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.
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.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
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?
"Art is is a picture of some dude I never met smoking under a lamppost at 6400 ISO and in BW."
The general consesus seems to be ... HC-110 ... how will fare with faster films (Delta 3200) and with push processing, considering the slower speed it'll give you ... [what about] "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.
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:
How does one acquire sufficient experience in order to start mixing developers oneself?
Familiarity with metric measurement.
Knowledge of the hazards of the chemicals used. Read the MSDS for each one.
Ability to follow a formula accurately.
A high school (or better) knowledge of chemistry is helpful. Spelling is important. Sodium sulfite is different from sodium sulfate or sodium sulfide.
Coomon sense, if you don't know what you're doing then stop!
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