer for you. Alta might make another neutral tone developer, tho', I dunno.
Alta does made a Neutral developer. Not bad, but we use LPD or Ansco 130.
Edwal SUper Platenium is very interesting stuff as well. Years ago I ran some test with it and with some papers it was warmer than the warm tone developers (Atla not included at that time). I don't remember the dilution ratio but I do remember the results. The Neutral were very nice, but ended up with using the other two for the highlight look.
My favorite developer (at the moment) is Gevaert G262 diluted 1:8, then left in a tray to die overnight. Beautiful warm tones, and a reduced contrast which is a real help with some of my negatives. Exposure times are 2 to 4 times "normal", in that way it's a bit similar to lith printing. Except that the shadows don't run amuck.
Next week I'll be trying a few other developers, so my preferences are bound to change.
If you are just starting - a good developer is Agfa MC developer - A PQ developer- it is super cheap, does a great job and lasts forever. All good things for practicing. Then when you get that magic negative and want to make a gallery image - try a glycin based developer (formulary D65 or other) and make your fine print. No sense in spending a lot of chemisty in the learning phase. Les Mclain wrote a pretty good book that covers several kinds of printing techniques that I am using with good results (lots of ideas there - thanks Les) - anyway - If your experience is like mine - there are more so-so prints than great prints at first and might as well do them on acceptable lesser cost materials.