HP5+ in D23 Stock
I've returned to black and white film photography after a break of about twenty years. To start with, I'm just using three of my old cameras, one each in 35, 120 and 4x5 format, and one film, HP5+. The cameras were CLA'd earlier this year. My intention is to spend some time with one developer, D23 stock, until I know it backwards (long ago I supplemented my income by taking commercial portraits, but outsourced the processing to a lab which used D23 for the black and white). I'm using a Minolta Spotmeter F, which I purchased new in the 1980s and which has been well cared for.
My first experiments are with the medium format camera, a Rolleicord Vb. The first little challenge is working out the exposure index and development times for my combination of camera and light meter. Most of the advice on the internet seems to be along the lines of "start with the recommended development times for D76/ID11 and work from there". Ilford's fact sheet recommends 7.5 minutes in these developers at the box speed of 400. The same recommendation is provided by the Massive Dev Chart, although the Digital Truth page presenting the D23 formula recommends the starting development time of 12 minutes.
I found a quote from the Kodak Data Sheet for D23 here:
which states that the "Average development time is about 12 minutes in a tank or 10 minutes in a tray at 20C".
So I ran a test at 10 minutes and, metering for Zone I, determined that, for my Rolleicord and spotmeter, the EI was indeed 400. The highlights, however seemed a little underexposed to me.
I developed my second roll for 12:23 at 20.5C (equivalent to 13:00 at 20C by my calculations) and this seems to be pretty close to correct to me. The attached image is from this roll. It's been scanned from the negative on an Epson V700, levels adjusted post-scan to a point that just avoids clipping of highlights and shadows, and then resized. No other manipulation. I metered on the darkest part of the water under the nearer pelican, Zone II1/2 according to my meter. The brightest highlights, on the backs of the pelicans, seem to have at least some hint of detail.
The original size image can be accessed here:
The original size is the full 20 megabyte scan - the file is a 3 megabyte JPEG.
I have two questions. First, to those more expert than I in judging negatives and development, do you think I am close to the correct developing time, to the extent you can tell from the image?
Second, and perhaps one for the chemistry experts, Ilford has a single time/temperature chart for all films and developers. From the little I understand about metol and superadditivity, the chart for a metol only developer might be quite different in linearity and slope to one for, say an MQ combination like ID11. I found some information, in Jacobson's book, about temperature coefficients for developers. This suggests that metol only developers do, indeed, have a different time/temperature function to MQ. On the basis for this, I'm intending to experiment with
Time = 35 - 1.1 * Temperature (Celsius)
for HP5+ in D23 stock.
This is for the temperature range in which I'm likely to be developing, 17C to 24C. Does this sound reasonable, or am I better to stick to the Ilford chart?
The exposure and dev look fine to me.
Welcome back to the darkroom.
You really can't tell much about a negative from a scan, but it doesn't look like you have overdeveloped. It does look possible you've underexposed. You may already know this, but judge your exposure from the important shadows, which should show significant tone above the clear edge. Judge your development time by the densest areas of the negatives (highlights in the scene). Only experience (or a densitometer, since you seem technically inclined) is going to really let you judge that. A scan won't unless you are way overdeveloped.
To me, a darkroom print is the best way to evaluate the negative. But if you are only scanning, you can benefit from slightly less development than is ideal for darkroom printing.
BTW, it seems like it would be a good idea to start with a standard developer like D-76 (or Ilford's ID11) or Xtol. D23 is fine. I used to use is a good bit, but it is not as good a general purpose developer as those others. Then you will have much better documentation.
If your climate allows to standardize developer temperature, that is better than chasing your tale needing several different times. I warm my developer to 70F in winter, and run at 75 in summer. A simple dish pan water bath works great.
Thanks Michael and Mark. I appreciate your advice. Mark, I'm hoping to work up to darkroom printing again - it's been a long time since I did it regularly. I still have everything but the dark room. Best regards, Ed.
Liked the photo and would suggest using filters on the lens such as skylight, haze, or #8 yellow. I like having a constant routine when developing! I use replenished D-76, using a presoak. You can do the same with D-23 and the Formulary sells the kits. The important thing here is a selecting a solid routine for repeatable results. You will have to experiment to achieve this. I thought that D-23 was the forerunner to Microdol-X, so a loss of film speed. You might expose at 250asa and develop full strenght at 8 minutes. Just a thought, Steven.
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