Absolute darkroom beginner
I just bought a second hand 'new' unused development kit.
Everything was unopened including the chemicals which date back to 1996:
Ilford Wetting Agent 250ml
Ilford Stop Bath 500ml
Barclay Black and White Developer 1 litre
Barclay Black and White Universal Fixer 1 litre
Barclay Black and White Paper Developer 1 litre
I have been advised that everything but the developer (and perhaps the paper developer) will be OK including the photographic paper.
Therefore I ordered Ilford Ilfosol 3 developer with 4 rolls of film I haven't tried yet
Ilford: FP4+ 35mm, Delta 3200 Pro, Delta 100 Pro, and Pan-F+ 50
I have most other equipment except graduates which a friend of mine is supplying.
I was wondering if the Ilford developer will be Ok with the Barclay fixer.
This is my first time posting here so I am all excited about developing and printing. I only used XP2 before and the lab results weren't great which brings me here...
I also will be looking for an enlarger (2nd hand/used) and need advice about this or pointed in the right direction.
And... I wonder about a good quality scanner. I know the Epson V500, V600, V700 are all good although a bit expensive for the time being. Are the mini ones complete garbage or should I just save for an Epson?
I have been looking through Google & Yahoo and could find very little info on the Barclay products so I would very very cautious with the usage: (eg fixer) If you already have the Ilfosol developer I would not risk the any damage to the film using an outdated fix. By eliminating the possible problems by using new products you will be more satisfied with the results. Keep looking in Craigslist etc in your area you should be able to find an enlarger. With me I use mostly Beseler enlargers. The 23CII and 45MXR which I found free or very cheap but they will be operating flawlessly for longer than I am around. Some other things I did was to stick with one brand of film and developer (Agfa & Rodinal) while I was just starting out so I could see the differences with using different speeds and agitations and time. Your best bet would new scanner as I use a V500 with great results.
The Barclay fixer even after all this time may still be usable. It may have re-crystalised and if so just dump it If it hasn't then you will be able to use it with any film/developer combination.
The paper developer and the universal developer will almost certainly have gone off. Normally they are almost colourless, or a very pale straw tint, but after nearly 2 decades they will probably be a dark brown and useless. The stop bath and wetting agent will be OK to use, they don't seem to have any finite life.
Ilford Ilfosol developer was said to be a liquid version of the powder ID11, but in my experience with it they are different. Ilfosol in a part used container will quite rapidly 'go off', whereas ID11 when made up and stored in glass bottles will stay usable for at least 12 months or more. I don't actually know how long because mine doesn't last that long, it gets used.
I have learned from experience that the development times for Ilford films which are printed on the inside the box, or come with the bottle of developer, may not be accurate. Ilford, when asked referred me to their website where up to date development times can be found. The reason being they do change the makeup of the film from time to time but don't always change the printed instructions that come with the film or developers.
When buying an enlarger most of them will perform far better than our capabilities will stretch them to, What does matter, is to buy the best enlarging lens that you can afford. Look for makes/designs such as the Nikon EL50/2.8, or EL50/F4, Schneider Componon , or Rodenstock Rodagon, or at a push the Minolta F50/2.8. A poor quality enlarging lens will not allow the best of your negatives to be reproduced.
Being a little bit technical here and I apologise if it isn't clear,, but if you are doing only black and white an enlarger with a condenser set up will give you shorter exposure times and visually sharper images. The down side is it will show up any defects/dust more readily. A colour enlarger will work but it isn't (in my opinion) the best for B&W work.
Last edited by BMbikerider; 10-11-2013 at 05:12 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Have a read through the FAQ in my signature. With B&W you can mix n match brands of chemistry as much as you like - I use Ilford fixer and both Kodak and Agfa developers, to process mostly-Fuji film.
Shake the fixer up. If it's still clear and doesn't smell like rotten eggs (it should smell vinegary and a bit weird, but not rank), it should be OK. If it has pale yellow precipitate (floaties) in it or smells really bad, then it's gone off. Fixer is really cheap though, so I'd just buy 1L of fresh Rapid Fixer if I were you.
The paper may or may not be OK. If I were you, I would test a sheet by developing+fixing it in the darkness, with no image exposure. It should be totally white; if it has any grey then you want to go buy some fresh.
Plenty of enlargers come up for sale (or free) here and on Craigslist (assuming you're in the USA). Get a medium format enlarger; it will be more rigid than most 35mm enlargers and means you can move up to bigger film soon. Contrary to BMbikerider, I would recommend a colour enlarger - you get the same contrast control, the filters never fade, and it's usually easier to do split-grade. Oh and of course you can print in colour! (don't let anyone tell you that's hard; it's not). An MF enlarger in excellent condition should be under $50 and an excellent lens for 35mm should also be well under $50. Both together, $0 to $70 depending who's selling.
Shoot the FP4 first; it's the most forgiving of both exposure and processing errors/variations. Delta 3200 is also pretty forgiving on exposure (expose for ISO1600 and develop for 3200), but you need to be more precise in your development time and temperature control for Delta films. Pan-F is beautiful stuff, but requires you to be more careful with exposure as it's very contrasty.
Asking about scanning on APUG will get you shouted at, but I have this to say: don't buy those little "5 megapixel" scanners, they're total rubbish. Buy a real film scanner if you can, otherwise something like a V600 is really cheap and will get you images good enough to put on the web. Not good enough to print large digitally, but you don't need that because you'll be enlarging!
If you have space to set up an enlarger, forget the scanner. Question why you might want to digitise in the first place. If it's to archive, just keep the negs. If it's to share the best images, print them and if you must, scan on an ordinary flatbed. Certainly for B&W the best prints will come from traditional wet printing rather than scan neg + print (unless you spend big numbers). If it's to visualise what you have on a strip of negs, just print some contacts. If you have money to spare (!) instead of a scanner perhaps look at an f-stop timer/analyser like the analyser pro from RH Designs (now sold through SDS). Expensive, but has the capability to virtually eliminate the test-strip process to determine exposure and contrast (although you should still learn how to do this).
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Based on the Barclay products I am guessing you are in the UK. My suggestion is to go to this site and see if there are any community darkrooms near you.
You can test the fixer. Cut off a small piece of the film leader and drop it into a small quantity of fixer at the correct dilution and see how long it takes to clear the film. If this happens within say 1-2 mins then I can't think of any reason not to use it unless someone here knows different.
As far as paper is concerned, if you get a very slight grey look from developing and fixing an unexposed piece of paper then you can try some benzotriazole in the developer which may clear the greyness.
A bigger issue with old paper might be its loss of contrast. This can be tested with under the lens filters and trying to get progressively more contrast in the prints. If this fails to happen then the paper is probably for the waste bin.
However if I were starting to print and had to use commercial darkrooms where time is money and good early results are important for learning feedback then I'd invest in fresh paper.
Keep the Barclay paper for now and try it out after you have more experience
Thanks dances_with_clouds (Bob?)
I wish I had have bought Ilford fixer too instead of maybe using the Barclay one. I just bought 4 rolls of Ilford, all different types.
I'll take your advice regarding the scanner.
Craiglist in my area isn't up to much and it never has been, it'll have to be ebay then 95% of sellers aren't posting enlargers!
The Barclay products including the fixer are all sealed in opaque plastic bottles so that there is zero air in them, I can't even slosh them around. I'd have to open to check!
I am looking at a Paterson PCS 1000 enlarger simply because the seller is willing to post it. I can't find much info on it although if it has a Paterson lens it may not be as great as the lenses you have mentioned. I have read of those lenses you recommend and you're not being too technical for me at all :-)
Can you recommend a crash course guide to enlargers?
Looks like I may open the fixer to see what it looks/smells like.
Yes I would like to get into medium format sometime. Being a Pentaxian I'll maybe be looking at a 67 or something. The lenses can fit onto my other Pentax cameras with an adapter and are apparently superb on SLR too.
Thanks for the Ilford film advice. I just got these this morning. I've to try a 'new' Pentax Super ME out as another I bought had light leaks or maybe needs a service.
I'll not mention scanners here again but it would be worth it just to post Full Frame Pentax scans on the forums to wind the DSLR geeks up (Pentax don't make a Full Frame DSLR you see!)