Basic but important newbie questions!
Apologies if covered elsewhere but please bear with me.
Setting up my own darkroom for 35 and 120mm B&W development and I have reached the point when some important decisions need to be made in regards to...chemicals. So, in order to avoid becoming boring, my questions:
- Can I develop ANY B&W film (not chromogenic C-41) with ANY developer? Meaning can I develop a Tri-X with ID-11 for example?
- If the answer on the above is yes, were do I find the necessary dilution instructions?
- Do the developers come in different versions according to the film speed, or there Is just one and you play with the volume, dilution etc?
- Is it safe to assume that using same brand film+developer will produce the best result?
- Was thinking of starting out with either Tri-X 400 or T-Max 400, any good developers recommended for them?
- Is "stopping" using just water and not a dedicated stopper advisable?
- I was told I should choose 1-2 films and developer and stick with them, trying out different variations of exposures/developing, good advice?
- Do you recommend I should go for the 5Ltr developer or the 1Ltr will suffice for some time?
Many many thanks In advance for all the precious help!
1. Use a stop bath. 2. One or two films is a good idea. 3. XTOL & D-76/ID-11 are excellent options but you might find it easier to use a liquid concentrate to start with, suggest ILFORD DD-X or Kodak T-Max developer. It is always helpful on APUG to know which country the poster is from.
2. WWW, packagings,...
3. you don't play with the volume
5. Kodak T-Max and Ilford DDX are great and easy to use; just dilute them 1+4 with water
6. It usually is
7. Good advice
8. 1 litre will suffice for at least 10 films if powder, more if liquid
What is "best" is highly subjective, what is best for me may not be best for you. Best also depends on what is practical.
For learning, work with materials and chemistry that you can get easily, and work with that until you understand all the variables.
Kodak D-76 is a good starting point, as is Ilford ID-11 (they are very similar), but lots of others work well too.
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Q3. The same version can be used for almost all films and many developers will give different developing times for different dilutions. To begin with stick with the same dilution until you know what you are doing.
Q4. No, you can mix and match
Q5. You will get a million recommendations for developers but your main choices are between powders (D76, XTOL, ID11) which you mix your self and Liquid concentrates (HC-110, rodinal, TMAX, DDX), which you dilute as needed. The powders tend to produce quite a lot of stock solution, that you then dilute further for use and you may need to have space to store 5L of stock solution. As a beginner, i'd recommend HC-110. The concentrate is very economical and lasts for ages. You can dilute a small amount as needed for each development session and it takes up less room and is very reliable.
Q6. Stop bath is good for consistency and repeatable results. Commercial one are cheap but you could also check ebay or brewing suppliers for citric acid powder. 2tsp in a litre of water makes a great stop bath that you can reuse many times before throwing away. The commercial stop baths have the added advantage of changing colour when they are no longer acidic enough.
Q7. Yes, good advice
Q8. See question 5.
For times, temperatures, dilutions, consult the Massive Dev Chart, http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php. The values there are at least close to manufacturers' recommendations, and they are a good starting point.
An earlier poster suggested using one film with one developer for a while and figure out if you're happy with it. That's good advice. Variations can be found on the Massive Dev Chart.
It takes a big dog to weigh a ton.
I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
Whatever you do when you start out, since you know very little about technique, try to keep variations within your materials to an absolute minimum. This will help you develop your technique faster (and as a result you will actually be much better able to detect differences in materials once you are very proficient and decide to maybe experiment with a new film. Never change more than one parameter at a time. Ever).
One incredibly important aspect of developing film is temperature. Get a good thermometer, or even two, and check them against each other. Make sure your developer is exactly the same temperature every time, or it will drive you crazy trying to understand what is going on.
Other than that, follow instructions as it says on packages and/or online. Use the manufacturers' instructions - it is your very best starting point.
And, above all, have a good time! This stuff is so much fun!
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
I recently went down this same road. For my journey you can check out the following 2 links:
As for your questions:
2. On the package, or the web
3. No, you account for different films and film speeds usually just by adjusting the developing time.
4. No. What is best depends on your taste. Almost any developer will get you a good result with almost any film. Some developes/techniques will result in more contrast, some with more detail in shadows or shadows. Some developers will take much longer the others. Some will be too quick making consistency an issue.
5.I started with T-Max 100, absolutely love it. Tri-X is a standard, really gives a classic b&w look, a little more grain than tmax. Both excellent choices. Which one is up too your taste. For developer lots works well with them. Kodak d76 or tmax are both great. I personally prefer liquid chems, and settled on ilfosol 3, only because that's the cheapest liquid available to me locally and it has a relatively long shelf life. Rodinol/adinol are also highly regarded.
6. I just use water, its recommended by the fixer I use, has worked well for me.
7. Excellent advice. This is chemistry. Developing a "feel" for how things will turn out is very useful. Consistent results are your best friend.
8. How much do you plan to shoot? Every developer has a finite shelf life once opened/mixed. Base the amount you need on how much you plan to shoot.
The first time you open your light tight container after fixing and you see your first image is very exciting! Enjoy!!
Oh, I forgot, get a wetting agent for drying. A few drops of liquid soap or something like that might do, do some Google searches. It prevents spotting while drying, very useful.