Newbie: Which Developer Is Best
I am going to start doing my own b&w film developing and am wondering, which developer is best for my needs.
I need it to last for a long time, not be made into stock solution, not oxidise quickly and be cheap.
The contenders are: HC-110, Rodinal, D-76 and Diafine.
Other developers are fine IF they fit the criteria.
Both HC-110 and D-76 are great general purpose developers that would be good to learn with. I never really cared for Rodinal, but lots of people love it. I've not used Diafine, but I think it's more about pushing film, but I may be thinking of Acufine.
HC 110 and Diafine do last forever. D-76 isn't as forgiving once the bottle is opened. Never used Rodinal, but reportedly it lasts at least as long as HC 110. I have HC 110, not stock or diluted, in small bottles that's five years old and still works just fine.
D76 use 1:1 with water at 20C/68F and discard after use. Magic.
Originally Posted by ektachrome
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
Seeing that you're in the UK, I'd suggest Ilford's chemicals, LC-29 or Ilfotec HC (HC is a clone of HC-110, while LC29 is just a slightly more dilute version of Ilfotec HC) or even DD-X, which will be a little more expensive at 1+4 and not so much at 1+9. Even cheaper would be Ilford PQ Universal, at 1+29 and above. These are easy to work with liquids. LC-29 might be the best to start with and you might find that starting with the dilution of 1+29 is a good idea.
Although you have to mix it, ID-11 is hard to beat.
I personally love Rodinal, however, I have my developing times and methods worked out for it.
If you do a quick Google search over here, you'll get as many answers as you have time to read. It really doesn't matter which one you choose, especially in the beginning and later you can bend tonality the way you want it, but e.g. the way grain is rendered will remain what typical is of the developer, so even if Ilford says ID-11 1+3 is their sharpest powder developer, it won't look nearly as good as Rodinal does.
Choose one and stick with it (also true for film, paper, paper developer) for quite some time. Good luck!
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A great place to start then…
Originally Posted by cliveh
stick with it til you know it.
If you like sharp film grain, just use Rodinal. Cheapest and best shelf-life.
If you don't like the grainy look, then you have to think further.
Some great advice above, I would consider cost too, if Ilford chems are more reasonable since you are UK, as Aron suggests, go the Ilford way. If you are paying double for an out-of-country dev that essentially gives the same as what you can get 1/2 as much, not sure why you wouldnt go the local way.
I use three developers:
D-76 is my driver.
XTOL is my fairway club.
HC-110 is my pitching wedge.
It's also nice to have a developer that comes as syrup in a bottle so I can mix up a small batch without having to make a whole gallon of D-76 that I might not use for a while and risk expiring before I use it up.
If you're just starting out or getting back on the horse again after a period of non-activity, just go with D-76.
Millions of people have been using D-76 for decades and it has served them well. There's no reason why it won't do just as well for you.
Later on, if you want to, you can explore other developers but, for starters, just pick one and stick to it until you get your legs under you.
Isn't the story that an open bottle of Rodinal will last about a thousand years, but an unopened bottle should last until the sun explodes. No one who's mortal has ever confirmed this.
Originally Posted by hrst
Grain that cuts like a knife.
If it's your style, then welcome to the Church of Rodinal. Don't hear that too much any more, but there used to be Rodinal wars.
(Sounds like a great Sci-Fi novel.)